WHEN DESPAIR IS PUNISHED
By Tereza Volakaki
When sometimes you wonder what is worse, there are possible scenarios to think about. However, the scene in the refugee camp of Kara Tepe (Montenegro) is getting worse and worse, pushing the people living there in a state of despair, as they are forgotten by everyone.
On 21/02/2021 a young woman, pregnant in the 8th month of her pregnancy and mother of three other children decided to end her life, after many futile efforts the transfer of herself and her family to Germany was postponed. She decided to commit suicide and, having found herself in a complete impasse, removed her children and, after informing the neighbors, set fire to her tent in order to burn herself. The fire did not spread and was extinguished immediately with a small amount of water from the neighbors who rushed to help. The woman was found by firefighters, who arrived at the camp later, in terrible stress and with severe burns all over her body and face. She then was testified as a witness at the hospital where he was taken. The charge against her: arson and damage to foreign property.
As she has pointed out many times, the conditions are the most unsuitable in the camp for all the applicants/refugees and immigrants living there. Especially for a woman who is pregnant at an advanced stage and needs, like any pregnant woman, to have access to sanitary facilities (which -as she assured me- she was not able to use), to doctors, in a safe, warm place to live with the right food and the indispensable medicines. She already had three children. She is pregnant in the fourth, and -as she stressed- she had no intention of having a fourth child. She could not avoid this pregnancy, but neither could she have a safe abortion.
The most important thing for her is that she would experience a very difficult health condition again, after her fourth caesarean surgery, with intense pain. An idea she could not even bear, having had a nightmarish pregnancy in the camp. Her tent, as she repeated to me many times, was on the edge of the camp, exposed to all intense cold and humidity, away from any means necessary for a pregnant woman. The toilet, the shower and the doctors are about ten minutes away. With unbearable pain it is impossible to get there. In the last month the conditions have worsened even more due to the weather conditions, as the cold, the humidity and the sleet made the routes completely prohibitive.
The young recognized refugee, as soon as she was transported to the hospital, was «detained» by fire officers, after being accused of setting fire to the camp and damaging foreign property. With severe burns, in the 8th month of her pregnancy and all alone, she was found in an informal detention inside the hospital, as -as the case file informed us- «she put the lives of others in danger». When you have to deal with a woman in such bad health condition inside a public hospital, the only thing that matters is to take care of her in order her to recover. On the contrary, the commander of the hospital claimed that the lady committed a serious crime and -as defined by the Greek criminal law- should go to a trial. Anyways, Justice will do its job properly…
Justice and the Civil State ‘do their job well’. Especially when it comes to the afflicted, the desperate, the poor, the immigrants and the helpless. They condemn them, without considering how and what happened. Because no prosecutor or investigator ever asked her how she felt. How did she feel all this time, living this nightmare of being a pregnant woman with three children in the camp of Kara Tepe. She was only told that she was an irresponsible mother, who was going to commit suicide by leaving her children. The state is not irresponsible. She is. That is why she will be tried for a crime. This pregnant woman, who found herself in this despair, is a threat to public order and the bourgeois state, because she has no right to be in despair either.
I am angry and stubborn with these situations, because the conditions are getting worse for the oppressed. I will not say that the world will never change. I will say that we are all here to change the situation together.
Solidarity with refugees & immigrants
*Tereza Volakaki is one of the Afgan woman’s lawyers.
You can read the article in Greek here