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Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for January, 2011

Solidarity from Luxembourg

Posted by clandestina on 29 January 2011

Dear friends,

We, the left party of Luxembourg, strongly support your struggle for justice, human treatment and the right to live and work in Europe.

We strongly condemn the fortress Europe, repressive and racist rejection of refugees and asylum seekers and support a world where all humans are allowed to live in dignity safe from corporate profit interests.

In solidarity,

Gilles Ramponi – coordinateur politique

déi Lénk – la Gauche

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No Borders South Wales

Posted by clandestina on 29 January 2011

A message of support from Wales, UK

The human desire for freedom can never be stifled, and the voices of those in solidarity do  not go unheard in the moral vacuum of Europe’s murderous policies. The actions of the Greek Hunger Strikers have rippled across nations and inspired others no matter how far away we are. The members of No Borders South Wales stands in solidarity with you all, we are amazed at the bravery and courage of our brothers and sisters to defiantly show their humanity in a continent where dignity and solidarity are sorely lacking. We say no to their walls, armies and borders, we reject their division of us all into categories that suit them. We see through the lies of the market and understand that unemployment and hunger are artificial problems not created by migration. We will continue to fight together until every border is broken and every human is free.

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Solidarity from Barcelona

Posted by clandestina on 29 January 2011

Dear hunger strikers,

Papersper a Tothom( Papers for All) and Cornellà sense Fronteres (Cornellà without Borders), immigrant associations in Catalonia, Spain, stand in solidarity with you in your struggle for elementary rights for foreign workers in Greece.

Ten years ago this month, a thousand undocumented immigrants occupied ten churches in Barcelona, went on hunger strike for two weeks, and after a sit-in lasting 47 days emerged victorious. Not only did all those involved eventually obtain permits, but their action opened the way for tens of thousands more to obtain permits too.

Of course we have participated in many more struggles since then. Everywhere in the European Union governments are introducing tougher and tougher immigration laws, and xenophobic parties and racism are also growing, making life even harder for foreign workers. However, we must not forget that the crisis is affecting all workers and that unity of the working class against our common enemies is vital.

We wish you every success in this fight. Take courage. We have learned that victory is difficult, but without struggle there is no victory.

Papers for all!

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PRESS RELEASE – 27 JANUARY 2011

Posted by clandestina on 29 January 2011

PRESS RELEASE

Thursday 27 JANUARY 2011 – Thessaloniki

1. Τhe hunger strikers at the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki are in good health.

2. Together with the fighting migrants, minute by minute, we watched the IMF dictatorship unravel a hideous ceremony of fascist aesthetics to discourage and exhaust the hunger strikers in Athens. In an orgy of unscrupulousness and immorality, the dictatorship buried the struggle of the migrant hunger strikers in the media sewer of lies and deception. Those who have the nerve to present the bloodthirsty blackmailers of international banks as our saviors, would naturally not hesitate to present our brothers the migrant workers as criminals, who committed the terrible crime of entering an empty building site and risking their life for some dignity.

3. Some of the migrant hunger strikers are from Tunisia. They reassured us that only a few weeks ago, the Tunisian dictatorship thought it was invincible. And then the people spoke in the streets.

4. Minute by minute, we followed the developments in Athens. We had to cancel our programmed open discussion for the further coordination of the struggle. Instead, there was a spontaneous demo of solidarity and alertness in the centre of Thessaloniki with over a thousand people. We stayed vigilant, blocking a central road for hours, until we learnt the migrants were leaving the building in Athens. In the open assembly that followed we planned a demo for Friday at 6pm, departing from the Labor Centre.

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PRESS RELEASE 26 JAN 2011

Posted by clandestina on 29 January 2011

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday 26 January 2011

1. The strikers are in excellent physical and mental condition.

2. At the Press conference at noon, members of the assembly of the hunger strikers, of the solidarity assembly, of the Federation of Unions of Hospital Doctors, of the Union of State School Teachers in Secondary Education, of the first-degree union of Book-and-Paper Workers, and two lawyers called for solidarity and support for the migrants’ struggle, and explained its urgency especially in times of crisis, when society as a whole is being brutally attacked and deprived of its basic rights.

3. We are following the developments in Athens closely. No attack against our comrades and against the hunger strikers will go unanswered.

4. The hunger strikers have arranged to receive visitors between 11-1 at noon and 7-9 in the evening. During those times today, numerous people visited the strikers, members of unions who are hosted at the Labor Centre, a member of the town Council, and a delegation from the ‘Ecologist Greens’ party of Greece.

5. The team of 15 doctors who will be attending to the strikers during the course of the hunger strike, did a general health checkup on each striker, and offered medical advice and guidelines to the Safety and Security Teams of the solidarity assembly.

