Tag Archives: 50 migrant workers on hunger strike in Thessaloniki

Press Release – DAY 43 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DAY 43 of the hunger strike

 

The 50 migrants on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre have been on a hunger strike for 43 days now. At the moment, all strikers are experiencing the consequences of extreme fasting: They feel dizzy when walking and have difficulty standing up, while 17 of them are being hospitalized at different hospitals in Thessaloniki. According to yesterday’s medical report, “they are suffering liver malfunction, delay in coagulation times due to lack of vitamin C intake, low heart rate with occasional arrhythmia, hypoglycemia and reduced white blood cell count. Their immune system is particularly vulnerable. From now on, their health condition could take an unexpected turn, since it is highly probable that complications will occur. For this reason, the presence of physicians at the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki is constant, and the hunger strikers who need further treatment or hospitalization are immediately sent to the public hospitals on duty.”

Tomorrow at 11am there will be a Press conference at the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki, where the University authorities, the hospital doctors’ union, the public sector workers’ union, the journalists’ union and the barristers’ association will officially present the proposal they signed after their meeting at the Labor Centre on Friday, the 4th of March.

The arrests of people in solidarity and the threats of deportation will not break the hunger strike! In Athens today, Tuesday, March 8, two students from the solidarity initiative were arrested, when they reacted to hospital staff leaving trays of food in hunger strikers’ rooms. Moreover, since this morning, rumors have been leaking from state sources into the Press that the government will deport the hunger strikers if they do not accept the government’s proposal for a six-month ‘tolerance status’ card. The Solidarity Initiative in Athens released a statement saying: “The struggle did not break despite the hardships and the slander campaigns, so now the government is mobilizing its mechanisms of State violence”.

This morning, members of the solidarity initiative occupied the central offices of the governing Party PASOK in Ioannina, Western Greece, to express their support for the hunger strikers’ demands. Thursday, March 10, day 45 of the hunger strike, is an international day of actions of political disobedience in support of the 300 hunger strikers.

The Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki invites everyone to the following events and actions:

Tomorrow, at 7:30pm, the Rector of the Aristotle University and Program for the Promotion of Self-Help and the Postgraduate Program on Addiction and Dependency of the Dept of Psychology are co-organizing a discussion and film screening with the participation of a representative of the hunger strikers at the Functions Hall of the University.

On Thursday, March 10, the Solidarity Initiative is calling a meeting outside the General Secretariat of Macedonia and Thrace at 6pm.

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Press Release – DAY 42 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Monday, March 7, 2011

DAY 42 of the hunger strike

 

The 50 migrants on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre have been on a hunger strike for 42 days now. They are determined to continue with their struggle until their demands are fulfilled and they get equal rights with Greek workers. At the moment, all strikers are experiencing the consequences of extreme fasting: They feel dizzy when walking and have difficulty standing up, while 17 of them are being hospitalized at different hospitals in Thessaloniki. According to the medical report today, “they are suffering liver malfunction, delay in coagulation times due to lack of vitamin C intake, low heart rate with occasional arrhythmia, hypoglycemia and reduced white blood cell count. Their immune system is particularly vulnerable.

From now on, their health condition could take an unexpected turn, since it is highly probable that complications will occur. For this reason, the presence of physicians at the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki is constant, and the hunger strikers who need further treatment or hospitalization are immediately sent to the public hospitals on duty.”

The hunger strikers would like to express their grief with the death of the 3 Bangladeshi migrants as well as their concern for the 11 who are still missing after yesterday’s tragedy at Souda Bay in Crete. The full-heartedly support their Bangladeshi brothers. The strikers call people and groups to show their solidarity to the surviving Bangladeshis at Souda.

Yesterday the president and the vice-president of the Hellenic Medical Association visited the hunger strikers at Ypatia and stated among other things that: “>From a medical and a humanitarian point of view, things have come to a head”. They added: “The government can and should offer a solution so that no life is lost. Within the existing legal framework, the government can grant them residency permits on humanitarian grounds”.

Women against the Debt and the Austerity Measures also expressed their solidarity with the 300 hunger strikers stating that “at this crucial moment we demand that the government meet the demands of the 300 migrant hunger strikers which are the demands of all migrants who live and work in our country under the worst conditions (undeclared and uninsured labor, bosses’ terrorism etc.)

Solidarity messages from all over the world keep pouring in. Representatives of political parties in France made an appeal to the Greek government: The Socialist Party (PS), the Communist Party of France (PCF), the New Anticapitalist Party (ΝPA), the Left Party (PdG), the Workers’ Struggle  (Lutte Ouvrière), the Greens and the Solidaires Union call “the Greek government to intervene immediately and prevent the tragedy from happening, by offering papers to the migrants, so that they can find a job again in this country where they have lived, often with their families, for many years.”

The 10th of March 2011, which will be the 45th day of the hunger strike, is an international day of solidarity and actions of disobedience for the 300 hunger strikers. A solidarity initiative from the US is calling for “actions against establishments connected to Greek tourism: 15% of the GNP of Greece comes from tourism and in fact, tourism and migration are the two sides of the same legal right to free mobility and travel. The struggle of the hunger strikers is a struggle for all migrants, all workers, all citizens of the world.”

 

44 days of psychological war

44 days of psychological war

 

Ι am Ghani, Ι represent the 50 hunger strikers here in Thessaloniki.

 

I will read out to you a chronicle of psychological war against the hunger strikers. It is the story of how the government has employed the tactics of diversion since the beginning of the hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki: In an orchestrated way, the ministries of the Interior, of Health, of Labor & Social Insurance, of Citizens’ Protection, have systematically tried to distort the terms of our struggle, to divert the public discussion away from the hunger strikers’ demands, and also to create confusion not only to the people, the so-called public opinion, not only to the solidarity initiatives, but also to the hunger strikers themselves.

 

Until today, the government has pressed forth its plan to divert attention from the strikers’ demands: regularization and equal rights for people who live and work here.

 

First, already on the 3rd day of the hunger strike, after hours of meaningless negotiations and false promises, they lead the strikers out of the empty and redundant Law School building, and sent them to a mansion with locked up rooms and no heating…The strikers didn’t break.

 

Then they tried to criminalize solidarity and accused 8 people of allegedly trying to “guide” the migrants and “instigate” the hunger strike for their own political purposes… The strikers made it obvious to everyone that they have their own general assembly, and they cannot be told what to do.

 

Then the government launched the mudslinging campaign that the migrants are a public health hazard, that they are an “bomb” for public health, so that the associations with terrorism are created… When that didn’t work, because doctors and solidarity initiatives responded immediately that the only contagious disease the migrants could spread is the disease of struggling for dignity and basic rights, then the government thought of a further attack:

 

They repeated that it is allegedly impossible to order mass regularizations of migrants according to EU legislation. This again is preposterous and plain wrong: Both Belgium and Italy regularized 50,000 and 200,000 migrants respectively in the last two years.

 

Then the government played another card: It encouraged hospitals to instruct their staff to leave trays with food in the hunger strikers’ rooms, thinking that nobody would react. This was part of a campaign in the media that the government is interested in the strikers’ health. Again, they were wrong, since doctors were very well aware that this form of torture is a violation of the international Malta Convention about hunger strikes.

 

A couples of days ago, the government warned that all strikers will be transferred to hospital and that everybody, strikers and solidarity people alike, should cooperate with the government in this operation or else… That didn’t work either…The strikers repeated that they would not leave the building without a residency permit.

 

A few hours later, there were leaks in newspapers by “circles in the government” that all migrants shall be deported if they do not accept the government’s offer (practically non-deportation for six months)».

 

Then, yesterday, two women from the solidarity initiative were arrested at a hospital in Athens, for objecting to trays of food being left next to hunger strikers’ beds…

 

So isn’t this psychological war? What would you call it?

Our demands are clear, and the specific terms have been presented in full detail since the 21st of February. The Text of Thessaloniki is a good start for a serious final arrangement.
The government boasts that it protects human rights. Up to now, its stance towards the hunger strikers has been a moment of shame in the history of human rights in Europe.

