It first devolved into chaos, but the migrant occupation in Sappho Square, right in the heart of the town of Mitilini, the capital of Lesvos, has finally ended. But don’t tell that to the “serious” English-language Greek news sources, such as eKathimerini, for they have neglected to report this aspect of the story!
As previously reported by Hellenic Insider, approximately 200 migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, had launched a multi-day occupation of the central square of Mitilini, purportedly in protest of conditions at the Morias detention camp, delays in the processing of their asylum paperwork, and over the unconfirmed “death” of one of their compatriots due to a pre-existing cardiac condition.
This occupation rendered Sappho Square inaccessible for the island’s own residents, who have already borne the brunt of the migrant crisis, which the “credible” eKathimerini laughably states began in 2015 but which actually began far earlier, with “refugees” from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries making their way into Greece through the convenient sea passage from Turkey to Lesvos and other nearby islands.
On Sunday evening, it seems as if fed-up residents of Mitilini finally had enough and decided to take matters in their own hands after observing days of inaction and empty words on the part of local authorities and the police. At around 8 pm, following the nightly ceremonial lowering of the Greek flag, a group of citizens began rallying in defense of the two Greek soldiers which remain in indefinite pre-trial detention in Turkey after being captured in early March.
It was out of this initial rally that a group of approximately 300 citizens, which eKathimerini was quick to characterize as “far-right extremists,” marched towards Sappho Square to demand the end of the square’s occupation. Police, of course, rushed to the scene to protect the occupiers and to attempt to push back the 300-plus citizens, as riot police — the same riot police the “radical leftist” SYRIZA-led government had once pledged to abolish — fired tear gas at the locals.
The situation escalated, and at around 10 pm, citizens responded by throwing objects towards the police and setting rubbish dumpsters ablaze. The square’s occupiers, in turn, refused to vacate the area. Indeed, their numbers grew and they were joined by “activists,” appearing in a display of “solidarity” with the migrants.
Several injured individuals, said to be mostly migrants, were transported to Mitilini’s hopsital for treatment.
What has gone unreported by most “reputable” English-language news sources such as eKathimerini, however, is that in the early morning hours on Monday, at approximately 5:45 am, a strong police presence arrived at Sappho Square and transferred the unwilling occupiers onto buses, delivering them to the Morias detention center.
Locals on the island have become increasingly frustrated at what they view as a situation of crime and lawlessness on their previously peaceful island. In riots at the Morias detention center on April 10, the center’s medical facilities were destroyed by migrants, obliging the Greek armed forces to provide medical services, on the tab of Greek taxpayers of course. In an incident which apparently took place last week, an African migrant was filmed setting fire to an olive grove near Morias. It bears noting that olives are a major source of income for the island and its local economy. And in February, a farmer shot migrants who attempted to steal his livestock.
Video from the violent events in Mitilini: