This is why we wanted to briefly share news from Greece. 300 immigrant workers there have been on indefinite hunger strike for nearly 40 days. Their demand is legalization for all undocumented immigrants in Greece, and they have received massive solidarity from diverse sectors, including an occupation of the Ministry of Labor. At least 78 hunger strikers have been hospitalized, with some subject there to police harassment and torture. Here is an excellent short video in English explaining the movement.
The statement by the occupation of the Ministry of Labor is below. It’s reposted from www.occupiedlondon.org/blog, which has featured extensive coverage of the hunger strike.
Communique and photos from the Ministry of Labour occupation this morning
Wishing to spread the spirit of the struggle of the migrant workers in the centre of Athens, we are occupying the services of the Ministry of Labour at Korai Square. We call for support of the occupation from 8 a.m and for a gathering today at 2pm, at the Ministry of Labour at Korai square.
The just struggle of the 300 migrant-workers hunger strikers is our struggle, too!
For 35 days now, in Athens and Thessaloniki, 300 migrant workers have started a tough hunger strike. They ask for equal rights with their local colleagues and the legalisation of all migrants who live, work and travel in the country.
Wishing to spread the spirit of this struggle to the centre of Athens, we occupied the services of the Ministry of Labour on Korai square. This is the building where on December 2010 migrant worker Emad Aziz was killed, falling from its third floor, while he was working uninsured on a Sunday and under conditions not meeting even the most basic of safety rules. This is one of the state buildings cleaned by migrants who work for contractors-slavers, in which Medieval working conditions reign; undeclared labour, employer brutality. What do workers at the ministry of labour have to say about that? What do they have to say about the struggle of the 300 migrants-workers, which concerns all migrants and even more so, the entire working class?
In the last 24 hours alone twenty migrant hunger strikers have been transferred to hospitals in Athens with extreme dehydration and renal deficiency – and another four have been transferred to hospitals in Thessaloniki with fainting episodes. In some of those hospitals they have not been admitted while at others police demanded from the medical staff the migrants’ names.
The 300 hunger strikers risk their lives not on the basis of individual motivation but for a collective right, in a struggle asserting the independence of the entire working class. The migrants were organised through public and horizontal assemblies in Crete, establishing via collective procedures one of the most massive autonomous struggles of migrant workers in greece. They asked from the first moment the solidarity and bridging of their struggle with the propositions of all people and collectives struggling for a world of equality and freedom. We adduce excerpts from the text issued by the hunger strikers’ assembly, with which they ask for our solidarity:
“…we find ourselves in the indignity and darkness of illegality in order for employers and state services to benefit from the wild exploitation of our labour… The more wages and pensions are slashed, the more everything becomes more expensive, the more migrants are presented as the culprits for the abjection and wild exploitation of greek workers… The propaganda of fascist and racist parties and organisations has become the official discourse of the state on the migrant issue… We ask from our greek colleagues, from every human now also suffering from the exploitation of their toil, to stand by our side. To support our struggle; not to allow for lies and injustice, fascism and totalitarianism to prevail in their land too… What has prevailed, that is, in our own lands and which forced us to migrate… us and our children”
The class discourse of the strikers clashes with the entire anti-migration policies which want to see the life and labour of migrants to be illegal, devalued and politically undefended in face of the murderous intention of the bosses and the military and police institutions of national states.
The greek state has its hands soaked in blood. It participates in the transnational alliances responsible for the (supposedly humanitarian) military occupation of the countries of origin of the migrants. At its borders, in co-operation with border forces of other countries, FRONTEX and state-controlled slavers, it directs migrants to minefields, to the bottom of the Aegean sea and in concentration camps at the edge of the country where inhuman conditions of mass confinement, torturing and violent deportation prevail.
The ideological mechanisms of the state, mass media but also a discrete part of greek society capitalising for 30 years now on the wealth produced by the migrant labour force all contribute to these crimes, as well as to the wider devaluation of the life and the labour of migrants by small and big bosses. Migrants, even if invisible and isolated, are right next to us and comprise an enormous productive population which lives, works, moves, desires and creates families, communities and solidarity networks.
The struggle of the 300 migrant workers proves the collective ability of an autonomous, class and social action by all those who are not institutionally considered to be citizens by the states – and this paves the way for the struggles of the migrants to meet with those of the locals. And this is what scares the bosses.
It is precisely for this reason that their struggle was attacked from the very first moment by the state and the mass media; it is for this reason that the academic asylum was lifted and a political protest was banned at the Law School; it is for this reason that for a first time, the political prosecution of hunger strikers is attempted. This cannibalistic and racist discourse is being worked out for years by the mechanisms of the state and during the evacuation of the Law school we heard it from the mouths of the various ministers of interior, labour and citizen pimp [a play of work with “citizen protection” – the ministry of the police –trans] – as well as by the bullies of the mass media.
As the hunger strike reaches a threshold dangerous for the health of the migrant-workers, the “condition of tolerance” is now being brought up as a proposal to the strikers. This “condition of tolerance” is not a humanitarian but a murky regulation, as it only allows migrants to stay here for six months, with the intention of deportation and without the capacity for them to leave if they so wish. This is why the strikers reject this proposal.
The migrant hunger strikers in struggle are at the forefront of social war. They posit their lives against the barbarism of authority, against the abjection and culture of death that the state attempts to command upon them and the entire society. They struggle for life, for freedom and dignity. For a world where death will behold no authority… For this reason, we call for all the struggling parts of society to stand in solidarity to the struggle of the 300 hunger strikers, which is taking place on everyone’s behalf. Because solidarity between the oppressed is our weapon. Because solidarity is not only support but also a clash for a society of self-management, without borders, fences, concentration camps, racism or exploitation.
“We are not going to cheapen life, which they have made so negligible and dispensable.
We are going to mark up death, so as to make it throbbing and inconceivable” .
We call for the support of the occupation from 8 am and
for a gathering today at 2pm, at the Ministry of Labour at Korai Square.
Solidarity to all migrants in struggle
Common struggles between the oppressed
For a world of equality, solidarity, freedom
People in solidarity