URGENT: The government threatens the hunger strikers that they will be evicted if they don’t all agree to be transferred to hospitals.

URGENT: The government threatens the hunger strikers that they will be evicted if they don’t all agree to be transferred to hospitals.

About an hour ago (shortly before 2pm on Monday, March 7), on the 42nd day of the hunger strike of  the 300 migrant workers, the Ministry of Health sent a representative to the hunger strikers staying in the front yard and corridors of the Ypatia mansion in Athens.

 

In its message to the strikers, the Ministry of Health states that “their limits of patience and understanding have been exhausted” and that they ask “with no further delay, that all hunger strikers be transferred to NHS hospitals in Athens (…) so that danger to their health and to their life is avoided.” The text ends in a warning: “We ask the migrants who are staying at Ypatia to cooperate with the ambulance staff so that they are transferred without further delay. We ask the people who accompany them and support their struggle, to not only refrain from obstructing the procedure, but to make every possible effort to persuade all migrants to be transferred to public hospitals.”

 

In other words, under the pretext that they are interested in the hunger strikers’ health condition, the government is prepared to send the police to force the migrant hunger strikers out of the building. This is the first step towards forceful feeding by the hospital staff, i.e. towards breaking the hunger strike with an order by a public prosecutor.

 

The government continues its tactics of disorientation of the public from the strikers’ demands – first they lead the strikers out of the empty and redundant Law School building, sent them to mansion with locked up rooms and no heating, then they launched the mudslinging campaign that the migrants are a public health hazard, then they told hospitals to instruct their staff to leave trays with food in the hunger strikers’ rooms…and now this! Physicians have warned that the strikers’ health condition is at an extremely critical point and the government uses humanist rhetoric and confusion tricks to cover up its cynical stance.

 

The hunger strikers have already decided that they are not leaving the building without a residency permit.

Press Release – DAY 41 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Sunday, March 6, 2011

DAY 41 of the hunger strike

The 50 migrants on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre have been on a hunger strike for 41 days now. They are determined to continue with their struggle until their demands are fulfilled. They are facing critical health issues, as irreparable damage to their vital organs seems almost inevitable, and their life in is danger. At the moment, 16 people are being hospitalized at different hospitals in Thessaloniki. Yesterday 8 hunger strikers were taken to hospital, one of them in a pre-comatose state because of a hypoglycemic episode. He was treated with an intravenous glucose infusion. The rest of the strikers were admitted to hospital with hypoglycemic episodes, low blood pressure, and some with a very low heart rate (bradycardia).

Tomorrow, Monday, March 7, individuals and groups abroad are calling for a European day of solidarity actions for the 300 hunger strikers.

Yesterday, while the centre of Xanthi, a town near the Greco-Turkish border, was reverberating
with the sounds of the carnival, members of the Resistance Initiative of Xanthi called a solidarity meeting
for the 300 hunger strikers. Around 40 people showed up, distributed hundreds of leaflets to the passers-by
and read out announcements in support of the hunger strike. Today, during the carnival parade in Xanthi, a huge
banner was hung across the facade of the University building, visible from the carnival parade, which read
«History is written by workers’ struggles, victory to the struggle of the immigrants» and «Solidarity with the
300 hunger strikers».

The City Council of Kalamaria sent a solidarity message today stating: “We are calling the Greek government to examine the hunger strikers’ demands and immediately respond to them, for these migrants have been living and working within a ‘grey’ zone between legality and illegality, which makes them most vulnerable to exploitation.”

The Italian Federation of Organizations for the Support of the Homeless Fio.PSD expressed its solidarity with the struggle of the 300 hunger strikers with a message on the homepage of their website: www.fiopsd.org

The Program for the Promotion of Self-Help and the Postgraduate Program on Addiction and Dependency is planning a discussion and film screening with the participation of a representative of the hunger strikers, at the New Wing of the Faculty of Philosophy on Wednesday, March 9, at 7pm.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

allilmap.wordpress.com

Press Release – DAY 40 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Saturday, March 5, 2011

DAY 40 of the hunger strike

 

The 50 migrants on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre have been on a hunger strike for 40 days now. They are determined to continue with their struggle until their demands are fulfilled. They say “a life without dignity is not worth living”.

They are facing critical health issues. As noted in the medical report issued by the team of doctors who tends to the migrants everyday since day one of the hunger strike, there are “frequent fainting episodes due to hypoglycemia, the strikers have lost over an average of 15% of their body mass, their heart rate is alarmingly low, they suffer cramps and muscle pain, difficulty with urination, severe intestinal problems. Mouth- and gum ulcers cause discomfort even when they drink salt water, which is the only thing that keeps them alive. At the moment, 14 people are being hospitalized at different hospitals in Thessaloniki. If the hunger strike continues, irreparable damage to their vital organs will be inevitable, and the threat to their brain function and to their life itself is now concrete.”

Yesterday, the hunger strikers in Athens and Thessaloniki issued an announcement after their meeting with government ministers, who proposed they be temporarily granted a non-deportation “tolerance” status for six months, and that all hunger strikers be transferred to hospitals:

1. We hunger strikers, from the places of our strike in Athens and Thessaloniki and from hospitals, unanimously reject the government’s proposal for a regime of tolerance, because it does not respond to our claim for legalization with freedom of movement, work-based renewal and all other rights that legal immigrants have in Greece and Europe.

2. We reject the request of the minister of Health to transfer all Athens’ hunger strikers to hospitals due to weather conditions’ worsening. As we have done for 39 days with cold and floods, we continue the hunger strike in Hypatia building (Patission Ave, and Ipirou Str.), and of course those who are in critical condition will be transfered to hospitals under our doctors’s orders.

3. We stress once again that the nationwide hunger strike is our struggle, that we take the decisions on all issues, and we demand the lies and slander to be stopped.

Yesterday, representatives of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (the rector, the vice-rector, the president of the committee for health and social policy, the dean of the Faculty of Law, the president of the university teaching and research staff union), the president of the journalists’ union, the president and the secretary of the Labor Centre, the president of the Thessaloniki Union of Workers in the Public Sector, the president of the City Council representing the mayor, responded to an invitation by the Labor Centre and met at the presidents’ office to discuss a solution to propose to the government. In the text they publicized after the meeting they state that there already exists the legal framework for the regularization of the migrants and that in times of crisis it is especially noteworthy that the hunger strikers’ demands are about legitimacy, they are about the respect of legal rights. Any loss of life, which seems highly possible right now, will be destructive on many levels, not only for the strikers, but for society as a whole. Among other points, the text, signed also by the president of the hospital doctors’ union and the bar association of Thessaloniki, contains specific proposals about the regularization of the 300 migrants, the possibility of 6 semesters-2 years of renewable work and residence permits for all sans papiers, the regularization of those who filed for permits but were rejected in 2005, the further reduction of required work credits for a residence permit or the disconnection of work credits from residence permits altogether.

 

Yesterday, the Initiative of Solidarity to the 300 hunger strikers in Greece and the Initiative of Greek Students and Workers in Paris occupied the Greek Embassy in Paris to express their support for the cause of the 300 hunger strikers.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

allilmap.wordpress.com

Press Release – DAY 38 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Thursday, March 3, 2011

DAY 38 of the hunger strike

 

The 300 migrants, 50 of whom are staying at the 7th floor of the Labor Centre, have been on a hunger strike for 38 days now. Apart from having lost over an average of 15% of their body mass the strikers are facing irreparable damage to vital organs. Today another 4 strikers were taken to hospital. Right now 16 hunger strikers are being hospitalized. While all the strikers are physically exhausted and disappointed that there is no response to their demands, they are determined to continue with their struggle.

