Migration and Struggle in Greece

44 days of psychological war

Posted by clandestina on 9 March 2011

From this morning press conference in Thessaloniki:

Ι am Ghani, Ι represent the 50 hunger strikers here in Thessaloniki.


I will read out to you a chronicle of psychological war against the hunger strikers. It is the story of how the government has employed the tactics of diversion since the beginning of the hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki: In an orchestrated way, the ministries of the Interior, of Health, of Labor & Social Insurance, of Citizens’ Protection, have systematically tried to distort the terms of our struggle, to divert the public discussion away from the hunger strikers’ demands, and also to create confusion not only to the people, the so-called public opinion, not only to the solidarity initiatives, but also to the hunger strikers themselves.


Until today, the government has pressed forth its plan to divert attention from the strikers’ demands: regularization and equal rights for people who live and work here.


First, already on the 3rd day of the hunger strike, after hours of meaningless negotiations and false promises, they lead the strikers out of the empty and redundant Law School building, and sent them to a mansion with locked up rooms and no heating…The strikers didn’t break.


Then they tried to criminalize solidarity and accused 8 people of allegedly trying to “guide” the migrants and “instigate” the hunger strike for their own political purposes… The strikers made it obvious to everyone that they have their own general assembly, and they cannot be told what to do.


Then the government launched the mudslinging campaign that the migrants are a public health hazard, that they are an “bomb” for public health, so that the associations with terrorism are created… When that didn’t work, because doctors and solidarity initiatives responded immediately that the only contagious disease the migrants could spread is the disease of struggling for dignity and basic rights, then the government thought of a further attack:


They repeated that it is allegedly impossible to order mass regularizations of migrants according to EU legislation. This again is preposterous and plain wrong: Both Belgium and Italy regularized 50,000 and 200,000 migrants respectively in the last two years.


Then the government played another card: It encouraged hospitals to instruct their staff to leave trays with food in the hunger strikers’ rooms, thinking that nobody would react. This was part of a campaign in the media that the government is interested in the strikers’ health. Again, they were wrong, since doctors were very well aware that this form of torture is a violation of the international Malta Convention about hunger strikes.


A couples of days ago, the government warned that all strikers will be transferred to hospital and that everybody, strikers and solidarity people alike, should cooperate with the government in this operation or else… That didn’t work either…The strikers repeated that they would not leave the building without a residency permit.


A few hours later, there were leaks in newspapers by “circles in the government” that all migrants shall be deported if they do not accept the government’s offer (practically non-deportation for six months)”.


Then, yesterday, two women from the solidarity initiative were arrested at a hospital in Athens, for objecting to trays of food being left next to hunger strikers’ beds…


So isn’t this psychological war? What would you call it?

Our demands are clear, and the specific terms have been presented in full detail since the 21st of February. The Text of Thessaloniki is a good start for a serious final arrangement.
The government boasts that it protects human rights. Up to now, its stance towards the hunger strikers has been a moment of shame in the history of human rights in Europe.

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