We are migrants from Greece. We are those who were forced to leave our country or cannot return, because of the financial crisis brought upon us by the memoranda agreements. The political developments in Greece and the intensifying state and police authoritarianism, brutality and oppression fill us with rage.
The handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the European Union has proven the bankruptcy of neoliberal policies implemented across Europe. The profits of the pharmaceutical companies are prioritised over people’s needs during the pandemic. This comprises an escalation of the attack on all public goods that have been won by social movements. The European Union opted to unconditionally fund private companies to undertake vaccine research programmes using public money showcasing that the crisis is used as an opportunity for profit. Using the pandemic as an excuse, countries across Europe have escalated authoritarianism, have silenced and oppressed every progressive voice opposing these governmental arguments and practices.
In Greece, the pandemic is met by a deprived and discredited National Health System (ESY), a result of imposed austerity measures. The government is unwilling to increase the capacity of the healthcare system by hiring more healthcare workers and providing additional funding. Despite the death of many patients due to the inadequate number of intensive care units, the private clinics are yet to be called upon to contribute by the government.
The response to the pandemic has been a series of lockdowns, while workers are stacked in workplaces and public transport without adequate protection measures, a policy with a clear class character.
Another response to the pandemic has been to increase the police capacity by hiring more police officers and updating (replacing) their equipment to oppress demonstrations. The police force has issued an enormous number of fines in a discriminatory and abusive manner. The amount of the fine is equivalent to 60% of the minimum wage. The police are now present in every neighbourhood, oppressing and beating families and children on their daily walks in the local parks. The reported cases of police brutality are increasing with incidents of citizens’ abductions, tortures, targeting individuals of certain political ideologies, publicizing personal data within their political propaganda frame, the creation of unsound indictments from the counter-terrosism unit and more. All of which take place under the guidance and enclosure of the responsible political bodies. In parallel, new police units are being created not only to control demonstrations but to oppress the student movement. The government was a step away from the vengeful murder of the prisoner and hunger striker Dimitris Koufontinas, denying to acknowledge his lawful demands.
Taking advantage of the pandemic when citizens’ right to protest is already compromised, a law was voted to further restrict the right to protest. A law in education was also passed, one which also sees the creation and establishment of University policing. More laws are prepared that will crush workers’ rights.
Right from the start, the government invested in its image, channeling huge sums to specific systemic media but also to its strategic allies such as the Greek Church. In addition to the constant propaganda in favour of government policy, the media have been excluding dissenting voices and openly covering up any incidents of police violence while slandering the victims. Any criticism of the government is expressed solely through social media. Censorship and silencing efforts by the government have been observed even there however. The government chooses to ignore crowds in shopping streets and churches but bans all forms of mass gathering and protesting using the prevention of the coronavirus spread as an excuse. Every form of mobilization is suppressed by open violence, persecution of militants and the dismissal of trade unionists. In this context, the right to free expression is abolished in practice.
We, as immigrants, cannot tolerate the policy of the government and the EU towards migrants in Greece. People stacked in tents, without health care and basic necessities, are exposed to a number of diseases, including the coronavirus. If these people manage to survive the trip to Greece, they are in danger of attacks by port authorities who puncture their boats, fascists who try to burn them alive and finally the psychological state which they have reached, which together with their pauperization leads in some cases to suicide. We refuse to get used to barbarism.
We know that all this violence and repression is the only way for the government to continue the policies of large capital and its neoliberal plan. We condemn any form of state violence. We condemn any policies that lead people to poverty while elites are getting richer even during a pandemic. We express our solidarity with the struggling people who are trying to survive and resist government policies.
The grandiose demonstrations against the French “security law”, “kill the bill” in the UK, the massive demonstrations against authoritarianism and the resistance in Greek universities against the creation of a university police force, show the way. Fear is changing sides.
We declare our presence, support and solidarity to those who are still fighting hard, in Greece and Europe. Our goal is to coordinate and participate in a wider framework of pan-European and global actions in the same direction.
We are calling for two days of pan-European and global actions on April 17th and 18th, at 14:00 Central European time.
poster by Jo Di
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