Far-right elements fuel tensions on islands

Between 400 and 500 residents of Lesvos held a protest rally on Monday calling on the government to take action to reduce the number of refugees and migrants at a processing facility in Moria that is dangerously over capacity.

TAGS: Migration, Protest

Ultra-nationalists reportedly attacked three female students on the island of Lesvos on Monday during a protest rally organized by residents calling on the government to reduce the number of people at a refugee and migrant processing center in the village of Moria that is dangerously over capacity.

Local media reported that a group of around 15 men chanting anti-migrant slogans physically assaulted the three women, one of whom is known as a volunteer who works with migrants. Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos was also reportedly attacked by ultra-nationalists, who appeared at the rally as part of a group calling itself the “Patriotic Movement of Lesvos.”

Galinos was addressing the crowd of 400-500 protesters when the ultra-nationalists started shouting “throw them in the sea,” in reference to the migrants on the island, before turning their vitriol on the official.

Tension was also high at the Moria hot spot, with a group of men lighting fires inside the processing center and in an olive grove just outside the camp in protest at living conditions and delays in processing.

The events on Lesvos mirror similar violence last week on the island of Chios by ultra-nationalists who gate-crashed a protest rally calling for more action from Athens to manage more than 13,500 refugees and migrants who are trapped on just five islands in the eastern Aegean. According to local media, a man claiming to represent the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on the island hit a journalist and smashed his camera, after verbally abusing another journalist.

Earlier, pro-migrant protesters clashed with riot police, who used tear gas to disperse the crowds.