6. The hunger strikers assembly and the solidarity assembly agree with and will fully support the proposal of the Welcome to Europe Network for an International Action Week of Solidarity to the 300 Hunger Strikers between the 7th and the 13th of February 2011.

7. The solidarity assembly was informed that the deputy minister of Labor and Social Insurance will be in Thessaloniki for a conference on the ‘Perspectives on a New Migration Policy’ on Friday, January 28, at 7pm. The assembly of the hunger strikers announced their decision that representatives of their assembly will intervene at the conference and hand the text with their demands in person to the deputy minister.

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Tuesday 25/1/2011, 1st day of hunger strike

Posted by clandestina on 29 January 2011

PRESS RELEASE

JANUARY 25, 2011, 1st day of hunger strike

Today, 50 of the 300 immigrant workers began a hunger strike on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki, where they are being hosted. The hunger strikers are in very good shape, their conditions of living are excellent. Their conviction that they are fighting for a just cause, for the legalization of all migrants, keeps their spirits high. On the first day of the hunger strike the immigrant workers have received support from unions and workers’ organizations, as well as from numerous people who have visited, asking to help and contribute in any way they can.

Already on the first day of the migrant workers’ hunger strike, which puts their lives at risk for their struggle, the unholy alliance of the State, the media and the far-Right launched an orchestrated attack, condemning them or victimizing the fighting strikers, and tried to divert public opinion away from the real issues of the struggle. We believe that despite this assault, Greek society will stand by the strikers. This struggle is just and powerful, it has massive solidarity and support and it will not surrender to goebbelist propaganda techniques.

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 26th of January, the immigrant hunger strikers invite you to a Press Conference on the 1st floor of the Labor Centre.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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ZNet: Support the Striking Migrant Workers of Greece

Posted by clandestina on 27 January 2011

http://www.zcommunications.org/support-the-striking-migrant-workers-of-greece-by-many-authors

Yesterday, January 25, three hundred (300) migrants who work in Greece without papers or any civil rights began what is perhaps the largest hunger strike in Greek history.

 

The strikers are asking for the “legalization of all migrant men and women,” and for “the same political and social rights and obligations as Greek workers.”

 

The struggle of these migrants highlight the general crisis of migrants and refugees across Greece and Europe.

 

The Assembly of Migrant Hunger Strikers explain that they came to Greece “to escape poverty, unemployment, wars and dictatorships.” And that they were left no choice other than to repeatedly risk their own lives “to journey towards Europe’s door.”

 

“I want papers to be able to go to hospital, to be treated as a human being,” explained a 29-year old Moroccan. “I’m fed up with this life without papers.” He has been working “menial” jobs on the Island of Crete for 5 years.

 

Another hunger striker, who said he found it impossible to obtain legal papers, explained “There is no going back for us. … We will win this fight or we will die.”

 

With no other way to make their voices heard or demand their rights 250 migrants have occupied an unused building in the Law School of Athens where Police are forbidden by the University Asylum law to enter university grounds.

 

Another building, the 7th floor of the Labor Center of Thessaloniki, has also been occupied by 50 others.

 

Even during times of “business as usual”—when elite profit, power, and privilege is not in jeopardy, but the everyday lives of everyone else are—migrants are easy targets for blame and exploitation.

 

However, as material conditions worsen in Greece due to the current financial crisis, so have the lives of migrants worsened—becoming more precarious.

 

The statement of the Assembly of Migrant Hunger Strikers explains that the lives of migrants have become even more unbearable as workers “salaries and pensions are cut and prices rise.” Migrants have become targets more often and their lives more vulnerable.

 

“Far right discourse is reproduced through the media when they talk about us. On issues of migration, the propaganda of fascist and racist parties and groups has become the formal language of the State while their ‘proposals’ have already become government policy: the wall in Evros, floating detention centres and a European army in the Aegean, repression in the cities, massive deportations.”

 

Under these conditions faced by the striking migrants, it is imperative not to remain silent, and to lend support for the demands of the migrants.

 

Intellectuals of Greece, Europe, and elsewhere must express their solidarity by lending support for the demands of the migrants and participating in their struggle and defense.

 

Public expressions of solidarity and support are urgently needed as the deadline for striking migrants to leave the Law School of Athens’ is currently under consideration.

