Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for the ‘Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements’ Category

Larnaca, Belgrade, Attica Square: Connecting the dots

Posted by clandestina on 8 November 2010

Some info on the recent clashes in Cyprus

“Phinikoudes Beach was turned into a warzone, when marching members of three nationalist movements came into conflict with participants at the antiracism festival, and with members of migrant support group KISA, the organisers of the event”.
Cyprus Mail
, November 6, 2010

The rainbow festival is being organized for many years by KISA (Action for Equality, Support and Antiracism) in Nicosia and Limassol. This year, the 13th Rainbow Festival was held in Larnaca and not in Limassol after the nationalist “Hellenic Resistance Movement” announced that it would hold an anti-immigrant demonstration on Friday 5 November in Larnaca, with the participation of the “Pancypriot Anti‐Occupation Movement” and the “Movement for the Salvation of Cyprus”.
The Rainbow festival was moved to Larnaca in order to stop the fascist threat, as it publicly announced.

We must have in mind that the Rainbow festival is sponsored by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus and is being organised with the support of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus. That’s why the organizers thought they would have protection and felt no actual preparation for real fighting with the far right groups was necessary.
Far right groups seized the opportunity to describe antiracists as ”the enemy’s fifth column, funded by foreign centers”, accusing the Cypriot state that “from its birth, it fights against the hellenism of Cyprus in order to eliminate it“.

At the beginning of the event, people at the festival were three times more than the far-right demonstrators (mainly old, traditional nationalists) but by the end  neo-nazis were heading the attacks. Late in the evening, it was the police who was rescuing the few antiracists and immigrants who remained at the site until the end of the event.
Nazis not only controlled the streets, they also posed as anti-state and anti-police activists.

Something similar happened a month ago in Belgrade, at the LGBT pride parade, that was protected by the government and co-organized with EU Commission representatives in Serbia. It is estimated that on the day of the LGBT pride parade, over 6,000 fascistoid youths (supported by football clubs and priests) were fighting the police on the streets of Belgrade for hours. According to a report:
“Gendarmerie and other special units were using armored vehicles and tear gas, trying to regain control over the rally. Police clashed with the rioters near Palace Albania, where they were pushed back from Terazije Sq. The protesters were shouting ‘Go to Kosovo’ at the officers.The mobile mammography unit was stoned, bought with the help of donors and B92, in downtown Belgrade while the doctors were examining their patients.The headquarerts of the ruling Democratic Party were also under attack and were set ablaze for a short while. The building of the national television RTS did not escape the attack of hooligans, who also tried to storm the parliament building, but failed. A number of vehicles were damaged (…), including several parked cars and 11 police vehicles, two buses and two trolleybuses.”

Yesterday, at the local elections in Greece, the nazi (“Golden Dawn” party) candidate got 5% of the votes for the municipality of Athens. In the last few months, a central square in Athens (Attiki Square – see video) has evolved into a hothouse for fascists, who  have organized pogroms against migrants’ shops and apartments, as well as attacks with knives against refugee families sleeping in the park.

Why are these three incidents connected?
As we have already implied in our text On Crisis and Migration, the immigrant/refugee struggle is a lost cause, unless it is connected with the present crisis.
Last March, almost coinciding with the arrival of the IMF in Greece, a round of discussions began amongst people and groups aiming to prepare a series of no-border actions in Greece during the summer of 2010. Despite the important work  especially by people from abroad towards that goal, the actions were either poorly attended, or were canceled altogether. We feel there is a deeply political reason for this: At the moment, any struggles which are not connected to the new capitalist attack against (this time) its own strongholds in Europe, are doomed to fail. Let us explain:

The nature of the crisis and the far-right as a ”popular movement”

Two years ago, leftists and anarchists were celebrating the imminent end of capitalism after the collapse of the US banks. With the breakout of the greek crisis we started reading analyses about “over-accumulation [being] the main cause of the crisis”, or conspiracy theories about the “bad bankers winning over the productive capitalists”.

