A Dutch journalist based in Greece has been arrested on the Greek island of Hydra for hosting an Afghan asylum seeker in her home and could face up to a year in prison if charged and convicted.
Ingeborg Beugel, 61, a freelance correspondent for Dutch media who has lived on Hydra for almost 40 years, was arrested on 13 June accused of “facilitating the illegal stay of a foreigner in Greece”. The charge carries a 12-month prison sentence and a fine of €5,000 (£4,300).
Beugel said she was arrested after islanders alerted police to the presence of Fridoon*, a 23-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan. Fridoon had been staying with her while appealing against a negative asylum decision.
“Several angry islanders had called them [the police] saying that I had a ‘suspect’ relationship with an ‘illegal’ in my house,” said Beugel.
“They detained me like I was some kind of lethal terrorist. They wouldn’t even let me go home to get my pills and deodorant.”
Beugel and Fridoon were held overnight in Hydra before being transferred to Athens handcuffed together.
Beugel said it was not a secret that Fridoon had been staying with her and that she has covered his story as a journalist.
“The whole ‘hiding’ thing is ridiculous,” she said. “There’s letters dating from a court case in January 2020 saying that I take care of him and pay for his lawyer and Greek lessons.”
Beugel said Fridoon’s original application for asylum in Greece was rejected because of translation problems at his interview.
“He’s been unable to get an appointment with the Greek asylum service. He’s been calling for months and hasn’t got an answer,” she said.
Beugel said she believed her arrest was in line with other complaints about police and the Greek authorities harassing journalists. Vassilis Papadopoulos, Beugel’s lawyer, said that the crime Beugel had been charged with was most often used when prosecuting smuggling cases. He said it represented a “toughening” of the official response to refugees and asylum seekers in Greece.
Beugel and Fridoon have since been released. Beugel’s court date has yet to be announced after it was postponed to October because of coronavirus restrictions.
The Greek authorities have been approached for comment.
* Partial name for privacy reasons
Norway killings ‘appeared to be’ Islamist ‘terrorism’
Wednesday’s murders “appeared … to be an act of terrorism” Norway’s ‘PST’ intelligence service said Thursday, noting that the killer, Danish national Espen Andersen, had been a “known” threat. Andersen was a Muslim convert and extremist, but might also have had psychiatric problems, Norwegian police said. Norway’s terrorism-threat level was “moderate”, the PST added, while monitoring the risk of “follow-up actions, revenge actions” by either “extreme Islamists” or “right-wing extremists”.
UN quizzed over role in prison-like island camp for Rohingya refugees | Global development
The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) is facing questions over whether it is helping to detain Rohingya refugees in prison-like conditions by providing services on a controversial island camp.
Over the past year, Bangladesh has relocated almost 20,000 refugees to Bhasan Char, an island formed of silt deposits in the Bay of Bengal thought to be vulnerable to cyclones, which the refugees are unable to leave.
About 700 refugees have reportedly attempted to flee the island but Bangladesh hopes that the UNHCR’s cooperation will ensure better services for the refugees and is now planning to increase the island’s population by 80,000 over the next three months.
Refugees International, a global advocacy organisation, said there were “serious questions” about whether it was safe and possible to move such numbers to the island from the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, which are the world’s largest, hosting about 890,000 refugees.
“Most concerning is whether any relocations of Rohingya refugees to the island will be truly voluntary, evidenced by the fact that hundreds of refugees relocated there have already tried to flee,” said Daniel Sullivan, Refugees International’s senior advocate for human rights.
“As Refugees International has warned in the past, failure to properly assess conditions and inform refugees about the move will result in policies more akin to detention than refuge.”
The Geneva-based Global Detention Project tweeted: “In signing a new memorandum of understanding with the Bangladesh government, is the UNHCR assisting in the detention of Rohingya refugees on Bhasan Char island? Are refugees free to move on and off the island? Are they moving there truly voluntarily?”
Human Rights Watch reported in June that the government had misled refugees about conditions on the island and that some had been relocated without informed consent. It also reported that, despite promises from the government of good living conditions, they did not have access to work or education and were unable to leave.
In May, during a visit by senior UNHCR officials to inspect the island, thousands of refugees defied orders to remain in their shelters to protest at the living conditions. The UNHCR later said it was “deeply concerned” that refugees were injured during the protest.
A Rohingya teacher living in the Cox’s Bazar camps said they opposed the UNHCR’s cooperation with the government because they did not believe the island was fit to live on.
“There is not any freedom for the Rohingya people in Bhasan Char. People who have gone there thought life would be comfortable for them, as the government said they would be provided with everything they need,” said the teacher, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions. “There is a lady in Bhasan Char – she sometimes talks with her mother and I heard from her mother that people in Bhasan Char are living as if in prison there.
“At least the government could consider free movement for the people who are in Bhasan Char, so they could travel to see their relatives.”
A leaked copy of the agreement offers no guarantee that refugees will be able to move freely to the mainland, Reuters reported on Friday.
Bangladesh has justified relocating refugees to the island by arguing that conditions are better than the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar, which have witnessed devastating floods and fires this year.
The UN said, after the agreement with the government was announced last weekend, that its presence on Bhasan Char would “help support the refugees to lead decent lives on the island” by ensuring protection, education, healthcare and livelihoods.
Former UNHCR official Jeff Crisp questioned why the agreement between Bangladesh and UNHCR had not been published and whether it failed to ensure freedom of movement for the refugees, which could amount to it becoming a prison island.
He also questioned what the long-term plan was for the island, as little progress had been made towards ensuring the Rohingya can return safely to Myanmar, which several generations of refugees have fled after repeated military operations.
“I don’t know what strategy the Bangladeshi government is working on. What is the endgame? Do they assume people can live happily on Bhasan Char?” said Crisp. “They’re talking about 80,000 moving in the next three months. Are that number of people going to volunteer to go and, if they do, can you move that many people and give proper attention to settling them properly?”
China’s Xi to snub UK climate summit
Chinese prime minister Xi Jinping will not personally attend the ‘COP26’ climate summit in Scotland, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been informed, British newspaper The Times reported Thursday. The no-show might mean China would not submit a ‘nationally defined contribution’ (NDC) on CO2-cuts either, British officials feared. Just half of the world’s ‘G20’ wealthiest countries have filed NDCs so far, amid a supply crunch in oil and gas markets.
VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Don’t waste energy switching
How scientists in Ireland are using technology to predict the climate
Norway killings ‘appeared to be’ Islamist ‘terrorism’
The 1915 Armenian Genocide and its Russophobic Origins
What’s artificial intelligence best at? Stealing human ideas | Technology
The Religious Roots of Russia’s Mistrust towards the West
Technology6 days ago
.NET Foundation to address ‘issues with the community’ • The Register
Global Affairs6 days ago
What are the Pandora Papers? Ten key points to explain the investigation into tax havens | USA
Global Affairs1 week ago
From Shakira to Julio Iglesias: The list of the most famous Spanish and Latino artists in the Pandora Papers | USA
Technology7 days ago
Cloudflare not liable for copyright issues on websites • The Register
Culture6 days ago
Should Germany do more to support households with rising energy costs?
Technology5 days ago
Bolt electric car battery recall might have hurt General Motors, but LG will pay $1.9bn to sooth troubled feelings • The Register
Current1 week ago
AG whose private case work thrust him into controversy
Technology1 week ago
Clearview scraped ’10bn’ selfies for facial recognition • The Register