From file: Migrants living in Greece take part in a protest back in 2020 about the government's migration policy | Photo: Picture-alliance
From file: Migrants living in Greece take part in a protest back in 2020 about the government's migration policy | Photo: Picture-alliance

Hundreds of refugees protested in Athens on Saturday to mark their opposition to the Greek government's migration policy. Migrants held up banners accusing the government of having "blood on your hands."

Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees joined the protests in Athens on Saturday (March 18) in which hundreds protested the Greek government’s migration policy, reported the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP).

Banners were held up by some of the demonstrators, accusing the Greek government of having blood on its hands. AFP reported that one banner read: "Stop pushbacks, down with the government of murderers."

The demonstrators held their banners in front of the Greek parliament building. Another banner read "the blood of the innocent cries out for justice," reported AFP. Some of the demonstrators are blaming the Greek government for migrant deaths in the most recent boat sinkings and other incidents in Greece.

'Blood on your hands'

The demonstrators chanted that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has "blood on your hands" and linked the deaths of children at sea and during a train crash on the Greek mainland on February 28, which left 57 dead, including children.

During the four years the current conservative government has held power, the borders with Turkey have been strengthened. This week, the police minister, Takis Tehodorikakos, announced Greece was about to sign "in the coming days" another contract, extending the steel fence along the Evros land border with Turkey by a further 35 kilometers.

Greece has also been working in collaboration with the EU and the European Border Agency Frontex to repatriate those who do not qualify for asylum. Just last week, Greece sent 20 Bangladeshi migrants back to Dhaka on a charter flight organized by Frontex.

According to AFP, Greece has repatriated more than 8,000 people over the last two years, working with partners including the UN Migration Agency IOM, Frontex and the EU.

Agreements to strengthen returns

Although Greece is regularly accused of illegal pushbacks, the Greek government has repeatedly denied these claims. The accusations have been made by neighbor Turkey, various NGOs, as well as the UN's special rapporteur on human rights, many of whom have provided photographic and video evidence, as well as witness statements to support their allegations.

Last year, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, said that pushbacks "at land and sea borders have become de facto general policy," in Greece.

Last week, the Greek government signed a cooperation agreement with Frontex in order to help them send back migrants not entitled to asylum in their country more efficiently, reported the German news agency dpa.

This policy is in line with the latest announcements from the EU Commission too, which says that the bloc cannot offer asylum if it doesn’t toughen its returns policy and make sure that those rejected do not stay in the EU unregistered.

With AFP and dpa


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