April 10, 2016

Emergency Security Situation at the Greek-Macedonian Border-crossing

Today, at 10:30 am, several hundred refugees and migrants who have been dwelling for more than a month and a half in the improvised camp close to Idomeni, started making organized efforts to break through the border fence and to enter Macedonian national territory. In the course of the attempt they were informed by the MI that their entry into Macedonia is not allowed, because all borders on the Balkan route remain closed. The group was warned against use of force, or else the police officers would be forced to apply security measures. Soon after the warning, some of the refugees and migrants started throwing stones and hard objects over the fence and toward the police officers.

This reaction prompted the Police to respond with stun grenades and teargas, firing them from Macedonian to Greek soil, where the Greek Police was conspicuous by its absence. Smaller groups of about twenty refugees and migrants, managed to enter Macedonian territory at a point approximately 300 meters away from the entry gate, but were soon apprehended and sent back to Idomeni. The state of affairs remained unchanged till 2:00 pm, while presently additional police forces arrive at the borderline, and a Police helicopter is employed as well.

The Helsinki Committee appeals to the police officers who are exerting police authority and maintaining public order and peace, to ensure the necessary protection of the refugees and migrants, to respect their rights, and not to use excessive or disproportionate force or activities. While using chemical materials and other means of coercion, the police officers should undertake every precautionary measure possible to prevent endangering the refugees’ and migrants’ life or health, as well as to protect their physical and moral integrity. Taking in consideration the fact that the disturbances of public peace and order are taking place over the territories of two countries, it is necessary that the MI should coordinate its activities with the Greek Police.