Report from Lesvos (3)
by Fiona O'Malley Bookmark and Share  
17.9.15


"Before going to Lesvos, I assumed the worst things I would see would be a direct result of general apathy and a lack of resources: stuff like people being forced to walk huge distances, people sleeping in the streets, people going without food, water, clothes, and so on.

I didn’t expect to see much deliberate abuse, and certainly did not expect to personally witness abuse perpetrated by state actors.

However, on a number of occasions I witnessed abuse carried out by the Turkish coastguard and spoke to refugees, journalists and volunteers who had been subjected to or witnessed abuse carried out by both the Turkish and Greek coastguards.

Mohammed, a boy from Syria, was travelling on a boat with his dad and about 50 others. His dad filmed the Turkish coastguard trying to sink their dinghy by circling them, generating huge waves that would push the boat under. His dad, and others on the boat, also told us that the Turkish coastguard shot bullets at them and made throat-slitting gestures when passengers lifted babies and small children up to the Turkish coastguard in an attempt to ask for mercy.

While Mohammed’s dad was being interviewed, we took Mohammed elsewhere so that he would not have to listen to his dad reliving their experiences from earlier that day.

He immediately gravitated towards this cat, Lola, and spent the next hour or so playing with her, petting her, and carrying her around wherever he went. She was amazingly patient, and purred the entire time even when he dragged her, one-handed, from place to place.

It was so lovely to see this little boy being so kind to Lola, knowing that just hours earlier he and his dad had been shot at and almost drowned. Although he had been exposed to some of the worst facets of humanity, he was still so gentle and sweet."

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