News2 April 2021
"I have one question: will the fine influence my decision?" - Interview
Lately, we had reported on the initiative the Greek Ombudsman took to intervene on the issue that protection seekers are arbitrarily and discriminatorily fined for violating the COVID-19 restrictions. Today, we want to tell the story of one of them, who got fined while brushing his teeth in front of his tent. Mohamed reports how he was given the fine and how he dealt with it.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Mohamed, I'm from Somalia, I was a refugee in Yemen. I left Yemen to come to Greece. Now I'm in Chios as an asylum seeker. I'm alone here, my father is dead and I don't have relatives around me. I live in Vial Camp. I'm still waiting for my decision after the interview.
2. What happened the day you got the fine? What were you doing?
I was in front of my tent, brushing my teeth. There were two policemen talking with an Arab guy. They passed in front of my tent and asked me why I hadn't my mask on. I told them that I was brushing my teeth. But they told me to take my Khartia*. At that moment I hadn't pants on. So, I went into the tent, put my jacket and pants on and took the Karthia. I tried to talk to them. The police told me "malaka", using abusive words against me. When I gave them the khartia they told me that they were fining me because I didn't have the mask. I had to go with them next to their car, they took some documents, filled them and made me sign them. I tried to explain that I was brushing my teeth, but they didn't listen. Then, when they gave me the documents I went back to my tent. Then I went to the UNHCR info point, saw some people and asked a guy to translate to me the documents because I don't speak Greek.
3. What do you think about the way they treated you?
They treated me very badly. When I told them I would have gone to take my Karthia they told me "Malaka" and something else in Greek, they seemed very aggressive. They treated me badly. They told me nothing else, when I came back with my Karthia they just told me to sign the documents without explaining anything.
4. Do you think it would be possible for you to pay the fine?
The money for fine is 300€, and the money we receive by UNHCR is 70€ per month. There is no way I can pay that money. I can't even afford to pay the taxi to come to the city and I use the 70€ to get me some food. I can't pay 300€ of fine, it's too much. I can't pay that money.
I have one question: will the fine influence my decision?
* The Khatia is card that proofs the status as an asylum seeker.
The petition on the fines to the Greek Ombudsman was only possible through donations. We would be very happy if you would support us to protect human rights.
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