[300] It is time to ACT NOW!

+++ As hunger strike of 300 approaches day 30, striker are in dire need of transnational support! +++ It is time to ACT NOW! +++ Fax, E-Mail and phone the Greek authorities and demand immediate legalisation NOW +++

I want to be treated as a human being – like the Greeks. When we will get papers, I will not anymore be afraid of police and I can work legally with an insurance. But most of the time I think now: what will happen if the government does not give an answer? (Arqal, hunger striker in Athens)

Since the 25th of January 300 migrants are on a hunger strike in Athens and Thessaloníki. Many of them live in Greece for more than six years. Most have been working in the harvest – all of them under extremely problematic conditions. To be without papers means: no health insurance, unpaid wages, no chance to travel…

They decided to go on a hunger strike, demanding the unconditional legalisation of all migrants in Greece. A big group of hunger strikers came with by ship from Crete. Solidarity groups welcomed the migrants at the port of Piraeus, and then, they altogether moved to an empty building of the university in the centre of Athens. A university building was picked because police is not allowed to enter the university (university asylum) since the end of the military junta, when soldiers entered the polytechnic university by force – but in the case of migrant protesters the university asylum was not respected. As a result of negotiations the hunger strikers moved to a building close to the university.

But until now the government did not move. The hunger strike is at a decisive point. Each day the hunger strikers are getting weaker. Each day brings more dramatic developments. On Friday Hassan, one of the hunger strikers, collapsed during a press conference:

As you well know, today is the 25th day of our hunger strike. So far we have had no response from the Government. No one has spoken. What is the Government waiting for? Is it waiting for us to die?

After speaking these words, Hassan suffered a hypoglycaemic shock and turned unconscious. The incident illustrates the extreme situation of the strikers who have been on an austere hunger strike for more than 25 days now, taking only water, sugar and salt. Eight hunger strikers are in hospital to date (day 26), dozens more face serious health problems. But until now the authorities don’t move to fulfill their demand for legalisation.

We are sending a message to the Prime Minister, who has said that he was a cleaner in Sweden and has experienced racism. It is time to intervene before it’s too late. So that we won’t have any deaths.

The wave of support for the hunger strikers has become enormous: from institutional members, to unions, hundreds of artists and intellectuals, thousands of supporters in Greece and abroad stand in solidarity. But obviously the government needs some more kicking – so now it’s also up to you. It is time to act!

I believe that the resistance of migrants against expulsions, harassments, discriminations and exploitation, struggling for their rights and their existence, is a dramatic human cause of our times. In addition, or rather, inseparably, it represents a crucial element of the popular movement for democracy in Europe, which crosses borders and for that reason elicits a redoubled xenophobia. The solidarity with the migrants must take form not only at a local scale, but at the continental level. (Etienne Balibar)

+++ THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN DO +++

  • Send letters, fax and emails of protest to the Greek ministries of interior, of citizen protection and of health and to your local Greek embassy and consulate! (here you find a contact-list and here a draft for a protest-letter)
  • Help spread the word to media, and send press releases to your local, regional, national and european media. (here you find the press release we sent out)
  • Send copies of your press release and solidarity declarations to: hungerstrike300@espiv.net
  • Pass this message on in your networks and urge other people to act, too

Stream of recent information as always:

Sample Fax

Here you find a sample fax/email that you can send to the relevant authorities. Please do note that it is always better if you compose a text on your own. It doesn’t need to be long! If you do so, please post your letter as a comment below, so that we can collect our voices.

Address to:

  1. Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou, dialogue@politicalforum.gr
  2. Ministry of Interior, fax: 0030 210 3665089, Email: ypourgos@ypes.gov.gr, info@ypes.gr
  3. Ministry of Citizen Protection, fax: 0030 210 3387708, e-mail: papoutsi@otenet.gr, pressoffice@yptp.gr
  4. Ministry of Labour, fax: 0030 210 5249805, 0030 210 3213688, http://www.loukakatseli.gr/, http://www.annadalara.gr/

Greek:

To
Greek Emabssy/Consulate in [insert the consulate next to you!!]
Ministry of Citizen Protection of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Interior, Decentralisation and E-Government of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Health of the Hellenic Republic

Hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloníki: Legalisation Now!

ΧΧ Φεβρουαρίου 2011 [=date]

Κυρίες και κύριοι,

Με αυτή την επιστολή, σας καλούμε να δεχθείτε τα αιτήματα των απεργών πείνας μεταναστών, δηλαδή την χωρίς προϋποθέσεις νομιμοποίηση όλων των μεταναστών στην Ελλάδα, προτού να είναι αργά. Είναι εξαιρετικά ανησυχητικό το γεγονός ότι η απεργία πείνας προσεγγίζει τις 30 ήμερες και ήδη πολλοί απεργοί πείνας χρήζουν νοσηλείας. Η υγεία και η ίδια τους η ζωή βρίσκεται σε κίνδυνο και είναι ευθύνη της ελληνικής κυβέρνησης να επιλύσει το πρόβλημα άμεσα, νομοθετώντας μια νέα διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης. Στην αντίληψη μας, αυτή αποτελεί τη μοναδική λύση με διάρκεια και βιωσιμότητα απέναντι στις απαράδεκτες συνθήκες που βιώνουν οι πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα, ένα πολιτικό ζήτημα που διάφορες ελληνικές κυβερνήσεις δεν έχουν αντιμετωπίσει επιτυχώς.