Support with the hunger strikers’ cause has been tremendously broad. Last night, the town council of Neapolis in Sykies expressed its solidarity with the 300 hunger strikers “who are very justified in demanding rights to dignified living and working conditions”. Moreover, the union of workers at the Papanikolaou hospital also expressed solidarity with the hunger strikers and called the government to “proceed with their regularization, disconnecting the residence permit from work credits, especially in these times of crisis and raging unemployment, so that none of them falls back into illegality because of the employers’ reluctance to cover their social insurance”.

Messages of solidarity from abroad arrive everyday. A few days ago, the Austrian Roof Organisation of Homeless Initiatives-BAWO declared they support the strikers’ demands for regularization and call the government of Greece, as well as all the governments of Europe to support all people who are denied a homeland, a job and their rights.

 

Today, the assembly of the hunger strikers and the Open Solidarity Initiative are calling everyone to a solidarity march, meeting at 6pm at the Venizelou statue.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

allilmap.wordpress.com

Press Release – DAY 37 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

DAY 37 of the hunger strike

 

The 300 migrants, 50 of whom are staying at the 7th floor of the Labor Centre, have been on a hunger strike for 37 days now. After their decision to abstain from sugar, more and more strikers are being taken to hospital everyday. The strikers are facing irreparable damage to vital organs, like the brain, for which sugars are essential. Right now 17 hunger strikers are being hospitalized. While all the strikers are physically exhausted, they are determined to continue with their struggle until their demands are fulfilled.

This morning, about 50 members of the Antiracist Initiative, in solidarity with the 300 hunger strikers, chained themselves to the entrance gate of the General Secretariat of Macedonia and Thrace, while a huge banner was hung from the 4th floor of the building with the slogan: “The Papandreou government is committing murder”.

At the same time, another group of people, in solidarity with the 300 hunger strikers occupied the office of Evangelos Venizelos (Minister of National Defense) and Haris Kastanidis (Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights) in Thessaloniki. During the two-hour occupations, texts of solidarity to the 300 hunger strikers were faxed from the ministers’ offices to the Ministries of the Interior, of Labor and Social Security, of Health and of Justice, as well as to newspapers, news agencies, radio and TV stations in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Yesterday evening, members of the Open Solidarity Initiative drove motorcycles and cars in a big demo that briefly halted, as an expression of solidarity, when passing by the two hospitals where some of the hunger strikers are being hospitalized.

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 3, the Open Solidarity Initiative is calling everyone to a solidarity march, meeting at 6pm at the Venizelou statue.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

allilmap.wordpress.com

Press Release – DAY 36 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

DAY 36 of the hunger strike

 

The 300 migrants, 50 of whom are staying at the 7th floor of the Labor Centre, have been on a hunger strike for 36 days now. Their health is at a very crucial point. After their decision to abstain from sugar, more and more strikers are being taken to hospital with hypoglycemia. The strikers are facing irreparable damage to vital organs, like the brain, for which sugars are essential. Today, another two were taken to the Hippocrateion hospital in a hypoglycemic coma. At the moment 15 strikers are being hospitalized. While all the strikers are physically exhausted, they have still not lost hope and are determined to continue with their struggle until their demands are fulfilled.

Today, at an emergency Press release, Stratis Plomaritis, a member of the medical health team and president of the hospital workers’ union, stated that: “abstinence from sugar can cause from irreparable damage to the central nervous system at best, to death.” He also called the government to take up action, because “tomorrow a hunger striker might be dead”. Ghani, the representative of the hunger strikers said the government should stop shifting responsibility from on ministry to another. “The government should respond to the situation before it is too late. The strikers’ demands are very clear. They demand a residence permit and regularization for the 300 hunger strikers. They demand that the residence permit is completely disconnected from work credits. They demand that all immigrants who were denied papers in 2005, and those who lost the possibility to apply for papers because of the crisis, to be granted permits. They demand an open regularization process for all immigrants, every 2 or 3 years.” He added that “the message of the hunger strikers to Greek society is that they are not interested in making war with your country. We are fighting for our rights. We know that you understand us and that you are with us already. Greek workers have already benefited from the struggle of the migrants: The required work credits for social insurance were dropped from 80 to 50. Yes, indeed we are a ‘bomb’. We are a bomb of struggle for equal rights, a bomb of struggle for dignity.”

Today, members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) visited the hunger strikers, amongst them the MP Christos Ziogas, the member of the KKE Central Committee Lazaros Babas, and expressed their solidarity to the hunger strikers and their struggle. Mr. Ziogas stated that: “The KKE Party does not only express its solidarity, it defends the rights of immigrants, whom the Party considers an integral part of the working class. For years it has struggled for the regularization of immigrants. The Thessaloniki Organization of the KKE Party has stood by and will continue to defend the struggle until the fair and just demands of the hunger strikers are fulfilled.

Also members of the Democratic Left expressed their solidarity and called the government to “respond to the situation and avoid the worst”.

Today, as an act of solidarity to the hunger strikers, members of the Open Solidarity Initiative occupied the Rector’s Offices at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Macedonia. The banners read: “ONE MONTH OF HUNGER STRIKE. PASOK IS EXTERMINATING HUMAN BEINGS.” Faxes were sent for both offices calling everyone to the motorcycle demo today at 6pm, meeting at the Labor Centre and to the demo on Thursday, meeting at 6pm at the Venuzelou statue. In their leaflet, they note that “we must break through the wall of guilty silence and resist the death penalty which state and government are putting forward. The fighting spirit of the 300 migrant hunger strikers inspires us to be on their side and demand, with them, political and social regularization of all migrants.”

We repeat that the Open Solidarity Initiative is planning a demo with motorcycles today, March 1 (meeting at 6pm at the Labor Centre), and a solidarity march on Thursday, March 3 (meeting at 6pm at the Venizelou statue).

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

allilmap.wordpress.com

Press Release – DAY 34 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Sunday, February 27, 2011

DAY 34 of the hunger strike

The 300 migrants, 50 of which are staying at the 7th floor of the Labor Centre, have been on a hunger strike for 34 days now. Most of them now weigh between 40-44 kg, they are all physically exhausted, and they keep fainting. However, they have still not lost hope and are determined to continue with their struggle until their demands are fulfilled. A while ago, three hunger strikers were taken to hospital (raising the total number to 18). Another three, who were admitted to the Hippocrateion for temporarily loss of consciousness, are still being hospitalized.

Today, the MPs Dritsas, Amanatidou and Tasos Kourakis of the SYRIZA Party, members of hospital, school and labor unions, as well as members of the City Council visited the hunger strikers and expressed their support with their struggle. During their visit, they discussed with representatives of the strikers about the strikers’ health and the demands of their struggle. “The health of the strikers is at a crucial point”, they stated. “These developments call for heightened political responsibility, which the government does not seem to be taking”

Yesterday, day 33 of the hunger strike, members of the Solidarity Initiative had planned to go to an event in honour of the film director Costas Gavras, which involved the screening of his latest film “Heaven is West” (2009) which tackles the issue of “illegal” immigration, at the Fondation Hellenique in Paris. To their surprise, a few minutes before the beginning of the screening, Theodoros Pangalos, vice president of the Hellenic parliament, entered the room. They spontaneously started speaking out to the audience, demanding that Pangalos depart immediately. In their written announcement we read: “The expulsion of Theodoros Pangalos today is of particular political importance. So long as immigrants are still drowing in the Aegean, and fences are being built across the Greco-turkish border in the Evros region, so long as 300 migrants are risking their lives and at the same time the government is continuing its assault against all workers and against the whole of society, [in a venue like this] no member of the government will be legitimized, neither politically, nor as physical presence.” You can watch a video of the event here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9tLCF4rTg0

For the next few days, the Open Solidarity Initiative is planning a demo with motorcycles on Tuesday, March 1 (meeting at 6pm at the Labor Centre), and a solidarity march on Thursday, March 3 (meeting at 6pm at the Venizelou statue). Until now, the migrant hunger strikers have been speaking up for all our sakes. Now that they cannot talk, it is time for us to speak up for them.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

allilmap.wordpress.com

PRESS RELEASE – Day 32 of the hunger strike

PRESS RELEASE

FRIDAY 25 February 2011
Day 32 of the hunger strike

The 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloniki have been on a hunger strike for 32 days now. Their health is deteriorating and everyday, more strikers are being taken to public hospitals for loss  of consciousness. Today, two strikers were admitted to the Hippocration Hospital, (raising the total number to 13), while another three are being hospitalized at Aghios Demetrios Hospital.