Things are clearly different though:
Migration flows are created by the same globalized capital that attacks populations through financialization, after having moved production from the developed to the developing countries, initiating the destruction of the middle and lower classes in the west.
In the past, the shock of the ”discovery” of the deaths at the frontiers of Fortress Europe or of the horror prisons in Greece, or even of the threat of a hyper-militarized Frontex Agency could be a viable tactic for the solidarity movement, but no more. Last November, in a text on the occasion of the 3rd International Forum for Migration and Development we said that immigrants bring home to the EU the reality of global capitalism and thus give us an opportunity to understand global reality beyond the virtual banality of consumerism.
Now that global capital is bringing third world conditions inside the EU (i.e. Aghios Panteleimonas/Attica Square) and is dismantling the middle classes, condemning to poor to utter misery, the serpent’s egg of fascists and neo-nazis appears in the guise of resistance. In countries where there is no organized and widespread social resistance movement, public discontent can be manipulated by mixing liberal politics with abstract, non-clarified cultural issues. In that way, with NGO-, liberal and EU coalitions, the substance of resistance is hijacked, as it is taken away from the oppressed and the radicals and the semblance of resistance is handed by the State, by Authority, to the new fascist riots, disguised as “society that cannot take it anymore”.

This is what happened in Serbia, which has been in deep crisis for the last two decades, and on a much smaller scale in Cyprus, (where it is nevertheless extremely important, since the fascist attack was a response to a Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot social movement that has been growing steadily for some years now).
Athens is a similar but different case. After the December 2008 riots, the attack against immigrants, climaxing in the summer of 2009, was part of a full-scale counter-attack (a kind of counter-insurgency) by the State. During that time, a social laboratory, testing the creation of fascist reflexes, was gradually being allowed to develop in the center of town, not far away from areas practically dominated by the social movement. It is now evident that if we do not organically connect our responses to the crisis to the issue of solidarity and struggle with immigrants, we are leaving a void that will be filled by the “fascist response to the crisis”.

Events in Larnaca, Belgrade and Aghios Panteleimonas/Attiki Square in Athens alert us to the possibility of a return of the far-right as a ”popular movement”.
No NGOs, no liberal alliances, no multicultural festivals or rhetorics of tolerance can be effective against it, neither is it enough to condemn Frontex on a humanitarian basis. To walk round Attica Square and still romanticize immigrants as ”neo-nomads” seems as irrelevant as interpreting the IMF-attack on developed countries and unemployment through Negri’s “end of work”. We have to see the current ”crisis” for what it has always been – a full-fledged war against the unprivileged, a war where you have to identify allies and enemies. Only in this context can we speak about the issue of immigrants and solidarity, poverty and the crisis.

Modern migration and the current crisis are products of the same move of globalized capitalism.
You cannot fight against the causes of one if you do not fight against the causes of the other. It is now obvious that we need a grassroots movement for social justice, a movement of self-organization and action, freed from disguised vanguardists and supporters of electoral politics, freed from the spectacle of violence.

Posted in Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | 1 Comment »

June 2010 Clandestina report

Posted by clandestina on 30 June 2010

Death toll rises at the greek borders

16 immigrants were found dead in the last 48 hours at the greek-turkish borders, near the Evros river (9 in Greece and 5 in Turkey) – two more were found dead on Saturday 26th June.
The number of immigrants that died in June in the Evros river remains unknown as more dead immigrants were discovered on June 8. Three more were found dead on May 27.
On the 16th of June, a 19-year-old Afghan refugee was found dead, hidden in the fuel tank of a truck, inside the ferry “OLYMPIC CHAMPION”, traveling from Patras to Venice.

…killed by a bilateral agreement…
On June 29, greek and turkish officials met in Athens in order to examine the progress of the bilateral agreement signed by the Greek Minister, Michalis Chryssohoïdis, and by his Turkish counterpart, Besir Atalay, on May 14.
According to the agreement, a border office is to be set up, near Izmir, which will be used for the readmission of irregular migrants.
Also, a readmission protocol will be put into force, according to which immigrants will be deported from Greece to Turkey and then to third countries.