 

~~~

 

We, the authors, wish to express our solidarity with the 300 migrant workers on hunger strike in Greece. Their struggle is an important part of the struggle for migrant justice and human rights all over the world.

 

(Signatories are listed here in personal capacity only. If you support this statement, please sign the petition.)

 

Michael Albert (ZNet) – USA

Peter Bohmer (Faculty in Economics at The Evergreen State College, and Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, Olympia, Washington) – USA

Irina Cerica (Global Balkans Network) – Canada

Andrej Grubacic (Global Balkans Network, ZNet) – USA

Harpreet K Paul (Project for a Participatory Society) – United Kingdom

Nikos Raptis (ZNet) – Greece

Deric Shannon (Worker Solidarity Alliance, Queers Without Borders) – USA

Chris Spannos (ZNet) – USA

Tamara Vukov (Global Balkans Network) – Canada

Abbey Willis (Worker Solidarity Alliance, Queers Without Borders) – USA
(If you support this statement, please sign the petition.)

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Declaration of solidarity with the hunger strikers – Call for a week of action!

Posted by clandestina on 26 January 2011

http://w2eu.net/2011/01/25/legalisation-equal-rights-now/

Declaration of solidarity with the hunger strikers in Greece – Legalisation and equal rights now – Call for a week of action!

The 25th of January is the day on which 300 migrants in Greece started a hunger strike. Their demand is a collective legalisation of all the people excluded from Greek society based on their status – be it asylum seekers, not recognised refugees, illegalised people, exploited migrant labourers. It is not the first hunger strike in Greece where human beings are forced to use such a drastic measure to fight for their rights.

 

We are migrant men and women from all over Greece. We came here due to poverty, unemployment, wars and dictatorships. The multinational companies and their political servants did not leave another choice for us than risking 10 times our lives to arrive in Europe’s door. […] We came to Greece and we are working to support ourselves and our families. We live without dignity, in the darkness of illegalness so that employers and state’s services can benefit from the harsh exploitation of our labour. We live from our sweat and with the dream, some day, to have equal rights with our Greek fellow workers. […] The answer to the lies and the cruelty has to be given now and it will come from us, from migrant men and women. We are going in the front line, with our own lives to stop this injustice. We ask the legalization of all migrant men and women, we ask for equal political and social rights and obligations with Greek workers.”

(Assembly of migrant hunger strikers, January 2011)

 

It is not a particular Greek situation that the hunger strikers are denouncing. It is the effect of the European policy of bordering and exclusion. Accessing European territory is often a deadly venture. Refugees and migrants are not welcome in Europe, and fences, border guards and agencies, detention camps and deportation schemes have proliferated only to keep the unwanted at distance. But the dreams and the desires of the unwanted are stronger and enable many to scale the borders. The presence of a migrant population in Europe is a reality and they have come, and are coming to stay.

 

However, it is not only the fences and borders that are directed against these coming citizens of Europe. In a Europe that promised a homogeneous landscape of rights to its citizens in any country of the Union, non-European migrants often find themselves to be second-class citizens, or even outright excluded from political and social rights at large. This creates an exploitable labour force and a disadvantaged and disenfranchised part of the population. By creating such conditions, Europe profits from the products of migrant labour. In the Southern countries of the EU, the agricultural sector is heavily dependent on migrant labour, while all over Europe, migrants form the backbone of many service industries that are taken for granted.

 

But we are talking about human beings, with dreams and hopes, with plenty of reasons to go and to move. But as they arrive in Europe, they find themselves deprived of their rights as human beings, at the mercy of an asylum system, and at the fringes of society. It is exactly this social exclusion and disfranchisement, it is the lack of political and social rights that leads to the often unbearable conditions that are then denounced as the “migration problem”, used to justify repression, further exclusion, and deportation.

 

Migration is neither a crime nor a problem, but the European Union’s response is criminal and highly problematic. The 2008 European Pact on Immigration and Asylum has cemented this inhuman policy pursued for many years. While mentioning necessary advances in asylum and legal migration legislation, it has foremost served as a political initiative to harden the borders, further exclusion and deportation and is a declaration of war on migration. It lengthily talks about the solidarity between the EU member states, but it robbed especially the southern states of the only sensible answer to migration: it contains an explicit ban on collective legalisation.

 

The hunger strikers in Greece have decided to struggle for their rights, and rightly so. In a climate of increased repression and anti-migrant rhetoric, we have to act. Not only in Greece, all over Europe and indeed all over the world, we need to struggle for equal rights for everybody. We express our explicit solidarity with the hunger strikers in Greece, and we call to activists all over Europe to join the cause for a complete and unconditional legalisation.

 

We call for a week of action from the 7th to the 13th of February 2011 in solidarity with the hunger strikers!

 

Legalisation now!

Equal rights now!

For the abolition of borders!

 

 

January 2011 | Welcome to Europe Network

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Statement of Solidarity from Afrique-Europe-Interact

Posted by clandestina on 26 January 2011

Statement of Solidarity from Afrique-Europe-Interact to the Hungerstrike of Refugees and Migrants in Greece

Bamako, 25th of January 2010

To the assembly of migrant hunger strikers

