Still Life: Brief update on the situation in Greece and the struggles against coronavirus politics

The following text is meant to be read as a brief companion piece to our previous letter that aimed to inform comrades around the world about the situation in Greece during the coronavirus pandemic.

– On April 3th, riot police repressed violently the hunger strike of migrants imprisoned in the detention center of Paranesti (near the city of Drama). They were protesting the awful food they were served. There were reports that police using teaser against the migrants and some of them ended up in the hospital.

– On April 8th, a 16-year-old boy from Afghanistan died after a fight inside the camp of Moria. There were reports that cops and rescuers did not come to the rescue on time. Hundreds of refugees in Moria protested on 10/04 demanding justice, rights and security. Various protests happened also in the following days demanding an end to the overcrowding, and the great fear and health and food insecurity of people in the Moria camp.

– On April 9th, a 42 year old woman imprisoned in Elaionas Women’s Prison, died. Despite her complaints overnight about constant chest pains the guard refused to organize her transfer to a hospital. In the morning she was found dead. An immediate revolt burst out, following her death. The prisoners have been demanding for more than a month protection against the virus and for the decongestion of the overcrowded prison by sending the vulnerable prisoners to their homes. The ministry responded to the revolt by commanding the entrance of riot police who intruded violently and beat up the prisoners.

– On April 18th, an uprising also took place in the detention center of Vial, when a 47 year old woman died. She was taken to a hospital but despite her condition she was sent back to the detention center where she finally died. The police used tear gas extensively and it has been reported that at least one person was sent to the hospital. Detailed information from inside the detention camp can be found here.

– In the detention center of Ritsona, which was the first to be identified with a coronavirus case and which is still under lockdown, it is reported that there is a severe lack of medicine and an urgent need for milk for the newborn babies who are at risk of hunger.

– On 10th April a series of coronavirus cases were identified in a Roma settlement in Larisa where 5000 people live. As expected, it was followed by a series of racist responses from the media, the mayor and certain local people who kept referring to the roma people as a “health hazard” and asked for the complete lockdown of the settlement. 25 people tested positive and the whole settlement has been kept since then under constant police surveillance. The people who were tested positive were then sent to a private health institution. Private healthcare in Greece received 30million euros as the government chose to fund the private health sector instead of the public one.

– Since the asylum process for newly arrived migrants has been suspended, workers in NGOs in Lesvos reported that hundreds of migrants are staying in campsites in various areas of the island, without any provision of food, healthcare or accommodation.

– On April 22th, two migrants were shot in the back with a hunting rifle outside Moria camp. They were admitted to a hospital and their condition is stable.

– An indefinite strike was called on 24/04 by precarious workers of the Asylum Department of Greek State, who denied the renewal of their contracts, because of their industrial actions.

– The first tele-strike took place on 9th April in the “Beat” taxi company, after the announcement of the dismissal of 15 employees, while shift work for “non-critical” roles was put in place, as well as “voluntary” salary reductions for all.

– Couriers and technicians working at TV broadcasting stations held protests.

– The government took advantage of the pandemic to pass an educational law that severely affects public education both for students and teachers. The law will make it even more difficult for students to enter public universities, it increases evaluation on students and teachers, increases number of students per class Besides the restrictions on movement, demonstration of teachers and students took place in Athens and Thessaloniki.

– The incomprehensible demands of an e-learning workfare program for self-employed scientists went viral on social media, showing clearly that these programs are nothing more than a quick way of giving money to private educational centers via EU funds.

– During the pandemic, the government passes a bill in Parliament titled “Modernisation of Environmental Legislation’, repealing very important environmental protection provisions. The bill abolishes the protection of natura 2000 areas, legalises arbitrariness in forest areas, gives freeway to RES companies to expand as much as they want, paving the way for further environmental destruction for profit.

The government forced an even stricter lockdown during the days of the orthodox Easter 18-20 April by doubling the penalty of “unnecessary movement” to 300 euros during these days and by forcing extended control on the reasons declared for movement.

There are multiple incidents of police arbitrariness that report:

– fines against homeless people in several places across Greece
– violence and fines against migrants who couldn’t send or read the SMS of the ministry that is supposed to provide permission of movement
– fines against people who tried to come in contact with and provide medical assistance to a prison in Athens.

– As Assembly for the Circulation of Struggles (S.KY.A) we participate in an assembly in Athens, Solidarity with Migrants, where we published the following multilingual text, and we are trying to organize common struggles with locals and migrants. The text is distributed and posted around different neighbourhoods in Athens and we are also organizing a collection of medicine and food for the camp of Ritsona.

– Various solidarity actions such as gatherings of food, clothes, medicine and money for migrants have been organised across Greece. In some cases, police tried to use the ban on movement to repress these initiatives.

– The struggle of the student dormitories is still ongoing and the students have successfully stayed in their rooms until now.

– Several rent strikes are in the process of organising or already ongoing around Greece. One example of a struggle in Athens is this one

The number of deaths which are reported as connected to coronavirus is 138 and the partial recall of the lockdown will begin on the 4th of May. It is obvious that there will be an intention to prioritize the circulation of commodities and no intention to recall the ban on movement. Ιt is widely expected that the claim for coronavirus protection will continue to be used as a reason to suppress any voice and movement against the government’s policies.

Assembly for the Circulation of Struggles

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