MSF Report
On June 15, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) presented a report that “documents the unacceptable living conditions in the three detention centers in Greece where MSF intervened and presents data from psychological counseling sessions as well as individual testimonies.” Download Report

Frontex press conference
On June 16, Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias-Fernandez announced that 88 percent of illegal immigrants – almost nine in 10 – that entered the EU in 2009 had come via Greece. During the first third of 2010, EU authorities arrested 3,500 illegal migrants at land borders and 2,900 at sea, indicating a shift in patterns of entry from the sea to the land borders. This shift was also reflected in figures unveiled by the Greek citizens’ protection ministry last week, showing a 50 percent decline in arrests of migrants in the northern Aegean and and 65 percent decline in the southern Aegean. By contrast, arrests on land borders in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace increased by 167 percent (from 2,416 to 6,459). In Epirus, arrests went up from 5,616 in the first third of 2009 to 7,889 in 2010.
Fernandez also confirmed that the first regional Frontex Operations Office will open in Piraeus later this year – with the office opening in July but only launching full operations in October. Until the end of 2011, it will operate as a pilot project employing 13 experts from various EU countries, and it will subsequently be decided whether to continue its operation.

Meanwhile in Athens
Attacks by fascist groups aligned with shopowners against immigrant street vendors on central streets have not ceased. But neither will actions of solidarity to immigrants:
Below is a leaflet that was distributed during a gathering outside Athens Chamber of Commerce

We sell things on the street because we don’t have an alternative way of making a living.
No work is refused in order for us to make a living.
These people that you see on the street , these people that you keep harassing, are people who are familiar with most trades and professions.
Even though we are only vagrant street vendors, we are the ones paying for the houses that were had locked up for a long time, houses crying for a human presence.
A house can’t live by itself. It needs souls, it needs lives.
Water, power, telephone, means of transport and everything else we need to live are not for free.
You will never see one of us involved in affairs of the night and the underworld.
We are honest people, very sociable and open to everyone and everything.
We have obligations, but we also have rights.
We are only asking for understanding and tolerance.
Immigrant street vendors

Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements, Short Reports | 1 Comment »

On immigration and the Crisis in Greece: Four points

Posted by clandestina on 13 June 2010

1. For some, the crisis did not start two years ago.

From the Structural Adjustment Programs in Africa and Latin America in the 1980s, to the neo-liberal looting in the countries of the former Soviet bloc in the 1990s, crisis and migration have been twin concepts.
For three decades neo-liberalism has been engineering a weakened and destabilized workforce. Capital prefers migrants because they are powerless, unorganized, badly paid workers for whom there is no need for safety in the workplace, nor for health insurance and pensions. In other words, they are much cheaper and make no demands. It has been estimated that in 2009, 3% of the world population, 200 million people, lived outside the country they were born in.

2. Immigrants, the last vestige of the welfare state

Not only do immigrants offer cheap labor, they also have absolutely no participation in the creation of the present economic crisis in Greece. Quite the contrary: They are the social security system’s last gasp:
The State uses the immigrants’ (obligatory) contributions in order to support its health insurance and pension funds. Most immigrants will never benefit from the pension funds they are helping rescue, since in Greece you do not get compensation for retirement unless you have worked for a minimum of 40 years.
The vast majority of migrants are of productive age. If they weren’t here, the balance-of-payments deficit of insurance funds between those who work and those who retire would be even greater than it already is. Even the income from taxation would be drastically reduced, since, as State sources openly acknowledge, “immigrants are much more consistent than the Greeks in fulfilling their tax obligations.”
Migrant women, in whose hands now lies the main responsibility for the care of children and the elderly, are saving the State millions of euros in public care services, such as daycare and childcare centres, public health institutions and old people’s homes.

The public health system further profits from the devalued labor of immigrants in the cleaning sector: Public and private buildings, ministries and hospitals, airports and trains, offices and homes are being cleaned largely by immigrant cleaners, who are subcontracted on utterly exploitative terms for the workers by intermediate private rent companies.

3. The money isn’t enough anymore, what’ll happen with those immigrants?

“The crisis is driving the immigrants away”, the media announce repeatedly. It is true that the first people affected by the crisis are the legal immigrants. The residence permit in Greece depends on the work permit, so legal immigrants are trapped in the legal vicious circle of blackmail – if you don’t have work, you cannot stay legally, yet if you have no residence permit, you cannot find work.

