asylum seekers in greece and germany (TPTG)

This is taken from pages 24 – 37 of TPTG’s “The Social Crisis in Greece”

I have only published this part of the text as it’s the part that’s most interesting and original. The rest (although available above as a pdf) is mostly stodgy stuff excessively saturated with statistics and seems to add almost nothing new  to what TPTG and  others have said elsewhere (other than the precise detailed minutae of how screwed the Greek proletariat has become).

railing against the state


THE STATE MANAGEMENT OF THE REFUGEE-IMMIGRANT INFLUX:
Recent struggles and their limits
 
 

Let’s start with some necessary general remarks first: the capitalist state ensures the subjugation of workers in general to capital in general. The capitalist state protects and develops productively both capital and labour power, in general, or at least it is forced to do it. Capitalist accumulation is therefore dependent on the abundance, mobility and availability of labour power, while, on the other hand, during crises of reproduction of capitalist relations that end up in the devalorization of surplus capital, labour power may be made redundant to a large extent. Migrant populations, whether they are refugees or not, or whether they have left a middle class life behind or not, are part of the global working class, driven away (mainly) by local or global devalorization policies. Therefore, an analysis of their use or non-use by capital should be placed within a broader analysis of global, supra-national and national processes of capital accumulation. Consequently, any analysis which is dominated by a discourse on “anti-immigrant” or “pro-immigrant” state policies is quite misleading and irrelevant – in the same way that it would be misleading and pointless to claim that the state could be either “anti-worker” or “pro-worker”.

On the other hand, if it is true that each capitalist state needs and breeds divisive or even racist ideologies (that may also emanate from below) to keep the working class fragmented and trapped within national, racial or gender categories, it is equally true that it cannot allow civil wars among the separated parts of the working class. That is why it uses unifying, integrationist and antiracist practices to further the accumulation process. It’s obvious that the tension between its conflicting policies are contingent in a given period upon several factors, both economic and political.

More concretely now, while the vast majority of the left and anti-authoritarian analyses regarding the state management of immigration focuses on physical or geographical exclusion (mainly through an excessive use of the term “borders”), we are more inclined to look into the differentiated capitalist strategies adopted for the inclusion, control, regulation and exploitation of those migratory populations who are superfluous in the countries of origin to suit the needs of capital accumulation in the countries of their destination.1 Therefore, within the EU hierarchical structure of divergent capitalist policies, the varied management of the recent migration influx reflected different and even conflicting aims of the separate nation-states.

According to Eurostat, in 2015, EU member states received over 1.2 million first time asylum applications, a number more than double that of the previous year.2

The highest number of first time applicants was registered in Germany. In August 2015, the German government announced that it expected to receive 800,000 asylum applications by the end of the year.3 Between January and December 2015 almost a million of asylum seekers were registered in Germany (although the actual asylum applications in 2015 were only 476,649 because many asylum seekers had not formally applied for asylum yet, knowing that they would not get it, or because they moved on to other EU states). According to the German central register for foreign citizens, from October 2015 the migrant population had increased by 820,000 people (of them, 340,000 come from EU states, 260,000 from war regions and 120,000 from Western Balkans).4

These figures make Germany the most sought-after final destination for migrants and refugees in the EU. Germany even used the derogation possibility of article 17 of the Dublin III Regulation for humanitarian reasons:

Any Member State should be able to derogate from the responsibility criteria, in particular on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, in order to bring together family members, relatives or any other family relations and examine an application for international protection lodged with it or with another Member State, even if such examination is not its responsibility under the binding criteria laid down in this Regulation.

So, why has the German state adopted such a policy and how has it implemented it?

Immigrants are significantly younger than the domestic population. Given Germany’s major demographic problems (the domestic labour force is shrinking and aging), this is welcome news. Various research by German think-tanks have stressed the importance of immigrant “flesh”, pointing out either that thousands of new workers (not from the EU alone, as immigration from there is estimated to be declining but mainly from third countries) will be needed annually,5 or that, as immigrants as a whole currently living in Germany pay more to the state than they receive in social benefits, the long-term advantages to public finance and pensions can be substantial.6

