[Photograph by Marios Lolos used with permission]
I went to Syntagma today to find out what the situation is with the Syrian refugees who have been camping outside Parliament for 6 days. There are currently about 300 men, women and children there. I asked one of the young men there who was talking to passersby what they needed as I saw a line of bread and canned goods laid out in front of them. They do not want food. I ask him if they needed money. He said no. Blankets or clothes? No, he said. They want the Greek government to recognise their refugee status and grant them their human rights.
They do not want handouts.
They want to be recognised.
Be afforded the same chances as any other human being.
Having escaped from Syria with nothing, travelled the treacherous route here, they find that they are without rights in Europe. Ironically, in the country that gave us Western democracy.
As of midnight last night, they are all on hunger strike. Except, of course, the children, the young man assured me. Apparently, someone from the government came and spoke to them today. He was not sure who. So now they wait. I asked him what they needed the most. He said “Tell people what is happening here”.
It’s the very least I can do. Please write to or call anyone that you think could help. Do you know anyone in government, local or national? Do you know any lawyers or journalists who have any clout? If you don’t, you can still help by spreading the word rather than giving bread. Please post on your Facebook page, on Twitter etc.
I will be passing by again tomorrow and keep you informed.