This morning, Mr. Stratis Plomaritis, president of the Union of Hospital Doctors of Thessaloniki and a member  of the Medical Health Team on the side of the hunger strikers, Zawat, one of the hunger strikers, Ghani,  a representative of the hunger strikers, and Efi Telli, lawyer and member of the legal team on the side of  the hunger strikers spoke at a Press Conference at the Labor Centre about the emergency health issues of the  hunger strikers, their demands and developments on the legal front.

The Open Solidarity Initiatve is planning an info-campaign over the weekend, as well as:
-a demo with motorcycles on Tuesday, the 1st of March, beginning at the Labor Centre at 6pm
-a solidarity march on Thursday, the 3rd of March, meeting at the Venizelou statue at 6pm

AN ANSWER TO RAGKOUSIS’ STATEMENTS

The hunger strikers are in danger

A “compassionate” politician turns cynical prime-minister, while his government ignores even the EU legislation it uses as a pretext to deny migrants’ regularization

 

1. THE SITUATION OF THE HUNGER STRIKERS ON FEBRUARY 24,  2011

The 300 migrant workers have been abstaining from food for 31 days now, since the 25th of January. In Athens and Thessaloniki, we witness fainting episodes all the time, everyday, all day long. More and more often, the situation of some becomes extremely critical, and the strikers are taken to public hospitals.

Big young men, who for years have worked on farms and on building sites all over Greece, fathers and husbands, are now weighing 44 and 45 kilograms. They can hardly stand up. Three days ago already, the medical health team, who has been on the side of the hunger strikers from day one, spoke clearly: The strikers “have entered a phase where they are facing irreversible damage to their health”. They are in danger. In common terminology, that means that their vital organs will be harmed irreversibly, their memory and eyesight will be seriously under threat.

2. THE HUNGER STRIKERS’ SPECIFIC DEMANDS

And why are they risking their lives? Is it because the 300 migrant workers somehow decided that they don’t fancy Greek souvlaki any more? No, they are putting their own lives in danger because they have repeated their arguments one too many times. After years of being derided and reproached, after years of working for no pay, after years of torture, incarceration, beatings and humiliation, after years of official non-existence, right now they are asking for a very specific thing: They are asking for their existence to be recognized. They want legalization. They say: For us, legalisation is neither a generic nor an abstract slogan.

We demand the issuing – since we are entitled to it – of a proper residence and labor permit to us, the 300 hunger strikers, who demand what should be a given for everyone by putting our lives on the line

As well as:

– that residence permits are no longer connected to work credits

– that all who lost their permits because of the above reason are legalised again

– the vindication of everyone whose application was rejected in 2005, after their application submission had been accepted and after they were forced to pay thousands of euros each

– the establishment of a permanent and open procedure for complete legalisation, which will process applications constantly

-the abandonment of any idea of criminalising any of our comrades in solidarity with us, who have been called as suspects of committing criminal acts by the authorities

3. THE MINISTER’S RESPONSE TODAY and the prime-minister’s views in 2008

The above demands were made public on the 21st of February. Three days later, what is the response of the government?

Minister of the Interior Mr. Ragousis announced to the newspapers today that the legalization of the hunger strikers would “put Greece in great danger”, especially now the country is facing “the possibility of a migrant wave from North Africa”. Echoing the deeply racist, and by now stereotypically populist rhetoric, he added: “Could Greece endure that?” He even repeated that the government would be ready to grant them “tolerance status”, meaning a six-month permit given for exceptional reasons of health, family condition or other obstacles to deportation. In other words, he is saying that the government might allow for some of the hunger strikers to be officially tolerated for a short period of time, and probably feels the strikers should be negotiating his offer!

Just two years ago, in November 2008, when 15 migrants were on hunger strike in Chania, Crete, George Papandreou, then the leader of the oppositional PASOK Party, now Mr. Ragousis’ and Greece’s Prime Minister, was writing on his blog, for all voters to read: “We should respect the axiomatic truth that it is not easy to be a refugee and an immigrant. Our handling of the issue should begin by seeing every person as an equal. We relate to every human being as a fellow citizen of the world and we want all to have equal rights, we recognize the right to a peaceful coexistence, to respect, to dignity, to humane behavior. (…) There are significant practical and institutional problems, as well as problems of understanding, mentality, reception of immigrants, and acceptance of them. The best thing that could be done, that could contribute towards overcoming this problematic picture, would the integration of immigrants into society.”

This turn towards cynicism is not merely a contradiction caused by Realpolitik concerns, it seems to be the result of a brain transplantation, and an unsuccessful one at that.

Another one of the favourite government phrases, which the Minister repeated today, is that “migration is a European problem” and speaking about EU legislation showed that he has a few gaps in his information apparatus…

4. IS THE GOVERNMENT NOT UP-TO-DATE WITH EUROPEAN LEGISLATION?

Today, the 24th of February 2011, the Minster of the Interior Yannis Ragousis added that “he excludes the possibility of an illegal mass regularization”, echoing the Minister of Citizens’ Protection (Public Order) Christos Papoutsis, who, on the 8th of February had announced in the parliamentary committee for issues of migration that “the demand for mass, general regularization, cannot be substantiated, it is unheard of and not allowed in the European Union”…On the 28th of January, the Deputy Minister of Labor Anna Dalara had said: “in any case, mass regularizations are against the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum”.

However, all three government politicians seem to be dangerously misinformed. Indeed, on the15th of October 2008, EU heads of state and government endorsed the ‘European Pact on Immigration and Asylum’. However hideous the European Pact was, “a ban on the mass regularization of illegal immigrants had to be dropped during negotiations in Cannes (July 2008), in order to win the necessary support of the Spanish government” http://www.euractiv.com/en/socialeurope/european-pact-immigration-asylum/article-175489

In the last two years, there have been two cases, that of Italy and of Belgium, where EU governments granted hundreds of thousands of permits at once:

1. In Italy, despite strong rhetoric against irregular migrants, the government had to launch a regularization procedure in 2009. By July 2010, around 200.000 permits were granted.

http://www1.interno.it/mininterno/export/sites/default/it/sezioni/sala_stampa/notizie/immigrazione/0076_2010_07_12_colf_badanti.html

2. On the 20th of July 2009, Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy released details of the federal government’s agreement on regularizing illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants who had lived in Belgium for at least five years were able to apply to regularize their situation between 15 September and 15 December 2009. Around 50.000 permits were granted.

The move was not called a «mass regularization», according to government officials.

http://www.euractiv.com/en/socialeurope/belgium-legalise-25000-immigrants/article-184257

The new 2009 EU multi-annual program in the area of Justice and Home Affairs for the years 2010-2014, known as the Stockholm program, does not prohibit large-scale regularizations of migrants, and only refers to the need to improve the exchange of information on regularizations at the national level.

So who is the Greek government kidding?

5. VICTORY TO THE HUNGER STRIKE – VICTORY TO LIFE

The hunger strike of the 300 migrant workers in Greece is now at a very critical turn. The hunger strikers are in danger. We cannot tolerate any more lies. The demands of the hunger strikers are just. As the Forum of Migrants in Crete have written: “They have turned life into a cheap commodity. We shall not allow anyone make life cheaper. We shall make life priceless so that death becomes unthinkable. Victory to the hunger strike, victory to life”.

PRESS RELEASE – DAY 31 of the hunger strike

PRESS RELEASE

THURSDAY, 24th of February

DAY 31 of the hunger strike

 

The 300 migrants (250 in Athens, 50 on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki) have been on a hunger strike for 31 days now. They are living strictly on water and small quantities of salt and sugar. They have entered a phase in fasting, in which they are being directly threatened by irreversible damage to their health. 4 of the 5 hunger strikers who were admitted to hospital for fainting two days ago, are still being hospitalized (3 at the Aghios Demetrios hospital, one at the Hippocration).

