Going on a holiday usually involves a nice getaway for a few days of work. For me at least. It usually means I experience a view of a city or spend some time by the sea. Travelling for me is not only my form of escape but a time to educate and refresh myself for my return home. It never ever involves being arrested for a false accusation.
On the 1st of August, I was invited by my boyfriend to meet his parents. In the trip, I knew I wanted to see the sites of Athens. What I experienced still till this day has left me humiliated and traumatised. How things can be massively exaggerated and blow out of proportion is beyond understanding. If you are yet to read the full story please read the full story – Arrested at the Acropolis: What Really Happened.
There is guidance already on what one should do if arrested in a foreign country. After the ordeal of what I went through, I would suggest every single person that travels to read them. They can be found on this link – Help if you’re arrested abroad
Protect yourself if you are arrested:
In all the countries I have been I have never ever been arrested! I feel it’s essential to know the following things below:
- Know the number of the British Embassy for the country you are travelling too
- Do not sign anything unless you fully understand what is being asked.
- Contact your local embassy immediately
- Request for a lawyer and a translator
- Always have some form of identification with you on your person
- Never argue with the local authorities
- Tell the truth
- Importantly stay calm and comply with the authorities
Looking back at the incident now, I don’t know how this could have been avoided. It could have happened anywhere and to anyone, but it occurred to me in Greece Athens, a country notoriously known for racism.
The Golden Dawn was a party that sat in the Greek parliament; and one of most far-right parties in Europe. While the party itself rejects the fascist label, it nonetheless espouses all core fascist- and more specifically Nazi- principles.
Five things you should be aware if you are ever arrested in a foreign country.
You can call the British Embassy
The first thing to do if you can is to ring the local British Embassy. There is an emergency contact number which you can also contact if the local embassy is closed. Unfortunately, I was unable to get through to the embassy at the time. One, I was hysterical and two my phone wasn’t allowing me to make calls.
When you do speak with the embassy, be sure to explain to them what happened clearly. They will advise you on what next to do, make them aware of where you are currently. The embassy can also arrange for friends and family to be informed. So be sure to identify someone you deeply trust.
Do not argue with the authorities (comply)
Comply with whatever the authorities ask you to do (within reason). This can be difficult if there is a language barrier. Do not sign anything you do not understand.
I was able to know what I needed to do next through signals. If they make signals for you to move or they are pushing you out of a site. I would advise you to comply and not argue.
Ask for a Translator
According to the Acropolis, Police Station was convinced that they couldn’t provide me with any legal advice or a lawyer. This made me extremely uncomfortable, but there wasn’t much I could do at the time. I was very fortunate that my boyfriend agreed to translate the statement. If you can get a professional please do so.
Ask for Legal Support
As a British Citizen, if arrested, you’re entitled to a lawyer and a translator. I, unfortunately, didn’t to receive any of these benefits until I was presented at court. Once you have contacted the British Embassy, they should be able to consult with what you should do next.
This has to be the most important advice I can give you. You won’t really know or understand what is going on. In such an ordeal, many people will be telling you different bits of information. Try and remain calm in shock, you won’t understand what is going on.
If possible, try and remain calm because it can be terrifying. It was most certainly the scariest thing I have ever experienced in my life. Moreover, I hope and pray that I never go through such an incident again. What helped me the most was having the love and support from you all. It really assured me that your prayers would be rightfully answered.
If you know you have done nothing wrong, then you have no reason to be at fault. I was able to speak the truth and immediately acquitted.
Thank you for taking the time to share, read and show your continued support. You may already know that I have now opened my blog to share other stories of discrimination while travelling. If you would like your account to be shared, please follow the link – Have you ever experienced discrimination?