On 25th of January 2011, in Thessaloniki and Athens, 300 migrants started with a hunger strike. Their main demand is to be legalized and they claim the same political and social rights and obligations as Greek workers.
250 migrants have occupied an unused building in the Law School of Athens where Police are forbidden by the University Asylum law to enter university grounds. 50 others of the strikers occupied the 7th floor of the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki.
In both cities the hunger strikers are supported by local activists. The information of the protest is spread all all over europe and there are many reports in indypendent and activist media as well as in mainstream media. But the corporate press fall back on racist stereotypes, drawing a picture of manipulated hunger strikers. It seems that the racist journalists and politicans cannot easily accept "that migrants are neither weak-minded nor can they be treated like objects; they are fighters who take responsibility for their lives in their own hands..."
Since the early hours of this coordinated mass hunger strike, the State reveals its frenzy facing this unprecedented self-organized social struggle. There are many fascist voices demanding the evacuation of the Law School's building from the hunger strikers. The answer from supporters is clear :: The struggle of the 300 hunger strikers is our struggle!
In the following we publish press releases and solidarity statements from the supporters in Thessaloniki, Athens and from abroad. At the end you find a call for solidarity actions from 7th to 13th of February 2011 across europe.
Press release from the firest day in Thessaloniki
Today, 50 of the 300 immigrant workers began a hunger strike on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki, where they are being hosted. The hunger strikers are in very good shape, their conditions of living are excellent. Their conviction that they are fighting for a just cause, for the legalization of all migrants, keeps their spirits high. On the first day of the hunger strike the immigrant workers have received support from unions and workers' organizations, as well as from numerous people who have visited, asking to help and contribute in any way they can.
Already on the first day of the migrant workers' hunger strike, which puts their lives at risk for their struggle, the unholy alliance of the State, the media and the far-Right launched an orchestrated attack, condemning them or victimizing the fighting strikers, and tried to divert public opinion away from the real issues of the struggle. We believe that despite this assault, Greek society will stand by the strikers. This struggle is just and powerful, it has massive solidarity and support and it will not surrender to goebbelist propaganda techniques.
Press Release - Solidarity Initiative with the 300 Migrants on Hunger Strike - Athens
As already publicly expressed during yesterday's press conference (25.01.2011), we, the Initiative for Solidarity with the 300 Migrants on Hunger Strike in Athens, support the just and democratic struggle of the 300 migrants, undertaken on their own initiative and without intermediaries.
The struggle of the 300 migrants, who are currently using the unoccupied building of the Law Faculty of Athens as a shelter, is the struggle of 300 people who have been working for many years without any social or labor rights. The historic building of the Law Faculty, which is presently not being used for academic purposes and is undergoing renovation, is a place that has hosted in the past major and fair social struggles. It is a place which offers asylum to those fighting for justice and dignity; a place where medical and legal support as well as civil protection is being provided to those on strike.
The struggle of the 300 migrants on hunger strike is a just one and therefore must win. It is a struggle in the name of all workers. We, the Initiative for Solidarity, demand the full satisfaction of their requests; the immediate cessation of practices which collectively delegalise migrants; the halt of outrageous deportation procedures; an end to the extorting requirement of depending the renewal of residence permits on the possession of social insurance stamps. We demand equal political and social rights for all. The time has come to put an end to the apartheid imposed on hundreds of thousands people who live, move, work and raise their children in this country. The destitution of one segment of society signals the upcoming destitution of the rest. It is therefore that we cannot but express our solidarity with those on hunger strike.
Regarding the insistence of the media and of political authorities to talk about manipulation of those on hunger strike, and in particular the statement of Mrs A. Diamantopoulou: "These unfortunate people did not find themselves in the Law School by chance, they were guided there" - we wish to stress that migrants are neither weak-minded nor can they be treated like objects; they are fighters who take responsibility for their lives in their own hands, an idea which xenophobes cannot easily accept.
Regarding the media's persistent focus on the location of the hunger strike instead of the substance of the demands of this just struggle, namely a struggle against policies of exclusion, division and deprivation of rights which affect all of us, we wish to quote following passage:
"Gentlemen, you have the duty to deal with those few troublemakers, who are sitting on the staircases inside university yards and who exercise psychological abuse on the majority of the Greek students, thus not allowing them to enter the seminar rooms and attend their courses. If you think you need assistance, you should ask for it in written."
Dictator G. Papadopoulos, Speech before the Dean of the Senate, Greek Parliament, 2nd March 1973
Our solidarity with the migrants' struggle, is a struggle for the rights of all of us.
UNCONDITIONAL LEGALIZATION OF ALL MIGRANTS WOMEN AND MEN
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL WORKERS
Quotes from a solidartiy statement by ZSpace authors
Yesterday, January 25, three hundred (300) migrants who work in Greece without papers or any civil rights began what is perhaps the largest hunger strike in Greek history.
The strikers are asking for the "legalization of all migrant men and women," and for "the same political and social rights and obligations as Greek workers."
The struggle of these migrants highlight the general crisis of migrants and refugees across Greece and Europe.
The Assembly of Migrant Hunger Strikers explain that they came to Greece "to escape poverty, unemployment, wars and dictatorships." And that they were left no choice other than to repeatedly risk their own lives "to journey towards Europe's door."
"I want papers to be able to go to hospital, to be treated as a human being," explained a 29-year old Moroccan. "I'm fed up with this life without papers." He has been working "menial" jobs on the Island of Crete for 5 years.
Another hunger striker, who said he found it impossible to obtain legal papers, explained "There is no going back for us. ... We will win this fight or we will die."
You support the statement from ZCommunications by signing the petition in :: ipetitions.com.
Quotes from a statement by the Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki
Why, amidst the crisis, we insist to talk about immigrants
Immigrants are kept illegal. In whose interest?
For two decades, illegal immigration has offered Greece cheap, undeclared labor for a series of developmental mega-projects, like the scandalously excessive Olympics, and a variety of grand and minor businesses. At the same time, circuits of illicit trafficking were created with extremely high profits.
The not-so-obvious truth
The system keeps the immigrants illegal not only for the direct profits generated by illegality and insecurity, but also in order to undermine and obliterate the rights of immigrants, as well as the rights of locals. When the bosses treat immigrants as human trash, and society accepts this, soon society as a whole is turned into a human rights wasteland. (...)
Call for solidarity actions from 7th to 13th of February 2011
The "Welcome to Europe Network" published a :: Declaration of solidarity and called for a week of action:
The hunger strikers in Greece have decided to struggle for their rights, and rightly so. In a climate of increased repression and anti-migrant rhetoric, we have to act. Not only in Greece, all over Europe and indeed all over the world, we need to struggle for equal rights for everybody. We express our explicit solidarity with the hunger strikers in Greece, and we call to activists all over Europe to join the cause for a complete and unconditional legalisation.
We call for a week of action from the 7th to the 13th of February 2011 in solidarity with the hunger strikers!
Sources :: allilmap.wordpress.com, 26. Jan 2011, :: zcommunications.org, 26. Jan 2011, Initiative for Solidarity in Athens, 25. Jan 2011, :: w2eu.net, 25. Jan 2011, :: clandestinenglish.wordpress.com, 24. Jan 2011