The new Syriza-led government in Greece has pledged to move more quickly on a campaign promise to right a wrong by previous governments by closing the country’s widely-criticized immigrant detention centers.
Deputy Interior Minister Yannis Panousis, who oversees public order and civic protection, promised immediate action after a visit to the Amygdaleza detention center in western Athens on Saturday, during which approximately 50 detainees staged a protest against their ongoing detention and the center’s deplorable conditions. The night prior to Panousis’s visit, a 28-year-old Pakistani man held at the facility reportedly died in a suspected suicide.
“Detention centers—we’re finished with them,” Panousis told reporters on Saturday.
The demonstrators held up a banner reading, “Shut down the concentration camps” and “Freedom. We die here.”
Upon exiting the facility, Panousis told reporters, “I’m here to express my shame, not as a minister but as a human being.”
“I couldn’t believe what I saw. I really could not believe it. This must change and it must change immediately,” he said, adding that the centers would be shuttered within days.
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