clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for June, 2009

System of Injustice intervenes in the Nea Manolada case – Torture victims with criminal charges, their torturers with misdemeanors

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2009

photo by tvxs.grtvxs article info on the development in the Nea Manolada horrendous case of immigrant abuse.

clandestinenglish

The immigrants that fell victims of torture by the farmers in Ileia were led to the public attorney, facing criminal charges.  Their torturers were also led to the attorney, them facing misdemeanor charges,  though!

Four days after the incident,no forensic examination has taken place, on the pretext that the immigrants did not request one, this at a time when they did not even had a lawyer to represent them.

Article by the plsweb.org of 17 july.

Immigrant farm-workers tortured by Greek landlords

Friday, July 17, 2009
By: Nikos Kavadias

Down with anti-immigrant attacks!

A monstrous crime was committed on June 18 in the Greek town of Nea Manolada. Two immigrant farm workers from Bangladesh were beaten up, tortured and pilloried (publicly humiliated) by two Greek landlords, Dionisis Gomostiotis and Petros Samaris.

Immigrants Greece
Greek authorities assaulted and burned an immigrant refugee camp
down to the ground in Patras on July 12.

According to their story, they waited one night by their pen and saw three immigrants approach it. They recognized two of them but the next day could not find them. They then attacked another immigrant from Bangladesh, tied him up and tortured him until he agreed to guide them to the other immigrants.

When they found the immigrants they were after, they assailed, threatened, tied up, beat and tortured them. Then they roped them behind their motorbike and dragged them through the town center.

At one point, the workers got tired and fell down. The thugs stopped their bike, propped them up, beat them and continued pillorying them. They stopped only when the police arrived.

The police, loyal as always to the propertied classes, arrested all four of them, claiming that the workers were undocumented.

On June 22, the district attorney of Amaliada openly sided with the thugs. The Bangladeshi workers were charged with felonies for their alleged attempt to steal sheep, while the Greek bigots were charged with misdemeanors.

One year ago in the same town, immigrant farm workers staged a three-day strike against the local strawberry agribusiness. The landlords responded with a violent rampage. They threatened and beat workers with clubs and fired shotguns in the air. They even threw dynamite at the workers’ protest rally. The workers stood their ground and forced the landlords to concede.

During those events, the police witnessed the landlord terrorism but did nothing to stop it.

The recent attacks and the response of the local authorities are no surprise. They flow from the racist anti-immigrant policies of the Greek government itself. In its effort to keep wages low and the working class divided, the government is constantly escalating its attacks on immigrant workers. It denies even the most basic human rights.

The Greek government ignores its most basic duties under international law towards refugees. In 2008, the Greek government granted refugee status to only 358 people of 29,573 who applied. Tens of thousands more immigrants tried to apply but were unable to. Applications must be delivered in person and applicants need to wait for up to two days in line. Instead of granting asylum, the government is mass deporting the refugees.

On July 12, Greek police raided and burned to the ground a refugee camp in the town of Patras. On June 23, 25 undocumented workers from Afghanistan were flown back to the war zone—back to a country occupied by NATO forces, including Greek troops. An increasing percentage of immigrants come from countries that are in the crosshairs of imperialism: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, and Pakistan.

The government is now preparing concentration camps where undocumented immigrants will be incarcerated for 12 months before being deported.

Greece is the entry point to Europe for many immigrant workers. The government is increasing its anti-immigrant assaults in cooperation with Italy, Spain and other European countries.

The entire Greek elite is supporting these attacks on immigrants, including the major opposition PASOK party, the chauvinist LAOS party, all mainstream media, local governments and land developers. Nazi gangs that appear as “citizens’ committees” are assaulting immigrants in their houses or on the streets with makeshift or real weapons.

The rise in racism and violence against immigrants in Greece and other imperialist countries is not accidental. Mass immigration in the era of capitalist globalization is a result of the owners’ need to under-develop and dominate the resources of poorer countries abroad and the need for cheap labor at home.

