Press release by the 300 migrant workers on hunger strike in Athens, Greece

In January 2011 the 300 migrant workers who travelled to Athens from the island of Crete to protest against the government’s harsh measures which force them to marginalization issued the following press release.

It is interesting to learn, in their own words, what forced them to the desperate action of hunger striking. Let me remind you that it is now three weeks that they are on strike and the risks to their health are constantly increasing.

LEGALISATION NOW

We are migrant men and women, refugees, from all over Greece. We came here to escape poverty, unemployment, wars and dictatorships. The multinational companies and their political servants left us no choice but to repeatedly risk our lives to journey towards Europe’s door. The West that is exploiting our countries while benefitting from much better living conditions is our only chance to live decent lives, to live as human beings. Whether by regular or irregular entry, we came to Greece and are working to support ourselves and our families. We live without dignity, in the dark shadow of illegalness. Employers and state agencies benefit from the harsh exploitation of our labour. We live by the sweat of our brow and with the dream that one day we will have the same rights as our Greek fellow workers.

Recently our lives have become even more unbearable. As salaries and pensions are cut and prices rise, migrants are blamed for the misery and harsh exploitation of Greek workers and small businesses. Far right discourse is reproduced through the media when they talk about us. On issues of migration, the propaganda of fascist and racist parties and groups has become the formal language of the State while their proposals have already become government policy:  the wall in Evros, floating detention centers and a European army in the Aegean, repression in the cities, massive deportations. They are trying to make Greek workers believe that we are suddenly a threat to them, that we are to blame for the unprecedented attack from their own governments.

The response to the lies and the cruelty must be provided now and it will come from us, from migrant men and women. We will put our lives on the line to stop this injustice. We ask for the legalization of all migrant men and women, we ask for the same political and social rights and obligations as Greek workers. We ask our fellow Greek workers, everyone suffering exploitation, to stand with us. Support our struggle! Do not allow the lies, the injustice, the fascism and the despotism of political and economic elites to prevail. These are the same conditions that forced us to leave our homelands with our children in order to live with dignity.

We do not have any other way to make our voices heard, to raise awareness of our rights. Three hundred (300) of us will go on hunger strike in Athens and in Thessaloniki on the 25 January 2011. We risk our lives because, either way, there is no dignity in our living conditions. We would rather die here than allow our children to suffer what we have been through.

Assembly of migrant hunger strikers.

http://hungerstrike300.espivblogs.net/ Visit the site for more information in many languages as well as for photos and videos from solidarity actions