PRESS RELEASE – MARCH 5, 2011
Posted by clandestina on 6 March 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
DAY 40 of the hunger strike
The 50 migrants on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre have been on a hunger strike for 40 days now. They are determined to continue with their struggle until their demands are fulfilled. They say “a life without dignity is not worth living”.
They are facing critical health issues. As noted in the medical report issued by the team of doctors who tends to the migrants everyday since day one of the hunger strike, there are “frequent fainting episodes due to hypoglycemia, the strikers have lost over an average of 15% of their body mass, their heart rate is alarmingly low, they suffer cramps and muscle pain, difficulty with urination, severe intestinal problems. Mouth- and gum ulcers cause discomfort even when they drink salt water, which is the only thing that keeps them alive. At the moment, 14 people are being hospitalized at different hospitals in Thessaloniki. If the hunger strike continues, irreparable damage to their vital organs will be inevitable, and the threat to their brain function and to their life itself is now concrete.”
Yesterday, the hunger strikers in Athens and Thessaloniki issued an announcement after their meeting with government ministers, who proposed they be temporarily granted a non-deportation “tolerance” status for six months, and that all hunger strikers be transferred to hospitals:
1. We hunger strikers, from the places of our strike in Athens and Thessaloniki and from hospitals, unanimously reject the government’s proposal for a regime of tolerance, because it does not respond to our claim for legalization with freedom of movement, work-based renewal and all other rights that legal immigrants have in Greece and Europe.
2. We reject the request of the minister of Health to transfer all Athens’ hunger strikers to hospitals due to weather conditions’ worsening. As we have done for 39 days with cold and floods, we continue the hunger strike in Hypatia building (Patission Ave, and Ipirou Str.), and of course those who are in critical condition will be transfered to hospitals under our doctors’s orders.
3. We stress once again that the nationwide hunger strike is our struggle, that we take the decisions on all issues, and we demand the lies and slander to be stopped.
Yesterday, representatives of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (the rector, the vice-rector, the president of the committee for health and social policy, the dean of the Faculty of Law, the president of the university teaching and research staff union), the president of the journalists’ union, the president and the secretary of the Labor Centre, the president of the Thessaloniki Union of Workers in the Public Sector, the president of the City Council representing the mayor, responded to an invitation by the Labor Centre and met at the presidents’ office to discuss a solution to propose to the government. In the text they publicized after the meeting they state that there already exists the legal framework for the regularization of the migrants and that in times of crisis it is especially noteworthy that the hunger strikers’ demands are about legitimacy, they are about the respect of legal rights. Any loss of life, which seems highly possible right now, will be destructive on many levels, not only for the strikers, but for society as a whole. Among other points, the text, signed also by the president of the hospital doctors’ union and the bar association of Thessaloniki, contains specific proposals about the regularization of the 300 migrants, the possibility of 6 semesters-2 years of renewable work and residence permits for all sans papiers, the regularization of those who filed for permits but were rejected in 2005, the further reduction of required work credits for a residence permit or the disconnection of work credits from residence permits altogether.
Yesterday, the Initiative of Solidarity to the 300 hunger strikers in Greece and the Initiative of Greek Students and Workers in Paris occupied the Greek Embassy in Paris to express their support for the cause of the 300 hunger strikers.