‘You are here’: Μap on Platanos, Sykamia

This map was made by ‘solidarians’, activists, volunteers together with migrants and refugees[1] in order to provide location and orientation for the ‘newcomers’ who were arriving from sea to Sykamia, Northern part of Lesvos island, during the year 2016. It was hanged on the old Pine Tree (‘Platanos’) nearby the beach, which, from summer 2019, no longer exists.[2]

Observing the map, we notice that:

-apart from the main map of Lesvos, another map of Greece and five (5) other text messages are are layered in one ‘collage’;

-a variety of icons, symbols, typographies and fonds are used in order the message to be transmitted; (photo 1);

-apart from English and Greek, we can see Arabic, Farsi and Urdu languages (all photos);

-the map shows the location of Lesvos island within the Greek territory and neighbouring area (photo 2 & 3);

-the location of the newcomers is indicated by the hand-written ‘YOU ARE HERE’ (photo 4);

-the important information on it is the two alternative routes to Moria, Kara Tepe camps and Mytilene (highlighted in red and arrows, photo 2). Thus, Molivos & Sykamia, the two closer villages where there is bus transportation, are highlighted (photo 2);

-the map uses symbols of transport means, ie. bus and boat (photos 2, 4, 5), as well as, it provides info for the boat’s time duration and average cost (photo 5)[3];

-the directions given in all languages (Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, English, Greek) are, approximately, the following[4]:

Welcome to the Greek island Lesvos.

You must register with the authorities first at — MORIA.

By bus takes about 90 minutes. Walking takes two days.

Please stay with your traveling group, and don’t get into separate vehicles.

Keep your luggage with you at all times. Beware of over-pricing.

Do not sleep or rest on the roads. (photo 6)

Every map is more than its representation, symbolism, typography etc.; it is the people behind, in front and over it, as well as the relations and procedures needed in order for its creation. These ‘mapping’ processes reveal a variety of enclosed information regarding all above-mentioned observations:

-the people who created the map respected the need of the ‘newcomers’ to be treated in their own language and to participate in procedures that concerns, vastly, them; their location, orientation and first basic directions;

-the use of hand-writing on the map, either in order to emphasise an information, ie. ‘YOU ARE HERE’ or to change an old one, ie. ‘MORIA’ instead of ‘the port in Mytilene’, reveals the on-going process of the mapping, throughout many changes in data, circumstances, means etc..

In all, this ‘mapping’ is open to alterations and ‘newcomings’; is in a process of becoming towards to the future, and finally; inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s work, we can argue that it performs as an ‘assemblage’.[5]


Naya Tselepi
December 2019



[1] More info here: 

[2] Τhe Pine tree fell in July 2019 due to heavy storms. More info here:—symvolo-ths-prosfygikhs-krishs-sth-skala-sykamias

[3] We assume that the time duration and cost refer to the itinerary from Mytilene to Athens.

[4] Some deviances from the English text are noticed in Greek language, which, roughly affect the communication, given that the vast majority of newcomers doesn’t communicate in Greek.

[5] The term ‘assemblages’ derives from the french ‘agencements’, which is introduced by Deleuze and Guattari in Mille Plateaux, Capitalisme et Schizophrenie (1980).



Crampton, J.W., 2011. Mapping: A critical introduction to cartography and GIS, 11. John Wiley & Sons.

Deleuze, G., and Guattari, F., 2004. A thousand plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Map of location and orientation for migrants and refugees who were arriving from sea to Sykamia, Northern part of Lesvos island. The map was made by ‘solidarians’, activists, volunteers together with migrants and refugees & it was hanged on the old Pine Tree (‘Platanos’) nearby the beach. 
Photos by Naya Tselepi, February 2016.


‘Invisible Women’

For every Feride in Moria who speaks and her voice is not heard, 

for every Eleni in Mytilene whose life is ignored, 

for every woman in the world trying to find a place.  


We women are screaming for freedom 

but they silence us using every form of violence. 

We’re tired of hiding, 

We’re tired of being scared, 

for our bodies, our children. 

We’re tired of hearing about another female homicide, 

From men to patriarchy 

From bosses to capitalism.  


Our sisters, 

it’s time for our voices to be heard 

it’s time to fight & 

to claim our rights.

For everyone in this world, 

for all of us, 

For life! 


(Invisible Women Manifesto)

‘Invisible Women’ is an initiative that sprang from the research team ‘Invisible Cities’ of the Department of Geography of the University of the Aegean, which includes women living or passing through Lesvos (many of them are no longer on the island).