Unemployment is expected to skyrocket in a few months. Hundreds of thousands of migrants, especially from Albania, who experienced the brutality of “Greek hospitality” during the first years of working here, and gradually found themselves with children and certain consumer privileges in a state of semi-legality, are now confronted with a terrible dilemma.
Those who have children are bound to stay. This is where the new citizenship bill comes in. The fee for applying for citizenship is 700 euro – multiply that by half a million legal immigrants…
The strategic goal of Greek capital has been to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants in a state of semi-legality as cheap and easily manipulable labor.
On the other hand, the illegal migrants, the sans-papiers, cannot leave. Lacking official documents, they are trapped both in the “country of first entry into the EU” according to the Dublin II convention, and also within the unofficial and undeclared labor market. The dogma of zero-tolerance further narrows margins for resistance – let us remember the sudden drastic devaluation of the Egyptian fishermen’s work, or the ongoing slave-labor conditions of Bangladeshi strawberry pickers in Manolada in the Peloponnese. Things can always get worse…

4. The crisis of solidarity (the summer of 2009 was only the beginning)

The level of workers’ rights is regressing to where it was decades ago… That’s plain to see. Yet wasn’t it already the acceptance, over the last years, of concentration camps for the victims of global order that turned the clock back to the fascist regimes of the interwar period? What crisis is greater than the moral degradation of society? And it doesn’t seem to pay off either: When you nod affirmatively to the bosses in their war against the weak, it doesn’t mean the boss owes you anything in return. We devalued refugees and migrant workers, believing this would never happen to us. Yet it is now a fact: As long as solidarity does not prevail, everyone’s rights will spiral downwards, towards the lowest common denominator…

“…exploiting the immigrants for twenty years
now its your turn to taste some of their agony and fears…”

Posted in Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements | 4 Comments »

Events in Chania, Crete and Larissa, Thessaly on the new law on Citizenship

Posted by clandestina on 4 March 2010

Chania, Friday 5 March, 8 pm, Technical Chamber Chania, Nearhou str.

Larissa, Thursday 5 March, Trade Union Center, Larissa, 19.00

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Demonstrations in Thessaloniki and Komotini

Posted by clandestina on 19 February 2010


…s/he supports crucially public insurance funds and banks by working informally and buying revenue stamps.

Now there is a chance that s/he will be granted citizenship, by paying 1.000 € to file an application (=hundreds of millions channeled into state funds), which will be pending two years, during which the applicant must not be convicted of resistance to authority or giving refuge to immigrants without papers; s/he must also sit succesfully a test on “civil conduct”, be checked for not posing “risks to public order and national security “… S/he is  ready, steady, legal and with appropriate social conscience!

Saturday, February 20, 1.00 pm Kamara, Thessaloniki


They left behind wars, juntas and devastated countries.  They sold their belognings in order to pay the traffickers.  Some people die at the border (30 deaths in the Aegean in 2010), some are stacked in detention centers. Wednesday, February 3: Revolt breaks out in the detention center in Venna. Friday, February 5: without a lawyer and an interpreter, 42 refugees were sentenced to imprisonment and deportation.

DEMONSTRATION  AGAINST REFUGEE CONCENTRATION CAMPS, Saturday, February 20, 1.00 pm Komotini, Thrace.

Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network

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

Open discussion in Thessaloniki: the new citizenship bill. Τuesday 16 February.

Posted by clandestina on 10 February 2010

Ο νέος νόμος για την ιθαγένεια

Συμμετέχουν: Ομάδα Αλλοδαπών-Μεταναστών Φοιτητών Θεσσαλονίκης, Φόρουμ Μεταναστών Κρήτης, Oμάδα Μεταναστών & Προσφύγων, Κ. Τσιτσελίκης (καθηγητής ΠαΜακ), Σ. Μαρκέτος (καθηγητής ΑΠΘ), Δίκτυο Clandestina
Τρίτη 16 Φλεβάρη, 7.00 μμ
ΕΔΟΘ, Πρ. Κορομηλά 51

Open discussion:
the new citizenship bill

Speaking: Group of Foreign & Immigrant Students (Thessaloniki),
Forum of Immigrants in Crete,
Group of Immigrants and Refugees,
Κ. Τsitselikis (professor UOM),
S. Marketos (professor ΑUTh),
Clandestina network
Τuesday 16 February 7.00 pm
Koromila 51

