More than 50 Kurdish refugees were violently removed from the Lavrio camp in Greece and relocated, with the community they built over years torn down and most of them transferred to another camp infamous for its bad conditions.
In the Oinofyta refugee camp near a highway 60 km outside of Athens, Kurdish refugees told Özgür Politika their stories.
The police raid started around 5 a.m. on Wednesday. “There were around 200 policemen. Ten others with heavy weapons came in. They pointed their guns at us, me and my two daughters and one son. The children were so afraid,” Leyla told reporters.
“I told my daughter they were toy guns. But she knows what they were, from back in Turkey. We went through this there as well. My children have seen many things that they never deserved,” she continued.
Kurds in Lavrio have been there for years and built their community in the rundown camp. The first Kurdish and Turkish residents of the camp arrived after the 1980 military coup. The two communities have self-organised and administered the camps themselves since then.
The camp “was a Kurdish camp, and we felt it was our own, like it was our home”, Leyla said. She arrived in Greece about a year ago, with her husband and three children. “I never felt like a refugee there. I was never alone, either culturally or socially.”
The operation aimed to scatter this organised group of people, Leyla believes. “They think they can end our camaraderie this way, but that is not possible,” she said.
Greek authorities have been lying that the evacuation happened upon demand by the resident refugees, another refugee named Welat said. He believes Kurds have been used for blackmail regarding European Union border policies.
The evacuation has been Greece’s gift to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ahead of the NATO summit next week, activists said during a protest in front of the Greek parliament after the evacuation.