Today, simultanously with your struggle for legalisation in Greece we start a protest-caravan for freedom of movement and fair development in Westafrica.

You desribed the risks of flight and migration to Europe due to poverty and unemployment, to wars and dictatorships, and due to the oppression of the multinational companies and their political servants. That are exactly the injust realities in Africa, which we tackle and critizise with our caravan.
You fight against the EU-borderregime and the modern apartheid – as we do the same!
You fight against exploitation and scapegoating and you demand equal rights – as we do the same!

We will bring these common demands from Bamako during our two weeks-tour through Westafrica and afterwards to the World Social Forum in Dakar. And we will – if necessary – promote your struggle in Dakar again and call for more transnational solidarity.

The network Afrique-Europe-Interact wishes you strength and sucess in your resistance.

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SOLIDARITY WITH THE 300 MIGRANTS ON HUNGER STRIKE

Posted by clandestina on 24 January 2011

Why, amidst the crisis, we insist to talk about immigrants

The obvious

In the name of human dignity, we are always on the side of the oppressed, never on the side of the bosses

The not-so-obvious truth

Before the crisis, society could only gain from its solidarity to immigrants and refugees. Now, if it doesn’t show solidarity, it has a lot to lose. Remember the last time a crisis broke out and there was talk of “scapegoats” and “concentration camps”: It was the 1930s and those who talked like that were called Wehrmacht, not Frontex.

Immigrants are kept illegal. In whose interest?

The obvious

For two decades, illegal immigration has offered Greece cheap, undeclared labor for a series of developmental mega-projects, like the scandalously excessive Olympics, and a variety of grand and minor businesses.  At the same time, circuits of illicit trafficking were created with extremely high profits.

The not-so-obvious truth

The system keeps the immigrants illegal not only for the direct profits generated by illegality and insecurity, but also in order to undermine and obliterate the rights of immigrants, as well as the rights of locals. When the bosses treat immigrants as human trash, and society accepts this, soon society as a whole is turned into a human rights wasteland.

Greece is becoming a prison state. In whose interest?

The obvious

Even government officials admit that border walls and fences, concentration camps and floating prisons, (these are the measures that have been mentioned by the Greek authorities), will not halt the entrance of desperate immigrants into Europe. The point of such measures is to disorient people by absorbing public attention, as well as to increase the profits of traffickers in the new slave trade (which in turn increases the death toll of immigrants trying to enter Europe). The plight of immiserated refugees in neighborhoods in Athens, Patras and Igoumenitsa is a bargaining chip in the negotiations of Greece with the EU and Turkey.

The not-so-obvious truth

By constantly presenting repression, the police and the army as the solution to social issues, they are paving the ground for the military-economic dictatorship of the IMF.

“Do we have enough room?”

The obvious:

Production of necessary goods through the human activity of work, in a society of equality and in balance with nature, always increases social wealth. In such a society there is room for everyone. But when humanity, reason, common sense, civil and social rights are ostracized, then there is no room for anyone at all.

The not-so-obvious truth

Before the so-called crisis, namely the most recent round of brutal assaults against society, a UN report stated that the EU will be needing 135 million immigrants until 2025 if it is to preserve the 1995 population ratio of productive and non-productive citizens. We now realize that instead, or in parallel to a process of “filtering” and controlling the migration flows, the bosses chose to increase working years, to cut pensions and wages and to demolish whatever was left of the welfare state for all…

In other words, the more we allow for rights to be undermined, the less room there is for all of us.

Demand everything for everyone, or the bosses take it all

Some time ago, we were told that there is no room for refugees, for immigrants. Now we are being told that  there is room neither for civil servants, nor for industrial workers and builders (a worker in China earns 85 Euro a month and can hardly unionize, so it is only natural for the bosses to prefer devalued labor), nor for agricultural workers (150,000 small or medium agricultural workers abandoned production in the fields before the crisis broke out, and Greece has been transformed from a sovereign food producer, to a major importer of food).

For twenty years now, the multinationals and the bankers’ mafia have been transferring their capital and companies to places where profits are higher and workers’ rights are inexistent, while at the same time they are destroying vital resources, economic and social networks of whole countries through the mechanism of credit and debt.

For twenty years now, Greek society, stuffed with the meaningless privileges of consumerism and lifestyle, has been blindly living by the standards of plunder and inhumanity and obeying the order of injustice. Today, it numbly watches while it is being deprived of everything substantial: health insurance, pensions, education, welfare…

Here, as everywhere, resistance to this bankrupt and destructive system is our only choice

Here, as everywhere, the values of solidarity and social justice are our only hope

From Konstandina Kuneva, an immigrant cleaner fighting for her fellow-workers’ rights, to the strikers in the strawberry fields in Manolada in 2008, from the Egyptian fishermen struggling for justice in Mechaniona in the winter and spring of 2010 to the 35 hothouse workers on hunger strike in Ioannina last December, from the strikers at the Skala in Lakonia last September to today’s 300 hunger strikers, the fighting migrant workers show the way of resistance and dignity.

If we have any chance to resist the nightmare looming in the horizon for all of us, this chance depends on our solidarity with the migrants in struggle.

Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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