EU-Africa: Fortress Europe bulletin for July 2009

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Fourteen victims in July in Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Spain. The Egyptian police shoots again at the border with Israel: three killed, including two Somali refugees

"RAGUSA (Sicily), 3 August 2009 - Doctors at Rafah hospital were unable to do anything. On his arrival, he had already bled to death. He was struck twice: in his chest and leg. It was the Egyptian police that shot. These events date back to the past 31 July 2009. This is how people die on the Egyptian/Israeli border in the Sinai [peninsula]. It is a border that, since 2006, has become an important transit point for the Eritrean, Somali and Sudanese diasporas as the Libyan route towards Italy is progressively shut down. Thousands of refugees have managed to cross the border over the last few years by relying on Egyptian smugglers. Since 2008, the Egyptian policehas enacted a very hard repression. Hundreds of Eritreans arrested in the Sinai were repatriated in June 2008, in spite of harsh criticism voiced repeatedly by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. And the order went out at the border to shoot on sight: according to Reuters press agency, the refugees who perished under the Egyptian police's shots were at least 28 in 2008 and seven during the first eight months of 2009. These are deaths about which no internal inquiry has been opened in the Egyptian armed forces. Only in July 2009, there have been three deaths, two of whom were Somali refugees. This figure causes the round-up for July to rise to at least 14 deaths, according to news reported by the international press.

However, the police does not only kill in Egypt. On the past 27 July, after four months in a coma in Papanikolaou hospital in Thessaloniki, a young Iraqi Kurd died who had been badly beaten by the Greek police as he sought to embark onto a ferry heading to Italy from Igoumenitsa harbour. Arivan Abdullah Osman was 29 years old. The events date back to 3 April 2009. Arivan was trying to hide under a lorry that was about to embark onto a ferry travelling to Italy. He was travelling without documents, fleeing from Iraqi Kurdistan. When the police got hold of him, they were brutal. Eyewitnesses claim that the officers violently banged his head onto the tarmac. A deadly blow that caused him internal bleeding and irreversible brain damage. Arivan. The Greek minister of the navy, Anastassios Papaligouras, expressed his sorrow for the victim and called for the case to be re-opened, as investigations had not identified anyone as being responsible.

The three Afghans who died in Turkey on 23 July 2009 in a road accident involving a lorry laden with migrants in the area of Kulp in the province of Diyarbakir, were also potential refugees. Always in July, there were other seven people who lost their lives in the Spanish seas. Three of them in the Canary islands, and four in Andalusia, between Barbate (Cádiz) and La Fontanilla de Marbella, where bodies in an advanced state of putrefaction have been resurfacing for weeks. Ghosts from a cemetery known as the Mediterranean."

The original (in Italian) is available at:

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