Its original purpose was to respond to the call of Zapatista women for the Second International Conference of Women Fighting in Chiapas, Mexico in early December 2019. It was decided to send a video recording the speech of women who have been, or are trapped, in the hot spot of Moria as well as their actions against the homicides in the Aegean islands.

As part of the implementation of the video, meetings were held to discuss the call of the Zapatistas, an action of collecting voices, images and theatrical proposals and an action of joint creation of a mosaic-mural, in collaboration with Mosaik’s reuse laboratory. The process of reusing materials that seemingly are considered waste, in addition to covering real needs on the island, is highly symbolic as ‘a lot of human lives in Lesvos are characterised as ‘waste’. Therefore, changing the meaning of materials through their reuse becomes analogous to making visible women from every corner of the globe.

The video was prepared and traveled virtualy in the city of Mexico, where it was received by the Geobrujas team, which, through a convoy of 400 women on a 22-hour journey to the jungle of Lacandona, handed it over to the Zapatistas. The video sparked the opening of a communication channel with Mexican feminist collectives, a process that is still ongoing.

Violeta Dimitrakopoulou & Naya Tselepi
December 2019

Photos by:
Violeta Dimitrakopoulou


Solidarity, anti-fascist struggles & Covid-19

March 14, 2020, the first day after the announcement of the Greek government for the closure of shops and for a radical change in the way we communicate, but Sappho Square in the center of Mytilene was full of people. Solidarians from Greece and from many European countries gathered to support the call of the Antifascist Initiative of Lesvos Against the Detention Centers: 

“- to state in practice our opposition to the emphasis only on the island’s local society – and in all forms of fascism & nationalism and to send fascists and neo-Nazis back to their holes 

” – To unite our voices in favour of open borders, free movement in European countries and against the illegal movement of people.”

The rally and solidarity march took place on Saturday morning, following a route through neighborhoods and the shopping center of Mytilene, the waterfront, the building of the Region, the port and the courts.

The actions were commented on in various ways and – for the most part – quite critically, with the characteristic article of a local newspaper entitled ‘The most dangerous nonsense of the year took place today in Mytilene!’. Of particular interest is the criticism leveled not at those who would have done it anyway but “by people who would have supported the marches if it were not for the issue of corona, that is, by comrades in this struggle.”

In response to these criticisms, the Lesvos Anti-Fascist Initiative Against Detention Centers immediately replied with a text entitled ‘On the course of Saturday 14/3 (Mytilene) or On Social Responsibility’.

“For all these reasons we took to the streets against the generalized fear that feeds all kinds of ‘fascism’ against the different. We promise, when the epidemic is over, to come out again and be thousands.”

Naya Tselepi
March 2020

1,2,3,4,7 by Antifascist Coordination Lesvos & 5,6 by Naya Tselepi


Xenophobia Virus

During the rally and solidarity march of the Antifascist Initiative of Lesvos Against the Detention Centers that took place on Saturday, March 14, 2020 in Mytilene, protesters shared the solidarity masks with the characteristic XENOPHOBIA as well as flyer for further distribution – both in Greek and English, entlitled ‘ΞΕΝΟΦΟΒΙΟΣ’ ‘and’ XENOPHOBIA VIRUS ‘respectively. It was the first day after the Greek government announced the closure of shops and a radical change in the way we communicate, so this text very aptly and caustically commented on the ‘invisible’ dimensions of a virus that poses a greater risk than the corresponding one, of corona, that of xenophobia.

“The xenophobia virus (xenovid 20) is a highly contagious viral infection that is rapidly spreading across the globe. While it is yet unknown exactly how dangerous this new virus is, several deaths have been reported in the past week, including that of a 2-year-old child. Inform yourself and take adeuqate measures to avoid a crisis in your region.

Key Symptoms

  • Fevrish contempt for foreigners
  • Sudden outbursts of racial slurs
  • Islamophobic comments or thoughts
  • Nationalist ideas and/or a sudden atraction to national flags
  • Delirium of supremacy above others


The virus is usually transmitted though online media and personal contact. Most common are: 

Fake news, fascists, coastguards, FRONTAX, police, religious leaders, and government officials. 

The virus is epsecially found prevalent on national flags.

How to protect yourself

  • Avoid any contact or association with costguards, FRONTEX and cops
  • Avoid municipality-led demonstrations
  • Visiting neo-nazis must immediately be isolated and quarantined
  • Contact with foreigners has been proven to minimise chances of infection
  • Avoid key infection zones: FRONTEX ships, Hacienda bar and around roadblocks near power plant and Moria village
  • Be mindful of overly simplified answers to complex questions.”

