The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Hunger Strike

The article posted below was brought to my attention in the comments on the previous post. Almost 600 people are on hunger strike at a detention centre in Samos over the recent clampdown on immigrants. Hundreds are being transported from the cities to these remote places before deportation.

The article also talks about the problems facing documented migrants too. According to the law, an immigrant family who wishes to stay in Greece now must prove that the breadwinner earns 20% more per year than an unskilled worker. An almost impossible task for most immigrant families and utterly unfair. If a family who has been living here legally can show that it is supporting itself on whatever little money is earned and is paying taxes, what business does the government have to say that they cannot stay ? That they should be earning more than many Greek families in order to have the right to live here ?

The government has made up its mind to rid the country of the majority of immigrants and is doing everything it can to achieve that goal. It is doing this by illegally evicting people, rounding up undocumented people and forcing them into remote detention centres ready for deportation, denying asylum to 99% of people applying and taking away the right to appeal, bringing in unfair harsh new laws that put even documented people in danger of expulsion.

I was chatting with a fellow blogger online the other day. We were talking about the depressing nature of these recent developments in Greece and wondering about our own futures (relating to these issues and other personal dilemmas). He felt that it is important that we are here and are able to report on this dangerous escalation of anti-immigrant sentiment. I have to agree with him. It seems to me that this is the only positive way to look at the situation. Keep talking about it. Reporting it. Getting the word out. Because the people that are caught up in this nightmare for real have no voice at all. They are just numbers. 600 here on hunger strike, hundreds arrested and shipped off to detention centres, who knows how many somewhere else awaiting deportation, thousands of others worrying about their families future and whether they will be allowed to live here legally.

It’s deeply depressing and frustrating. The very least we can do is to keep this situation in the public domain. I don’t know how much bloggers can do but it’s something, even though it’s minor. Expect many more posts on this current situation for the foreseeable future. If you have your own blog or social network, please help to spread the word.

From Kathimerini

Migrant woes mounting
Almost 600 Samos immigrants go on hunger strike over transfers, expulsions

The recent government policy of moving illegal immigrants to reception centers in northern Greece before expelling them from the country ran into more trouble yesterday, as 580 migrants being held on Samos went on hunger strike to protest the measure.

The migrants’ complaints were prompted by an attempt by authorities to remove 26 illegal immigrants from the island on Tuesday so that they could be transferred to another center in northern Greece.

Authorities have recently attempted to crack down on illegal immigration by stepping up the number of expulsions, while also taking into custody migrants squatting or renting accommodation in run-down buildings in Athens.

The practice of transferring migrants to northern Greece has, in recent weeks, met with the opposition of human rights campaigners who have attempted to prevent the operations from taking place.

Yesterday’s protest came as sources revealed to Kathimerini that one in three applications made this year to remain here by the families of migrants living legally in Greece will be rejected.

Sources said that some 9,000 applications had been made but that in some 3,000 cases, the requests would be turned down because the migrant who is the main breadwinner in the family was not earning enough money.

According to Greek law, for a migrant’s family to be allowed to remain in Greece, the head of the family must declare an income that is 20 percent more than that of an unskilled laborer, which amounts to 10,200 euros per year before taxes.

Campaigners for migrants’ rights have expressed concern that since, given the current economic conditions, many immigrants’ incomes do not reach this level, their wives and children will be deemed to be living here illegally.

The Interior Ministry said that migrants can appeal any decision to deport their families and instead of a residence permit will be issued with a document confirming their legal status (“veveosi”) that will then be renewed every six months until their case is heard.

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  1. Stassa
    August 7, 2009    

    DeviousDiva, is it just me or are the comments on your older posts closing down automatically?

    That’s… devious >:D

  2. August 7, 2009    

    @ Stassa

    I have set it up to close posts after I month. Of course, sometimes wordpress goes horribly wrong and closes comments before it should but mostly it works :-)

    It is an anti-spam measure nothing personal against readers here! Spam bots target ANY post with comments open so it meant I was getting hundreds per day.

    If you are desperate to post something on an older post, let me know by email.

  3. Oath Taken
    August 7, 2009    

    Beyond not being deported apparently the hunger strikers are demanding:

    According to reports from the island, the illegal migrants also demand travel documents to be issued in a short amount of time so they can travel to Athens, and from there, to other destinations in western Europe.


    I am not a lawyer but the legality of such demands appears to me to be very dubious – especially given that (quite improbably) all 580 claim asylum seeker status (not a single economic migrant) and at the same time
    many have no papers or what proves to be forged papers.

    Now while I truly doubt anything other than a minute percentage of the 580 would be interested to stay in Greece, a free-for-all policy such as asked from the migrants and their supporters would probably result in the rest of the EU countries where they would end up in kicking Greece out of Shengen and instituting very strict controls on the movement of people and goods out of Greece.