Ανταποκρινόμενη στο αίτημα των μεταναστών, η ελληνική κυβέρνηση μπορεί να στείλει ένα ισχυρό πολιτικό μήνυμα. Μια νέα διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης θα αποτελέσει το ισχυρότερο μήνυμα προς τα υπόλοιπα κράτη μέλη της ΕΕ ότι το ισχύον σύστημα μετάθεσης της ευθύνης στις συνοριακές περιοχές της Ευρώπης δεν μπορεί πια να συνεχιστεί και ότι απαιτείται μια θαρραλέα λύση. Μια νέα διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης θα δώσει επιτέλους τέλος στην πολυετή αβεβαιότητα που βιώνουν οι μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα και θα τους αναγνώριζε δικαιώματά ως κομμάτι της κοινωνίας, δικαιώματα που έχουν κατακτήσει οι ίδιοι με την εργασία τους και τους δεσμούς ζωής που έχουν δημιουργήσει στην ελληνική κοινωνία. Μια διαδικασία νομιμοποίησης θα στείλει επίσης ένα σαφές πολιτικό μήνυμα ότι είναι αναγκαίο να τεθεί το ζήτημα των νέων και των μελλοντικών πολιτών κατά ένα τρόπο δίκαιο και αξιοπρεπή και η ξενοφοβία και ο ρατσισμός να στιγματιστούν ως στάσεις καταδικαστέες που πρέπει να αφεθούν οριστικά στο παρελθόν.

Η ευρωπαϊκή πολιτική σκλήρυνσης των συνόρων και έντασης του αποκλεισμού δεν έχει μέλλον, δημιουργεί μόνο πόνο και τις παραβιάσεις των δικαιωμάτων.

English

To
Greek Emabssy/Consulate in [insert the consulate next to you!!]
Ministry of Citizen Protection of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Interior, Decentralisation and E-Government of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Health of the Hellenic Republic

Hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloníki: Legalisation Now!

xx of February 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

we are writing to you on the occasion of the hunger strike of 300 migrants which is currently taking place in Athens and Thessaloníki. We have followed the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. We are not surprised that – again – migrants feel compelled to choose such a strong measure to campaign for their rights: putting their lives at risk. We express our solidarity with their cause.

With this letter, we want to urge you to fulfil the demands of the hunger striking migrants, i.e. the unconditional legalisation of all migrants in Greece, before it is too late. We are acutely aware that the hunger strike is approaching its 30th day, and already, many hunger strikers had to be hospitalised. Their health and indeed their lives are at risk here, and it is the responsibility of the Greek government to resolve the situation immediately by decreeing a legalisation. In our understanding, this constitutes the only permanent and viable solution to the despicable situation of refugees and migrants in Greece, a political issue various Greek governments have struggled with unsuccessfully.

By following the migrants’ demands, the Greek government can send powerful political signals. A legalisation would be the strongest communication to the other EU member states that the current system of delegating responsibility to the fringes of Europe cannot continue and needs a courageous solution. A legalisation would also finally end the years of uncertainty migrants have been facing in Greece and attribute them their rights as part of the society that they have long earned by their labour in the Greek economy and the life they have led in Greece. A legalisation would also send a clear political message that it is necessary to deal with the new and (be)coming citizens in a fair, respectful and dignified way and that xenophobia and racism are damnable attitudes that better belong to the past.

The European answer of bordering and exclusion has no future, it only creates pain and violations of rights.

Our press release

300 Migrants in Greece on hunger strike for over three weeks
Greek government must grant legalisation now

In Greece, about 300 migrants have been on hunger strike for more than 26 days. The hungers strikers, manly from North Africa demand the legalisation of all migrants and refugees in Greece. Mostly working in the agricultural sector, for many years, they have only had a precarious right to stay – it at all. By now, first effects of the hunger strike are showing. Of the Athens group, eight persons had to be sent to hospital, while in Thessaloniki, another person is also in hospital.

The Greek government has so far not responded to the demands of the hunger strikers. In order not to further threaten the heald of the hunger strikers, the government has to act immediately. “The hunger strike has entered a crucial stage”, comments Reza Hosseini of the network Welcome To Europe. “The government has to fulfill the demand of the hunger strikers now and decree a legalisation.”

Intellectuals like Etienne Balibar, Immanuel Wallerstein and Slavoj Zizek have issued various statements declaring that they share the demand of the hunger strikers as well as their solidarity with them. Etienne Balibar: “The resistance of migrants against expulsions, harassments, discriminations and exploitation, struggling for their rights and their existence, is a dramatic human cause of our times. [I]t represents a crucial element of the popular movement for democracy in Europe”.

Like the recent arrival of over 5.000 migrants in Lampedusa, Italy, the hunger strike displays the utter failure of European migration policies. The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum of 2008 banned collective legalisations. The Dublin II system made a coordinated reception of the migrants by further European states an impossibility in the case of Italy. In Greece, Dublin II has led to the total collaps of the asylum system. A fundamental policy change is necessary for Europe.

More information:
http://hungerstrike300.espivblogs.net
http://allilmap.wordpress.com
http://w2eu.net

press contact Welcome To Europe: media@w2eu.net

About w2eu

This is the blog of the antiracist network Welcome to Europe. It was formerly known as lesvos09.antira.info.

 

The name Welcome to Europe expresses the discontent and anger we feel when looking at the fatal realities of the European external border: the long documented deaths and suffering have continued for years, and no end is in sight. We stand for a grassroots movement that embraces migration and wants to create a Europe of hospitality.

 

We maintain our focus on the European external border in Greece, but will not limit ourselves to that geographical area. The right of freely roaming the globe has to be fought for everywhere. Join us!

 

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