 

Members of the Solidarity Initiative who accompanied them to hospital mentioned that the strikers were being offered food by the nursing staff, despite the fact that it had been made clear to them that the strikers refuse to be fed. The head of the ward replied that she was following the orders of the Director of the 2nd Internal Medicine Division to bring food to the strikers’ rooms and leave it there for half an hour. The Solidarity Initiative condemns this act as a breach of human rights and as psychological torture and will consider what action to take in response.

 

The medical health team is calling a Press conference on Friday, February 25 at 11am at the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki in order to inform the public about the emergency health condition of the hunger strikers.

Yesterday, the Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki marched the streets of the town as part of the general strike rally. The massive bloc of the Solidarity Initiative was reverberating with slogans for the legalization of all immigrants. It should be noted that the representative of the hunger strikers spoke at all three meetings before the demo (i.e. the meetings of the Workers’ Front-PAME, of the Labor Centre, and of the First Degree Unions).

 

The bloc of the Open Solidarity Initiative faced an unprovoked and uncalled for attack by the police, which injured demonstrators. The demonstration continued despite the repeated efforts by the police to dissolve it. During the march a student was beaten up and arrested by the police. The demo continued to the General Police HQ and this morning there was a protest meeting, with the participation of the Open Solidarity Initiative, outside the Courts, where the arrested student would be tried in flagrante delicto. The student was released and will be examined by the DA tomorrow.

 

Who provokes violence? The image of a riot police officer with an axe in his pocket (a photo from yesterday’s attacks that has circulated widely) is the best answer to the question.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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Press Release – DAY 29 of the hunger strike

Press Release

TUESDAY, 22nd of February

DAY 29 of the hunger strike

The 300 migrants (250 in Athens, 50 on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki) have been on a hunger strike for 29 days now. Nine of the hunger strikers in Thessaloniki (of which 5 today) have been sent to hospital for fainting. According to the report of the medical health team: All of them are suffering considerable weight loss and the signs of fatigue and advanced exhaustion are apparent… The majority of them show symptoms of frequently recurring postural hypotension, muscle pain, hypoglycemia, difficulty with moving, while some of them already have palpitations and cardiac dysrhythmia.

As doctors we are obliged to note that the hunger strikers are entering a phase in which the continuation of fasting may cause irreversible damage to their health.

Yesterday, the 300 hunger strikers issued an official announcement in which they state their specific demands:

For us, legalisation is neither a generic nor an abstract slogan. We don’t want proposals to be heard without us. For us legalisation means many and very specific things. Between those, first and foremost:

The issuing – since we are entitled to it – of a proper residence and labour permit to us, the 300 hunger strikers, who demand what should be a given for everyone by putting our lives on the line

As well as:

– that residence permits are no longer connected to work credits

– that all who lost their permits because of the above reason are legalised again

– the vindication of everyone whose application was rejected in 2005, after their application submission had been accepted and after they were forced to pay thousands of euros each

– the establishment of a permanent and open procedure for complete legalisation, which will process applications constantly

– the abandonment of any idea of criminalising any of our comrades in solidarity with us, who have been called as suspects of committing criminal acts by the authorities

At the end of their announcement they add:

Anyone who wants to seriously engage with our strike and avoid a humanitarian crisis in Greece, should officially and directly contact us and whatever discussion must be focused on meeting the above demands.

Every human is worth a dignified life and labour

The hunger strike shall win

This morning the Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki occupied the offices of the General Secretariat of Youth, a department of the Ministry of Labor, to protest the stance of the government. Their banner read: “1 MONTH OF HUNGER STRIKE – THE PASOK GOVERNMENT EXTERMINATES PEOPLE-VICTORY TO THE STRUGGLE OF THE 300 IMMIGRANTS”. The text distributed to people working there as well as to passers by stated, among other things, that “the only ones who will lose from the legalization are the big industrialists, the big contractors, the landowners, the shipowners…all those who, with generous help from professional politicians of every tendency, plundered natural and social resources and are now selling off scorched land”. The text was sent to the Minister of Justice, the Minister and Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs and the Deputy Minister of Labor.

Yesterday, the solidarity concert was held at the Functions Hall of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with the participation of numerous artists and was enjoyed by a massive audience, which did not stop cheering and shouting slogans of support to the hunger strikers, proving once again the broadness and intensity of solidarity. After the concert, a crowd of over 1000 people spontaneously decided to leave in a demonstration, which marched to the Labor Centre.

Yesterday, Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and the historian of the Left Geoff Eley, expressed their support with the struggle of the hunger strikers.

The Open Solidarity Initiative is calling everyone to participate at the General Strike announced for Wednesday the 23rd of February and is meeting at the Labor Center at 10am on that day to join the strike marches.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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Emergency Press Release – 22nd February 2011

Emergency Press Release

22nd February 2011

 

Today another 4 people were sent to hospital, raising the number of fainting episodes to  7.

Today is the 29th day of the hunger strike.

28-year-old Radwan fainted with a fall.

Medical report – 22nd February 2011

Medical report

22nd February 2011

 

The hunger strikers have been refusing to eat for 29 days now. All of them are suffering considerable loss of body mass and the signs of fatigue and advanced exhaustion are apparent.

Four people have been hospitalized for having lost consciousness.

The majority show symptoms of frequently recurring postural hypotension, muscle pain, hypoglycemia, difficulty with moving, while some of them already have palpitations and cardiac dysrhythmia.

As doctors we are obliged to note that the hunger strikers are entering a phase where the continuation of fasting may cause irreversible damage to their health.

The Medical Health Team

PRESS RELEASE – DAY 28 of the hunger strike

Monday 21 February 2011

DAY 28 of the hunger strike

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki (and their 250 comrades in Athens) have been on hunger strike for 28 days now. The signs of exhaustion and physical weakness are becoming more apparent every day, and the incidences of temporary loss of consciousness among the strikers are becoming increasingly frequent. (In Athens yesterday another two strikers fainted and were taken to a hospital). All the hunger strikers are determined to continue the hunger strike until they win. Their strength derives from their deep conviction that their demands are just and from their will to live and to live with dignity.

This morning members of the Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki interrupted the program of the municipal radio station FM100 and for half and hour broadcasted news about the struggle of the 300 migrant hunger strikers, interview with artists expressing their solidarity as well as with member of the medical and legal teams.

The solidarity concert planned for tonight will take place at the Functions Hall of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki campus, and not at the Venizelou Statue due to a discouraging weather forecast. Many solo artists and bands will participate, so we urge people to be there by 8:30pm.

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday by groups and individuals from Greece and abroad. The latest declarations of solidarity were by the Student Union of the Theatre Studies Department, by the Citizensʼ Movement for Lamia and the Union of Workers at the Town Council of Kallithea.

The Open Solidarity Initiative is calling everyone to participate at the General Strike announced for Wednesday the 23rd of February and is meeting at the Labor Center at 10am on that day to join the strike marches.

More interventions and actions will be announced in the following days.

Press Release – DAY 27 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Sunday 20 February 2011

DAY 27 of the hunger strike

 

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki (and their 250 comrades in Athens) have been on hunger strike for 27 days now. The signs of exhaustion and physical weakness are now apparent. All the hunger strikers are determined to continue the hunger strike until they win. Their strength derives from their deep conviction that their demands are just and from their will to live and to live with dignity.

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday by groups and individuals from Greece and abroad. The latest declaration of solidarity was by the Student Union of the Dept for Music Studies of the University of Macedonia. In their text of support we read: “We identify with the migrants’ just struggle and we support their demand for legalization. Their choice of such an extreme method of action, the hunger strike, is a measure of their depth of sincerity and strength of inspiration.”

The Open Solidarity Initiative is planning a series of solidarity actions, interventions and events for the next days, which will be announced soon.

