…issued on November 10
Appeal to all organizations and political parties, municipalities and prefectures, labour union centers, trade unions and scientific associations. We ask for the support of political and cultural collectives and societies in Chania, the rest of the country and abroad. To all democratic and aware citizens.
On Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 15 immigrants from North African Countries (Algeria, Morocco etc.), active members of the Forum of Immigrants of Crete, began a hunger strike. The hunger strikers are all residents of Chania and they demand residence permits, which will allow them to continue living in Greece legally.
Their latest public statement is as follows:
We are migrants, members of Crete Forum of Immigrants, living in Greece. We entered the country illegally, as the majority of immigrants do, since the political and institutional regime in Greece does not allow people seeking a better life in Greece to stay there legally, in the country, that is, where they live, work, and raise their children. Since we were eligible to do so, we applied for residence permits in compliance with the law currently in effect; however, residence permits were denied to us, under the pretext that our passport had been issued after 2004, although we had applied for it at the embassies of our respective countries of origin in Athens long before 2004. We then followed the routine legal process of applying for the cancellation of the rejection in the Greek courts, but our demand was rejected all the same. Each one of us paid thousands of Euros during this process. Many cases have yet to be tried in court, and this delay is forcing us into “clandestine” status. For the police authorities, none of our documents has any validity, so that the prospect of finding ourselves in detention rooms or deported is extremely likely, since this has already happened to people like us.
Existing migration policies and laws clearly aim at our marginalization, promoting ignorance not only of the problems we are dealing with, but also of our social existence as a whole. Faced with that, we have decided to take this drastic action to raise awareness around our issues and difficulties.
We claim the right to live and work under decent conditions.
For a migration policy that will guarantee the legalization of all migrants living in Greece and their meaningful integration into the Greek society:
* it is vital that the injustice of us being held hostages of an unfair legal status, ends. The current regime either excludes us from legalization processes, or threatens us with “legalization” in the terms of Fortress Europe.
* It is vital that the renewal of residence permits is disconnected from the possession of a certain number of revenue stamps. This is extremely unfair for migrant workers, for whom informal labor, with no insurance whatsoever, is the rule and the only option. This regulation forces us into buying extra revenue stamps with their cost burdening exclusively the migrant worker.
* It is vital that the right to family unification is disconnected from proving a certain – high – annual income, since this requirement forces us into vouching virtual incomes from rural jobs – and into paying high taxation.
* It is vital that the cost for the residence permit issue fees is lowered, and that it corresponds to the real cost of the bureaucratic process.
* It is vital that municipalities employ more people for work in the issuing and renewal of residence permits. Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the essential information for applying is not available in the migrants’ own languages. The Forum of Migrants of Crete has already pledged to assist Municipalities in making this possible.
* It is vital that the detention and deportation of minors ceases.
* It is vital that all children born in Greece are allowed to be registered in municipality tolls, obtain certificates of birth, and be granted Greek citizenship – as it happens in the rest EU states.
* It is vital that international human rights conventions and treaties are respected in Greece.
that residence permits are issued immediately for all those who are eligible for them according to the law (hundreds of migrants in Chania alone). This could be done either through a common sense interpretation of the existing law, or through a reformation and broadening of the acceptable ways for proving entry into the country.
We have been struggling for all the above in the past years. We have participated at public events and discussions along with our fellow-citizens, as well as with institutional stakeholders and services; we have taken part in mass demonstrations and protests. We have exhausted all options we had and we have paid lots of money.
We begin this hunger strike so that everyone hears our voice, so that the state puts an end to the injustice against us. We are ready to sacrifice our health and even our life, so that society understands that we immigrants have problems threatening our very life.
We make an appeal for active and daily support and solidarity to all migrants living in Chania and the rest of Greece, to all democratic and aware Greek fellow-citizens. We want all society to be on our side. We need it. We expect support from political parties and members of parliament, municipalities and prefectures, Labour Union Centers and any trade union and scientific association. We ask for the support of political and cultural collectives and societies in Chania, the rest of the country and abroad, because we know that our struggle concerns everyone.
Because we know that what threatens the society at large is racism, oppression, exclusion and discrimination, and not us.