Bisedë: Ligji i ri për shtetësinë
Marrin pjesë: Grupi i Studentëve Emigrantë & të Huaj Selanik, Forumi i Emigrantëve te Kretes, Grupi emigrantëve politikë dhe ekonomikë, K. Cicelikis (Profesor i universitetit PAMAK), S. Marketos (Profesor i UAS), Rrjeti Clandestina
të Martën 16/2 më orën 19:00
Koromila 51

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The final (Feb 4) version of the immigration bill: from bad to worse!

Posted by clandestina on 9 February 2010

In our recent text we argued that “the bill, which is ostensibly introduced to correct at least partially an injustice, does hold many pitfalls…those in the worst position now will be then further devalued. The division into ‘goods’ and ‘bads’, ‘useful’ and ’superfluous’, ‘legal’ and ‘clandestine’ immigrants is being petrified as the global system of exploitation deepens.”

The final, modified version of the draft law which was officially announced on February 4, 2010!

  • Both parents of the child to be entitled to citizenship must meet the requirement of 5 years of incessant legal residence in Greece (first version provided for only one parent).
  • Adult immigrants to be eligible for citizenship must present proof of 7 – instead of 5 as was first proposed – years of incessant legal residence in Greece, to which the further requirement of a “long residence permit”, which has been granted to just 130 persons since its inception in 2006!).
  • To the existing requirements of exclusion (high fees, law-abiding behaviour, clean criminal record etc,) the new draft law adds:
  • Special Civil Education and History tests set up by the Citizenship Committee.
  • That there are no “public or national security” reasons to deny citizenship.
  • Insurance and financial status
  • According to the ministry of interior those eligible to file an application today are: 130 long residing people, 14.000 with a 5 year residence, 1.000 parents of Greek citizens, 1.000 entitled to international protection, 120 people with no citizenship, a sum total of less than 16.500 people!

    Posted in Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements, Short Reports | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

    On the much discussed bill on citizenship

    Posted by clandestina on 26 January 2010

    The proposed legislation to grant citizenship to some second generation immigrants puts partially an end to their chronic status of being hostages in the country where they were born and have lived so far their lives .   However, this bill, which is ostensibly  introduced to correct at least partially an injustice,  does hold many pitfalls:

    1) Children’s “legalisation” depends on the “legality” of their parents. As has been repeatedly stressed, no sans papiers can benefit from the proposed naturalization process.

    2) The proposed conditions for granting citizenship turn the latter into a “certificate of social conscience” [as the one issued by post-civil war police or army authorities certifying that its owner was not a communist – thereof employable in the public sector and entitled to various other rights]; those eligible and finally granted citizenship will be under the constant threat of having their citizenship removed; moreover, one to be eligible for the naturalisation process ”must have not been convicted to a prison sentence of at least one year for a period of ten years prior to the application, must have not been convicted of offences against the state, (…) of resistance to authority [for instance, resistance to arrest], of slander” as well as “of facilitating the transfer or the provision of shelter to illegal immigrants or of breaches of legislation concerning the settlement and movement of aliens in Greece.”

    3) Proposed army recruitment of immigrants (a relief for the army ranks in view of the growing reluctance among Greek youth to draft) adds to the exploitative blackmail that makes legal residence dependent on work revenue stamps (immigrant active workforce’s contributions with no pension claims so far have been so far the Greek administrations preferred approach for dealing with the ailing public insurance funds); the unacceptably high fee (1,000 euros per person which means millions of euros for the state ) is maintained.

    4) The much debated bill is merely an integration regulation for immigrants mostly from Albania, after two decades of overexploitation and in exchange for votes.  On April 28, 2009 Albania formally applied for EU membership. This prospect might seem remote, but wasn’t it the same with Romania and Bulgaria some years ago? Thus, although it now seems that the naturalization process applies and is of interest for the majority of immigrants in Greece, in a few years, when the Albanians will be EU citizens, the now proposed regulation will only aplly to a very small minotirty of immigrants. In fact, those in the worst position now will be then further devalued. The division into ‘goods’ and ‘bads’, ‘useful’ and ‘superfluous’, ‘legal’ and ‘clandestine’ immigrants is being petrified as the global system of exploitation deepens.