On Monday, February 21, the Open Solidarity Initiative is organizing an open solidarity concert, with the participation of many well-known artists who have expressed their solidarity with the migrant hunger strikers. The concert will take place at the Venizelou statue (or at the Polytechnic School in case of rain). 12 artists and bands have already confirmed their participation.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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PRESS RELEASE – DAY 26 of the hunger strike

PRESS RELEASE

Saturday, February 19, 2011

DAY 26 of the hunger strike

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 26 days now. The signs of exhaustion are now apparent and temporary loss of consciousness is a regular occurrence. Yesterday in Athens, one hunger striker fainted in the middle of a Press conference at the Ypatia building. In Thessaloniki, the hunger striker who had been admitted to the Agios Pavlos Hospital on Wednesday night (the third fainting incident in Thessaloniki), was released yesterday in the afternoon. All the hunger strikers are determined to continue the hunger strike until they win. Their strength derives from their deep conviction that their demands are just and from their will to live and to live with dignity.

 

On Monday, February 21, an open solidarity concert is being planned, with the participation of many well-known artists who have expressed their solidarity with the migrant hunger strikers. The concert will take place at the Venizelou statue (or at the Polytechnic School in case of rain).

 

Tonight, the Yfanet squat is holding a discussion and fund-raising event at Yfanet with the participation of a member of the Forum of Migrants in Crete who is accompanying the hunger strikers.

 

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday by groups and individuals from Greece and abroad. The latest declarations of solidarity were sent by intellectuals like Frances Fox Piven of the CUNY Graduate Center, New York, Costas Douzinas of the  University of London, Jacques Bidet of the Universite de Paris X-Nanterre, Michel Vakaloulis of the Universite Paris VIII St Denis and Slavoj Zizek. Slavoj Zizek sent the following message: “My full solidarity with you – you are fighting for much more than just your rights. You are fighting for what Europe will become. Those who ignore or oppose you are a real threat to the European legacy of universal emancipation. In our times of nationalist xenophobia, movements like yours offer a hope that emancipation is not a dead word.” Costas Douzinas wrote: “There is an internal and strong link between the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the struggle of the hunger strikers in Greece. There is no much difference between fighting for democracy and demanding dignity, between striking for basic political rights and striking for basic human recognition. There are no ‘illegal’ people only illegitimate and unjust governments. Every person who lives in Greece should have the same rights as everyone else. This is a common struggle on which our future depends.” Manolis Glezos, a well-known left wing politician and activist, in an interview to a radio station called the government to “solve the problems of the working migrants before there are victims” and added: “Some people believe that the hunger strikers are playing with their lives. They are not playing. They are offering their lives, offering their death for the very right to life.”

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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PRESS RELEASE – Friday 18th February 2011 – 25th day of the hunger strike

Press Release

FRIDAY 18th FEBRUARY

DAY 25 of the hunger strike

The 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 25 days now. The signs of exhaustion are now apparent and temporary loss of consciousness is a regular occurrence. In Athens, one hunger striker fainted in the middle of a Press conference. In Thessaloniki, the hunger striker who had been admitted to the Agios Pavlos Hospital on Wednesday night (the third fainting incident in Thessaloniki), is being released today. All 300 hunger strikers are determined to continue the hunger strike until they win. Their strength derives from their deep conviction that their demands are just and from their will to live -and to live with dignity.

Yesterday, members of the Open Initiative of Thessaloniki occupied the KEELPNO offices of the department of the Ministry of Health that visited the hunger strikers in Athens and helped the minister A. Loverdos orchestrate a goebbelist provocation, presenting, in the most racist way, the hunger strikers as a ‘bomb’ threatening public health. During the occupation of the KEELPNO, faxes were sent from the office machine, texts were read out and leaflets were distributed informing the public about the hunger strikers’ demands and the reasons for the occupation. The main slogan of their banner held was “the only infectious disease we could catch from the migrant hunger strikers is the struggle for dignity”.

Last night four people fly-posting material related to the solidarity campaign of the 300 hunger strikers were stopped by the police and taken to the Ano Poli Police Station. In minutes, many people were mobilized to gather and protest outside the Ano Poli Police Station demanding immediate release of their comrades. Soon after, the detainees were set free.

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday by groups and individuals from Greece and abroad. Yesterday, the “Sans Papiers of Saint Denis” sent a solidarity message, and informed us that they are collecting signatures of solidarity by antiracist and sans papiers organizations, as well as preparing a protest outside the Greek Embassy, among other actions. Free Radio Dreyeckland from Freiburg, following an extensive radio-program on the issue, also sent a solidarity message signed by the general assembly of the radio, expressing the hope that the struggle of the 300 migrants will win. Also, the hunger strikers received a message of support by 130 trade-unionists from unions, federations, labor centres, from the General Confederation of Labor Unions and from the Superior Administration of Unions of Public Sector Workers which ends with the following words: “We consider the working migrants the most vulnerable and most harshly exploited section of our class. We have common interests. We ask of the government to satisfy their demands.” The Union of Workers at the Call Centres of the Telecommunications Company of Greece (SETKE-OTE) also sent a message of support to the 300 hunger strikers, and donated a sum to help fund the ongoing struggle.

The Open Solidarity Initiative invites everyone to the interventions and solidarity actions planned for the next days:

  • Today Friday, February 18, at 6pm, the Open Solidarity Initiative is organizing a solidarity march, beginning at Kamara.
  • At 8pm, the Open Assembly of the Upper Town is holding an info-meeting at their social centre at the Koule Kahfe square
  • On Saturday, February 19, the Yfanet squat is holding a discussion and fund-raising event at Yfanet with the participation of a member of the Forum of Migrants in Crete who is accompanying the hunger strikers.
  • On Monday, February 21, at 8pm, an open solidarity concert is being planned, with the participation of many well-known artists who have expressed their solidarity with the migrant hunger strikers.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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Press Release – DAY 24 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Thursday 17th February 2011

DAY 24 of the hunger strike

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 24 days now. Despite their fatigue, their spirits are high and they are determined to continue the hunger strike. Last night, one hunger striker fainted and was admitted to the Agios Pavlos Hospital that was on duty.

Yesterday the open discussion at the Labor Centre with, among others, representatives of the hunger strikers, Nikos Paraskevopoulos, dean of the Law Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Konstandinos Tsitselikis, vice-president of the National Commission for Human Rights, (both of whom paid a brief visit to the strikers before the discussion) was very successful.

This morning, members of the Open Initiative of Thessaloniki occupied the KEELPNO offices of the department of the Ministry of Health that visited the hunger strikers in Athens and helped the minister A. Loverdos orchestrate a goebbelist provocation, presenting, in the most racist way, the hunger strikers as a ‘bomb’ threatening public health. During the occupation of the KEELPNO, leaflets were distributed and texts were read out informing the public about the hunger strikers’ demands and the reasons for the occupation.

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday. Yesterday they received texts of solidarity signed by the Unions of Postgraduate Students of the School of Media and Jounralism and of the School of Political Science of the Aristotle University.

The Open Solidarity Initiative invites everyone to the interventions and solidarity actions planned for the next days:

  • On Friday, February 18, at 6pm, the Open Solidarity Initiative is organizing a solidarity march, beginning at Kamara.
  • On Friday, February 18, at 8pm, the Open Assembly of the Upper Town is planning an info-meeting at their social centre at the Koule Kahfe square
  • On Saturday, February 19, the Yfanet squat is planning a discussion and fund-raising event at Yfanet with the participation of a member of the Forum of Migrants in Crete who is accompanying the hunger strikers.
  • On Monday, February 21, an open solidarity concert is being planned, with the participation of many well-known artists who have expressed their solidarity with the migrant hunger strikers.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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Press Release – day 23 of the hunger strike

Press Release

16th February 2011

DAY 23 of the hunger strike

 

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 23 days now. Despite their fatigue, their spirits are high and they are determined to continue the hunger strike. The two hunger strikers who had been admitted to the Internal medicine Division of the public hospital on duty two days ago, on their 21st day of fasting, are being released today.

