Three members of the cast of a play that deals with racism were stopped and detained by police on Monday after finishing rehearsals, despite being in possession of valid residence permits.
The three, all women, were stopped by police and asked for their papers in Keramikos, central Athens, at around 9pm, outside of the Eutopian Workshop, where the rehearsals for the play, “No to racism from the cradle”, take place.
Police at the scene, who were not wearing service numbers and refused to reveal their names, told the women and bystanders that they were detaining them because they appeared “suspicious”.
The women were then transferred, in a patrol car bearing the registration EA 20281, to the Attica aliens bureau on Petrou Ralli street, where they were detained for two hours.
One of those held was Loretta Macauley, the well-known president of the United African Women Organisation, which is preparing the play in association with the Theatre of the Oppressed Greece group. From Sierra Leone, Macauley has lived in Greece for almost 30 years.
“They took us, three women, in a room with 35 men, I counted them. When I asked the police officer if there was another room for women, he said ‘No talking, bitch. This is Greece. If you were a man, I would have grabbed you by the hair,” one of the women said, in a statement issued by the United African Women Organisation.
The procedure was “completely unnecessary”, the statement continued. “With a phone call, a police officer conducting a residency check can be updated by the aliens bureau, without any need for detention.
“It is unfair. Why do they issue us with permits? There is no reason if they don’t respect them. After 32 years in Greece, I cannot believe the kind of state we live in. H My daughter couldn’t believe it,” one of those detained said.
When they attempted to intervene to secure the women’s release from the aliens bureau, a lawyer and the head of Amnesty International in Greece were also threatened with arrest, a statement from the Theatre of the Oppressed said.