Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘military’

Pakistanis in Greece: the misfortune of being a refugee in a state that participates in a war against the state you left your family and friends …

Posted by clandestina on 22 May 2009

This is the English version of an article in this month’s Sarajevo Zine (  It is about the organized assaults against Pakistani immigrants in Athens we have posted about and does grasp various things we agree with: that “spontaneous” racist violence is not that “blind” ; that the notorious political inactivity of the majority of immigrants is not a result of apathy but a decision under various heavy pressures – in this case the pressure of a war ; that Greece’s “soft” imperialism  does  play its “soft” but deadly part in the frame of its coalitions ; that “sophisticated” analysts do provide these policies with rational backbones by means of their “sophisticated” mystifications.

We retain the spelling of the original Greek text – and have changed slightly the paragraph struture.   Here are the first paragraphs of the specific article in the zine’s webplace.  We thank the Sarajevo Zine editors for their help.



Pakistanis in Greece: the misfortune of being a refugee in a state that participates in a war against the state you left your family and friends … 


The fasco-thugs took it off again to day work.  Ambushes, bully attacks, assaults against immigrants from Pakistan in “above suspicion”, so to speak, neighborhoods, such as N. Ionia, Galatsi, Perissos, Kalogreza, Iraklion[1] … This is one more link in the chain of districts that includes Redi, Aigaleo, Kolonos[2]The outset of this methodic violence coincided “marvelously”with the summer of 2005, when squads of the greek secret services in collaboration with the english one “wiped out legally” thousands of immigrants from pakistan – and kidnapped «illegally» a few dozens…[3] 
Does anybody want to buy into the fairy tale that some fascists themselves discovered that the immigrants from pakistan are “eligible targets”, after having discovered the very [national] importance of the state of pakistan?  We don’t.  In this case, for the particular national group of immigrants / refugees, things look worse, much worse than a «racists-clacker-foreigners» scenario. 

The immigrants / refugees from pakistan (along with the ones from afghanistan, iraq, palestine and some african states) do not come around here hunted by poverty alone.  They come here chased by fascist regimes, and, primarily, they come here chased by wars, the ones erupting under the ongoing 4th World War.  The greek state is directly involved in some of these wars. In these wars the Greek state plays an absolutely “positive” part, even if an indirect one, through the cooperation with its allies in the war’s “rear”. 

This is what the greek government did in July 2005, this is the frame under which it acted the way it did: it was involved in a war, the “war against terrorism” (ie: the alliance with the anglo-americans) – against the migrants from pakistan.   Why then pakistan in 2005?  Well, the greek state would conduct operations against pakistan because even then  –“that early”-  pakistan was the actual target of the anglo-americans, despite the fact they were still typically fighting in afghanistan. 

It is a mistake to see migrants, any immigrants, as apolitical.  And the mistake is grosser in the case of immigrants from areas with a long history of social or political struggles, emergency regimes, wars…   The fact that one goes away from home does not mean that s/he has no opinion about what one leaves behind.   Immigrant communities, if one insists to treat them as such – communities, that is – do not only bear particular political characteristics, but also strong political oppositions within.  How could the case of Pakistanis be different, since the (unknown to us) history of pakistan is in so many respects an intense history? 

What, then, should one expect immigrants to do, if their country of origin had been bombed by the usa; if it had been officially designated as an “integrated warfield” together with afghanistan; if it had been predestinated to disintegrate (in a bloodbath), huh?  As far as we are concerned, we would expect that they would do everything they could to grab the attention of the society where they now reside on the issue; they would try to secure support (and resources) for what they thought as the resistance to these developments; they would organize protests (which may depart from different political standpoints) against the americans; and so on.  These would be the core manifestations of their political characteristics “in exilio”.   One might compare here what the Greek immigrants (and refugees) were doing in germany, italy or france during the greek junta … 

The thing is that greece, as a state, participates in war against Pakistan as well!  It may be doing so “indirectly” – and the abduction and interrogation of Pakistanis in the summer of 2005, what else might that be if not participation?  So immigrants from Pakistan  know very well that they are politically clandestine here.   And they cannot get away with it only by operating in a discreet manner.  As the war in “afpak” progresses, they are and will be increasingly targeted by the greek State and/or its allies. Especially the most politicized or the most active ones among them… 