At 10am this morning, members of the Open Solidarity Initiative distributed leaflets and read out texts on the hunger strike and its demands with a PA system outside the General Administration Office of the Prefecture of Central Macedonia in Kalamaria, where everyday dozens of migrants go for the renewal of their residence permits.

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday. Following their decision on Monday, the City Council of Thessaloniki voted for and released a text of support with the struggle of the migrant hunger strikers. Nine intellectuals from abroad, among them Noam Chomsky and Étienne Balibar, signed a message of support to the struggle of the 300 hunger strikers. The message concludes: “We express our support to their struggle for human dignity and basic civil rights. Elementary social justice dictates to legalize migrant workers and abrogate their penal and bureaucratic persecution”. A long list of Greek writers, playwrights, actors and musicians issued a text demanding the legalization of all immigrants who live and work in Greece, equal rights and equal access for all to work, education, health and culture, stating that the struggle of the 300 migrant hunger strikers is “the struggle of the whole of society for freedom, equality and justice”.

Today, Wednesday, the 16th of February 2011, at 7pm, the Antiracist Initiative and the First Degree Trade Unions Coordination are organizing an open discussion at the Labor Centre with speeches by representatives of the hunger strikers, by Nikos Paraskevopoulos, dean of the Law Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,  by Konstandinos Tsitselikis, vice-president of the Ηellenic League for Human Rights, as well as by the organizers.
The Open Solidarity Initiative invites everyone to the interventions and solidarity actions planned for the next days:

 

  • On Friday, February 18, at 6pm, the Open Solidarity Initiative is organizing a solidarity march, beginning at Kamara.
  • On Friday, February 18, at 8pm, the Open Assembly of the Upper Town is planning an info-meeting at their social centre at the Koule Kahfe square
  • On Saturday, February 19, the Yfanet squat is planning a discussion and fund-raising event at Yfanet with the participation of a member of the Forum of Migrants in Crete who is accompanying the hunger strikers.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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Press Release – Day 22 of hunger strike

Press Release

15 February 2011

Day 22 of hunger strike

The 50 immigrants at the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 22 days now. According to the doctors’ press release (Monday, February 14), “they consume only water, salt and small quantities of sugar. Many of them show symptoms of physical weakness, difficulty in standing up, dizziness, postural hypotension, cramps, hypoglycemia.

Today,[14th of February] two of the hunger strikers were admitted to the Division of Internal Medicine of the Public Hospital on duty, due to temporary loss of consciousness. Both remain hospitalized.

The examination of the body mass index of the hunger strikers and their vital points reveals the expected amount of weight loss and the corresponding consequences for their health.”

The 300 hunger strikers in Athens and Thessaloniki are teaching the whole of society lessons of dignity and struggle, as they are fighting for equal civil, social and working rights for all people.

 

MESSAGES OF SOLIDARITY AND SUPPORT

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday. Last night, the Thessaloniki City Council issued a statement of support for the struggle of the hunger strikers. In the statement, we read, among other things, that “the Council of Thessaloniki, a city that has historically been a multicolored and multicultural melting pot, expresses its solidarity to the struggle of the hunger strikers. This is a struggle for a life of dignity and for the unquestionable right to the free movement of people, in an age where speculative capital travels with the velocity of electricity. We ask for the legalization of migrants and for the disconnection of this procedure from the number of collected workstamps.”

The National Confederation of Labor (CNT-AIT) of Spain sent a message of solidarity to the 300 migrant workers stating: “The working men and women of the CNT would like to express our solidarity to the hunger strikers in Greece and our support for their demands. As is usual when there is a crisis of capital, a recurrent and cyclical phenomenon in capitalism, the bosses try to divert public attention, to blame the weak and the vulnerable, to intensify their nationalist and racist rhetoric and to turn foreigners into scapegoats for all evil. With this lie, they hope to disclose the obvious reality that capital and states are the only ones responsible for the situation today.”

 

SOLIDARITY ACTIONS

On Wednesday, the 16th of February 2011, at 7pm the Antiracist Initiative and the First Degree Trade Unions Coordination are organizing an open discussion at the Labor Centre with representatives of the hunger strikers, Nikos Paraskevopoulos, dean of the Law Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Konstandinos Tsitselikis, vice-president of the National Commission for Human Rights, as well as the organizers.

The Open Solidarity Initiative invites everyone to the interventions and solidarity actions planned for the next days:

 

  • Wednesday, February 16 at 10am – Intervention/info-action at the General Administration Office of the Prefecture of Central Macedonia (Oikonomidi and Rossidi street, Kalamaria)
  • Friday, February 18 at 6pm – Solidarity march (meeting point: Kamara)

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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Doctors’ Press Release 14 February 2011 Thessaloniki

Doctors’ Press Release
14 February 2011
Thessaloniki

The 50 immigrants at the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 21 days now, consuming only water, salt and small quantities of sugar.

Many of them show symptoms of physical weakness, difficulty in standing up, dizziness, postural hypotension, cramps, hypoglycemia.

Today, two of the hunger strikers were admitted to the Division of Internal Medicine of the Public Hospital on duty, due to temporary loss of consciousness. Both remain hospitalized.

The examination of the body mass index of the hunger strikers and of their vital points reveals the expected amount of weight loss and the corresponding consequences for their health.

The Medical Health Team

PRESS RELEASE – DAY 21 of the hunger strike

PRESS RELEASE

Monday, 14th February 2011

DAY 21 of the hunger strike

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 21 days now. Despite their fatigue and physical exhaustion their spirits are high and they are determined to continue the hunger strike.

Yesterday, members of the Open Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki, intervened at the beginning of a famous theatrical performance at the Municipal Theatre of Kalamaria, (a play about an immigrant woman), informed the audience about the hunger strikers and their struggle and read out the text written by the assembly of hunger strikers.

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday. Yesterday the Association of Victims of the Nazi Regime in Freiburg sent a message of support calling the government to follow the Geneva Convention and the Declaration of Human Rights, and to thus fulfill the demands of the immigrants. The Union of Postgraduate Students of the Philosophy and Education Department at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki hung a banner supporting the struggle of the 300 migrant workers at the entrance of the building of the Faculty of Philosophy. In their statement of support they declare that “the struggle of the migrants is our struggle too.”

Over 500 trade unionists who met at the Liverpool Trade Union Council on the 10th of February sent a message of solidarity to the 300 migrants on hunger strike in Greece: “We support your demands. Your struggles are our struggles. Your struggles are every worker’s struggle for social justice!” Ken Loach, the socialist film director and Ricky Tomlinson, the socialist actor, also signed the petition of solidarity to the 300 immigrant hunger strikers.

The Open Solidarity Initiative invites everyone to the interventions and solidarity actions planned for the next days:

Wednesday, February 16 at 10am – Intervention/info-action at the General Administration Office of the Prefecture of Central Macedonia (Oikonomidi and Rossidi street, Kalamaria)

Friday, February 18 at 6pmSolidarity march (meeting point: Kamara)

MESSAGE BY THE ASSEMBLY OF FIFTY HUNGER STRIKERS IN THESSALONIKI TO THE MAYOR AND THE MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

MESSAGE BY THE ASSEMBLY OF FIFTY HUNGER STRIKERS IN THESSALONIKI TO THE MAYOR AND THE MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

 

Dear Mr.Yannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki

Esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the City Council

 

First of all we would like to thank your town for its hospitality and its support. We, the 50 hunger strikers who are staying on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre of Thessaloniki, have been visited and have received messages of support by the president and the secretary of the Labor Centre, as well as by numerous of the unions there. We have been visited by and received messages of support by PAME, by the Open City party and by the Ecologists-Greens.  Our demands and our struggle have been embraced by the hospital doctors of the town (the ΕΝΙΤΗ union), by the lawers of the town (the Bar Association, DSTH), and by the union of university professors (DS/ESDEP).

