clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘immigrant women’

Testimony from the Petrou Ralli hell

Posted by clandestina on 11 February 2010

more about the Petrou Ralli in these posts.  Source of the following text: anarxikoiaigaleo.squat.gr article translated at occupiedlondon.org/blog reposted at athens indymedia.

Testimony from the Petrou Ralli hell

(Testimony from the hell of Petrou Ralli by comrades that were detained in the prison wing for migrant women on P. Ralli St. after the occupation of the Keratsini Town Hall in solidarity to the 22 persecuted in the “Resalto” social space on 5th December 2009).

The scene is the same as if it were a high security prison; the difference is that no one has committed any “crime” here. The cctv’s that are everywhere in the cells, apart from the toilets, are an example of how human dignity is violated in here. The detainees are under 24/7 surveillance, they can’t get a moment of privacy and no personal data protection policy is in effect. Even the cell doors are made of iron bars, from top to bottom, and in order to create a somehow private space the detainees have hung bed sheets. “I cannot bear it that everyone walking up and down the corridor can see me”, an immigrant woman told us. The wings made of cement have electric doors of latest technology, windows (some without pane) that look out on… the rest of the cells and are at a height that you cannot reach in order to see what is happening outside. The cells are equipped with “post-modern” beds made of cement (square ones that remind of benches) with worn-out foam rubber on top, a “soft” blanket that resembles emery cloth (exclusively sponsored by the Greek army) and no pillow whatsoever.

Hygiene conditions are non-existent, which explicitly shows the intention to “decompose” the body and to eliminate any characteristic that reminds detainees that they are human. The medieval-style toilets – which often host cute insects such as cockroaches– are only four and superdirty. The idea in the Petrou Ralli St hell is that cleanness is a fallacy [trans: play on words on a popular Greek saying]… Soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper and sanitary towels are considered “small bourgeois residues” and consequently are unnecessary. Instead of a mirror, they use a piece of plastic that reflects like tinfoil the faces of those who live there for up to 6 months (according to the new law): distorted and partial reflections of persons that eventually forget who they are. All adds up in order to forget your very own existence.

Food is transported daily from GADA [trans: police headquarters] and of course it does not contain milk because there is fear that it will go bad during transportation. Everybody is given an instant coffee, a juice and a chocolate croissant. Even children are given the same (from 12-month babies to 10 year-old boys); age and personal needs do not matter. For lunch we were given bean soup, olives and one loaf of bread per cell to be shared by all the detainees, as well as oranges from Arta [trans: Greek city] at preference. The detainees serve themselves in plastic yoghurt-pots. There is no refectory or special room for food to be served, and they are obliged to place their bread on dirty, miserable blankets. Special needs are not taken into consideration, and diseases like diabetes, intestinal dysfunctions, cardiopathies etc do not receive any special alimentary treatment. We heard the detainees complain that they and their children suffered from itching. Cases of dermatological problems, such as mycoses, scabies, allergies and other kinds of dermatitis are frequent; they are mainly due to the sordid mattresses and the horrendous hygiene conditions in the cells and the toilets. They even face serious problems with their teeth, as they are not given enough bottled water and are forced to drink tap water from the toilets.

The women also talked to us about the aggressive behaviour of their underage children. And what is more reasonable for a child that grows up in prison than to develop an “antisocial” and aggressive behaviour. How can it not hate the world, as it is experiencing it from this hell? It has been marked for life by this experience and we better not dare to ask it in puberty why it’s throwing stones. Surely, in any case, the prisons on P.R. St. are an ideal environment for panic crises and psychosomatic conditions. The human being is a part of nature itself, and therefore it cannot survive in an environment made of cement.

Some prisoners have made artistic interventions to their cells in order to make them feel cosier. A Russian detainee has drawn huge cartoons on the walls. My soul is in pain… she misses her baby. She has transformed the cell into a child’s room. Love graven in hearts, and around the beds graven lines that mark days and months that have gone by. Engraved poems, promises, memoirs, names. In other cells the detainees have made an iconostasis; they have hung pictures of Saints everywhere in an effort to keep their hopes and dreams alive. Above their heads Angelina Jolie and Helen Menegaki [trans: Greek television star] next to shampoo labels, anything that can fill the empty walls.

Communication with the outside world is difficult and only those who have the money to buy a phone card have the possibility to make calls. Even the communication between the detainees is difficult as many of them do not speak nor understand Greek. There are no interpreters whatsoever and communication takes place through eye contact and gestures in an effort to exchange information on daily survival. Of course, this means they are deprived of their right to claim their rights or to be informed on their detention status and the date of their release. Complete isolation and loneliness.