Naya Tselepi
March 2020

Photos by Naya Tselepi


#All Women Against Moria

In the daily life of the women and girls of the hot spot of Moria, relentless insecurity prevails. More than 20,000 people live in a detention centre with a capacity of 3,000 people at the time of writing (April 2020). Even more so for women, this situation exacerbates their insecurity as most are victims of different types of violence, including rape. This violence is not unprecedented for them as it was most often experienced in the countries of origin, during their travel to Europe, and in the hot spot of Moria it is greatly intensified. Even greater is the need for women traveling alone to be housed in specially designed spaces, women’s ‘safe-spaces’. Unfortunately, these places are few and overpopulated, so very often single women are forced to stay in tents set up in areas with a male population, which makes their survival very difficult.

For the inhumane conditions they experience every day in the hot spot of Moria and for the asylum applications that are increasingly delayed for hundreds of immigrant and refugee women, they marched and demonstrated on January 30, 2020 from Moria to Mytilene. The main slogan of the women during the march was ‘Moria is a women’s hell’ which was supported by solidarity on social media with the hashtag #AllWomenAgainstMoria and he motto ‘tolerance for the conditions in Moria and the geographical limitation of asylum seekers on the islands is criminal’.

Their voices were very loud, and neither the torrential rain nor the shields of the uniforms of the special police forces could stop them.

The testimonies of the women themselves in conversations and interviews taken by one of the writers are exemplary of the situation:

“Moria is not Europe, Moria is worse than Afghanistan. We, women, we are not safe in Moria, in Moria people has been murdered, in Moria, they treat us like dogs (very bad),we request from the united nation to help us. Moria is not Europe, Moria is not a safe place, and our youth are hanging themselves to end up their lives. We want justice.”

“We want justice, we want freedom. When we had to cross the sea we realized we could drown, but we took that risk for a better future for our children. Unfortunately it is worse than Afghanistan, we do not feel safe in the Moria camp, we suffer. from the conditions that exist in Moria. We cannot even compare with hell the situation we have in Moria … ”

“We have putted our lives in danger, we have risked our lives when we stepped in the rubber boat, and we knew that it was possible to get drowned in the sea, we knew that it was possible that won’t make it alive to Greece. Why Greece is prisoning us? Greece is not Europe, Greece is worse than Afghanistan, we want justice, we have come to live and for that we have putted our lives in danger several times.”

“We want nothing else but just freedom from you, just let us to go because of these kids, we have lived our lives in all the worst possible situation, at least let these kids to have a peaceful life, why you have no mercy towards us? Why nobody hear us? Why you don’t want to listen to us? Why you do not understand? We have put our lives in danger to finally arrive here and yet you are deporting us back.”

Μigrant women are screaming for freedom, it’s time for their voices to be heard, for “invisible” women to be seen.


Violeta Dimitrakopoulou & Naya Tselepi
April 2020


photo 1: Natasha Papanikolaou, 
photo 2 & 3: Lesvos Solidarity Pikpa, All Women Against Moria, 
photo 4, 5 & 6:  Violeta Dimitrakopoulou


Map of location & orientation, Korakas promontory

The rocky promontory of Korakas, at the northeastern tip of Lesvos is one of the—often deadly—‘entry points’ of migrant and refugee flows into Europe. In November 2015, at this place, volunteers and solidarity organisations created an ‘observatory of movements,’ which also functioned as a ‘welcoming station’ for migrants and refugees who were arriving by sea to the broader area, down to Sykamias beach. 

Amongst the first actions of solidarians who staffed the station was the creation of a map of ‘positioning and orientation’. Specifically, the map indicates the point of ‘arrival’ of migrants and refugees and provides information and instructions for the route to follow and stations they would encounter in the surrounding area. 

On the map we observe that the point of arrival of boats (in black, bottom right) is at the Korakas Lighthouse,  where first aid is provided (cross symbol). Then, newcomers will have to walk a difficult path (footprint symbol) for 800 metres to reach Point Eight, the first station where they can get warm, drink water, and sit down to rest (at the respective symbols). From this particular point, a vehicle (flatbed truck) picks them up, which after 20 minutes’ drive transports them to the station at the former Cheese Factory, where heating, food, warm beverages, water, bathroom, basic clothing, and first aid are provided (at the respective symbols). There, they are picked up by the designated vehicle of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which transports them within 30 minutes, to the nearest station of the organisation. 

It is very important to note the following about this particular map and the process of its creation (mapping): 

  • the map has been created with indelible paint on a marble surface in order to withstand rain, humidity and other weather and natural processes that could damage or destroy it.
  • its symbolism is appropriate to be able to ‘communicate’ its message to speakers of all languages.
  • the map provides important information of distances and time, as it is addressed to people who find themselves in an urgent situation and/or in danger, for whom it is very important to know these parameters as soon as they reach the shore.