In general, none can seriously deny the fact that capital in Germany needs immigrants/refugees to use them not only for capitalist development in an aging country but also for continuing to lower the reproduction costs of labour power and the intensification of the restructuring of labour markets: since August 2015 refugees’ “integration into the labour market” has started with work below the minimum wage through long-term internships to obtain basic skills which can be extended so that they continue getting low-paid jobs.7 For German capital (and its state) the above measures are necessary preconditions for securing the successful continuation of its mercantilist-based strategy. It is precisely their importance for capital that dictates their disciplined absorption within an already segmented and fragmented working class.8 Proletarian migration needs to be controlled so that the reproduction of a disciplined, cheap and grateful labour power can be successful. Merkel’s strategy of fostering a “culture of welcoming” consisted in both a pragmatic calculation of capital’s needs and a paternalistic manipulation in order to control any refugee initiatives and show who the boss is. By early 2016, as soon as the main bulk of refugees was allowed to enter amidst celebrations, a more selective and restrictive process started in respect to asylum granting, social standards deteriorated and the rhetoric of the political personnel changed again to signal that the objective had already been achieved (and the “doors” should close).9

Any analyses that would resort to geopolitical reasons behind Germany’s recent calculated absorption of immigrants or even worse to the particular mentality of certain political personas are merely pointless and confusing.

If we dwelt at some length upon Germany’s strategy on immigration, it was because the Greek state’s management of the refugee influx in 2015 was not just closely connected but also conveniently adjusted to it by letting thousands of immigrants (mainly from Syria) pass the borders (in the north) heading for Europe, with the first massive wave starting in early 2015 and culminating in the summer of the same year.

A diversion here to let us be reminded that certain prior movements of the first Syriza government, when it came into office in January 2015, when, although the numbers of immigrant workers in Greece had started decreasing due to the devalorisation policies, the flow of refugees started to rise. The first measures the government took, keeping Syriza’s leftist rank’n’file almost satisfied, were to halt deterrence policies in the Aegean Sea, apply the legislation at the detention centers (maximum incarceration being 3 months) –thus lettting the majority of the detainee immigrants out–, vote in Parliament for a law granting citizenship to immigrants’ children (applied to those with a legal status) and also “abolish” the term “illegal immigrant” from state authorities’ official discourse by passing the antiracist law.

Then, in the summer of 2015, the 3rd memorandum was voted and the management of immigration became more NGO-based (Mouzalas, the Deputy Minister of Immigration, is one of the co-founders of Doctors of the World). The management of the “refugee tragedy”, as government officials heartbreakingly called the growing immigrant influx, proved to be a win-win situation for Syriza, whereby getting rid of the main bulk of undesired migrant labour would at the same time cause the least possible blows to its anti-racist profile and thus not further alienate its “progressive” supporters – however difficult, if not impossible, this seems to be as time goes by.

In the context of the EU and mainly Germany’s policy of absorbing immigrant labour power, particularly from non-EU countries, which nowadays means war zones and global areas where harsh primitive accumulation processes are taking place, and in accordance with such a policy, the Greek left government followed certain steps in the unfolding of its own part in the European management of immigration: first, it allowed masses of refugees pass the borders without registering them10 (over 850,000 immigrants and refugees found themselves in Greece at that time),11 thus satisfying both a need to get rid of a surplus population that could not be exploited in any way inside Greece given the devalorization politics it continued to exert, and to avoid, as much as it could, being in a position where it would have to apply repressive methods of confinement on an extended level. However, in its eagerness and haste to let hundreds of thousands of refugees cross the borders, the left government did not even apply basic state border control or registration. This would jeopardize (mainly, if not only) Germany’s strategic plan of a regulated and calculated immigrant inflow, let alone undermine the EU political stability. Therefore, gradually, more pressure was exerted upon the Greek state which led in autumn 2015 to the creation of the first hot-spots (first “reception” detention centres) in order to register, filter and categorize immigrants and refugees into those eligible and those not eligible for asylum. The term “illegal migrant” was also reintroduced in public documents, thus basically restricting the right to a refugee status only to Syrians. With the agreement of the EU with Turkey,12 a necessary means to create a buffer enabling the European states to regulate the immigrant flows to more or less desired numbers,13 a further division was created amongst refugees/immigrants in Greece: a division between those who arrived before the 20th of March and after the closure of the border and have been since then stuck in the Greek mainland and those who arrived after the 20th of March and have been blocked on the Greek islands. For the latter category of immigrants, the existing hot-spots were actually turned into congested closed camps to keep them detained for an indefinite time. As applications for asylum started following fast-track procedures, deportations of the so-called “irregular migrants” have already started, too.14 Indicative of the impact of this agreement to the over 60,000 trapped immigrants in Greece is the fact that while in 2015 the number of asylum seekers in Greece was only 13,195, in 2016 51,091 immigrants lodged applications for asylum, as this seemed their only, albeit undesired, alternative. At the same time, in 2016, the rate of asylum recognition fell, compared to 2015, while about half of the applications remain pending.15