Contact with the air, the rain and the sun is simply zero, as there is no yard to go out to. Detainees can only walk in the corridor (1 meter width and 20 meters length) that is outside the cells. They are deprived of a room where they could sit or do physical exercise; as a consequence they can only walk or lie down, in other words they carry around their pestered body. In this decorative background we saw small kids holding dolls, climbing up the iron bars and walking barefoot on filthy water and liquids of unknown origin. Their shoe laces had been taken away from them, thus they cannot even run. Some older children have understood what’s going on and every spark of life in their eyes has disappeared. Who can explain to them how one day they were returning home after school with their mum and suddenly they found themselves behind prison walls?

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Europe’s murderous borders: report by Migreurop

Posted by clandestina on 26 December 2009

Text below by BRISTOL NO BORDERS

“A report published by Migreurop (a Euro-African network of 40 organisations from 13 countries working on issues of immigration policy, externalisation and their consequences within and beyond the EU’s borders) in October 2009 paints a vivid picture of the effects of the EU’s migration policies by focussing on three regions in which a number of common denominators are identified in spite of the significant difference between them (the Calais region and the north of France, the Greek-Turkish border and the Oujda region in eastern Morocco). These are added to by a case study on events on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where practices have been adopted for the sake of expediency that confirm the suspicion that legal guarantees and human rights conceived as minimum standards for the treatment of all human beings are becoming a luxury that is not meant for migrants who have been criminalised and de-humanised as “illegals”.”\

The themes that run through all the sections from specific areas are those of controls and attempts to stop migrants, their detention in awful conditions that often entails abuses by guards, and a de-humanisation that goes so far as to result in deaths and in the use of legal and illegal dissuasive practices, among which the Dublin II regulation and illegal repatriations are identified as being particularly harmful. Instances of resistance against policies enacted by government by migrants themselves and local populations that express solidarity for them are also examined. A special emphasis is placed on how some French policies are officially justified as seeking to prevent “a draught” that would encourage others to migrate towards Europe, that the authors interpret as people being made to endure dreadful situations not for their own sake, but for the message to reach their home countries and particularly those who might be tempted to follow them in the future.

Surprising parallels are drawn, such as those between the “tranquillos” in northern Morocco and the so-called “jungles” in France, which are both make-shift shelters self-managed by those attempting to escape the attention of the police, immigration authorities, in short, to become invisible while they try to plan the next stage in their journey after hitting a dead end. In Morocco, they face the choice between trying to cross a heavily guarded stretch of the sea in which thousands have died en route to Spain, trying to climb the six-metre-high fencing erected around the Spanish north African enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla, or to reach them by swimming around the border, again, risking death. In France, they have the Channel blocking their way into the UK, the Dublin II regulation stopping refugees among them from claiming asylum in case they are sent back to the countries they first entered the EU from (most often Greece, where the level of successful applications is well below 1%), resulting in a likelihood of them never being able to obtain asylum regardless of whether they fulfil the requirements for it.

Everywhere, the police are on their tracks, and capture involves the risk of detention, sometimes entailing violence as well as terrible living conditions, and expulsion, except for those who come from countries to where some European states will not expel them (unlike the UK, France does not usually repatriate Afghans), although this is not an issue if they are captured in Morocco or in Greece, where night-time returns to Turkey in perilous conditions across the river Evros are commonplace. The Italian practice of directly returning intercepted boats to Libya without identifying the people on board or their nationalities since May 2009 is a classic example of how the wish for expediency is trampling even the limited guarantees provided by increasingly harsh national immigration laws- expulsion without a judicial authority issuing a formal order; the presence of likely refugees disregarded; returns to presumed transit countries where they are likely to experience further abuses.

There are many excerpts of first-hand accounts from migrants’ experiences, ranging from a complete lack of understanding of the situation in which they are forced, for instance an Afghan youth in Calais who wonders how it is possible that he is not allowed to stay, nor allowed to leave and is thus condemned to roaming aimlessly, feeling as if he were “in a cage”, to harrowing descriptions of spiteful and mocking treatment at the hands of border guards that went so far as to lead people to perish, both on the Moroccan-Spanish border and the Greek-Turkish one.

The lasting impression caused by the report is that thousands of people are facing incredible ordeals as a result of policies, that awful living conditions from poorer countries are entering the EU as a result of exclusion and the creation of categories that are permanently forced to live in a condition of invisibility. On the other hand, to help them “regulate” immigration flows, the EU and its member states are funding a vast expansion of the internal security apparatus in bordering countries and of tough laws that are often implemented on the basis of skin colour.

This often means that visits by authorities from European countries and EU institutions for negotiations with third-country governments in this field result in indiscriminate round-ups in neighbourhoods in which large numbers of migrants live and in the spread of racism, both by security and police forces as well as by members of public, for example in north African countries against sub-Saharan migrants suspected of seeking to emigrate to Europe.The report is available on the Migreurop website:

Les frontières assassines de l’Europe (French, original)

Europe’s murderous borders (English)

Fronteras asesinas de Europa (Spanish)

Rapport-Migreurop-nov2009-en

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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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Some data on immigrants economic life in Greece

Posted by clandestina on 9 November 2009

This is a translation of this enet article.  Many thanks to Efi for her translation.