Naya Tselepi
December 2019


Map of location and orientation for migrants and refugees who reached the Korakas promontory by the sea, made by solidars and volunteers.
Photos by Naya Tselepi, February 2016.


Hope! letter

Hope! [1]

… heart is sad

… the seed of new hope

… discover marvels

A past … you had forgotten

Take the time to look at your life

Go to the gardens of your soul

And you will find fullness.

If you can not fulfil your desires

You have the hope that one day

You will … other joys

… finds your face and hides …

Soon you … the sun will dry them

Smile to life, because today nothing goes, it remains tomorrow

Advance on the path of life.

Because a the end you will see

Inscribed in the sky in letters of fire the word hope.

Life is not always right but it is not a valid reason to give-up

hope again…

To live without hope is to stop living

Hope is the greatest vehicle of success in the midst of

Uncertainty, there is always hope, no matter how fragile

Even without hope, the fight is still hope

Hope is the pillar of the world

Hope is the will to fight the very obstacles the see


Naya Tselepi
December 2019



[1] Hope! Letter was written by a refugee participant during the closing workshop of the 5 day-meeting in Lesvos island of the Project ‘The Route Of Solidarity’. The workshop’s topic was ‘to pack the whole meeting in a small bag, with some words & objects. The Hope! letter is partly destroyed because many flowers cut in the island were put in the same bag (as seen in the photo, the left bag on the top line)



The Route of Solidarity Project_Lesvos meeting,

Photos by Naya Tselepi, 28.5.2018


Witnessing History: Sappho’s recollections

It’s an idea both distant and a very profound one: Sappho, the lyric poetess standing eternally in the middle of a public square in her homeland; gazing; exploring her descendants amid the chaos.

“Burn them”, people shout to the poetess’ feet and smoke envelops her marble look, as screams reach her ears. The wailing of mothers and children, the pleadings for help in words that seem extraneous but all too familiar. Sappho remembers.

Stories unfold around her through the centuries and Sappho has become a symbol of female love and shameless desire, paving the way for women’s right to creative expression.

Sappho loved luxury and beautiful visual stimuli coming from foreign places, and Lesvos’ position as an trading hub for the East strengthens such a claim.

Sappho was also in exile, seeking refuge in Sicily because of her political views. History  would later do her justice:statues were made in her honor, coins were forged with her name and face on them. When her statuesque figure relocated in Lesvos decades ago, Sapho would inevitably be once again at the very center of history.

Lesvos soon becomes a non- topos, a place where asylum seekers are on the island and yet they remain “invisible”. Only when they emerge from the camps to occupy her square – a place historically intertwined with awakening and the changing of direction- only then do they bring the distant pain back to the fore, near us.

The asylum seekers which were attacked by her descendants, would be arrested later that night. The police officers’ shadow falls on the base of the statue while Sappho motionless watches peoples’ frantic running. What if Sappho was called to testify about what happened? Would she demand to appear in front of the bench? And how would she be treated by the authorities?

The “space” was the only thing that did not move that night. The Topos that is reconstructed for the purposes of a court case that -one day- will take place. A 3D model shows what was then inanimate, which it has already partially been gone.

Sappho’s square will soon be redeveloped. The redevelopment feels like as another attempt to remove the evidence of a crime. When and if the trial takes place, the appointed judges won’t be able to walk on the same pavement, see the same trees or rubbish bins that the perpetrators moved that night. They might  not even recognize the bus stop in the square or the street lights surrounding it.

Yet the poetess will remember. If only she could point out to us those responsible for these acts. If only her gaze could once more extend beyond this island.

μνάσασθαί τινά φαιμι καὶ ἄψερον ἀμμέων.
I’m saying that someone will remember us in the future.
– Sapphο

*On the night of April 22nd 2018, a group of asylum seekers was attacked by mob of locals in Sapfo’s square, in Mytilene, Lesvos island, Greece. Almost 3 years after, the court case is still pending, many of the accused perpetrators are at large, participating in other violent actions against people on the move and Greek citizens.

Disinfaux Collective


/Disinfaux is a not-for-profit research collective based in Greece. We conduct in-depth investigations on human and environmental rights issues, borders and surveillance, detention/exclusion regimes, migration/displacement, and alt-right/far-right movements. We operate as an autonomous network of on-the-ground researchers, academics, and journalists, interested in open-source investigations, field research, and investigative journalism.

