clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Kos island’

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

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

A sum-up of August so far

Posted by clandestina on 26 August 2009

THE SITUATION IN GENERAL

According to an “Eleftherotypia” newspaper article, 3.000 refugees are detained in police detentions spaces (in the prison cells of police departments) and 3.000 more in dtetention centers. The detention center conditions, which are even more unbearable due to seasonal heat, could only be described as hellish during August due to the the inhumane overcrowding, which is now the situation at Greece’s mainland detention spaces as well. This has been described as unprecedented, with the facilities with no exception now being 50% over their capacity. Detainees are constantly being transferred from one detention space to the next, but constant “sweep operations” have gradually filled all premises. According to leaks, there are also some “informal” detentions spaces running. The only strategy of the pertinent ministry of interior is actually summary expulsions of refugees to Turkey.

The minister and deputy minister of interior are said to be in political rivalry, and their urge to meet with the “message of the euroelections”, the cleansing of Athens and urban centers of immigrants, has clashed with coordination problems and the lack of any realistic plan for “reception centers”, at the expense of refugees’ treatment of course, as described above. The minister is said to follow a plan of constucting four camps until the end of the year, the deputy minister two camps as early as mid September.

The situation is believed to worsen by the end of August when the new law which denies refugees to lodge an appeal for rejected asylum applications will be put in effect, opening thus the way for the deportation thus thousands of refugees whose applications are now pending.

“Now you will die!”: Coast Guard attempt to drown asylum-seekers in Lesbos

Source: http://libcom.org/news/now-you-will-die-coast-guard-attempt-drown-asylum-seekers-lesbos-03082009

Coast guard of Lesbos tied 12 Somali immigrants in an inflatable boat and then pierced its sides with knives in order to drown the helpless asylum seekers who were saved by passing cruise boat

The Coast Guard of Lesbos Island has been accused of attempting to mass murder 12 Somali asylum seekers, amongst which one woman. According to the case, on the 5th of July an Austrian European border Frontex Helicopter spotted an inflatable boat containing the 12 immigrants off Korakas Cape in Lesbos.

Upon the arrival of the Greek Coast Guard, the helicopter left, leaving the Greek cops to arrest the 12. The Coast Guard took the 12 out of their boat, tied their hands to their necks, beat them, and put them back in the inflatable boat before piercing its sides with knives. Then they let the boat go to the open sea telling the asylum seekers in English: “Now you will die!”.

Immediately the boat started getting water in, and sinking. The asylum seekers were saved from certain drowning when a British cruise boat passed by, saw them and saved them. The asylum seekers were then taken to Pagani detention camp on Lesbos from where they contacted the UN through a sympathetic lawyer. The Coast Guard adding insult to harm has called the UN law suit against them an act of provocation.

4 Iraqis on hunger strike in Arta

source: http://www.ele.gr/(A(YogGIgNBygEkAAAAYjRjNWU1YTAtZWRmMC00ZTU5LWIzNDYtMDE0NWY4ZjU0NDZjN4pB9lQR8gfgptGCq2k4zvtIU-Q1))/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=1945

In Arta, a town in north-western Greece of 25.000, four Iraqis went on hunger strike on the 9th of July, while another four Albanians are expecting for their asylum requests to be examined. The immigrants are not being accused of any crime, yet they have been locked up in a dirty and crowded cell at the police station for over two weeks, depending only on the good will of the police officers to leave the cell. The Iraqis, considerably weakened by the hunger strike and the conditions of detention, have even abstained from requesting political asylum and are hoping their hunger strike will help accelerate the process leading to their release and administrative deportation.

THE IMMEDIATE LEGACY OF THE PATRAS EVICTION: 23 immigrants on hunger strike in Agrinion

source: athens indymedia

On the 11 July 2009, the Patras TV channel “superb” broadcasted a live interview of the president of the police officers’ Union of Agrinion, a town of 100.000 inhabitants in Western Greece. The officer stated that 23 of 26 immigrants who had been arrested after the complete demolition of the 15-year-old refugee settlement in Patras by the authorities, and had then been transferred to the police headquarters in Agrinion, have now started a hunger strike. (The remaining three immigrants had been released.)

All 23 of the detainees (Somalis and Afghanis) were reported to be suffering contageous diseases, (mainly tuberculosis and scabs) yet were still being kept in jail instead of being taken to a hospital for proper care. The guards refused to go near them for fear of becoming infected and had therefore arranged for the immigrants to have direct access to the toilets. The police officers’ union president added that the immigrants had been offered to be returned to their countries on the expense of the Greek State but they had all declined.

