Migration and Struggle in Greece

Chania Migrants on Hunger Strike – Summary of events 26 – 29 November

Posted by clandestina on 30 November 2008

know your rights?…the democratic right to die on hunger-strike…

26 November , Wednesday

    • The hunger strike has been going on for 16 days now… The migrants’ demands have been falling upon the deaf ears of the government and the minister….The demonstration of the previous evening revealed the great support their struggle is receiving from people in Chania….
    • In the morning, supporters of the hunger strike occupied the Region of Crete government building in Chania, and an appointment was fixed with the head of the Regional administration, the general secretary Serafeim Tsokas for the next day. [”Regions” are ostensibly local government or self-administration divisions, but their heads are appointed by the government.]
    • Local trade unions visited the occupied space, and one of them, the Chania Hospital Workers Union grasped the opportunity to state to a representative of the Region that they insist on defending public health. Struggles converged…
    • Many more associations, unions, NGOs express their solidarity to the hunger-strikers…

      27 November, Thursday

        • The Initiative for Solidarity met with the Region of Crete general secretary S.Tsokas at his office in Heraclion. The Initiative people gave the governor a detailed exposé of the hunger strikers’ demands. The governor said that it was not in his jurisdiction to solve the problem and defended the callous attitude of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the minister claims that EU legislation stands in the way, as if the same EU legislation, which is already harsh, hadn’t so often been “misinterpreted” by Greek authorities to the point of abuse against migrants…) He concluded by stating that the hunger-strikers have the inalienable right to hunger strike, to fast for as long as they wish, even to their death, and assured the Initiative that the Greek polity will do nothing to suppress the hunger-strike! We should thank the General Secretary for this important concession… In other words, the immigrants can “freely and democratically” die of hunger!
        • After this, the occupation of the Region of Crete building in Chania was extended.
        • Supporters of the hunger strike decided to occupy the Town Hall, a sound system kept transmitting messages of solidarity, and banners and graffities made it visible everywhere… The two most important government building in Chania are under occupation in solidarity to the immigrants’ struggle!
        • The hunger strikers issued a Public Letter to the President of the Hellenic Republic, the head of State, who is to visit Chania on the occasion of the forthcoming public celebration commemorating Crete’s union with Greece.

          Town Hall occupation graffiti - solidarity with the 15 hunger strikers

          • The hunger strikers issued an Public Letter to the President of the Hellenic Republic, the head of State, who is to visit Chania on the occasion of the forthcoming public celebration commemorating Crete’s union with Greece. What follows is an excerpt of their letter:

            Mr President

            Since 17 days we, 15 immigrants in Chania, have set off on a struggle for a problem that thousands of immigrants face. Until now, we have already been on hunger strike for 17 days.

            Our struggle is a fight for the right to live legally in the country that had seemed to us a ray of light and hope in our lives lost in our countries of origin.

            But hope soon turned into a nightmare. First, on the journey through terror we had to sail to, in order to reach this country.

            Then, with the conditions in Greece, that hold us hostages; conditions pertaining to our working conditions and to all aspects of everyday life.

            We have been hunted then, we are being hunted now.

            We are all migrants, struggling not for our dreams, but for rights, that should be self-evidently granted to everyone. This is why we did not hesitate to set off for this struggle, which puts at risk our health, even our lives…

          28 November, Friday

          “Hey, don’t come any closer, the hunger strike is still on!”… the donut vendor, the taxi-driver and the hunger strikers all laugh together….

          (a little story as told by a hunger strike supporter)

          A donut vendor used to pass through what is now the hunger strike’s site and sell donuts to the taxi drivers, who also have their stand there … From the day the hunger strike began, the taxi drivers won’t let the vendor come close to the site, instead they prefer to approach him to get their donuts … This is one of the simple ways the people of Chania show their support and humane feelings.

          • The initiative for Solidarity is continuing the occupation of the Region of Crete government building in Chania, following the Secretary’s cruel response to their appeal.
          • The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Spyros Halvatzis visited the site of the hunger strike and had a discussion with the strikers. He pledged that KKE would do everything possible to assist in resolving the problem.
          • Associations of farmers that had been protesting in the streets of Chania for their own issues expressed their support and solidarity with the strike when passing from the site.
          • More than a thousand people have visited the struggle’s site to ask about the strikers’ health and express their solidarity.
          • The list of the associations and people who have publicly stated their support is growing everyday.
          • In the night, two hunger strikers were taken to the hospital, after having fainted. The doctors advised them to stay in the hospital to prevent any sudden deterioration of their health.

          29 November, Saturday

          • The president of the Coalition of the Radical Left party (SYRIZA) Alekos Alavanos visited the hunger strike’s site and expressed his party’s full support to the struggle and asked the government to resolve the legal unfairness against the strikers and everyone in their situation.

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