During times of economic crisis, when workers all over the world face a tidal wave of unemployment, the capitalist powers seek to turn as many sectors of society against immigrants as possible in order to direct workers’ anger and frustration away from the guilty party: the capitalist class. Racism and attacks on immigrants are given the seal of approval by government oppression, violent raids, mass deportations and worse.

Joining immigrants in struggle against racist attacks is a necessary component of working-class struggle, especially in a time of global economic crisis.

The bigoted landlords alleged that the workers were stealing their sheep. They never filed a police report. Government policies promote racist attacks

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Greek Government’s “Six-point plan” for the war against immigrants in the Aegean

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2009

source: ministry of foreign affairs release

Article of Deputy Foreign Minister Valinakis in the Athens daily ‘Kathimerini’

The problem of illegal migrants is one of the 21st century’s global challenges. Europe and our country are at the heart of this global problem due to their geographical position as a gateway to Europe from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and we are exposed to these migratory pressures. This problem is particularly acute for our country’s border regions and, more specifically, our eastern border in the Aegean Sea.

For the past few years we have persistently and methodically tried to turn our positions into EU-27 positions because this problem cannot be understood easily by all the European countries, e.g., those countries without sea borders. Since 2004, Greece has been playing a leading role in the creation of a common, integrated European policy on these issues. The problem’s labyrinthine dimensions do not allow for oversimplification based on domestic interests. In fact, they require an integrated plan; that is, a mobilization of human and other resources, use of national and European means, partnerships, synergies, and painful negotiations.

Bearing this in mind, a network of complementary actions could relieve the islands of the Aegean from these pressures and lay the foundations for successful treatment of the problem. This network of actions is based on 6 axes:

1.         A ship of sufficient tonnage to be used as a first reception and transport centre. This ship will sail near the islands of the Aegean where illegal migrants have been arrested, it will take them on board and carry them to the reception centres already in, or due to be put into, operation. The ship must be equipped with the necessary logistics infrastructure so as to ensure a complete health check of illegal migrants and to cross-check their identification data in order to ascertain their country of origin reliably and in a timely manner.

2.         An immediate relaunching of EU-Turkey negotiations on the conclusion of a readmission agreement and an immediate implementation of the existing Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol. Given that these issues have become part of the framework of relations between the EU and Turkey, our neighbouring country is jeopardizing its European future by dragging its feet.

3.         Use of a specific port on the Turkish coast for the return of illegal migrants who have reached our country through Turkey. This will be a major step that will certainly contribute to the relief of our insular areas. The use of a Turkish harbour in conjunction with the operation of a ship as a reception centre creates the necessary conditions for the faster return of illegal migrants.

4.         Conclusion of European and bilateral readmission agreements with the countries of origin for the overwhelming majority of illegal migrants (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia). Development aid as well as political and economic cooperation can be used as leverage in speeding up the conclusion of these agreements.

5.         Intensification of joint operations on a permanent basis under FRONTEX, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union, on the way towards the creation of a European Coastguard. Our proposal for the creation of a specialised FRONTEX branch in Greece is included within the same framework.

6.         Full use of every potential for financing all the necessary actions with additional EU funds and utilization of European and bilateral programmes.

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No Apartheid in Our City! – solidarity gathering & march call by Zografou Autonomous Assembly, Athens

Posted by clandestina on 23 June 2009

afisa_metanastes_zografou_zwgrafou Gathering of Solidarity with immigrants on Thursday, June 25 at 19:30 at the Square Gadenia, Zografou.
We collect items for immigrants at the Old Court of Appeals building and anywhere this is needed.
Solidarity March, Tuesday July 7, 19.00, Omonoia, Athens.
We will not allow racism and xenophobia  build modern apartheids, not in Aghios Panteleimonas, nor anywhere.

Resistance to the policies that build concentration camps.

syneleysizografou.blogspot.com/

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Concentration Camps Everywhere! – Group of Immigrants and Refugees – Clandestina network at the 12th Antiracist Festival Thessaloniki

Posted by clandestina on 22 June 2009

Camps_englishCAMPS

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Greek Government on immigration after the Brussels EU summit and the new draft law

Posted by clandestina on 22 June 2009

sources

EU to push Turkey on immigration

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said yesterday that Greek efforts to secure greater support from the European Union in its fight to curb illegal immigration had met with success after EU leaders attending a summit in Brussels agreed on the importance of migrant repatriation agreements being honored.

