So listen, Mr. Kytelis, here are some truths about PIKPA

So listen, Mr. Kytelis, here are some truths about PIKPA

"The site was handed over in a horrible condition", states the mayor of Mytilene who visited the site of the former PIKPA 4+ months after the eviction of the structure that operated in the area.

"The photographic material, after all, reflects the magnitude of the disaster," he says in the Press Release he published, giving the public 6 photos. This evidence "of the magnitude of the disaster" (!) depicts some hand-made, mobile structures made by the residents themselves, that remained in the area after the eviction. If Mr. Kytelis considers the improvised chair torn by an animal and the pallet sofa a disaster of the area, he can remove them immediately or allow us to remove them, in order to revoke his misleading and slanderous publication about disasters and misery.
 
We want to point out that Mr. Kitelis had never paid a visit to the premises, not before he became the mayor, nor after he was elected in 2019, and neither after the eviction in October 2020. In yesterday's announcement he spoke of the camp’s current conditions but he does not present the real image of the premises after the actual eviction date and does not speak of the renovations that were made in the kitchen or the houses.
 
Also, Mr. Kitelis does not explain the actual conditions the space was in when handed over in 2012, after it had been abandoned for years. So let us remind him what Mytilene’s society and especially the citizens and foundations that created the “Village of All Together” that took over the space in 2012, know very well. The damage in the arbitrary constructions was already massive and would have been universal today had they not been renovated or reconstructed during all these years through the donations of private donors.
 
In one of the photos, he demonstrates a problem in one of the construction’s ceiling’s in the toilet space that was not in use. As Mrs. Latsoudi stated in one of her radio interviews, a day before Mr. Kitelis visited, if the eviction had not been done the specific building that is in a bad condition would have been repaired, as a foundation from Switzerland had connected with us and was willing to cover the cost of the work needed.
 

Also, Pikpa was evicted under a communication fiesta between the Ministry of Migration and the local police who showed no respect whatsoever for the work the space provided, with no prior notification to the residents, without following the lines of the law, and without offering the necessary time for the refugees’ transfer.

 

We were forced to remove all mobile units that were added to the space and to deconstruct a space of dignified conditions for the most vulnerable people, that was more than ever needed during the winter and when a great number of people already suffered under the living conditions of the new camp in just a month. This was an inhumane and criminal move, as was the one of the forced closure of MSF’s Covid clinic in Moria, again under the request of the urban planning committee and the municipality of Mytilene, during a pandemic and whilst everyone was anxious about the threat of COVID-19 and its implications for the locals and refugee population. It concerns us that some are in a position to make decisions as such and feel good about it as well.

 

With this opportunity, we also wish to inform, for another part of the story of Pikpa’s eviction. To cover the needs of the centre in previous years, 11 new wooden huts, similar to the 12 that already existed, had been added. After the eviction of the camp, it was our intention to leave these huts behind to increase the dynamic of the summer camp we were leaving behind for the next users. Without anyone present to represent the city in a conversation with us - the General Secretary of the Ministry of Labor, ministry the premises fall under never responded to the 3 letters and invitations we sent, while Mr. Kitelis did not show up in the meeting we organised-; and under the weight of the fines connected to the huts the deadline given for their removal, it was impossible to come to an agreement. Sadly we were forced to deconstruct these and remove them with the containers and remaining mobile units that had been placed. Here we have to wonder, where the interest of the ones who claimed to care for the children’s summer camp lied and why they were not made available for a discussion.

 

“The space was left in a horrible condition” is the news line of some of the local news sites, repeating the mayor’s comment. Comments left from the readers hold responsible the NGO targeted.

“The Urban planning directorate and the responsible deputy mayor are in the process of assigning potential responsibility for the destruction of the facilities” mentions the Mayor in his press release to impress.

“The Urban Planning Directorate is in the process of assigning responsibility” reads Εμπρός, that has been this past period praising the new “super camp” that is being designed for the government's interests. However, the adjective "potential" before the word "responsibilities" mentioned by the mayor is discreetly deleted, who maintains the reservation in case no responsibilities for Lesvos Solidarity are found by the Urban Planning. The author of Empros, however, is sure that responsibilities exist and will be found, and he writes it as news, in big letters.

We call Mr. Kiteli to not pester the deputy mayor for assigning responsibilities to Lesvos Solidarity, because there are none. In contrary, it would be best to research and blame the ones responsible for abandoning the space formerly known as Pikpa, because although the municipality of Mytilene had the responsibility for the management of the premises and shelter of the vulnerable refugees since 2015, yet they did nothing for this. They spent no money for the upkeep of the facilities and people’s shelter, instead, remained inactive, letting the needs of the space be covered by private donors.
With a lack of respect and knowledge for the works of the mentioned shelter and its offering to the hundreds of people that supported its work, Mr. Kitelis seems to ignore that during the eight years of its activity, the space hosted with safety and dignity more than 30.000 refugees.
 

