Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Greece: Call for action for the refugees in Patras

Emergency call for action for the rights of the refugees in Patras, Greece, who are facing a coordinated and escalating effort by the police and local authorities and the deadline to leave their self-made shelters before demolition ends tomorrow.

Today, a demo took place, with the participation of about 1000 afghans, and of course the support of solidarity groups.

In parallel, there is an ongoing e-mail campaign to the authorities, to stop immediately this brutal attack, stop criminalizing the refugees, and start solving the problems with measures of social support.

We hope that you can participate in this campaign.

You can find
a sample letter (and info) at

or alternatively in

use a few minutes of your time for filling in your name/email
the form containing a sample letter
which upon submission
will be automatically sent to
*Mr Sioufas, president of the Greek Parliament dimgsioufas@ parliament. gr
*Mr Katsikopoulos governor
*Mr Fouras , mayor mayor@patras. gr


On the south east side of Europe, at Patras, the first European port to the west, hundreds of young men, some as young as 10 year old have only one wish: they dream of a sea passage taking them over to western Europe. These young men are fleeing their homeland, Afghanistan, a homeland that for the last 28 years is at war. They are trying to escape the war , poverty and authoritarian political regimes. They are looking for better living conditions. After weeks and months of risky journeys they reach Patras. For the last 12 years the refugees that keep coming have faced all at the same time institutional violence, indifference and some times merely tolerance of their existence. The port police have been violent but refugees could "live" at a self made, almost like paper shelter facilities up until they could find a way to go west. The present conditions of the self made "almost like paper' camp are horrible: there are no sanitary facilities, lack of drinking water and no provision of garbage collection. People are hungry and terrified.

In the last week though the refugees have faced a coordinated effort from the police, the central and the local government to move them away from the port. Demolition of their self made shelter facilities has started

The police have given them few days to gather their things. This coming Wednesday the demolition will be completed. People are telling us that they prefer to die than to live under the regime of terror and insecurity. Children have disappeared from the shelter while their relatives from Afghanistan are looking at them frantically. Activists and local people have been trying to help anyway they can but with no available infrastructure this has been extremely hard.

What happens in Patras is part of the same paradoxical situation that has been arisen all over European Union: while the rich countries of European Union become more and more cooperative and move closer to each other, the practical possibility of getting there becomes more and more limited for a large section of the population coming from the third countries. The European Union instead of reacting to increasing emigration efforts with a coherent policy to reflect a belief that each country of the world has control over its resources to take care the needs of its people, the European states are meeting the challenge, above all, by strengthening their borders. Greece has also been affected by the increasing 'harmonization' in European refugee and migration policies, which are shifting 'fencing-in' measures and repression to the centre of attention. Whereas the Greek government has recently shown itself determined to keep refugees/immigrants without papers away from its ports (Patras and Igoymenitsa) that are gates to the west, by all possible means. Police, demolitions, detentions, arrests and abductions can not keep the people wanting to leave their war and poverty torn countries.

We demand humane living conditions for all the refugees and immigrants. We demand freedom of movement of all people. Freedom of movement of all people encompasses different struggles of migration taking place every day throughout Europe : struggles for housing and legalization, struggles against racism and camps, struggles on the workplace, the struggles of women for liberation.

Antiracist Initiative of Thessaloniki

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