The plan to turn a NATO base into an immigrant camp – impressions from the Aspropyrgos area
Posted by clandestina on 9 June 2009
This is a translation of parts of an “Eleftherotypia” report. Text by Liana Spryropoulou, photos by Marios Valasopoulos, firstname.lastname@example.org. Read here about the government plans for an immigrant pogrom.
Boxes of concrete, half-buried in the soil, covered with dirt and weeds. The only opening is the door’s hole on the wall – the door itself is missing. There are no windows. The light does not enter the room. It is dark. Even prison cells have windows. Unless what they are intended to imprison inside is something that should stay invisible … War material depositories. This is where some are now considering to deposit people.
The plans for an immigrant camp rouse the local community of Aspropyrgos, which already faces many more problems.
The minds behind the choice of the former NATO base in Aspropyrgos to “host” illegal immigrants in Greece knew very well what they were doing. Away from indiscreet eyes, on a hill at the border between the municipality’s jurisdiction and the adjacent forest, the abandoned camp is ideal to concentrate and hide what disturbs the government. What the government failed and now just wants not to know about.
Only the concrete and bricks are left from the premises. Doors, windows, electrical devices and tiles have all been plundered, as has been furniture and any other objects that could be moved. Old truck tires and debris are the only things the casual tenants of the base space, seeking refuge, to cling upon. Asses, plastic bottles, garbage and leftovers everywhere bear witness to their presence.
In this land of 100 acres of concrete prisons the Police plans to stack all those it has gathered through “sweep» operations. They named it a «camp» to be reminiscent of a gathering space or a children’s camp, but it what it looks like is worse than a prison. The facilities’ walls amidst the hills have been built in such a way to survive bombings and it is impossible to open windows on them.
It looks like a deserted space of exile on some dry island. However, it is the former NATO base in Aspropyrgos, which the government intends to transform into refugee camp.
The information that the authorities intend to concentrate clandestine immigrants or economic migrants leaked about a year ago. Now this is a fact, since the mayor of Aspropyrgos’ questions addressed to the Minister and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order received, as he himself says to «Eleftherotypia», a positive answer.
The nearest building in which human activity can be sensed is a tobacco factory located a few kilometers away from the “camp”, while on the south stretches an illegal settlement, overlooking the coastal industrial zone.
The estate of the former base is a property of the Greek State Mortgage Company [Ktimatiki Etaireia tou Dimosiou]; the government had conceded it to the NATO. When the military base left the area, the facilities were left with no use. Before the 2004 Athens Olympic games the government had attempted to use them as human storehouses: the organizing ministries planned to relocate from the center of Athens homeless and drug users therein. In that case as well the government just wanted to hide them. To turn them invisible.
The area of Aspropyrgos and Thriassio Pedio around it (about 27.000 residents according to the 2001 census) is the most environmentally polluted area in Europe. According to the municipality, in Thriasio Pedio there are:
– The only waste landfill in Attica.
– Two oil refineries.
– Two steel factories.
– Two cement factories.
– An ammunition industry
– Two ship-yards.
– Two Knacker ship-yards.
– A port for ferry and freight ships.
– Facilities for the storage and handling of petroleum products.
– Three units of fossil fuels regeneration.
– One paper factory.
– Dozens of plastic tires chemical units.
– More than 3,000 small and big industrial units.
Plus a huge (freight train terminal, which is about to open.
While crossing the city, the resident or visitor must have much patience. Countless loaded trucks pass through, blocking all roads, while the noise from all types of crafts and industries is constant. The major and the town council of Aspropyrgos say that the immigrant camp would further burden the area. According to the mayor “[T]he ministry plans to transfer there 2,500 people. They have friends and relatives and lawyers. We estimate, therefore that as many people would be flowing daily through the region. The town cannot take it!».
The mayor says this is not about racism. The municipality’s population 25% is of immigrant origin, and his authority and the locals have been receiving without problems both the refugees of Greek origin from the former USSR, the Roma settlers and the rest immigrants – them all have problems, though, with the Roma new – comers who are stealing electricit, water and stuff from the nearby warehouses, which are all barbwire-fenced.
The major wants to turn the military base estate into a park and sporting facilities, since this is a forest area, and proposes to the government officials to choose some more “humane” are in Attika to show the country’s “humanitarian face”.