In our humble opinion, this – the “unorthodox” war carried out by the greek state against politicized immigrants from pakistan –  is where the para-statals, whatever the fuck they are, enter the picture. They undertake the job of terrorizing which is a component of the war in the rear.  And it is possible that, in addition to the general terrorism, they have undertaken the “special treatment” of specific pakistanis.   Since the greek government cannot officially act – yet – against “members of the enemy” in its territory, it might very well have assigned “informal” hands for the job. 

The timing might be a coincidence, yet, the stakes are clear for one to see.  Just two days after the immigrants from pakistan openly complained about the ambushes/assaults against them, on Sunday, the 26th of April, the official organ of the anglo-greek alliance, the “Kathimerini” newspaper, dedicated a full page tribute, assuming in a way the «political responsibility” for these attacks. When we say «in a way the political responsibility for these attacks» we mean that it provided with the the political context that makes them understandable, even «reasonable»; no, it does not encourage anyone to “break pakistanis”… That would be a gross approach on the issue!  This falls under jurisdictions other than the one of a daily newspaper of mass circulation. 

So reads the first page of the newspaper article: 

…The empowerment of Islamic guerrillas in Pakistan, with its nuclear armament, poses a threat to regional stability and generates fears for the potential for radicalization of Pakistani immigrants in European countries like Greece … 
What the author leaves out of his story’s morale is why such a radicalization would be against the Greek state… 

Meanwhile, in the full page feature, one may find comments such as: 
… The head of the State Department [the American Foreign Minister Hillary Clinton] said in the Congress that Pakistan faces an “existencial threat”. “I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists » she noted, adding that would the situation deteriorate, it would result in a «mortal threat to the security of the United States and the world» (by Declan Walsh, the Guardian).

… Today, nearly all leadership of the «global jihad» is concentrated on the Pakistani border.  When Washington realized this, it was already too late … (by Nikos Chrysoloras).

… At the same time, however, Greece is a western country, thus a potential target of radical Islamic organizations.  Moreover, the reluctance to fully incorporate a minimum percentage of immigrants – from all backgrounds – with the provision of citizenship to children born or raised in Greece may set the scene of the emergence of a pool of young people without future prospects, who could be recruited as members by either organized crime groups, or domestic or Islamic terrorist organizations.  Of course, the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are very hard working and peaceful people, but the despair and intolerance stand for strong motives … Moreover, given the poor international image our country bears today , we do not want to turn into the soft underbelly of Europe’s security, the easy passage of radical elements from Pakistan and other Islamic countries to Western Europe … (by Thanasis Ntokos, Executive Director of the ‘Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy’ – ELIAMEP)[4].

… Migration from Afghanistan since five years or so has its own dynamics, due to a very wide spectrum of reasons which are not directly related to the occupation of this region by the Talibans. Pakistanis on the other hand, and the immigrants who come mostly from other provinces, northeastern Punjab, that is, they also move to Europe in the context of wider upheavals … (by Plamen Tonchev, head of the Asian Studies Department at the Institute of International Economic Relations’ – IDOS). 

It comes as no surprise of course that none of them says “break their heads”! This can’t be written by serious analysts; this is done by thugs. The good and serious analysts do other things. 

  • They misrepresent any internal tension in pakistan as «the work of fanatics», not as the implementation of planning by Washington, London and their allies around there and anywhere the world. 
  • They misrepresent any active politicization against the imperialist war in central asia as [products of] «hopelessness and intolerance». 
  • They misrepresent the resistance against the occupiers of afghanistan (the greek army included) as “terrorism”. 
  • They misrepresent the forced flee of refugees as some general and vague (and possibly fraudulent) “moving of populations”. 

Everyone, whether in Washington, London, or Athens, agrees, that, along with the emphasis on the necessity to “prevent evil”, the above are the essential elements of  “in a way assuming the political responsibility” for the prolonged campaign of terrorizing “the extremists, the desperate ones, and the intolerants anywhere in this world”…


[1] Clandestinenglish note: “Typical” lower middle class districts.