The move was seen as a nudge for Turkey, which has failed to hold up its side of a bilateral pact with Greece to repatriate illegal immigrants arriving on Greek territory from the neighboring country.

“Greece’s positions were understood absolutely and taken into consideration in the conclusions,” Karamanlis told a press conference in Brussels yesterday afternoon, noting that leaders had agreed on the need to further “sensitize” Turkey to issues of migration as an EU candidate.

Specifically, it was agreed that the EU should seek to forge new repatriation pacts with migrants’ countries of origin and with “transit countries” such as Turkey and Libya. In addition, existing bilateral pacts on repatriation, such as the one signed by Greece and Turkey in 2003, should be honored, delegates agreed.

Another significant decision highlighted by Karamanlis was one to boost the activities of the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex to curb illegal immigration in the southeastern Mediterranean region. There was no response to Greece’s appeal for the creation of a joint European coast guard, which is reportedly regarded as “premature.”

As for the official focus of yesterday’s summit, which was the fallout from the global economic crisis, Karamanlis noted that EU leaders had decided to step up supervision of the European Central Bank system and push through reforms to boost employment.

Immigration progress expected

Buoyed by an agreement among European Union leaders on Friday that all countries, including Turkey, should be pushed to uphold migrant repatriation agreements, Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis said yesterday that he expects “visible results” in Greece’s immigration problem as of September.

“I would like to believe that when we are ready, when we have the reception centers that we are getting ready, when we start a process of speedier repatriation, things will improve greatly,” he said during a visit to his home island of Crete.

It was decided in Brussels that the EU should seek to forge new repatriation pacts with migrants’ countries of origin and with “transit countries” such as Turkey and Libya. In addition, existing bilateral pacts on repatriation, such as the one signed by Greece and Turkey in 2003, should be honored, the EU leaders agreed.

A draft law that proposes stiffer penalties for people smugglers, transforming their offense from a misdemeanor to a felony, is due to be discussed in Parliament tomorrow.

“Up until now, we have seen that many are arrested – just this year almost 500 have been caught – mostly smuggling illegal immigrants from Turkey, but none have been sent to jail,” said Markoyiannakis.

“We think that the penalties foreseen in the bill will act as a deterrent and there will be a reduction in the flow of migrants from the east.”

Last year, almost 150,000 illegal immigrants and more than 2,000 traffickers were arrested in Greece. It is not clear how many of the alleged smugglers were jailed.

Markoyiannakis rejected criticism from PASOK on the government’s immigration policy by saying that previous Socialist governments had been wrong to sign Greece up to the EU’s Dublin Regulation, which means that the member state where an asylum seeker first enters the Union is also the country responsible for registering him and examining the application.


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Navigating the aegean, young afghans toil in new-found Europe

Posted by clandestina on 22 June 2009

source

This is an article we read on the Turkish newspaper Zaman.  Of interest is the testimony by some Turkish smuggler, who outlines the division of labour, so to speak, in the smuggling industry….

Navigating the aegean, young afghans toil in new-found europe

Navigating the aegean, young  afghans toil in new-found europe - For months, a group of 12 and 13-year-old boys evaded police, skirted payment on buses and hustled for the sympathy of border guards -- not carrying a passport or a single identifying document -- as they trekked overland from Afghanistan to Turkey.

“I haven’t spoken with my mother for three months,” said Newruz, a 13-year-old Afghan, his light hazel eyes sparkling in the deck lights of a ferry bound to arrive in Athens at dawn.

It is Greece’s Aegean island waters, an array of enticingly short turquoise straits lining Turkey’s coast, that have become Europe’s main gateway for illegal migrants. But the high volumes have placed a burden on Greece, a nation of only 11 million. Greece apprehended nearly 150,000 immigrants in 2008, though that number is only believed to be the tip of the iceberg.

