The Criminalization of Refugees and the Pro Refugee Movement

veröffentlicht am 23. Mai 2019

23. Mai 2019 19:00 - 22:00 Uhr

Presentations from lawyers and activists involved in recent controversial legal cases regarding the prosecution of refugees and human rights defenders in the context of the „Refugee Crisis“:
Moria 35/Lesvos, Ahmed H./Röszke, Stansted 15/London & others.

Film Screening of „Moria 35“ (by Fridoon Joinda, 2018)


ANNINA MULLIS (Swiss lawyer, Democratic Jurists Switzerland, legal observer of the Ahmed H. case),
CARLOS ORJUELA (UK Lawyer, Legal Center Lesvos)
and Vienna-based activists from
Fluchthilfe & Du (Plattform against the criminalization of migration)
and Prozessreport (Association for trial observation).

Since the beginning of the „refugee crisis“ there has been a great surge of solidarity amongst European civil society towards those who have entered the continent fleeing persecution and violence. From Lesvos to Calais, various volunteer solidarity groups have been created to provide vital life-saving support to those seeking international protection.
This nascent „pro-refugee“ movement, which has been successful in mobilising hundreds of thousands of people across the continent in defence of the rights of those seeking international protection and against the idea of „Fortress Europe“, is now facing attack. The source of these attacks are not primarily from fascist groups, but from European States who seek to criminalise members of the pro-refugee movement.

At the same time, the severe human rights breaches which those seeking international protection chronically suffer in Europe, again primarily at the hands of European states, has steadily led to increasingly organised political resistance amongst the very people subjected to such treatment. The response to such legitimate resistance has been the draconian
criminalisation and imprisonment of the movement’s leaders, who due to their precarious situation as applicants of international protection, are often deported once their terms of imprisonment finish.

It is this criminalization, both of solidarity activists and refugee communities across Europe, that we feel it necessary to address through events across Europe.

Organised by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers in Collaboration with the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights, Fluchthilfe & Du, and W23.

Die Präsentationen und die Filmvorführung werden auf Englisch gehalten. Wenn du Übersetzung ins Deutsche benötigst, lass es uns vorher wissen, wir werden eine Lösung finden.

Moria 35/ Lesvos + film screening

Greece, Lesbos, 2017: For months, refugees have been protesting against the inhumane living conditions in Moria camp. On 18 June, a peaceful sit-down strike comes to a violent end. The police storms the refugee camp and brutally arrests 35 men. For nine months, they have to wait in prison before facing a trial in court, even though there is no evidence against them. „As far as I understand, I was only arrested because I am black,“ said Didier Ndiay from Senegal.

The first part of the film follows the various protests and the arrest of the 35 men in Moria camp. The second part accompanies the trial of the refugees and gives an outlook on their different life situations after the sentence, ranging from a life in freedom to imprisonment and deportation.

The case of the Moria 35 is paradigmatic for the ongoing criminalization of refugees on the Greek islands since the conclusion of the EU-Turkey Deal. The director of the movie, Fridoon Joinda, has himself lived as a refugee on Lesvos and has made numerous films about the situation on the island. The producer Valeria Hänsel, is working on Lesvos for the organization Bordermonitoring and the Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies. For more information about the Moria 35 case, visit

Ahmed H./ Röszke

Ahmed H. was arrested on the 16th of September 2015 after the protests on the southern border crossing Röszke. Hungary had closed its border to Serbia the night before. Thousands were suddenly stuck and could no longer flee along the Balkan route. Ahmed H. was arbitrarily arrested with ten other refugees (the so-called „Röszke 11“). By misusing ‚evidence‘ the Court punished him very harshly for using a megaphone: Whereas the other ten have already completed their imprisonments of 1-3 years and could move on, Ahmed H. as their alleged ‚leader‘ had to face isolated prison reality since September 2015. Ahmed H. has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in November 2016. The charges against him: illegal border crossing and „terrorism“. In May 2017 the show trials against the Röszke 11 were condemned by the European Parliament’s resolution against Hungary. Hungary’s government responded by accusing the EU Parliament of supporting terrorism. Other well-known international organizations criticized the judgement sharply. On 15th of June 2017, the retrial against Ahmed H. started at the court of appeal in Szeged, Hungary. The sentence was lowered to 5 years but the terrorism charge was still upheld. In January 2019, Ahmed H. was released from prison on probation, expelled from Hungary and taken into custody by the aliens police, who are negotiating his transfer to a possible reception country. For more information about the case of Ahmed H. and the Röszke 11, visit

Stansted 15/ London Airport

On 28 March 2017, 15 activists, known as the Stansted 15, physically prevented the departure of a chartered aircraft intended to deport individuals from the UK to Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Some of the people on the flight were at risk of serious harm if forcibly removed to their home country.

Originally charged with aggravated trespass, their charges were amended to endangering safety at an aerodrome under section 1 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. This law was intended to address terrorist acts and carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life. The amendment of the charge risks being a politically chilling decision which dissuades activists from taking direct action; it also associates non-violent direct action with terrorist acts. The actvists were found guilty on 10 December 2018. In a statement made following their conviction, the Stansted 15 said: “These terror convictions and the ten-week trial that led to them are an injustice that has profound implications for our lives. The convictions will drastically limit our ability to work, travel and take part in everyday life. Yet, people seeking asylum in this country face worse than this: they are placed in destitution and their lives in limbo, by the Home Office’s vicious system every single day.“

The Stansted 15 now await the result of their appeals.


zum Thema Anti-Rassismus:

zum Thema Anti-Repression: