On May 21st the Greek government announced in the TV-channel SKAI their new plans of repression. In a period of massive fascist pogroms in Athens, they react with more police, massive arrests and the construction of 14 new detention and deportation centres. One of them should be close to Igoumenitsa. Additionally, the government said, it was already conducting police raids in Igoumenitsa and further actions would include the eviction of the informal settlements of the sans-papiers in the jungles of Igoumenitsa. There have been around 400 arrests during the last weeks and the police announced to arrest the (as they say) 300 remaining migrants.
Igoumenitsa is the second largest exit-port for migrants from Greece to Italy. Around 500-700 refugees from all war-zones of the world (Sudanese, Eritreans, Afghans, Saharaouis from Morocco, Iraqis, Kurds and Maghrebinias) are living under inhuman and degrading conditions in the mountains close to the port, waiting for their chance to leave Greece and find a safe haven in the North – “the real Europe” as they say. There are quiet a lot of migrants who stay in Igoumenitsa for many months now. Many of them made it already several times to the Italian ports but were deported before being able to leave the port or apply for asylum. A lot of people have been deported from European countries before due to the DublinII Regulation.
They are living in small huts without water or electricity or any sanitary infrastructure. Most of the sans-papiers have totally run out of money. They can not afford to buy food. Every night you see people searching for food in the garbage. They are starving from hunger.
(See also “Schengendangle” a report that describes the situation in Igoumenitsa one year ago: http://schengendangle.jogspace.net/files/2010/02/schengendangle.pdf)
During the last weeks the situation was again escalating in Igoumenitsa. Like in Athens there is a growing movement of Greek citizens who protest against the refugees’ living side by side with them in the city. There are organized fascists among these people from the extreme right group “Chrisi Avgi” (golden dawn) but more and more unorganized people join them. A demonstration organised by the municipality, the lawyers bar, the chamber of commerce and a group of “citizens” took place at the 3rd of May at the port entrance and close to the mountains. Although the general slogan was “For a more human city” some of the protestors started very soon to insult the migrants who were in their majority on the mountain. The fascist slogans were followed by the attacks of some Neonazis who were throwing fireworks towards the sans-papiers. In an effort to protect and defend themselves from the near coming violence some migrants answered these by throwing stones.
Shortly after this anti-immigrant protest the police opened a new hunting-season by arresting great numbers of sans-papiers every day, thus, hindering them from entering the city and imposing an embargo of food on them. Most of the people arrested in Igoumenitsa are transferred into prisons and detention centres far away from Igoumenitsa. After being released they will have to make all the way back by foot. The ones who strand here are the ones who have run out of money. This is their last chance to get out of Hell-As.
The policy of fear is also expressed by an increased brutality by the authorities. The police-has stopped the “go-away-asshole-shouting” policy and (re-)entered a new phase of violence. There are people with broken legs and hands from the beatings inside and outside the port and there are others with big cuts on their heads. They tell about taser (electro shock) being used on them. There have been even shootings in the air to frighten the refugees. The police already evicted settlement sites at the seaside and inside the city. The migrants from these places are moving to other jungles, building new huts there. It is very obvious that police will try to evict also these places. Like in former times they will most probably destroy the huts, the small pieces of privacy, the few clothes and personal things that the refugees could save for them and arrest as many people as possible.
The situation is escalating and the sans-papiers need support and solidarity!
They ask for support from inside and outside of Greece by activists and journalists. They want their problems to be heard and their struggle to be supported.
It would be important to have a changing group of people here during the next weeks and months to observe the situation, document cases of police-violence and of continuing police raids.
People who have the interest and time to come NOW and support the sans-papiers and the local solidarity structures in their fight for their rights can contact us: solidarity_igoumenitsa (at) yahoo.com