As regional solutions have not impeded the influx of immigrants through Greece’s sea border, illegal immigrants in Greece — the number of which has increased twofold since 2006 — are entering a social system that is struggling to cope.

With the European Union in mind, the boys’ international adventure included working in the construction industry in İstanbul for nearly one month in order to raise enough money to purchase the inflatable raft they used to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos. Paddling throughout the night, exchanging posts when they tired, they were ultimately intercepted at dawn in Greek waters off of the coast of Lesbos.

“What is going on over there?” asked Haralampos Bournias, commander of the Hellenic Coast Guard on the Greek island of Chios, questioning the border control Turkey is maintaining, his head motioning in the direction of the abutting coastline of Turkey, which is visible from his office window.

A document stating the professed nationalities of detained immigrants, which was presented by an official of the coast guard of Chios, reports an overwhelming number of immigrants claiming to be Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan. But it is the more obscure nationalities, such as Somali, Bangladeshi, Zimbabwean and Burmese, that raise eyebrows as to how these immigrants are entering Turkey, now the key passageway for Europe-bound immigrants.

From Afghanistan to Greece

On the ship’s deck, an on-looking Iraqi immigrant, Umeed, who did not want to reveal his full name, shakes his head in frustration as he watches the jubilant group of Afghan boys, barely into their adolescent years, complete the last leg of their exhausting journey to Europe’s mainland.

The Afghan boys, after being processed briefly in a detention facility and issued a one-way ticket to Athens, are once again set adrift on their own.

“They will sleep in parks; there are so many like them,” Umeed said softly, denying the existence of any functional social system to handle such minors. Umeed, 28 years old, has been in Greece now for seven months. Having entered illegally as the Afghan boys did during winter, Umeed now knows the reality of the dead-end tangle of laws that lock immigrants into unwillingly calling Greece home.

According to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Greece’s rate of granting asylum ranks as one of the lowest in the world and the lowest in the EU.

Umeed’s ambition of leaving Greece to seek work remains stalled by the fact that his fingerprints were taken when he was processed on arrival in Greece. According to the Dublin Regulation, an agreement determining which EU member state is responsible for the processing of an asylum case, an immigrant must apply for asylum in the first country of entrance in the EU. Therefore, the odds of Umeed attaining legal status are slim and returning to the violence he fled from in Iraq remains unthinkable, ensuring a life in the shadows.

According to figures released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Greece granted 0.04 percent of asylum applications for refugee status in 2007. Allegations by human rights organizations of immigrants being duped out of applying for asylum by a poor understanding of their legal rights are bountiful. Many remain idle in Greece’s to largest cities in an endless cycle of catch and release. Deportation orders are rarely enforced and shanty towns have sprawled in the large port cities.

“I don’t understand. I go to the airport to leave, and they arrest me; I stay here, and they arrest me. The police just give me a new document saying I have to leave in 30 days. I can’t move,” sighed Umeed, staring intently at his glowing cigarette.

“I have been in Athens for seven months, and I can’t find work for four months. My family in Iraq has been sending me money. I don’t know what these boys will do; they are so young,” he added.

A recent report by the UNHCR sharply criticized Greece for its detention policies and asylum processing system, urging EU nations not to return immigrants to Greece. In line with such reports, Norway and Germany have refused to exercise their right to return immigrants to Greece for asylum processing. The report also challenged Greece’s asylum system, claiming it lacked essential elements such as interpreters, lawyers and appropriate care for the nearly 1,000 unaccompanied minors that entered Greece in 2008.

In the fluttering wind of the ferry deck, the young boys inspect a white piece of paper with Greek writing on it that was issued by the Mitilini immigrant detention center in Lesbos upon their release. They ask for a translation of the only document they now possess, revealing that they are unaware of their legal situation or status, Newruz tucks the document back into a zippered pouch hidden under his shirt.

Immigration crises are nothing new in Greece, though this one has stumped Greek officials.

Greece is used to the single-source immigration issue with Albania, a former communist nation bordering northern Greece. The influx from Albania began in the early 1990s when Albania’s borders crumbled. The deportations of Albanians were quick and efficient.

