Arash Hampay, a human rights activist, reports that refugees in Greece are being subjected to horrific human rights violations, including denial of medical treatment, police brutality, and inadequate living conditions. In his piece, he begged the EU to ensure that all of its member states abide by all 31 articles of the European Declaration of Human Rights.
He wrote: “How dare [the EU] speak in the beautiful language of human rights? How dare they talk about humanity and law and democracy? How dare they condemn human rights abuses in other countries when they are committing human rights abuses here, themselves?”
Hampay reports that the refugees are fleeing totalitarian regimes, terrorists, and unspeakable horrors in their homelands, but they are treated like they are the criminals.
Not only are the Greece authorities looking the other way, whilst many refugees freeze to death in tents and die in preventable accidents at the camps, they are also attempting to deport many refugees like Hampay’s brother.
Hampay wrote: “We are brothers, we arrived on the same day, and we are both political activists. We have had all the same experiences. Yet his asylum claim was rejected, while mine was accepted. The authorities attempted to deport him while he was still appealing his claim, and together with lawyers and the UNHCR we were able to pull him off the boat at the last moment. But since that day he’s been in jail for two months, though he is innocent of all crimes.”
The brothers, along with three other detained in Moria Prison are now on hunger strike, but the Greece authorities are denying medical care to the prisoners.
Hampay wrote: “When I did hunger strikes in the Evin prison in Iran, our friends and family were allowed to bring us salt and water to keep us from starving to death. These basic rights are denied to those doing their hunger strike in Moria jail…They do not have access to salt or sugar to add to their water and prevent rapid deterioration of their health. The police have prohibited visitors from coming to bring them these needed items, and they have not yet been visited by a doctor.”
As if this wasn’t cruel enough, a city official attended Hampay’s protest to ridicule him and say that refugees were not welcome there.
He wrote: “On my lonely vigil in a square in the centre of town, I have been lucky enough to have visits from the police: they constantly harass me and take me to the station, drive us from the centre of town seize my friends’ phones. Even the Vice Mayor came to mock me, tear down my pictures of my imprisoned brother and friends, tell I wasn’t wanted here and should leave… So I have actually found some common ground with the mayor, the police and the courts. We all agree that the refugees should be able to leave this country.”
Imprisoned for helping the poor
In Iran, Hampay worked for the Hamyaran-E-Mehrandish Association, which provided medicine, clothing and food to those in poverty, like his late father. Hampay’s father was murdered by Iranian paramilitary police after being fired from his job for advocating for better working conditions.
While working here, he interviewed some of the people he was helping on camera in order to record their stories. For attempting to reveal that the Iranian Regime was failing to protect its people, Hampay was sent to prison on the vague charges of “insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran” and “propaganda against the regime of Iran”.
Whilst in prison, he was kept in solitary confinement for six months and was brutally beaten by the guards; an attack which ruptured his tendons and knocked out his teeth. Five times he was threatened with execution, walking right up to the gallows only to be spared at the last minute; a common intimidation tactic used by the Regime against prisoners.
Even after prison, Hampay was still subject to brutal attacks by plain-clothes operatives, who destroyed his camera including all of the interviews that he had done. When they threatened him with a further fifteen-year prison sentence, he fled with his family.
He wrote: “I am used to having my human rights trampled on. I have been tortured by police in jails from Tehran to Istanbul. But the treatment like we are experiencing here at the hands of the European Union has left me shocked.”