    Alongside with the proposal of the “benefactory” bill the Greek state has been all the more stressing its commitment to “zero tolerance” policies, the “sealing” of the borders, deportation camps, the Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the Dublin II Regulation, the Schengen Treaty, the Outrageous Directive. Finally, we should remind that the law provision for deporting immigrants charged (not convicted) of minor misdeeds on “public order and security” grounds is still in effect.

    Clandestina network, January 2010

    Posted in Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    European Union – Turkey: hard negotiations and tough bargaining for immigrants and refugees

    Posted by clandestina on 14 January 2010

    This short post is long due, but still usefull for anyone to understand why Turkey is not Libya, in other words, why the externalisation of Fortress Europe borders to Turkey is a stake in a complex and hard bargaining between the EU and the regional megapower (in which money is not everything for the latter).

    According to the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, the European Union is ready to offer political advantages to Turkey in exchange for signing a readmission agreement. We found out what readmission means for Turkey, when Oktay Durukan, member of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly of Turkey, analytically presented (in Greek) Turkey’s policies during the conference “Suspended people”, that took place in Thessaloniki on October 30th, 2009. It is worth pointing out a little known fact that was mentioned in the conference: Turkey can only offer asylum to European Union member state nationals!

    Turkey was one of the countries that negotiated about the Refugee Status in the 1951 Refugee Convention, and was one of the first countries to sign it. However, Turkey has retained one of the Convention’s paragraphs, the so-called “geographical limitation”, thus still offering protection only to migrants involuntarily displaced “as a result of events in Europe”. Therefore and according to the aforementioned paragraph, Turkey welcomes only EU member states’ nationals as refuge applicants.

    Third country nationals, also referred to as “non-Europeans”, claiming refugee status in Turkey have to apply in a Turkish police station for a “temporary asylum status” regardless of their application to UNHCR, which has to pre-exist. If they are arrested before managing to apply for refugee status, then they reach a dead end: the police will not accept an application for the temporary refugee status and consequently deny them access to any refugee status application at all.

    The ”lucky” ones who are recognized as asylum seekers by the UNHCR are then dispersed across the country, hosted in 30 so-called “satellite towns”. There they live in average for two to three years while the final decisions on their requests for asylum and resettlement are pending. They are obliged to find shelter on their own and receive little assistance with regards to daily expenses or health-care. The chances for declared work are minimal thus many of them are forced into illegal work, mainly as sex workers. Last but not least, they are obliged to pay a resident fee in order to obtain a residence permit.

    + the article of last November at the Hürriyet newspaper

    EU to grant visa flexibility in return for readmission agreement

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009


    BRUSSELS – Hürriyet Daily News

    The European Union is reportedly ready to introduce some visa flexibility if Turkey signs a readmission agreement to tackle the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe.

    The European Union and Turkey will discuss the readmission agreement again Dec. 4. Visa flexibility will be introduced once Ankara agrees to sign the agreement to deal with illegal immigration to Europe, a high-ranked official from the European Commission in Brussels has revealed.

    “We will start the new round of discussions between [the commission] and Turkey on the readmission agreement in Ankara on Dec. 4,” a senior official from the commission said under condition of anonymity during a meeting with Turkish journalists. “This is certainly a critical issue.”

    A significant number of people fleeing their poverty-stricken or war-torn countries of origin seek an opportunity to live in Europe. Turkey is the main route for thousands of illegal immigrants coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.

    The agreement would be binding for the entire union, as no individual solution is envisioned, the official said, adding that the financial burden would be shared. “The EU will grant support to Turkey to tackle the problem. We have expressed our readiness to look into all means to help,” the official said. “Of course we have budgetary limitations, but we are ready to help you.”

    EU officials held the first round of talks Nov. 5 in Ankara to convince their Turkish counterparts to sign a readmission agreement. The EU member states, which apply a common asylum policy in line with the Dublin-2 Convention, have been seeking cooperation from candidate countries. According to Chapter 24 of negotiations between the EU and Turkey, Brussels is increasing pressure on Ankara with a call to adopt more deterrence measures or grant asylum to immigrants.

