“My name is Sanaa Taleb. I come from Morocco. I am being imprisoned for 7 months in detention facilities Elliniko and I demand my freedom.”
These are the words from a letter that 33 year old Sanaa Taleb released 14 days ago. She is detained from 4th of April this year in one of Greek detention centers for undocumented migrants, south of Athens. Sanaa was almost deported by Greek police ten days ago but the pilot of the plane prevented her deportation; not that he was worried particularly about her forced deportation. “What will the tourists say if they will see a woman with ripped clothes covered in a blood travelling among them?” was his concern.
The police officers brutally beat Sanaa (in handcuffs) the day she rejected deportation and took her back to the women detention facilities Elliniko.
The bruises and scratches from police aggression was still visible on her body when I met her this week in one of the Athens courtroom. “After 6 months of my detention the authorities decided to simply prolong my imprisonment for another 3 months. From then on I decided to reject any food given to me by prison staff,” she explained to me.
The fight of this brave young woman does not end up here. The police authorities now decided to press charges against her for disobedience and resistance to authority. The same resistance that kept her in Greece. “Other inmates are afraid of violent prison guards, who are beating them or don’t allow them to use the toilet freely,” she describes the cruel living conditions which are reportedly similar to all detention centers in Greece.
The new Greek government which came to power on 25th of January promised that it will treat the migrant issues very carefully. “Detention centers – we’re finished with them,” deputy interior minister Yannis Panousis significantly said 9 months back. None of his promises came true.
Detention facilities all over the Greece still operate and undocumented migrants or refugees are being regularly detained.
However, Sanaa decided to fight against it as she claims she has nothing to lose. “I can’t return back to Morocco. I was not there for 17 years. My life is here in Greece where I have worked for last 5 years,” she admits.
The trial against Sanaa Taleb will take place on Tuesday, 17th of November.
For those who remember, in Greek history 17th of November was a day when resistance movement against a military dictatorship won. But we are living in tumultuous times. Sanaa – the victim of police violence and draconian migration policy system which forced her to work as cheap and unprotected labour, is now being punished for her resistance.
“If I have to choose between deportation and death, I choose death,” she said. But she stays determined to win the fight. The fight to live free.