[300] Day 31

Today 24th of February is the 31st day of hunger strike for the 300 migrant hunger strikers in Athens and Thessaloniki. Entering in the 5th week of hunger strike, consuming only water, sugar and salt, the health condition of the 300 hunger strikers is becoming very critical. There are approximately 6 persons in hospitals in Athens and about 4 in Thessaloniki. Next week is probably the most important for the migrants’ struggle.

On the political level we have developments which show the political pressure on the greek government, which reacts both in hardening of its public declarations and an attempt to threaten the hunger strikers and the solidarity movement by legal prosecutions -but it also keeps open the possibility of negotiation which can end to an agreement. The mass media after a period of “silence” are returning in an aggressive discourse against the solidarity movement and the migrants in general.

Today minister of interior Ragousis announced publicly a proposal of granting a 6month “tolerance status” to the hunger strikers, and declared also measures for the illigalized migrants of long residence. At the same time he said that any kind of collective regularization is out of question and he accused the “supporters” for the bringing in danger the hunger strikers. Of course the minister proposal cannot be accepted by the hunger strikers who announced 3 days ago their demands:

For us, legalisation is neither a generic nor an abstract slogan. We don’t want proposals to be heard without us. For us legalisation means many and very specific things. Between those, first and foremost:
The issuing – since we are entitled to it – of a proper residence and labor permit to us, the 300 hunger strikers, who demand what should be a given for everyone by putting our lives on the line

As well as:

  • that residence permits are no longer connected to work credits
  • that all who lost their permits because of the above reason are legalised again
  • the vindication of everyone whose application was rejected in 2005, after their application submission had been accepted and after they were forced to pay thousands of euros each
  • the establishment of a permanent and open procedure for complete legalisation, which will process applications constantly
  • the abandonment of any idea of criminalising any of our comrades in solidarity with us, who have been called as suspects of committing criminal acts by the authorities

And many more…

Anyone who wants to seriously engage with our strike and avoid a humanitarian crisis in Greece, should officially and directly contact us and whatever discussion must be focused on meeting the above demands.
Every human is worth a dignified life and labor
The hunger strike shall win!

Athens – Thessaloniki
21-2-2011 / 28th day on hunger strike
The 300 hunger strikers

On the other hand, this morning the public prosecutor asked for prosecution of 8 members of Solidarity Initiative and all of the hunger strikers, but also the University of Athens director, for supposed material damages of the Law University, and breach of peace, which is total indefensible and rediculous.

The solidarity is increasing involving thousands of people, and a transnational wave of support messages by intellectuals, artists, parlamentarians and europearlamentarians, activists, and brought together a broad political spectrum of the local left.
Now it is the time that any kind of pressure to the greek government is needed. e-mail and fax bombing, articles in blogs, alternative and mainstream media, actions on greek embassies, etc. see also here.

Statement of the Open Solidarity Initiative – Thessaloniki
The 300 migrants (250 in Athens, 50 on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki) have been on a hunger strike for 31 days now. They are living strictly on water and small quantities of salt and sugar. They have entered a phase in fasting, in which they are being directly threatened by irreversible damage to their health. 4 of the 5 hunger strikers who were admitted to hospital for fainting two days ago, are still being hospitalized (3 at the Aghios Demetrios hospital, one at the Hippocration).

Members of the Solidarity Initiative who accompanied them to hospital mentioned that the strikers were being offered food by the nursing staff, despite the fact that it had been made clear to them that the strikers refuse to be fed. The head of the ward replied that she was following the orders of the Director of the 2nd Internal Medicine Division to bring food to the strikers’ rooms and leave it there for half an hour. The Solidarity Initiative condemns this act as a breach of human rights and as psychological torture and will consider what action to take in response.

The medical health team is calling a Press conference on Friday, February 25 at 11am at the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki in order to inform the public about the emergency health condition of the hunger strikers.

Yesterday, the Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki marched the streets of the town as part of the general strike rally. The massive bloc of the Solidarity Initiative was reverberating with slogans for the legalization of all immigrants. It should be noted that the representative of the hunger strikers spoke at all three meetings before the demo (i.e. the meetings of the Workers’ Front-PAME, of the Labor Centre, and of the First Degree Unions).

The bloc of the Open Solidarity Initiative faced an unprovoked and uncalled for attack by the police, which injured demonstrators. The demonstration continued despite the repeated efforts by the police to dissolve it. During the march a student was beaten up and arrested by the police. The demo continued to the General Police HQ and this morning there was a protest meeting, with the participation of the Open Solidarity Initiative, outside the Courts, where the arrested student would be tried in flagrante delicto. The student was released and will be examined by the DA tomorrow.

Who provokes violence? The image of a riot police officer with an axe in his pocket (a photo from yesterday’s attacks that has circulated widely) is the best answer to the question.

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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