clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘December’s revolt’

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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Letter by detainee Th.Iliopoulos, beginning a hunger strike, 9 July

Posted by clandestina on 9 July 2009

source

Letter by detainee Th.Iliopoulos, beginning a hunger strike, 9 July

‘… I begin a hunger strike. It’s the only way I have as a detainee to shout for freedom and denunce the great inustice…’


Image scaled down

Thodoris Iliopoulos, detained at the Court Prisons of Koridalos (in Athens, Greece) from 22 December 2008, after the refusal of his appeal for freedom and their decision to continue my detainment for 6 more months in prison, begins a hunger strike by tomorrow, Friday 10 July.

Here’s his letter written from the A’ Coridor of the Koridalos Prisons:

Today, 9 July 2009

On 8 July, after 6 and 1/2 months in prison, where I am kept detained after the December Uprising, charged with acts that I never did, they [TN: Συμβούλιο Πλημμελειοδικών, Simvoulio Plimeliodikon, Council of Jurists] decided to continue my detainment.

It’s the only decision that called for continuation of detainment for such a case, when all the other detainees for the December Uprising, charged with the same or other acts, have all been freed.

This decision proves the personal antipathy and hate against me; they can neither rationalize nor explain it, for it’s a decision taken for personal dislike, unjustly and illegally, as in any detainment.

Against this hate that is being expressed against my person, against this unjust ‘punishment’ that I am subjected to as a detainee, against this continued refusal on the part of the jurists and the prosecutors to see the real facts and the truth of the case, against this apparent and unprecedented discrimination against me, I’ve no other way to fight except my own body.

I begin a hunger strike. It’s the only way I have as a detainee to shout for freedom and denunce the great injustice.

[TN: The only way to] To denunce the hate and the prejudice of the mechanism of the ‘penal law’. To denunce the arbitrariness and the violence of a blind ‘justice’ and its even more ‘blind’ employees.

From Friday 10 July I stop accepting food and I submit a letter announcing my hunger strike to the prison administration.

Those who experienced the events of the December Uprising, those who experienced the violence of the mechanisms [TN: of the state, police, etc], those who experienced the cruelty of the cell without a sentence or with a sentence, those who know that the only way for freedom is resistance, those who fight against the arbitrariness of the courts and its horror, they are those who can understand me and will support me.

I thank them right now.

Thodoris Iliopoulos (Θοδωρης Ηλιοπουλος)

Koridalos Prisons (Φυλακές Κορυδαλού)

[TN: end of letter]

http://kratoumenoieksegersis.blogspot.com/

http://kratoumenoieksegersis.blogspot.com/2009/07/9.html

http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1055691

Translated from Greek in solidarity with those who experience the horror of state repression and the inhuman conditions of prison. Feel free to put it into blogs, other IMCs etc!

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GREECE: IMMIGRANTS AND ANARCHISTS STRUGGLE AGAINST RACIST ATTACKS

Posted by clandestina on 2 July 2009

This is a part of the Britain, RESISTANCE bulletin issue 114 July/August 2009 providing some context and links of the on-going anti-immigrant campaign with December’s revolt and the State’s “counter-revolt” since then.

clandestinenglish

GREECE: IMMIGRANTS AND ANARCHISTS STRUGGLE AGAINST RACIST ATTACKS


Throughout December, Greece was alive with working class dissent. Police stations burned,
luxury shops were ransacked, roads blockaded and the centre of Athens saw continuous
running battles with aggressive riot police (often in collaboration with neo-Nazi
paramilitary organisations).

An important factor that was to colour the December events was the sheer diversity of
those involved. Anger at the murder of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by police was
shared across Greek society. This and the continuing attacks by the state on workers’
conditions in response to the economic crisis served to fan the flames of wider political
dissent across the country.

But this time the streets were not only filled with the usual gang of hooded
insurrectionists. Factory workers, school students, university students, teachers, health
workers, the precariously employed of the so-called “seven hundred Euro generation”,
immigrants, agricultural labourers, the unemployed (and many more) all took to the streets
in outrage. Helena Smith of the Telegraph reported on the 14th December that, to her
horror, even “middle-class rioters are buying rocks”. It seemed that everyone was starting
to see the rotten state of the system.

Yet, the mainstream media inside Greece, and later the professor’s of Greek Universities,
would continue to tell two stories about the riots. The first, that it was just a mob of
hot-headed youth. This wasn’t political, these people were just bored and disillusioned.
All they needed was better jobs and better opportunities. The economy had failed them, we
know what’s best for them, oh the folly of youth etc. The second accusation betrayed a far
more vicious agenda and introduced a political scapegoat for the violence. That poor Greek
youths had been led astray by immigrants whose only aim was to loot and steal from native
Greeks.

In the media, distinctions were continuously made between the naïve and hot-blooded
actions of Greek youth and the criminal behaviour of immigrants and minorities. Such
accusations were also backed by a very real campaign of intimidation and violence against
immigrant communities by Fascist organisations.

In early May, for example, a rally called by fascist groups quickly turned violent.
Neo-nazis began randomly beating immigrants with iron bars with the police looking on.
Later, under the protection of the riot police, the neo-nazis attacked buildings where
immigrants find refuge with stones and flash and sound grenades.

Such anti-immigrant activity, however, was not limited to the streets. The European
elections saw the ascent of LAOS, the populist rightwing Popular Orthodox Alarm Party, to
4th position with 7% of the vote. This, combined with the governing party’s landslide
defeat, led the government to endorse the core of the extreme-right wing policies of LAOS.
The Minister of Public Order, Mr Makroyannakis, announced the launch of a mass pogrom of
immigrants in the centre of Athens. He pledged to “clean” immigrants from the city centre
and displace them in what he called “a ghetto” at the outskirts of Athens. The camp, which
will use the old NATO base of Aspropyrgos in the city’s heavily industrially polluted
rustbelt, is expected to hold more than 2,000 ‘illegal’ immigrants. The premises had been
proposed in the past as a temporary concentration camp for immigrants, addicts and
homeless people during the 2004 Olympic Games but the plan was abandoned after a huge
public outcry.

Immigrants and their allies are not taking these attacks lying down. Early March, after
all, saw protesters, in response to an attempted hand grenade attack on an immigrant
community, break into the offices of Neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn (Xrysi Avgi) and torch
them to the ground. On Friday 29 May immigrants and solidarity protesters also marched to
the Greek parliament despite a fascist counter-demo and media scaremongering. Tensions are
high, however, and attacks on immigrants are likely to escalate.

Early June saw anarchists in the area of Agios Panteleimonas move to unblock the entrance
of the local children’s playground which the fascists want to keep locked in an effort to
impose segregation between Greeks and immigrants, and “to preserve the blood purity of the
white race”. While unblocking the playground the anarchists were attacked by fascists who
were soon routed before the arrival of riot police forces.

During the clashes one policeman was injured and five protesters were arrested on criminal
charges. After the end of the clashes, a local Greek father, Mr Tasoulas, took his son to
play in the coveted playground. Soon they were surrounded by fascists who blocked the exit
of the playground and threatened to lynch the father calling him a traitor. After he
managed to hand the child to a sympathetic neighbour, the fascists beat the father in full
presence of the chief of the local police station.

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