We offer at this point for Mr. Kitelis a short video that commemorates the history of Pikpa, the situation that lead to its creation/opening, and the support it offered to the city and local hospital, with solutions in times of crisis; when Moria camp was on fire, when people found shelter in the piazza and slept on the streets and the government was unable to provide a solution.

 
“They destroyed the property of the citizens” we read in LesvosPost, taking the mayor’s comment a step further.

We, as well as everyone who works on the management of the refugee situation, are well aware of the reasons behind this communication and defamatory game: They try to conceal their responsibilities for the catastrophic policies in Lesvos, and do what they can to convince that NGOs are at fault. They master the dangerous game of social automation and hate speech, to divide and rule.
But it is not us who trap the refugees on the islands. It is them who do so, it is them who a year ago trapped 25.000 people with tragic consequences for refugees and locals. Consequences which we still face today.
 
We are not the ones building concentration camps to make them miserable, as was the RIC at Moria and the “temporary” RIC. It is not us who shame and stigmatise on a universal level Lesvos, that has been named for having the world’s worst camp in Moria.
 
In contrary. Pikpa’s shelter was recognised at a universal level and was awarded numerous times as a model example for hosting refugees and supporting the local community. For 8 years Pikpa stood as an example and demonstrated what people can do when allowed, by creating a space of solidarity, respect and dignity, equality, and non-violence. And for this, all of us who participated and worked for the shelter carry a sense of pride.
 
Mr. Kitelis who speaks of ruins and slanders the structure of Pikpa and us, should review the images of the burned down Moria camp, a monument of shame for the whole of Europe, if he wishes to understand what it means to leave a space in a horrible condition after the refugees’ departure.
 
Is he able to tell us how he feels, when all he tries to do for the island is to install here the largest prison in Europe?
Mr. Dendias
And since he is trying to convince us that the new RIC will not be a superstructure for human misery, but a modern camp etc, we wish to remind what his party and the government said in 2012, when then trying to convince the local population to accept the RIC “We are talking about modern structures and not inhumane ones”. And so they built the Moria Camp.
 
The same story and the same policies that were attempted and failed are now re-introduced. The difference though is that back then the RIC was supposed to be set as a Reception and Identification Centre. Now its purpose will extend to the detention of the refugees up to the completion of their asylum procedure. Now, with the memorandum they signed for the new camp, confinement is being institutionalized.
 
We call on Mr. Kytelis to stop misinforming. To seek out the terrible conditions in the policies applied for the new "temporary" camp, to cooperate with the citizens of Lesvos who demand the immediate closure of the camp and the decongestion of the island, and to end any discussion about a new superstructure on the island.
 

At the Municipal Council of Mytilene on 3/2/2021, we all witnessed an unprecedented method by Mr. Kytelis's faction in order to extract the positive decision of the body for the creation of the new RIC. We call on him to stop presenting the result of that shameful for democracy process as acceptance of the superstructure by the local community.

 

We have all heard Mr. Kytelis in his statements to the media regarding the location of the new superstructure, to use the name of the University of the Aegean, saying that “It appears from studies conducted by the University of the Aegean, that the suitability of the space at the landfill is good for immigrants to settle there”. We ask him to immediately publish the studies of the University of the Aegean, which he invokes, otherwise his statements will be perceived as an attempt to mislead the citizens.

 
We do however thank him, for the opportunity he gave us to clarify a few things about the structure of the former PIKPA, in the face of the lies and slanders that are circulating. Because "PIKPA Lesvos", as the structure is known all over the world, will go down in history with the brightest colors, as an excellent example of solidarity, humanity, and dignity, and this Mr. Kytelis can neither change nor tarnish.
 
We hope that the municipality of Mytilene will open the summer camps and that the laughter of the children will be heard again soon at Pikpa. We remain at the disposal of the technical service of the municipality to provide any support or information needed for this purpose. Finally, we want to announce that we remain willing and will be happy to donate the 11 new wooden huts, so that they can be installed on the site, doubling the capacity of the summer camp.
Lesvos Solidarity
 

MOSAIK SUPPORT CENTER

 

Address

Sapfous 9, Mytilene
81100, Lesvos, Greece

 

 

ASKLIPIOS BUILDING

 

Address

Panselina Agioritou 1, Mytilene
81100, Lesvos, Greece  
Email: info@lesvossolidarity.org
Tel: (+30) 22510 62000

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