Migration and Struggle in Greece

Chania migrants on hunger-strike: summary of events 29 November – 4 December

Posted by clandestina on 6 December 2008


Initiative for Solidarity poster for the December 3 demo in Chania

Initiative for Solidarity poster for the December 3 demo in Chania

29 November 2008

10 hunger-strikers are taken urgently to the hospital; they felt overall exhaustion, they had repeatedly fainted and their stomach couldn’t receive liquids. At the hospital they are given first-aid treatment and their condition was kept in check. They continue the hunger-strike from the hospital wards.

A supporter of the hunger strike, who witnessed these dramatic moments, commented: “it was disheartening to see the strikers collapse one after the other; ambulances were driving back and forth like crazy, but they were hardly enough to deal with the situation”.

Various events of support took place in Chania, including a meeting of associations and collectives at the Labour Center (the local trade unions’ venue) about next Wednesday’s planned demonstration in Chania.

Delegates of the Initiative for Solidarity managed to hand to the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, in Chania on an official visit for the anniversary of Crete’s Union with Greece, a folder with material and documentation on the hunger strike’s course until then, its demands and the support it has received (including the interventions of MPs Kouvelis and Korovesis at the Parliament).

November 30 2008

Supporters of the hunger strike gathered outside of Venizelos Foundation in Chania, where the President of the Republic was delivering a speech, in protest for the Greek state’s hostility against migrants.

December 1 2008

In parliament, SYRIZA’s MP Korovesis’ question addressed to the deputy minister of Internal Affairs receives a response that defies reason. Korovesis quoted the hunger-strikers core demand, that the Greek Polity self-evidently accept as proof of entry to the country the date on documents the Greek Polity (the Ministry of Internal Affairs) itself stamps and validates (migrants’ passports)! After all, this is common practice in many prefectures, which makes the denial of local authorities in Chania a double discrimination…The deputy minister’s response was “that the migrants’ passports are not the business of the Greek State” …(then why does the State require to validate them?)…..deaf ears….

The militaristic parade in Hania for the anniversary of Crete’s Union with Greece is disrupted by protesters against the Greek state’s attitude towards the hunger strike. 

3 December 2008

Chania Town Hall is occupied once again by the Initiative for Solidarity and supporters of the hunger strike. This action only reflects the dangerous phase the hunger strike is gradually entering, but also the great social legitimacy the struggle has earned for itself. As it happens, when the supporters went to the town hall to occupy it, there was a long queue of migrants who had been waiting since very early in the morning for the foreigners’ desk to open and deal with their cases. (The degrading bureaucracy of migrant services in Greece is notorious, and has recently instigated riots in the streets outside a similar service in Piraeus, Attica, and the death of a migrant under pursuit by the police).

The squatters, recognizing that the migrants were already victims of the service’s problematic operation, made an exception and let the particular municipal desk continue its work. Unsurprisingly, a delegate of the municipal authority objected to that and tried to turn the people in the queue against the hunger strike, arguing that the strikers would have to take responsibility for the occupation, pay some fine for obstructing public services and making the migrants miss their deadlines. Of course, the migrants waiting there knew very well who was to blame if anything like that happened, and had the opportunity to chat with the squatters and learn more about the hunger strike. They in turn shared their concerns and the particular problems they face with the municipal foreigners’ desk – the whole situation is outrageous.

The planned demonstration in Chania takes place, and once more proves that the support for the hunger strike is great. Albanian migrants, members of the “Cultural Association of Albanians in Lasithi” came all the way from the east end of Crete (a distance of about 600 klms) to take part at the demonstration.

During the night, the groupings “Anthellenes and Vandals” and “Nightly Retaliation” threw bottles of black paint and vandalized the doors of public buildings, in solidarity with the hunger strike, and against the nationalist celebration of the anniversary of Crete’s union with Greece.

4 December 2008

A press conference is held in Athens. A delegate of the Initiative for Solidarity, opposition party MPs, migrant community representatives, trade union representatives, delegates of human rights associations and NGOs, citizens and supporters of the hunger strikers participate.

10 hunger strikers continue the struggle from within the hospital. The State’s ruthlessness is one episode in the war against migrants the European Union has declared everywhere.

The occupation of the Region of Crete facilities in Chania and the Town Hall comes to an end, so that the supporters of the hunger strike can focus on the next day’s pan-hellenic demonstration in Athens, the first one to take place there for the hunger strike.

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