Immigrant’s European dreams

Comparatively, this new frontier has become multifaceted, as immigrants from a diverse group of nations arrive without a single document in their name to confirm their identity. Immigrants reportedly crumple photographs and throw passports and other identifying documents into the sea as instructed by smugglers during their crossing. By doing so, the links to their nationalities are erased and the chances of quick deportation are minimized. “How much can we put up with?” asks Bournias, his question striking a harmonious tone with Greece’s current economic woes. In 2009 unemployment is expected to reach 9.2 percent, as reported by Greece’s National Statistical Service.

From his second-floor office window overlooking an alluring harbor, Bournias points to a smuggler’s white speed boat. The boat, anchored below Bournias’ office window, has its name neatly hidden with tape. The smuggler is now in jail, intercepted the previous night for shuttling more than 20 immigrants from Turkey’s coast to Greece. The high-paying jaunt across the short stretches, usually led by what Bournias calls “the lowest links of society,” can make an immigrant’s European dreams a reality in just minutes. The people organizing the smuggling operations, often acting behind the scenes, earn over $1,000 per person for passage to Greece. Bournias claims the poverty-driven smugglers rarely understand the severity of their actions. He estimates the smuggler detained last night will be sentenced to six to seven years in jail. Officials claim such light sentences are hardly enough to deter the lucrative East to West industry, which Bournias claims is worth $8 billion annually.

Journey to hope

Resolving Europe’s immigration issue is a maddening puzzle and one that has defied solution. A regional lag in cooperation between nations has also been compounded by what officials say is the fact that Turkey has not recognized an accord to take back immigrants who left Turkey. Bournias calls for better cooperation in sea patrols with Turkey, though he questions if Turkey is eager to process illegal immigrants.

According to Tafil, a 39-year-old Albanian man who was once an illegal immigrant in Greece, the new wave of migrants are simply following the path his people have already paved. “When you are hungry, nothing matters; you will do anything,” said Tafil, his skin darkened by the sun, now working construction on the island of Chios. He expresses no surprise at the measures people are taking to reach Europe; their reasons for coming are often as complex as the immigration issue itself. “I walked across the border in snow. I didn’t even have money to buy clothes to wear, so I came wearing my military uniform,” said Tafil. Settled in Greece for nearly two decades, his family now owns a clothing store in Albania. He has been sending his wages to Albania, and according to Tafil, it is such wages that have rebuilt a broken nation.

“My son is 16; he will go to university in Albania and find a job. There is no need for him to do the same as me. These new immigrants will do the same; they will work hard,” he added.

A warm summer wind blows over the ferry deck and aspirations rise as mainland Europe is only hours away. “I want to be a politician; I know the problems of Afghanistan. I will fix them,” said Newruz, explaining the contents of his only piece of baggage, a supermarket plastic bag containing a notebook documenting his life in Afghanistan and his international journey.

Reality is revealed by the rising sun in Athens. As the Afghan boys peer nervously over the ship’s railings, the ferry elegantly glides between two large cruise ships in Athens’ port. The previous night’s jubilant smiles on the ship deck are now dimmed as they inspect the first sights of mainland Europe, a place they have voyaged so far to reach. “Do you know what is the meaning of my name?” asked Newruz, “It means new day.”

The organizers must go

As night fell in 2001, “Filozof” found himself at the controls of a large ship. Under the deck were 640 immigrants — children, the elderly, pregnant women and entire families — paying more than $1,000 per person for illegal passage from Turkey’s coast to Greece’s mainland.

But for Filozof, the nickname of a Turk living in İstanbul who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation for speaking to the press, this voyage was something his situation bound him to do. In 2001 his small diving vessel, used to collect snails from Turkey’s Marmara seabed, sank. Filozof lost his livelihood, and his debts mounted.