Images 1,2,3: Disinfaux Collective
Image 4:


Everyday Life

Covid-19 days in Moria

In the midst of Covid19 the refugees of Moria are faced with a different dilemma than the rest of the world. Most people around the rest of Europe are worrying about having to stay indoors and occupying their time. Here for us refugees it’s different. 

I was talking with a young syrian guy last week and he said to me something that resonated with me and probably many others; if we die, we die if even one of us has the virus and then we will all die. 

In Moria everyone is scared, many people are already suffering from pneumonia and chest infections as well as other underlying conditions, water is cut off for several hours a day in the camp. When the water comes back, the dilemma starts. Should we wash dishes first or shower, should we wash their clothes or should we go wait for hours in line for food? If we go get the food and manage to receive it the dishes will be dirty, if we go get the food there won’t be water long enough to wash our clothes, or to shower. If we go to wash their clothes and shower we won’t be able to stand in line for food so we will sleep hungry. One of our most basic needs in life is water, whilst others get to worry about Covid19, we are left to worry whether we will be able to have water to wash our hands. 

But despite everything the most important is that we through it all will keep hope that we have survived war, we have survived militias, we have survived crossing the sea and now we will survive this virus together. 

Don’t listen to those who say there are no solutions, there are many solutions, the lives of those in the camp unfortunately don’t seem worth the effort to those in charge. Covid19 response seems so well orchestrated everywhere else, refugee camps once again are forgotten.

Yousif Alshewaili, Naya Tselepi
April 2020

References of Yousif Alshewaili:

Photos by Yousif Alshewaili


‘One happy night’

On the night of Saturday, 7 March 2020, “unknown persons” set fire to the premises of “One Happy Family,” an open social centre outside of the city of Mytilene that supports refugees and migrants.

Since 2017, when it was created, One Happy Family constitutes a humane space of encounter, relaxation, and education for refugees and migrants who live in Lesvos: in the Moria hotspot, at the Kara Tepe camp, and in apartments in Mytilene. The services it provides are food, medical care, a space for resting and leisure, childcare, and education. Some of its sub-projects include: a kitchen, a dining hall, a medical centre, a café, a cybercafé, a cinema, video games, hair salon, an educational centre, a library, a bank, a garden, a greenhouse, a gym and sport facilities, music lessons, yoga, playground, a “nest” for small children, and a safe space for women[1]. This multitude of services and activities cover to a large degree the gaps that have emerged from the inadequate humanitarian assistance and the absence of state intervention, more generally in Greece, and specifically in Lesvos.

A special reference must be made to the ‘School of Peace’, which for the past three years offered daily access to education for children and adults. Since February 2017, it was a “home” for more than 4,000 children who passed through the island.

The fire at One Happy Family was no accident. The police department of Mytilene published a press release which states that it was planned arson[2]. According to the people who created and staff One Happy Family this hate crime is an “attack on the edifice of solidarity.”[3] Burning down a school and a social centre means not only the destruction of particular buildings, but also the destruction of a place that secures basic and self-evident human rights, a space of learning, expression, creativity–a space of freedom.

The arson took place in the midst of a period of dramatic escalation of violence against refugees, volunteers, journalists, and local solidarians–not only by law enforcement agencies, but also by groups of far-right extremists. Moreover, this was the outgrowth of the policies of recent years that have led to an emergency situation in the Aegean islands, at the borders of northern Greece, and in Greece in general: thousands of people are trapped in miserable conditions in the Moria hotspot, many more on other islands. The ongoing violation of human rights, the cessation of the right to apply for asylum in Greece, illegal pushbacks and violent obstruction of people in their attempt to cross the borders–these are just some of the characteristics of the emergency situation. The creators and  staff of One Happy Family remind us that “All of these are much worse than the damage caused to the buildings of One Happy Family and the International School of Peace. All these are still continuing.”

The arson took place in a country where a member of the ruling party commented on the incident on Facebook as “One happy night.” Indeed, when another fb user replied to him that “you rejoice in disaster; that’s how miserable you’ve become,” the former answered: “No, it’s not a disaster. This is more idyllic than a sunset in Santorini.”[4]

Between sunset and sunrise, “light and darkness,” racist paranoia and solidarity, ashes and rebirth, One Happy Family continues to be–and not only “was”–a promise of encounter of people from different points of departure who nevertheless have similar goals: the improvement of their living conditions.

Thankfully there “exists […] a large solidarity movement all over the world, which is determined by the struggle for human rights, equality, and justice”[5];  hence this promise is not only located in Lesvos but everywhere in the world. “We will rebuild the school! Together, the light will prevail over the darkness.”

Naya Tselepi
March 2020





[5] ibid.

1-4: by Naya Tselepi, taken during field visits in May and November 2018.
6-7:  by  Knut Bry