    As I had mentioned another time (regarding the Patras camp and why it is there in the first place) migrants try and sneek inside trucks headed to Italy – the end result is sometimes fatal (and the driver gets in trouble anyway). In the latest case below the driver (whose truck was damaged) is now in trouble with the law and one migrant is dead:



    Body found at Igoumenitsa port

    The body of an 18-year-old unidentified migrant was found near the port of Igoumenitsa, northwestern Greece, early yesterday. The unidentified man’s body was discovered next to a road leading away from the port and police suspect that the 18-year-old had been part of a group of immigrants that sneaked onto a truck believing it was about to board a ferry for Italy. However, it appears that the truck was headed for mainland Greece and the migrants jumped off as it set off on its journey. Police said that they had discovered a truck, driven by a 32-year-old foreigner, whose tarpaulin had been slashed. The driver has been arrested.

    Now, let’s assume for a moment that the government instead of trying to create a bad reputation for Greece among illegal immigrant so that they are dissuaded from using it as their gateway into Europe decided to put in the effort, manpower and money to expeditiously adjudicate on the asylum applications (which everybody seems to make regardless of whether they are fleeing persecution or just trying to escape poverty). Say out of the 580 1/4 (using the latest Swedish figures according to Bill Frelick) are accepted and the rest are then issued with deportation orders. See what happens then – the originating countries refuse to take them back or delay their response so much that the period of detention expires and the migrant should (irrespective of whether the police really does do so) be set free (and vanish so that he/she cannot be deported):
    BTW this article shows this policy was planned back in May.

    Overall I think it is clear the whole system is completely broken. Even if (as it should based on its international obligations as well as basic humanism) the Greek state expeditiously and fairly handled all asylum applications and only deported illegal immigrants that do not manage to prove they are genuine asylum cases, it would still end up being stuck with the bulk of them if the intermediate countries do not accept them back (and why should they?) Not to mention the legal issues with sending these failed cases to countries where there is a possibility they would be mistreated. On the other hand nobody has been able to demonstrate that doing away with the whole system and basically instituting an open borders policy (which is what the hunger strikers are essentially asking for and what most of their supporters – Greek citizens and foreigners alike – seem to believe in, even if they do not always openly admit to it) would not create even more problems, if not for the illegal migrants, then for Greek citizens and legal residents.

    PS> Xenos, Stassa and Travlos I owe you 2 separate answers but I have little time and I already spent far too much time on this post.

  4. Xenos
    August 8, 2009    

    The Interior Ministry said that migrants can appeal any decision to deport their families and instead of a residence permit will be issued with a document confirming their legal status (“veveosi”) that will then be renewed every six months until their case is heard.

    This is the Greek state playing cynical games with people’s lives. The veveosi is not a legal status at all: it is the absence of a clear status, which merely provides protection from police arrest and summary deportation. As every non-EU immigrant in Greece can tell you, this is the preferred style of residence permit applications — leaving people in limbo with no rights at all. The veveosi does not grant the right to work, to open a bank account, to leave Greece temporarily, or to do anything, in fact.

    Most of Europe is disgusted by Greeks and their treatment of immigrants. Are there any demonstrations or collections of money in support of such people? NO. Nobody gives a fcuk.

  5. Xenos
    August 8, 2009    

    Well: I do not advocate open borders for Greece (when the borders are closed for the rest of the EU) for obvious reasons. Greece is on the periphery of Europe and would be filled with Asian and other migrants.

    What HRW and most experts are asking for is a proper asylum system that treats legitimate refugees and children in accordance with the rule of law. The rejected asylum applicants can be deported to “safe countries of origin” or can be given humanitarian permits (e.g. family reasons, health reasons). Non-deportable aliens (e.g. from Somalia) are a problem across Europe and usually people who actually are from such countries are given legal status as a better option. The really big problem is with convicted criminals from countries to which they cannot be deported.

    Greece does not yet have a particular problem with anything, other than the fact that the number of people arriving across the Turkish border in hte last 3 years increased a fair bit (but not to the level of the fraudulent figures issued by Greek politicians). What is really Greece’s problem is that it refuses to put in place a proper system for asylum. The reason for this can be debated, but it should be noted that the ONLY time Greece ever gave refugee status readily was in the 1980s when it gave it to a large number of Turkish Kurds — specifically to annoy Turkey. There was never any consideration of human rights issues, or the Geneva Convention, just the naked self-interest of Greece in its regional power games. Nothing has changed since.

    August 8, 2009    
  7. Stassa
    August 9, 2009    

    If you are desperate to post something on an older post, let me know by email.

    Not desperate no. And it would be adversarial stuff you don’t like. So never mind. :)

    PS> Xenos, Stassa and Travlos I owe you 2 separate answers but I have little time and I already spent far too much time on this post.

    All in good time. Sorry I garbled your nickname in my last comment btw (I called you Oath Given!). That was not some weird attempt to make fun of you, just the effects of old age :/

  8. September 3, 2009    

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  9. Bodyc
    September 7, 2009 to GoogleReader!