Novelists and thinkers, like Noam Chomsky and Eduardo Galeano, have expressed their solidarity with our struggle from all parts of the world. But here, in Thessaloniki, a town where for centuries many different populations have coexisted, with different religions, ethnicities and customs, it seems that most people are sensitive to our struggle. People here have immediately felt that the 300 migrant workers are fighting a struggle that is proud and justified: a struggle for the working and social rights, for the education of our children, for the dignity of all who live and work in this country. We have been here for many years. This is the twenty first day of our hunger strike. We are tired, but we are determined to continue.

We are here because we are doubly oppressed, to repeat the phrase used by the philosopher Alain Badiou in his solidarity message to us. In our countries we experience dictatorship and poverty. The peoples of Algeria, Tunesia, Egypt have already risen. Here we experience devaluation, humiliation and repression. Our existence is not recognized, our work is not paid, we are being persecuted, beaten up, left at the mercy of traffickers and of police violence.

Mr. Mayor, we ask of you to stand by our struggle. We ask of you to prove that you are indeed interested in change. Our struggle is just and we are certain you are aware of that. We ask of you to promote our demand for the legalization of all immigrants to the responsible ministries, to declare your intention to help us and to realize your intention. A visit by you and a note of support will honour you and help our struggle. You are welcome, we are expecting you.

Press Release – 20th day of the hunger strike

Press Release

13th February 2011

20th day of the hunger strike

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 20 days now. The signs of fatigue and physical weakness are apparent. They are determined to continue the hunger strike. The 300 hunger strikers in Athens and Thessaloniki are teaching the whole of society lessons of dignity and struggle.

The assembly of hunger strikers in Thessaloniki receives messages of solidarity everyday. Yesterday they were visited by a member of the Doctors of the World and a Sudanese doctor. Socrates, the Association of Teachers in the Berlin area, sent a solidarity message, noting “We support the struggle of the 300 hunger strikers, because it is the struggle of the whole of society for freedom, equality and justice”.

The Superior Administration of Unions of Public Sector Workers (ADEDY) and the General Federation Of Labor Unions (GSEE) issued a press release where they state that they asked the government to “offer a solution to the migrants’ problem that is in accordance to their real conditions, namely the fact that have been living and working here for years…Even the existing legislation allows for the possibility of legaization, i.e. the fulfillment of the migrants’ basic demand…The general issue of migration can only be solved through changes in the legal framework of the EU and of Greece, ensuring the recognition and the full working and social rights of immigrants”.

Interventions and demos as part of the countrywide and European days of solidarity to the 300 hunger strikers continued yesterday with actions in Athens, Patras, Mytilene, Sofia, Istanbul. In Istanbul, at a protest outside the Greek consulate, the Network for Solidarity to Migrants read out a text where ,among other things, they note that “no border, no fence, no wall can stop people from wanting a better life…We support the demands of all migrants who live and work in Greece”.

On Monday, February 14, there will be a solidarity football match between a team of journalists and the ecological and humanist football team Hasta la Victoria Siempre. The organizers of the match say that “together we shall destroy the idea that migrants are to blame for everything”.

The Open Initiative of Solidarity is planning several solidarity and protest actions for the following week, the fourth week of the hunger strike.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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Press Release – Day 19 of the hunger strike

Press Release

Saturday, 12 FEBRUARY,  2011

Day 19 of the hunger strike

 

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 19 days now. The signs of fatigue and physical weakness are now apparent. According to the doctors’ team, their weight loss is now up to 15% of their bodyweight on the first day of the fast. They are determined to continue the hunger strike..

Today, among other messages of support, the hunger strikers received a text of solidarity by 7 unions in Patras, stating that “while the government is leading us to unemployment and poverty, it is trying, with the complicity of the media, to turn the migrants into scapegoats of the crisis”. The Union of Clothes Manufacturers, Weavers and Knitters calls the government to take immediate measures towards granting full working rights, insurance and social rights for everyone who lives and works in this country. Moreover, 32 Members of the European Union Parliament, the Danish Red Green Alliance Party and the German Die Linke party expressed their solidarity with the struggle of the migrants, condemned the assaults by government, the media and the Far Right against the 300 strikers’ struggle, noting that “noone is illegal”.

On Friday, February 11, there were solidarity actions and demos in several towns of Greece as part of the countrywide and European day of solidarity actions to the 300 migrant workers’ hunger strike. In the early evening in Thessaloniki, more than 1500 people marched through the central streets of the town and then went on towards the hotel where the international conference on “Global Challenges UN, EU and NATO in the New Security Environment” was being held, with such guest speakers as the consuls of the US, France, Bulgaria and Turkey, the chief of the Greek police force, and the Greek Minister of Defense. After a long march, the demo returned to the Labor Centre, where it was warmly received by the cheering hunger strikers shouting slogans from the seventh floor terrace.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, a solidarity group gathered in front of the Greek embassy holding a banner saying ‘Solidarity with the Struggle of the Hunger Strikers – Fulfill their Demands’.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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PRESS RELEASE – 18th day of hunger strike

PRESS RELEASE

FRIDAY 11 FEBRUARY

18th day of hunger strike

 

Τhe 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on a hunger strike for 18 days now. The signs of fatigue are apparent. They are determined to continue the hunger strike. Their spirits are high and their will to win this struggle is becoming stronger everday.

The hunger strikers receive solidarity messages everyday. Yesterday 25 Members of the European Union Parliament issued a statement «expressing their support to the struggle of the 300 hunger strikers and appeal[ing] to the Greek government to listen closely to their demands and offer a solution to the problem”. Also, messages of solidarity were sent by the Central Organization of the Workers of  Sweden (SAC), by Peace Committees in Freiburg, Germany and by the Libertarian Socialist Union of Peru.There were solidarity actions at the Greek Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark and at the Greek Consulate in Munich, Germany.   Yesterday the Open Solidarity Initiative organized a successful information and solidarity demo in the Toumba area of Thessaloniki.

The Open Solidarity Initiative invites everyone to the solidarity rally today, the 11th of February, as part of the countrywide and European day of solidarity actions. The meeting is at 6pm at the Venizelou statue. There will be solidarity marches in Athens, Larisa, Patras, Hania, Herakleion, Ioannina, Kavala, Veria, Mytilini, Hios and Halkida. Solidarity actions are also being planned in Berlin, Munich, Leipzig and Sofia.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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PRESS RELEASE – 17th day of hunger strike

PRESS RELEASE

10 February 2011

17th day of hunger strike

 

The 50 migrant workers on the 7th floor of the Labor Centre in Thessaloniki have been on hunger strike for 17 days now. They are determined to continue the hunger strike. Following their comrades in Athens, for two days now they have stopped drinking tea. Their spirits are high.

They are in continuous contact with their comrades in Athens and fully support their comrades’ decision to stay at the building where they are staying now. They sent a message to the owner of the building in Athens (s. yesterday’s press release), who has issued an ultimatum for the evacuation of his property by the hunger strikers.

In the early evening there was a protest march to the General Secretariate of Macedonia and Thrace by migrant organizations, teachers’ unions and many locals.

The hunger strikers receive solidarity messages everyday. The Managing Council of the Association of Teaching Staff (ESDEP) at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in a text supporting the demands of the 300 hunger strikers note that “the migrants are not ‘illegal’ because they choose to be. It is the State itself that wants them in the black market, with no insurance or welfare, suffering double exploitation, in the margins of society, with no papers, no rights, no identity, persecuted and piled in ‘humilition facilities’. The said Association has decided to visit the hunger strikers at the Labor Centre.

The Bar Association (Lawyers Union) of Thessaloniki decided to offer financial support to the hunger strikers. Teachers from Voluntary Migrants’ Schools expressed their solidarity with the hunger strikers.

The Open Solidarity Initiative invites everyone to a demo today, meeting at the Aghia Varvara square in Toumba at 6pm and to the solidarity rally on Friday the 11th of February, as part of the countrywide and European day of solidarity actions. The meeting tomorrow is at 6pm at the Venizelou statue.

From the Press Office

Solidarity Initiative of Thessaloniki

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