Greek Police Crush Immigrant Revolt at Detention Camp

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By Umberto Bacchi | November 24, 2012 3:30 AM EST

Greek police officers patrol a detention centre for immigrants (Reuters)

A revolt by illegal immigrants in a Greek detention camp has been crushed by riot police.

Greek security forces used teargas and clashed with suspected illegal immigrants who were being held in the northeast city of Komotini, 820km (510m) from Athens.

Twelve detainees and four police officers were injured, while the detention camp was reportedly devastated as rioters had set fires, burned mattresses and crashed furniture with metal bars they obtained dismantling bed frames.

"Things are quiet now. But the place looks like it's been bombed," said Stavroula Tzatzana, head of the police officers' association in the north-eastern Rodopi region.

"There's been extensive damage. Windows have been smashed, mattresses burned, and all kinds of property damaged," she said.

Tzatzana blamed the poor security measures at the detention centre for the riot.

"For each shift, there are 15 police officers available to guard 550 people. That is obviously not enough. We have repeatedly warned that the conditions are inappropriate. Now it is clear these conditions are putting the lives of my colleagues at risk."

Five hundred and fifty immigrants, mostly of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian origin, were being held in the camp. Many face deportation following a crackdown on illegal immigration implemented by the right-wing government in August.

Another smaller revolt was reported at an immigrant detention facility in the southern city of Corinth recently.

More than 50,000 immigrants have been held for questioning since August and about 4,000 have been subsequently detained for deportation.

In August, Human Rights Watch called on Greece to stop its massive round-ups of migrants, which it said was based on "little more than their physical appearance".

Racial tension has been mounting in the country in recent months, as far right movements see the immigrant population as partially responsible for the deep economic crisis Greece is stuck in. 

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