A month later, on the 12th of August, four of the immigrants were transferred to the hospital, where they joined another four immigrants-hunger strikers who had been transferred there the previous day. All eight of them are in a critical condition. The original 23 immigrants were still refusing food until the 20th of August, when six of them were transferred to an unknown destination. 17 immigrants are now being detained in Agrinio, accepting water and food and awaiting the State’s decision about their fate.

Hunger Strike in Pagani, Lesvos

source and much material and updates at http://lesvos09.antira.info/

Published on 20. August 2009,

On 18th of August 2009, 160 unaccompanied minors detained in Pagani detention centre went on hunger strike to demand their immediate freedom. All of them are detained in just one room, where they share one toilet, many need to sleep on the floor due to lack of beds. Some of the minors are only eight or nine years old. 50 of them have been detained for over 2 months, the others have been in Pagani for several weeks already. The detention of minors is illegal under greek law.

Today, 150 people from a local solidarity movement and antiracist groups here to prepare the noborder camp took to the detention centre to show solidarity and support for their demand for immediate freedom. On arrival, the detained persons started shouting “freedom, freedom”, which was answered by the demonstaration. Messages in English and Farsi were read out as the migrants inside passed letters with their demands and concerning their situation to the outside.

All participants of the demonstration were severly shocked in the light of the unbearable conditions in Pagani. We learnt of a 13-year-old boy inside Pagani who was extremely sick and in urgent need of medical attention for two days already. However, none of the authorities responsible acted. It was only when we called an ambulance it was possible to transport the sick boy to the hospital. We also learnt of a heavily pregnant woman in a very bad health state. She however refused to be brought to the hospital since she didn’t want to leave her other two little children alone in Pagani.

We left with the promise to come back soon and to spread the information about these obvious human rights abuses worldwide and went to the city to confront the attorney responsible with his neglect in taking care of the minors he is in charge of.

One letter we received reads:

We are having hardship times in this worst jail, more than three months in a bad situation, without any supporters except you. The police refuses or rejects to explain our bad situation in this bad jail. We are more than 1.000 prisoners, ladies, guys as well as lots of children. So as a conclusion, please do whatever you can. We are waiting a lot from you, we need our freedom as well as our rights.

Best regards, prisoners

Samos Hunger Strike: almost 600 Samos immigrants go on hunger strike over transfers, expulsions

source: http://ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100002_06/08/2009_109598


The recent government policy of moving illegal immigrants to reception centers in northern Greece before expelling them from the country ran into more trouble yesterday, as 580 migrants being held on Samos went on hunger strike to protest the measure.

The migrants’ complaints were prompted by an attempt by authorities to remove 26 illegal immigrants from the island on Tuesday so that they could be transferred to another center in northern Greece.

Authorities have recently attempted to crack down on illegal immigration by stepping up the number of expulsions, while also taking into custody migrants squatting or renting accommodation in run-down buildings in Athens.

The practice of transferring migrants to northern Greece has, in recent weeks, met with the opposition of human rights campaigners who have attempted to prevent the operations from taking place.

Yesterday’s protest came as sources revealed to Kathimerini that one in three applications made this year to remain here by the families of migrants living legally in Greece will be rejected.

Sources said that some 9,000 applications had been made but that in some 3,000 cases, the requests would be turned down because the migrant who is the main breadwinner in the family was not earning enough money.

According to Greek law, for a migrant’s family to be allowed to remain in Greece, the head of the family must declare an income that is 20 percent more than that of an unskilled laborer, which amounts to 10,200 euros per year before taxes.

Campaigners for migrants’ rights have expressed concern that since, given the current economic conditions, many immigrants’ incomes do not reach this level, their wives and children will be deemed to be living here illegally.

The Interior Ministry said that migrants can appeal any decision to deport their families and instead of a residence permit will be issued with a document confirming their legal status (“veveosi”) that will then be renewed every six months until their case is heard.

Deaths in Kos and Igoumenitsa

from fortresseurope.blogspot

07/08/09 Greece Body found at Igoumenitsa port. He sneaked onto a truck believing it was about to board a ferry for Italy and he died after he jumped off when it appears that the truck was headed for mainland Greece
13/08/09 Greece Two bodies were recovered from the sea off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Kos while another three people were reported to be missing


Children in prison in Thessaloniki

August 12, 2009

source: tvxs.gr

Two little girls from Afghanistan were among the immigrants detained in the Border Guard Station of Kordelio outside Thessaloniki. 8 year old Narges and 2 year old Farzona were arrested with their parents trying to board on forged documents on a plane to Stuttgart. Although the public prosecutor decided that the family should be trialed in October 2010, the police arrested them and detained the father and the rest of the family in different police prison spaces. In the mean time the police decision for their deportation was issued. Fortunately the next day a court decision ordered their release and their transfer to an NGO managed reception center.

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