[2] Clandestinenglish note: Mostly working class/low income districts, with high rates of long residing immigrant population.

[3] Clandestinenglish note: the “Abduction of Pakistanis” and their interrogation on CIA airplanes of that period “leaked”, creating some short-lived scandalous sensation for the involvement of Greece in “Guantanamo-like” operations.

[4] Clandestinenglish note: a Greek “think tank” institute, strongly associated with the “EU-convergence-integration” orientation of the “modernizing” paradigm/discourse in the Greek politics  that prevailed since the mid 1990s.  It is also working  on the “INTERATLANTIC” (Angloamerican/NATO) axis of Greece’s alliances [isn’t this supposed to be a contradiction 😉 ]? Among its executive council members one may find the ceo of coca cola hellas.  It does have an active department about immigration, human rights blah blah…

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The UNHR complaints about the new draft law on asylum procedures

Posted by clandestina on 18 May 2009

Greece means Police for asylum seekers – we knew that already. It is getting even worse.  This is a translation of an Eleftherotypia article



They forgot their commitments 

One month ago speaking to the «Eleftherotypia»  Mrs Feler, Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, explained that the key recommendation to the Greek government is to abolish the police-centeredeness of the asylum system. 
«The police has a large number of interests to protect which may differ from the protection of refugees.  The police is about enforcing law and protect against the violations of the law, the refugees who have no documents are in a sense outside of the law.  It causes much difficulty to put the police in a conflict of interest … » she told us.  We hope to improve the asylum process, a commitment the Ministry of Interior has made. 

One month was enough for the minister to forget his commitments. Under the new draft presidential decree prepared, the process is now completely police – centered since the decision to grant political asylum is transferred from the central government ministry to 54 police departments in the country. What is mor, the second degree examination of asylum requests is abolished, denying asylum seekers the right to appeal, by lowering the Appeals Commission, which is kept in force for those who have already submitted applications, from a decision to an advisory body. «The proposed changes could undermine a fair examination of asylum requests, according to European and international standards» says the UNHCR. 

Concern has been also expressed for the fact that the armed forces, particularly the Navy, will be taking part in the new National Co-ordinating body established for the «war on illegal immigration».

[about this militarizing development, see here]

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This is a war proper – the involvement of the Greek military in the war against immigrants…

Posted by clandestina on 14 May 2009

…what Kathimerini “learnt” today.


Army, navy join migrant drive

Ships to be used as ‘reception points’ alongside diplomatic offensive, gov’t decides at crisis meeting

The government has decided to mobilize navy and army forces in a bid to regulate a growing influx of illegal immigrants, Kathimerini has learned.

Top officials from four different ministries, as well as from the police force, army and navy, reportedly agreed on the need for additional measures to tackle a burgeoning population of illegal immigrants arriving in Greece, chiefly through the country’s land and sea borders. Officials attending the emergency meeting, chaired by Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis, also decided to create a central coordinating body to oversee the cooperation of the many different authorities and security forces involved in the initiative.

In order to reduce the pressure on local communities, chiefly those on islands bordering Turkey which have borne the brunt of the illegal influx, authorities decided on the use of ships as temporary “reception points” for newly arrived migrants, sources said. The migrants would be detained on these ships until the completion of all necessary procedures – including fingerprinting, medical tests and applications for asylum where necessary.

Meanwhile, sources revealed, diplomats are to launch a campaign aimed at sensitizing their European counterparts to the particular problems encountered by Greece due to its geographical position at the EU’s southeastern border. Efforts will also be made to push EU officials for a revision of the Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that refugees seek asylum in the first EU country they enter.

Finally there are plans to discourage human traffickers by upgrading the offense of smuggling migrants into the country from a misdemeanor to a felony, which would carry a heavy jail sentence.

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One more immigration aversion business-plan by Italy and partners…

Posted by clandestina on 6 May 2009



This is what is going on in the Mediterranen daily: states and police forces try to sell on the highest price possible their capacity for rendering migration a life – threatening venture.  The pretext of “rescuing” the refugees is only miserable.  Here is where the original post appeared. 


