Today (28th of February), on the 35 day of hunger strike solidarity groups occupied the Ministery of Labour in Athens to protest against the unwillingness of the Greek government to comply with the demands for legalisation by the 300 migrant hunger strikers. In December 2010 an egyptian man, who was working as a cleaner at the Ministry of Labour, due to lack of security measures fell to his death from the 3 floor of the building while cleaning the windows. The solidarity groups call for a gathering at 2 p.m. in the Platia Korai, in front of the ministery.
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
This is a translation of this blog post in German. Picture Credit: Stroux
Today is day 21 of the hunger strike. This is a report about the last days. Most of the hunger striking migrants arrived from Crete on a ferry 22 days ago, in order to start the hunger strike. There were huge banners on the ferry, announcing the aims and demands of the hunger strike.
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.
Just as the hunger strike had started, political parties and main stream media started a agitating against the strike. The government sued the owner of the ferry, its agents and the captain for the smuggling of illegalised people (“trafficking”). This is a big joke, since ANEK-lines has been doing deportations for the greek government for years. A few days later already, 1.800 persons had denounced themselves publically for having supported refugees as an act of solidarity.
The agitation led to the hunger strikers having to leave the university building after a few days, as the police threatened to enter by force.
We had a gun to our head, one of the activists later stated on a press conference. The very night, a substitute place for more than 100 hunger strikers had to be found. After several hours of negotiations with the paolce and with the owner of a nearby, empty villa, a solidarity demonstration brought the hunger strikers to the new place. Since only the first floor and the cellar can be used, the majority of the hunger strikers have to camp in the yard. Heavy rain turned the situation precarious, only on the 5th of February, a change of weather alleviated the situation.
The hunger strikes are being supported, protected and accompanied day and night by solidarity groups. Since the hunger strikers are very adamant about retaining their autonomy, decisions are made in different assemblies, which nevertheless have exchange. The atmosphere is characterised by determination and respect. Many people support the strikers by visiting or practical aid.
On the 8th of February, a lot of migrant organisations from Athens and Greece declared their solidarity with the hunger strikers and their demands in a press conference. The hunger strikers announced that very day that they would now also stop to drink tea.
On the 9th of February, a long live concert with many greek musicians took place on the adjacent square. There were songs, but also speeches by the migrants and statements of solidarity.
On the 11th and 12th of February, two big demonstrations took place in Athens, where 1.500 people participated.
Additionally to the Exhibition “Traces … from Lesvos through Europe” a Kalender for the year 2011:
from afghanistan 6 days here what the broblem?
asks young Hamis Abdalah Ghasmi from Afghanistan on a piece of cardboard that was slipped to our delegation in Fylakio. And indeed, it is the question all migrants in detention in the Evros region have in mind: Why am I being kept here?
Yesterday, i.e. Saturday, the 18th of December 2010, saw a mobilisation from the Greek antiracist movement to the Evros region, where most of the border crossings happened the last months and where many hundreds of migrants are being detained under comparably horrible circumstances as in the infamous prison of Pagani.
One of the victims of the police beatings yesterday after the antifascist demonstration (of the 8th October) is H.