John Cody, Remix, August 28, 2023
For the past week, Greece has once again been plagued by wildfires, particularly in the vicinity of Alexandroupolis, in the northeast of the country, near the border with Turkey, which is close to where 13 Pakistani and Syrian migrants were arrested for arson.
A video posted on social networks last Tuesday says the group was caught red-handed trying to start a fire near the town of Alexandroupolis. They have been charged with illegal entry and attempted arson by a public prosecutor, but one government source says the fire was an “accident.”
The migrants allegedly responsible for the arson were locked in a trailer by a local businessman, who filmed the incident and called the police. According to a translation provided by the Greek City Times, the businessman said the following about the incident:
“The scene of the incident was 200 meters from my business. Several improvised incendiary structures were found in the area. In the previous days, the suburbs and settlements of Alexandroupolis had been evacuated, as well as the University General Hospital. Naturally, all the residents had lost sleep and were on the alert for any fires.
At the specific point between Alexandroupolis and S. Chile, behind a supermarket chain, I spotted a group of 13 people who were around an object and were trying to set it on fire while holding a balloon that smelled of gasoline, and they also brought a knife with them.
I immediately called two of my fellow citizens who were at the scene, and we asked them to throw down the knives and the objects they were holding in their hands. We prevented them from creating an active fire source within the urban area.
Then it would have to be ensured that they wouldn’t escape and attack us until the police arrived. I immediately called (emergency number) 100, and in 10 minutes, a police patrol car came and picked them up.
The video was taken while we were waiting for the police to arrive, as I wanted to inform my fellow citizens of the incident; specifically that, after so many days of fighting the fire, I spotted arsonists in the city while they were preparing to set a fire.”
I didn’t care if they were immigrants, if they came from Albania, Syria, Greece or Australia. I am neither a fascist nor a racist, and I am sure that my fellow citizens of Alexandroupoli with whom I have been doing business all these years know that.”
The fires have been plaguing Greece all summer, and in the most recent case, several bodies have been found charred by the flames. So far, Greek authorities say up to 20 lives have been lost due to the wildfires.
The area where the migrants were arrested is one of the poorest in Greece, and the presence of so many migrants crossing the border has fueled resentment from locals. Some have been quoted as saying they believe the migrants are setting the fires to spread chaos near the border in order to make it easier for them to evade authorities, who will likely be too preoccupied with evacuating residents and putting out fires to bother policing the area.
Although the investigation in this case is still ongoing, migrants have a long history of setting fires in Greece, especially to their own migrant camps, as Remix News has previously reported. The motive, in many cases, was to force authorities to either move them to the Greek mainland or transfer them to other European countries due to a lack of shelter.
As Remix News also reported, a major fire that burned down the migrant camp at Moria in 2020 led to the arrest of five Afghan migrants. Police sources said that five alleged arsonists all had their asylum applications rejected prior to the arson.
“There is no doubt that Moria was burned by some hyperactive refugees and migrants who tried to blackmail the government by burning Moria down and demanded their immediate relocation from the island,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the time.