Greece clears long-used Kurdish shelter slated for demolition

Photo: Turkish Minute

Greek police on Wednesday said they had a cleared a condemned building near Athens where Kurdish refugees had lived for decades, a move criticized by rights groups, Agence France-Presse reported.

The police said in a statement that they had transferred 26 men, eight women and 19 children from the port town of Lavrio to other facilities run by the Greek migration ministry.

Officials noted that the building, which had originally housed refugees from the former Soviet Union in 1947 before being used in the 1980s to accommodate Kurds fleeing Turkey, is slated for demolition.

“A small earthquake could have brought down the building, crushing the residents,” Lavrio Mayor Dimitris Loukas told reporters at the scene.

Speaking through a translator, a Kurdish representative told reporters that police had “broken down all the doors and violently entered rooms” to clear the residents.

The police statement said the operation was conducted “calmly and there was no resistance.”

The Kurdistan cultural and democratic center, a group representing Kurdish refugees in Greece, in a statement said “an army” of 300 police officers accompanied by a prosecutor had taken the residents to a migrant camp in Malakasa, near Athens.

“They were awakened and rounded up, they did not even have time to collect their clothes,” the center said.

It added that Greece had closed the shelter to satisfy Turkey, which for years has claimed that it was a training center for militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

A protest over the police operation will be held in Athens later Wednesday.

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