Chania Migrants on Hunger Strike – summary of events 11-20 Nov.
Posted by clandestinaenglish on 23 November 2008
Tuesday, 11 November 2008.
At 5 am the hunger strike begins, 15 migrants participate. Since that moment, the struggle receives support from hundreds of people, Greek and Migrants. Their presence is impressive. The small camping of the tents where the hunger strikers are to spend the hunger strike days is set up next to the entrance of the town’s city hall. A sound system is also there, and the migrants make the best use of it virtually singing in Arabic the demands of their struggle. The major has already alerted the police authorities, although he is aware that the 9/10 migrants are “sans papiers”: he is already guilty to our eyes of consenting actively to any detention and/or deportation the hunger strikers might be subjected to. Cops and officer-cops check out regularly the situation but do not intervene. During the next night, some decerebrates and self-proclaimed “nationalists – racists”, on motor-bikes and big ideas for themselves, assault the hunger strikers with empty glass bottles. One of the motorbikes is halted by the hunger strike’s picketers…
Thursday, 13 November 2008.
- A grand demonstration takes place in the streets of the Chania city centre to accompany the hunger strikers to the new site of their strikers’ camp, in front of the Public Economic Agency facilities. The demonstrators have virtually moved the camp by lifting the tents up in their arms (see photos)! The change of place is due to Mayor Virvidakis’ machinations: this prick has been busy thinking up ways to put the migrants to the added risk of immediate detention/deportation – as if the hunger strike were not enough. This change of place however does not signal defeat or retreat for the hunger strike. On the contrary, the new setting is in the very centre of the city’s economic, commercial and administrative life (lots of shops and public services there). Not to mention that just on the other side of the road (Tzanakaki street) there is an occupied Crete Polytechnic University building, which can offer added publicity to the whole event both creatively and organizationally. As the hunger strikers put it in their statement: “…we are leave the town hall entrance with our heads held high. We do so out of respect for the law, not for the mayor and his opinions. Fighters never leave the battle. They only move to new positions, just like lions like to change their den”.
- More and more local associations, societies, trade unions, collectives and communities express their solidatity with the hanger strikers, hundreds of signatures have already been collected for the hunger strike’s petition.
- On the same day, the hunger strikers issue a press release to express their solidarity with the ongoing massive hunger strike across the country’s prisons. In terms of participating numbers and broadness, this has been the most important prison hunger strike in Greece so far, forcing the Minister of Justice to proclaim a new draft of law, partially satisfying the hunger strikers’ demands. The Chania hunger strikers’ support was the natural thing to do, not least because a good half of prison hunger strikers were migrants – the number of imprisoned migrants, in Greece as elsewhere, is disproportionally large.
Monday, 17 November 2008.
- The annual demonstration commemorating the student and popular revolt against the military junta in Greece (1973), was turned in Chania into a mass manifestation of solidarity with the hunger strikers (both migrants and prisoners). About 800 hundred people attended the demo and supported the struggle.
- The hunger strikers’ health deteriorates, the first signs of exhaustion become apparent. No sign from the Greek government though. Local MPs of the opposition visit the hunger strikers and express their solidarity. The local Lawyers Bar issues an announcement, supporting the migrants’ lawful demands, and denouncing the unfairness they have been subjected to by authorities.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008.
- The Chania city council becomes another arena of the migrant’s struggle, with the opposition accusing the mayor of hostile politics against the migrants. The mayor, whose authority is directly involved in the unfair interpretation of the law against the migrants, has been attacked for his overall attitude and his dirty role in putting the hunger strikers in danger, ignoring the mass wave of support within his own municipality’s electorate. Of course, this is not just a local issue, but one that relates to core values and legal regulations in Greece and Europe as a whole. But resistance should also turn against local authorities that behave the way this mayor did, they are also responsible, as the Greek government is for remaining silent.
- The hunger strikers demand to have a face-to-face meeting with the Minister of the Interior now, to state, loud and clear, their determination and demands.
Thursday, 20 November 2008.
The first immigrant hunger striker in need of hospital aid is already suffering the hunger strike’s severe consequences. He fainted and was taken to the Chania hospital.