Filozof recalls falling for the enticing promises of the smuggling organizers, who, he says, still linger at his port, seeking to recruit naïve seamen. But after four years in a Greek prison, Filozof is drained. His $5,000 paycheck never came, and his contact disappeared after the ship docked in a closed cement factory on Greece’s mainland. “I was tricked; I was lied to,” he says in frustration while sitting in an empty cafe at an İstanbul port.

“The solution to the problem is not taking out the little people like us. Like in a war, you cannot just kill everybody; it is the leaders that must go. These big organizers need to go; if they do, then this job wouldn’t exist,” he said.

Crossing into Greek waters, what should have been an eight-hour journey to Greece’s mainland was a two-day trial made up of close calls, including helicopter flyovers and a near boarding by a coast guard ship. In constant contact with someone in Athens by telephone, Filozof recalled receiving orders to maneuver behind islands, waiting for coast guard patrols to return to port, only to proceed with his vessel to the next safe zone when the green light was given by his distant contact.

“I tell everybody I know to not take these jobs. I tell them it is not like what they are told: Their chances of getting caught are high, Greek jail is terrible and you will never get paid, but I cannot tell everybody. That is why it continues,” said Filozof.

For months, a group of 12 and 13-year-old boys evaded police, skirted payment on buses and hustled for the sympathy of border guards — not carrying a passport or a single identifying document — as they trekked overland from Afghanistan to Turkey.

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Amnesty International: Lives in danger as European governments deny refugees protection

Posted by clandestina on 22 June 2009

SOURCE

Lives in danger as European governments deny refugees protection

19 June 2009

Governments in Europe are putting lives at risk by denying refugees protection, Amnesty International warned on Saturday.

“Refugees are risking their lives to find safety only to be turned away when they reach Europe,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“Governments must stop putting lives in danger and start meeting their international obligations to protect these vulnerable people.”

Amnesty International’s call for government action comes on World Refugee Day, which is held on 20 June every year. World Refugee Day sees thousands of organizations in hundreds of countries coming together to focus global attention on the plight of refugees and the causes of their exile.

Countries at Europe’s border are showing a flagrant disregard for their international obligations towards refugees:

  • Italy is intercepting refugees in international waters and physically transporting them, without assessing their protection needs, to Libya, where migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees are at risk of ill-treatment and forcible return to countries where they risk serious human rights abuses.
  • Greece pushes back people at its land border and sea borders with Turkey without first assessing their asylum claims. For those that do enter the country there are many legal obstacles for refugees to gain protection.
  • Spain’s bilateral agreements with several countries in Africa are used to justify the arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation of asylum-seekers and migrants in these countries.
  • Turkey continues not to recognise people from outside Europe as refugees, meaning thousands of people are denied the protection they need.

On World Refugee Day, Amnesty International warned EU states that their actions are undermining the protection of refugees not only in their own countries but also across the world, by sending a dangerous message on the treatment of refugees.

The organization said that all countries must meet their obligations towards refugees and asylum-seekers not only within their own borders but wherever they exercise effective control.

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Immigrant workers degradation practices in Nea Manolada: farm owners brutally abuse immigrants “to set an example”.

Posted by clandestina on 19 June 2009

Immigrant abuse in Nea Manolada

Unspeakable violence in Nea Manolada, Ileia, Peloponnese.   Farmers in the area “took the law into their own hands” and decided to punish in their own cruel way economic migrants living and working in the area.

Two farmers had set a guard on their farm to watch for the people who had been allegedly stealing sheep.  Having identified some Bangladeshi immigrants as those attempting to steal and made them flee during the night, the morning after the farmers visited the alleged thieves houses.

They punched and kicked them and hit them with clubs while on the ground.  The farmers then tied the immigrants on a motorcycle and dragged them around in the center of the village to set an example for others.

The thefts had never been reported to the police … The intervention of the police  informed of the tragedy by witnesses rescued the immigrants.   Two farmers and two immigrants were arrested.

Translation of excertpts from tvxs article. What follows are articles on the recent history of the strawberry fields of the area.

