Greek refugee camp home to PKK, other illegal organizations

8 May 2013 /BURAK KILIÇ / FAZLI MERT, LAVRION – Zaman – The Lavrion refugee camp in Greece is still home to members of several illegal organizations, including the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), Today’s Zaman has learned.

Today’s Zaman recently managed to enter the camp, which Greece previously said had been closed upon Turkey’s request. Contrary to Greece’s claims, the camp is still active and there are several members of leftist illegal organizations, some of which are active in Turkey. The members residing in the Lavrion camp mostly speak Turkish.

Last year, reports appeared in the Turkish media that the DHKP/C, a terrorist organization that carried out several terrorists attacks in the past couple of months in Turkey, signed a protocol agreement with intelligence officials in Greece which included a provision for its militants to receive training at the Lavrion camp. Since the Lavrion Refugee Camp in Greece operates under the auspices of the United Nations, Turkey’s National Police Department is unable to take any action against the suspected DHKP/C militants in this camp. Turkey has applied to Interpol for the extradition of many of the militants to Turkey, but Greek authorities have failed to respond as of yet.

Members of illegal organizations usually return to Turkey to carry out terrorist attacks or travel to European countries after having received terrorist training at the Lavrion camp. At the entrance of the camp stands a sign that reads “Lavrion Refugee Camp of the United Nations” alongside the flags of the UN and Red Cross. Contrary to other refugee camps in Greece, there are no police officers to regulate visitors of the camp. Instead, visitors are checked in by members of illegal organizations residing in the camp. Next to the Lavrion camp is another refugee camp that hosts many refugees fleeing Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

As we walk through the camp, we see posters of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the terrorist PKK, and the terrorist group’s flags waving. We see children riding bikes and playing games and men smoking cigarettes or playing volleyball. There are two sizeable buildings where residents of the camps are accommodated. Apartments are reserved separately for members of the PKK, DHKP/C and the Maoist Communist Party (MKP).We then visit the dining hall of the camp. One of the cooks says they give three meals a day to residents of the camp. Residents are free to either eat their meal in the dining hall or return with it to their apartments. They are also free to leave and return to the camp as they wish. The accommodations of the Lavrion camp give it the appearance of a three-star hotel more so than a refugee camp.

Camp welcomes members of many organizations

Members of illegal organizations are taken to the Lavrion camp for register once they are snuck into Greece. The camp also welcomes terrorists who wish to receive training there.  PKK authorities send many members here every year for training, after which they are assigned higher posts in the terrorist group.

According to intelligence reports, the Lavrion camp is home to members of the PKK, MKP, DHKP/C and the Turkey-based Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). There are currently 13 such members residing at the camp. Eight of them were involved in terrorist activities in Turkey for which a red notice was issued on them. No one is allowed to enter the apartments of members of these groups.

The Lavrion camp began to spell trouble for Turkey starting in the 1970s. When Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras paid a visit to Turkey in March of this year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan showed him the photos of several terrorists residing in the camp and asked him to extradite them to Turkey. The Turkish prime minister also asked his Greek counterpart to shut down the camp. News reports appeared in the Greek media in April that the camp had been shut down. Following the meeting between the two prime ministers, the Greek police detained 14 suspected members of the PKK and DHKP/C at the camp and as a result of an interrogation, 13 of them were released. The remaining one terrorist, Havva Suiçmez, was arrested.  Turkish authorities claimed in February that a DHKP/C terrorist, Ecevit Şanlı, who committed a bomb attack at the US Embassy in Ankara that killed a guard as well as himself, was trained to handle bombs at the Lavrion camp. Detectives discovered that Şanlı was trained at Lavrion before taking a ferry to Turkey on Jan. 30. He then traveled to Ankara to carry out the deadly attack. Among other terrorists who were trained in Greece and then carried out attacks in Turkey are İbrahim Çuhadır, Sultan Işıklı and Nurgül Acar, who altogether killed three police officers and injured several civilians in separate bomb attacks in İstanbul in 2012.