Samos: Open Cards and Protests
It used to be said that the Greek islands were a place where time stands still.
The waves and the shore, the sun in the sky, old men in the plateía, the stars.
Well, time certainly doesn’t stand still on Samos any more. It’s only 24 hours since my last audio from the island, and already I have news.
After a food blockade that lasted since the fire on Monday night, this afternoon the authorities started handing out the precious ‘open cards’ that would allow some refugees - mainly single women and families, mainly African by all accounts - to leave Samos and travel to Athens and the mainland.
Meanwhile, at the seafront, a group of Arabs are now protesting: where are their ‘open cards’?
An hour ago, I went down to have a look. A thin line of police stood in front of a banner the Arabs had unfurled.
We demand the European Union and the United Nations save our children.
The sun sank into the sea. I took some photos and started to record audio.
Then I was pulled away by police. They asked for my passport and told me to delete the photos, not only from the photo gallery, but also from the ‘recycle bin’.
(Luckily, my phone is old and slow so I was able to restore them minutes later.)
The distribution of ‘open cards’ - they’re actually just stamps on refugee documents - is a step forward. The news is going around that by next week 2,000 people will have been transferred off the island.
And this is what passes for good news on Samos. The reality is that even the transfer of as many as 2,000 people only rolls conditions back to how they were in February when aid groups were already warning of a “humanitarian disaster”.
Weirdly, the photos that I later took of the Frontex banner were self-censored by my phone. Who knew Sony were so left-leaning?