Italy, Malta spar on rescues again

Maltese premier ‘disgust’, Italian boat called in

(ANSA) – Rome, ay 6 – Italy and Malta were involved in a fresh spat on immigrant rescues on Wednesday after two boats carrying 136 migrants appeared near the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy says it has carried out 670 rescues in Maltese waters since the start of 2007.

Mifsud Bonnici has said 3,800 immigrants landed in Malta last year, adding that ”3,800 on a tiny island like Malta is the equivalent of 400,000 arriving in Italy”.

The boats contacted the Coast Guard on satellite phone and the alert was relayed to Maltese authorities who called in an Italian tanker, the closest vessel to the migrants.

The Italian Coast Guard said the boats were in waters where Malta should step in but Maltese Premier Lawrence Gonzi appeared to dispute this, voicing ”disgust” at what he called ”Italy’s intransigence where human lives are at stake”.

Italian Foreign Undersecretary Stefania Craxi said she was ”stunned” by Gonzi’s claim.

”The Italian Coast Guard is the only one that picks up stranded migrants in non-territorial waters and it does so with great humanity and spirit of service, carrying out work that other countries in the Mediterranean don’t do”.

Last month saw a four-day stand-off between Italy and Malta on rescuing a Turkish freighter, the Pinar, carrying 140 migrants and the dead body of a pregnant woman.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi eventually ordered the migrants to be rescued on humanitarian grounds, but Interior Minister Roberto Maroni took the case to Brussels.

At a meeting with European Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot on April 24, Maroni and his Maltese counterpart Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici received assurances that the rest of the European Union would give them more help in dealing with illegal immigration.

Barrot said the EC was ready to offer financial help to the two countries, which bear the brunt of immigrants leaving the North African coast for Europe, and would also propose measures that would mean other member states would share the burden of illegal immigration.

He said that sooner or later other EU countries would have to cope with immigrants who arrive on the Italian and Maltese coasts arriving on their territory.

Maroni meanwhile called on the EU to reinforce the role of its border agency Frontex, suggesting that it should be made responsible for the creation and management of ”EU repatriation centres”.

If Europe shared the burden of arrivals in this way, ”the problem would resolve itself” and cases like that of the 140 stranded migrants ”would never happen”, he said.

Italy presented a dossier to the EC that Maroni said ”clearly” showed it had been Malta’s responsibility to receive the migrants, since they were rescued in Maltese waters by the freighter, the Pinar.

Malta admitted the Pinar was in Maltese waters but said international law dictated the freighter should head for the nearest port, which was allegedly Lampedusa.

Following the meeting with Mifsud Bonnici and Barrot, Maroni said the ”Pinar case was closed” but the wider issue of rescue competence remained ”because there are various interpretations”.

Three days later, on April 24, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini urged the European Commission to draw up new measures before its five-year mandate expires this year.

He said other EU countries bordering the Mediterranean – Malta, Greece, Spain, Portugal and France – support a seven-point plan outlined by Italy.

If adopted, these measures must become binding for other EU members because southern European countries can no longer be left alone to bear the brunt of the immigration emergency, he added.

The plan would outline clear-cut rules to help immigrants stranded at sea, avoiding disputes between countries over whose responsibility it is to assist them.

It would also propose shared responsibility among the 27-member states for providing hospitality for the migrants; set up a pan-European network of holding centres; provide concrete incentives to non-EU countries promoting legal immigration; agree to joint sea and coast patrols with non-EU countries in a bid to stem illegal immigration; and work with Libya to organise radar and satellite systems to monitor its southern frontiers.

With almost 800 kilometres of coastline, Libya has become a key stepping-stone for African migrants seeking to enter Europe, most of them through Malta, Sicily and Lampedusa.

Italy is ready to finance 50% of the cost of these monitoring systems but believes the EU should do its bit in covering the rest, Frattini said.

According to the Italian interior ministry, around 37,000 people landed on Italian coasts in 2008 – a 75% increase on 2007.

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