How can Europe effectively deport refugees

It was to be expected: 4 years of watching are now showing their disastrous effects. The corona virus has also reached the Greek islands. 40,000 people, crammed together in completely overcrowded EU hotspot camps like Moria, under disastrous hygiene conditions and almost no medical care, could soon be at the mercy of the deadly disease. While European countries are closing their borders to protect against the pandemic and even preventing small groups from socializing, the Greek health system, which has been badly affected by austerity policy and the economic crisis, is in no way able to ensure the necessary medical care for the refugees in the event of a widespread disease outbreak. And the EU continues to block all appeals to evacuate the camps and evacuate people safely. Rather, it is increasingly sealed off.

This fits in with what we were able to observe on the Greek-Turkish border over the past two weeks: an unprecedented brutalization of EU migration policy, coupled with the ruthless violation of fundamental human rights, European law and the Geneva Refugee Convention.

People seeking protection in Europe are shot at with tear gas, beaten up, stripped and illegally pushed back across the border. In the Aegean Sea, refugees are aggressively attacked by the Greek coast guard, engines destroyed and inflatables stabbed. What was still unspeakable in 2015 has now become reality: the border is being defended with live ammunition and several people were shot at the Greek-Turkish Evros border. European border policy has thus changed from passive letting people die at the external borders to a policy of active killing.

Volunteers and employees of international organizations on the Greek islands were advertised for persecution in right-wing radical networks and hunted down by fascist mobs and brutally beaten. Fascists from all over Europe arrive on the Greek islands, social centers and solidarity structures were set on fire.

In addition, the right of asylum has been suspended for anyone who has entered Greece since March 1st. The Greek government announced through its government spokesman, Stelios Petsas, that it would not accept asylum applications from newcomers for a month. Newly arrived refugees are being held under ad-hoc detention conditions such as in the port on Lesbos and are to be deported. Not only are they denied the right to protection; According to newspaper reports, there have been hundreds of cases in which people have been sentenced to four years in prison for “illegal entry”.


All of this not only tramples on the much-invoked European values, but also violates international law, European law, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Geneva Convention on Refugees.

  1. Greece has committed to complying with the international law principle of non-refoulement, which is anchored in a large number of international and human rights treaties (including Art. 33 Geneva Refugee Convention, Art. 3 European Convention on Human Rights). The violence at the Greek border, as well as deportations without an asylum procedure, contradict these legal norms and represent a continued violation of the law.
  2. The ban on collective expulsion is also enshrined in human and European law (Art. 19 Para. 1 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, Art. 4 of the 4th Additional Protocol to the ECHR). Greece is also bound by this principle through the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Neither can the Greek government refer to the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights (8675/15 and 8697/15) on the practice of pushbacks on the Spanish-Moroccan border: In this decision, the ECHR demanded that there be a legal entry alternative and the application for protection can be made elsewhere. Such an alternative does not exist in Greece, neither can a request for protection be made at other border crossings or in police stations. This means that neither a suspension of the right to asylum nor a complete border closure is lawful.

Both the ban on refoulement and the ban on collective expulsion apply unconditionally and cannot be suspended at any time and under any circumstances - especially not through an agreement that is not legally anchored, such as the EU-Turkey deal of March 2016, known as an agreement.

Nevertheless, the EU and Germany take a protective stand behind Greece, which the EU Commission President von der Leyen describes as "the shield of Europe" in the manner of a defense minister and is supported with 700 million euros for border armament. The spiral of militarization continues to increase: The European border protection agency Frontex is sent to the border in a special RABIT mission. What she should do is uncertain - participate in the shootings?


It is unbelievable that the European Union is ready to throw any legal basis, morality and civilizational mask overboard, because in the meantime several thousand people want to apply for asylum at the Greek border. The fateful EU-Turkey deal of March 18, 2016 once again gave an authoritarian regime power over European politics. The political mantra that 2015 should not be repeated does not allow the EU to rethink.

The refugee migrants have indeed become the bargaining chip and human ammunition for the Turkish AKP government's own militaristic and domestic political plans - put in hand by an EU migration policy that uses deals to build authoritarian regimes as buffer zones in Europe to ward off refugees . But Turkey is not safe, it does not grant asylum to people without a European passport. Even if Turkey, with its military presence in Idlib, is pursuing the goal of preventing around 3.5 million more people from being forcibly displaced by the Syrian-Russian offensive towards its border, it has remained under Kurdish since its attack on Syrian territories Self-administration responsible for hundreds of thousands of expulsions. Refugees are also being shot at on the Turkish-Syrian border - and Turkey itself is deporting to Syria.

Erdogan has already threatened to terminate the EU-Turkey deal at regular intervals in recent years. This time the Turkish President emphasized his threat: people were driven to the border in buses, crammed together and, in some cases, forced to cross the border with blows and guns at gunpoint. All of this is done in order to produce images that are supposed to get the EU and NATO to support Turkey in their war strategy and to curb refugee migration from Syria. In addition, Syrians are to be deported to a so-called "security zone" in the Kurdish areas in north-eastern Syria. The Turkish president would have killed two birds with one stone: the Kurdish democratic self-government was seriously weakened and at the same time got rid of the refugees temporarily tolerated in the country.

Instead of recognizing the rookie mistake of the EU migration policy - the dependence on authoritarian regimes - as the cause of the problem, the EU tries to appease Turkey by all means. In doing so, she fails to recognize that the deal has never worked and will never work: neither the 1: 1 exchange (whereby a Syrian should be resettled to Europe for every Syrian person returned from Greece to Turkey), nor the emptying of the Greek Islands due to deportations. The only functional element of the deal is the horse-trading of billions for violent anti-migration. If this breaks away, the true face of this helpless and failed migration policy becomes apparent: The shooting at the EU's external border is then only the last logical consequence. The EU-Turkey deal failed from the start, and every new attempt at a deal will be the same fail!


The reinterpretation of the welcoming culture from 2015 to a “refugee crisis that should never be allowed to repeat itself” creates such a fear that shootings are tolerated rather than talked about admission. The isolationist paradigm also has its murderous domestic side. While numerous cities and municipalities - as in the “Cities Safe Haven” network - still stand for a practice and culture of welcoming and an open society, politics has also demonized migration as “the mother of all problems” internal societal discourses and acts of the “defense of Europe” made acceptable. In this respect, the fascization on the external border is closely interwoven with the growing right-wing terrorism and attacks on the foundations of democracy in European societies. Europe is at a crossroads: we can only counter this madness with a return to basic rights, openness and receptiveness.

We demand:

  • The immediate evacuation of all migrants from the Greek islands and from all overcrowded camp situations
  • Effective protective measures against the corona virus for migrants
  • The immediate stop of state violence and the murder of migrants at the external borders
  • The immediate termination of the EU-Turkey deal
  • An active EU policy to end the forced displacement of millions of people in Syria
  • The restoration of the right to asylum, constitutional asylum procedures and the demilitarization of the external border
  • Compliance with applicable international, human and European law requirements when dealing with arriving people
  • The reception of the people in the solidary cities,
  • A European policy that does not itself continually produce causes of flight.

First time signatories

KritNet | | Adopt a Revolution | Committee for Fundamental Rights and Democracy | Equal Rights Beyond Borders | medico international | SEEBRÜCKE - creates safe havens! |
Republican Lawyers Association (RAV) |
borderline-europe e.V. | Refugee Council Lower Saxony e.V. | Saxon Refugee Council e.V.