Greece’s strawberry war ends in uneasy truceFacebook Stumbleupon

by Teacher Dude | April 22, 2008 at 02:19 am

In scenes reminiscent of Steinbeck’s 1930’s classic, the Grapes of Wrath, immigrant and minority workers have clashed with what Greek newspapers called “hired thugs’ over pay and conditions. Amidst sometimes violent clashes agricultural workers in the Greek town of Nea Manolada, home to 90% of Greece’s strawberry production took part in a four day stoppage aimed at getting a pay rise of 3.5 euros a day.

As of Sunday strawberry producers have agreed to rise pay from 22.5 to 28 euros for farm labourers.However, the figure of 28 euros only applies to European workers, non-Europeans will receive only 25 euros according to the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini. Fears still remain that the producers will fail to honour even this agreement, due to be take effect in Autumn, once media attention has died down. The local council sets the minimum wage for untrained labourers at 30.4 euros a day.

It should be noted that strawberries, sometimes called “red gold” by local producers, retail at 1.5 to 3 euros a kilo on the Greek market

The newspaper also brought to light several cases in which the police force and members of the local authorities, which turned a blind eye this week to attacks on union and political activists by landowners, are also involved with various scams involving the sale of fake residence permits for immigrant workers.

Miltos Paulou, head of the European Union Agency for Fundemental Rights (FRA) stated that 70% of those working in intensive agriculture in Greece are illegal immigrants and that Greek law limits foreign workers ability to change jobs so allowing the kind of exploitation seen in Nea Manolada and many other areas.

source of the above.

Migrant workers in Greece wage historic strike

Author: Laura Petricola

People’s Weekly World Newspaper, 05/28/08 08:28

ATHENS — Migrant workers laboring in the strawberry fields of Nea Manolada, in Greece’s southern Peloponnese region, where 90 percent of the country’s strawberry production is concentrated, waged a historic strike last month that will pave the way for immigrant workers in the country to battle for their rights, side by side with Greek workers.
After a three-day strike April 18-20, the field laborers returned to work with a wage increase to 25-26 euros per day. Their wages had been 22-23 euros for a full workday. The strikers have vowed to continue their fight for a daily wage of 30 euros.

Though over 2,000 of the 2,500 agricultural laborers in Nea Manolada are undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania and other countries, they fought back against police terror and the vicious attacks of the large producers, demanding better working and living conditions as well as a higher wage.
The All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) has been in Manolada for the past year aiding migrant laborers to organize their struggle and to link these issues to wider workers’ struggles throughout Greece.

On May 11, PAME forces from all over Peloponnese and nearby islands mobilized in Manolada in a mass show of support for the field laborers. The rally’s theme was “Greek and Immigrant Workers United in Struggle!” Large landowners made determined efforts to turn Greek farmers against PAME and the strikers, claiming that immigrant labor costs Greeks their jobs.

Migrant agricultural laborers in Nea Manolada live and work in squalid conditions. They are forced to work every day, including Sunday. Lost days mean lost wages and the threat of firing. They harvest strawberries in greenhouses in 113 degrees Fahrenheit. There are no toilets at the work site; workers must use the fields. The only water supply comes from the pipes used to water the strawberries.

Many workers live in the greenhouses because they cannot afford rent elsewhere. They cover their makeshift beds of wood pallets with newspapers and rags. No running water, electricity or toilets are available. Those “lucky” enough to have housing live with 25 people or more sharing one toilet in abandoned village houses or warehouses where they pay up to 50 euro per month per person.

Workers must pay out of pocket for all medical care, to a government that refuses to grant free medical care to undocumented permanent immigrants. Yet they have many medical problems because of the exhausting work and the excessive use of pesticides and fungicides without protective equipment. Many workers are raising young children under such foul and desperate conditions.

The government refuses to guarantee the workers’ basic rights but instead does all it can to support the “right” of large landowners to extract the greatest maximum profit from them. Just half an hour of work represents the actual cost of labor on a given day; the other six and a half hours line the pockets of the boss. In clearer terms, on average a strawberry worker fills five crates per hour, with 10 boxes per crate. Each box is sold for roughly 3 euros. Do the math!