    The readmission bargain may result in visa flexibility for Turkish citizens, the official said, adding, “As soon as the readmission agreement is signed, we will offer a lot of new opportunities in terms of visas.”

    Some EU member countries set a pre-condition of readmission in order to facilitate visa-free travel, he said. “We cannot consider any visa facilitation with Turkey if we do not have a readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey,” the official said. “Once we have a readmission agreement, we will be very open to negotiate visa facilitation. Journalists, academics, business people and scientists will be able to travel easily to the EU.”

    After the European Court of Human Rights granted two Turkish drivers visa-free travel for business purposes, Turkish diplomats kicked off a campaign to widen visa flexibility in cooperation with business associations. Turkey advocates that the court ruling be applied to students, academics, artists, scientists and businessmen under the Customs Union agreement.

    Germany has already introduced new regulations in line with the court verdict, but most of the other EU member states are still reluctant to take any further steps.

    Last year, Turkey detained some 68,000 illegal immigrants attempting to make their way into the European Union. According to official statistics, up to 18,000 asylum seekers are waiting in Turkey for acceptance to a third country.

    Existing Turkish regulations do not allow the country to grant asylum to people from outside the European Council member states.

    PS: in April last year, in a case that received widespread publicity, 18 Syrians and Iranian citizens, including 5 recognized as refugees by the UNHCR, were forced by threat of weapons by Turkish soldiers to cross borders swimming through  a non-guarded  part of the river that separates Turkey from Iraq.

    This is an example of a unilateral, ‘black’ expulsion of people to a third country they have nothing to do with. 4 of them died, including one Iranian of the recognized ones by the UNHCR . The latter condemned the incident in a press release, based on testimonies received by survivors. To date, however, no serious investigation into the incident has taken place.

    Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    From Anti-Immigrant Summer to Zero Tolerance on Election Bait 

    Posted by clandestina on 20 December 2009

    Text in Greek available here.

    On the occasion of the International Migrants Day

    From Anti-Immigrant Summer to Zero Tolerance on Election Bait

    Just over a month and half ago Prime Minister Papandreou used the Global Forum on Immigration & Development proceedings in Athens to sketch government measures which would stand for a humanitarian turn compared to the policies and situation of the recent months .  He described as necessary

    “[T]o stimulate the participation of immigrants in the political life of the country, through the possibility of Greek citizenship acquisition, particularly of course for the so-called ‘second generation’, in which we are suggesting the acquisition of citizenship by birth for the new person born in our territory.”

    For people in Greece, though, the announcement of the Secretary for Home Affairs Theodora Tzakri two weeks later, which made clear that Greek citizenship would be granted only to children born to legal immigrants, came as no surprise.

    The doctrine of “Zero tolerance to illegal migration” goes hand in hand with this government’s humanitarian turn… As for what this turn is all about, it aims at incorporating immigrants mostly from Albania, after two decades of overexploitation, and in exchange for votes. A phony exchange indeed.

    Along with this, the dividing of immigrants into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘useful’ and ‘superfluous’, ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ becomes more intense, and the system of exploitation grows deeper roots .

    As we wrote in our above linked text on the Global Forum on Immigration & Development:

    “The aim of developmental policy is to control migration flows (through the FRONTEX patrols and detention centres) as well as to regulate them (through 5-year rotating work permits, the annulment of asylum rights), in order to keep a stable proportion of productive inhabitants within the increasingly ageing, unproductive populations of Europe. In other words, recycling the migrants will keep the indexes of development in check, development being the systematic and bloodthirsty pillage of lives and resources, time and space.

    According to the “UN Population Division report on replacement migration”, if the Europeans want to keep their ratio of older people to active workers at the 1995 levels, the Union will need 135 million immigrants by 2025.

    This demographic issue is only part of the story, and maybe not the most important. Neoliberalization inside Europe has meant a weakened, destabilized labor force. It’s not just that capital wants selected migrants because it needs more workers, it wants migrants because they are powerless, unorganized, low-paid workers for whom there will be no job security, no health care and no pensions.In other words, they are far cheaper and less troublesome workers”.