Stapsa for clandestinenglish

 

The immigrants’ piggy bank

Immigrants work a lot, live in small apartments, don’t have credit cards, don’t go out much, do not take loans, but do use public transportation.

However, the lifestyle of immigrants living in Greece is not full of “don’t” and negations. Research shows that regardless of the financial crisis, they go on saving money and they take every opportunity for small housing investments. Data from Central Bank of Greece show that immigrants’ saving accounts outnumber the average savings of Greek citizens; out of a total of 300.000 bank accounts in Greek banks, the majority belongs to Albanian depositors.

394 million Euros in bank transfers.

In contrast to previous years, immigrant depositors seem to increasingly trust Greek banks. According to the Central Bank of Albania, there is a 6, 1% decrease in deposits in comparison to last year. Even though international bank transfers have decreased from January until June 2009, the total amount of remittances has reached 394 million Euros.

The immigrants still save money. D. Aspassios comments that, according to data collected from research interviews conducted for the Department of Balkan Studies, West Macedonia University, “there is a significant increase in the number of immigrants who currently own a savings account compared to their first working years in Greece”. Immigrants save money in order to make future buys and investments in Greece. Most of the participants in Aspassios’ research stated that they were still sending money to accounts in their home countries, but the amounts are smaller than in the past years.

According to real estate agencies in Attica, in the first months of 2009, 40% of available housing -mainly older constructions- was mostly sold to Albanian citizens.

It seems that the financial crisis is not affecting immigrants that much both because they are adopting more flexible consumption attitudes than the indigenous Greeks, and they adapt their saving strategy accordingly.

However, immigrants’ consumption attitudes are based on the products’ price than on quality- with the exemption of foods (source: “Survey on consumer habits and standards in culturally diverse groups”- Cross-cultural management and technological improvement).

Credit cards and loans

Immigrants don’t like taking loans, neither from Greek banks (85%) nor from banks based in their country of origin (92, 7%). 68% of them do not have or use credit cards, although some of them have cash cards. It is not coincidental that most immigrant entrepreneurs in Northern Greece start up their businesses without taking any bank loans. They support their start- ups either through prior personal capital savings or though intrafamily loans.

Immigrant women

Moreover, one third of immigrant women “cannot save money, since income is not enough”. 53, 1% of the remaining two thirds prefer opening a savings account in a Greek bank; a smaller number of women sends money to relatives in the country of origin. Female immigrants either do not use or do not trust banking systems.

 

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2nd Festival of Solidarity and Culture of the United African Women Organisation – We live next door, why not together?

Posted by clandestina on 12 June 2009

from the organisation’s blog

2nd Festival of Solidarity and Culture of the United African Women Organisation
We live next door, why not together?

On the 12th and 13th of June, United African Women Organization will organize its second Festival of Solidarity and Culture in Amerikis Square. During those two days you will participate in various events and you will listen to two very important discussions on the issues of migrant women, the precarity in their work and the need for self – organization (Friday, 12th of June), as well as on the movement for Greek citizenship for migrants’ children (Saturday, 13th of June).
We will be very happy to see you once more in our festival, share our life experiences, listen to each other and understand what unites us.
You are most welcome to join us and celebrate with us the joy of living together.

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An interview with Elena Decheva, mother of Konstantina Kuneva

Posted by clandestina on 16 April 2009

This is an interview with Εlena Decheva,  mother of Konstandina Kuneva, taken on 28th of March 2009 at the Evangelismos Hospital by our Bulgarian comrade Ivo  from the Anarchist Federation of Bulgaria (a partner organisation in IFA http://www.iaf-ifa.org)”  .  We thank him very much for this.
 
clandestinenglish

What do you think, personally about everything that followed the attack against Kostadina ?

I can say that we got almost no help at all from Bulgaria. From Bulgaria came Hristo Zelqzkov [this is the current leader of the biggest Bulgarian trade-union], he wanted to enter the room and to visit Kostadina, I didn’t let him to do that, because at that time nobody was allowed to enter her room, he felt not very comfortable, because of that, but I was not to  let anyone in the room of Kostadina, because doctors told me so. We spoke with Zelqzkov, he said that the case with Kostadina will be researched and asked me if we wanted anything from Bulgaria. I said that we want a flat in Bulgaria, where it would be possible for Kostadina and her child to live some day, although probably she will stay and  live in Greece. Zelqzkov talked also with GSEE [ΓΣΕΕ – General Confederation of Workers] in Greece, but until now there are no results. Nor from Bulgaria, nor from the GSEE, nobody called me after that.

To me, it seems that all the help to Kuneva comes from the solidarity movement of the common people in Greece…… Read the rest of this entry »

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