Given the profits involved, it is clear why strikers and members of PAME were under attack. From the very first day, strikers were terrorized by the bosses. During the strike’s second day, three of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) members present for support were attacked and wounded, while armed groups stormed the workers’ shanties. Threats and provocations continued into the third day while the police looked on.

On the third day, landowners agreed to increase wages and strikers agreed to go back to work, vowing to continue their struggle for a 30 euro daily wage. KKE is demanding that the Ministries of Labor and the Interior intervene, with no results as yet.

The strike shows migrants have power when that power is channeled into mass collective action. KKE proposes a framework of organization and struggle for the needs of migrants and their families including immediate legalization and equal rights in work, health care, education and social security.

source of the above

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OSCE summit counter meeting 26-28 June, Corfu, Greece – call for action

Posted by clandestina on 18 June 2009

banner at Corfu fortress

banner at Corfu fortress

WE ARE ALL STRANGERS IN FORTRESS EUROPE

On 27 – 28 June the informal summit of the “Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe” (OSCE) will take place in Corfu.  It is considered the largest intergovernmental organization  to “safeguard security” in the world  and the contentious issues of the summit agenda under the umbrella of the “European security” they want to impose are immigration and the new, according to them, terrorism.

links (mostly in Greek)

Call of Anarchists/Antiauthoritarians from Corfu

Against Fortress Europe

OSCE Counter Meeting CORFU 26 – 28 June

[ Initiative’s Blog ]

source: athens indymedia post


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Foreign Minister prioritizes bilateral deportation agreements and FRONTEX increased presence (vessels and headquarters) in Greece

Posted by clandestina on 17 June 2009

source: http://www.isria.com/pages/16_June_2009_74.htm

Greece: Foreign Minister Bakoyannis statements following the EU General Affairs Council (Luxembourg, 15 June 2009)

Ms. Bakoyannis: We had a very important discussion in the General Affairs Council today, in preparation for the European Council. We looked at a range of foreign policy issues  mainly the Middle East problem, which is coming back into the focus of interest following the recent Obama and Netanyahu statements, and Greece once again had the opportunity to take a stance and point to the need to hasten the Middle East peace process.

This evening, I will have a private discussion with some of my colleagues from the south – the Mediterranean – in view of the effort that is being made to facilitate this process.

We talked about the Lisbon Treaty, we answered our Irish colleagues questions, and of course we moved ahead to discuss institutional issues, such as the need for the new European Commission posts to be filled as soon as possible if the Treaty goes into force.

On a Greek initiative, we had a detailed discussion of the illegal migration issue. I should tell you here that Greece found a lot of support from many countries – Mediterranean countries, northern European countries, countries in central Europe, that agreed with our basic position: that dealing with the illegal migration issue requires European solidarity.

European solidarity that must be achieved in practice. With an upgrading of Frontex; that is, with a greater presence of vessels in the Aegean, for example, to guard borders. But at the same time, with economic participation in handling migrants, who we must never forget, and this is being discussed a lot in Greece right now � are human beings.

They are human beings who have rights, human beings who are desperate, human beings without financial means, human beings who invest all their hopes in a boat and come across.

So our handling of them must be humanitarian, and that is what Greece will do with the reception centers that we are setting up. But we need help and we need the treaties, which also have to be humanitarian , treaties for their repatriation.

Journalist: This issue will be discussed on Friday morning, on the second day of the European Council. I would like to ask you, with regard to the substance of the discussion: What is Greece pursuing in terms of the text of the final conclusions, and what do you expect in terms of the initiatives that will be undertaken by the Swedish Presidency?

Ms. Bakoyannis: We had a long discussion about the text today. The current draft of the text does not satisfy us. What we want is for specific mention to be made of the repatriation that I mentioned earlier; that is, specific reference to conditions under which the European Union will sign agreements with states, so that we, as the European Union,  can repatriate people who come.

At the same time, explicit reference to specific countries. There are essentially two countries that illegal migrants transit or originate from and that are currently engaging Europe: Turkey and Libya. So there has to be a specific policy on these countries, and of course on the economic support that I talked about for managing and upgrading Frontex within Greek territory.

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