    Illegal immigrants are necessary because through them the rights of the legal ones are suppressed (there is of course rotation of people in these roles). At the same time, illegal immigration helps governments maintain a useful xenophobic atmosphere to impose authoritarian policies. “Migration management” includes both authoritarian hysteria and humanitarian logistics. The two seemingly opposite positions are the two sides of the same coin of subjugation.

    So let’s outline against this backdrop the government’s humanitarian turn after the elections of October 2009…

    The Doctrine “Insulated Greece”

    The new doctrine was introduced by Minister of Citizen Protection (= Public Order) M. Chrisochoïdis on Tuesday, December 15, at his meeting with the FRONTEX Executive Director J.Laitinen.   The construction of the Southeast Mediterranean FRONTEX Headquarters at the U.S. base of Aktion or at Piraeus has been a permanent request of the Greek government, which proudly stated that 75% of illegal entry arrests at the sea borders of EU for this year took place in the Aegean sea.

    A few days earlier in the frame of FRONTEX operations (on Saturday, December 12) officers in Samos island, on no notice whatsoever and violently, carried out with utmost secrecy the transfer of over 85 Afghan refugees from the local detention center to the island’s airport at Pythagorio.  There the refugees were boarded on an airplane which departed for an unknown destination.

    The slaughter in the Aegean Sea continues

    In less than two months, 16 migrants have died in the icy waters of the Aegean. Most of them were children.

    • On Tuesday, October 27, 8 immigrants, three adults and five children, drowned in the east part of the Aegean Sea.
    • On Saturday, November 7, the lifeless bodies of six children from Palestine, aged 2 to 12 years, washed up on shore near Bodrum (Alikarnasos), Turkey.  The boat in which 19 Palestinians – half of them children – squeezed themselves on an effort to pass from the Turkish town of Turgutreis to Kos island overturned 500 meters from the shore.
    • On Friday, December 11, a boat carrying undocumented migrants sank near the island of Leros. Fishermen found 25 migrants perched on a rocky island and two more lifeless bodies in the sea.

    Police violence

    Incidents of abuse and humiliation by the police amount to dozens, and most of them never reach the public attention. We report the following characteristic cases:

    Para-state violence

    The para-state mechanism was launched last summer against immigrants and since then it has been working relentlessly despite the supposed change of policy.

    Para-state organized violence encourages and feeds the diffuse social one.

    • Thus, on November 8, four immigrants who had been working at olive fields in Messolongi, Western Greece, were attacked with crowbars and clubs and beaten savagely by circa 15 people. The immigrants were transferred to the emergency dept. of the Messolongi hospital. The immigrants had been asking their wages from the owner of the fields in which they had been working.  They were ambushed and beaten in an old warehouse, where they had an appointment with their employer to get their money.

    Institutional violence

    • In late November the trial of 25 immigrants (mainly Arabs and one Afghan) took place; they had been arrested during the events of December 2008 and had been detained ever since.  All this period they were considered missing.  All of them were sentenced to imprisonment from 7 months to 3 years.  It is characteristic for the fairness of the trial that only one interpreter had been assigned , who translated simultaneously for 24 defendants who were divided in three groups in the court’s room.  The Afghan who did not understand Arabic was seated on the last bench of the room…
    • On Friday, December 11, in Thessaloniki, a report was issued by the Hellenic League for Human Rights, about the detention centers in Evros and Rodopi.  The survey took place from the 25th to the 29th of November 2009 and states:

    In many cases there is inadequate lighting, ventilation and heating (…)  At virtually none of the premises visited have the possibility to go outdoors on some yard. Even in detention centers where there is an adequate yard, the large number of detainees on the one hand and the lack of personnel on the other allows usually only for some prisoners to have outdoor breaks for a minimum period and not on a daily basis (…)  Food in many cases is inadequate, the quantity and quality in general varies (..). The care taken for sanitation and hygiene conditions varies from inexistent to inadequate (…) The availability of medical and nursing staff is poor and at all cases occasional (…) The detainees were in total confusion regarding their rights, the time of their detention and ill-informed as to asylum procedures; interpreters were not available.

    December 18, 2009

    Clandestina Network

    Group of Immigrants and Refugees, Thessaloniki

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