From those “lucky” ones of the first category, the ones who entered Greece between January 2015 and before the agreement with Turkey, some 27,000 have gone through the so-called pre-registration process and were thus given the ability to live legally in Greece and access basic services while waiting for asylum and possible relocation. The Greek government’s policy for them consists of an attempt to confine them and, together with dozens of NGOs charity-like services, offer them an oscillation between a restrictive management of an entrapped, totally needless for capital and mostly segregated population and a piecemeal semi-inclusory/semi-ghettoised politics, which is mainly characterized by rudimentary special educational programmes.

After forcefully evacuating Idomeni in May 2016 (the largest informal refugee camp on the Macedonian border which, at its peak, when Macedonia shut its border in March 2016, housed more than 14,000 refugees) and transferring them to “official” camps, the Greek state went on with the evacuation of the makeshift camp in the port of Piraeus and plans to do the same with the predominantly Afghan refugee population of the “temporary” settlement at the dilapidated former airport in Elliniko. In these violent actions as well as in others, even before the signing of the agreement with Turkey, it met with refugees’, as well as solidarity groups’, resistance. After having institutionalized its cooperation with dozens of NGOs and even given them increased responsibilities in managing the refugee influx in various aspects,16 the Greek state’s strategy regarding non-institutionalized solidarity activities followed a flexible pattern depending on differentiated criteria. On the islands, because of the forthcoming agreement between EU and Turkey and given their proximity to the borders, it didn’t tolerate any non-institutionalized activity, even if this came from small NGOs. Thus in mid-January 2016, certain solidarity structures (including NGOs, like rescue teams, which, until then were in cooperation with the coastguard) were excluded from official refugee agglomeration sites and in some cases their members got criminalized. Then, in February, the Greek government asked for the registration of all rescuing volunteers and the others active in and around Moria Hot Spot. It also demanded from the NGOs active in the respective areas to hand over lists of members and volunteers working for their organizations and register with detailed information on their own structures and funding.17 Repression was again the path that the government followed in Thessaloniki when in July 2016, satisfying the demands of the church, the university and the council authorities, it evacuated three anti-authoritarian squats which housed refugees or, in some cases, did the same with NGOs.18 However, there is a different attitude towards some big squats in Athens, as they both facilitate the state in managing the “refugee crisis” and at the same time are run by people either close to Syriza or who used to be close to it before its “betrayal” but have never cut their ties with the Syriza party, with whom the government would wish to restore relations. Vacillating between humanism and repression, charity and confinement, the Greek government handled the “refugee crisis” as an exemplary part of the more general “humanitarian crisis” in Greece.

The management of the remaining surplus immigrant labour power trapped within Greek borders should be considered within this very general context of the continuation and deepening of the devalorisation politics in both material and ideological terms: refugees are to remain idle labour power, to survive on meagre resources provided by the state and “civil society” (as long as it cooperates and takes its place within the state plans on immigration).19 Above all, they are to be used as a model for deploying the dominant state strategy, “glorification of charity and humanitarianism”, which is applied on the working-class in general. Immigrant and local proletarians are expected to accept their fate, lower their expectations and depend on “social / non-commodified” charity-like measures which are meant to alleviate the depreciation of labour power (unpaid or underpaid work, widespread unemployment / working in the black, etc.) that tends to become a permanent condition. The aim of this cheap but “humane” strategy of the left government is to preserve the profitability of Greek and European capital and at the same time maintain the local and immigrant/refugee working class in a state of availability for exploitation without the risk of rusting and becoming utterly useless. If we look at the state anti-racist campaign of solidarity to “refugees” in 2015 from this angle, then we will understand that the overstressing of charity is revealing of capital’s strategy to establish the idea that during “crisis time” not much more than crumbs is to be expected.

Refugees indeed were the ideal means to strengthen the ideology and practice of “solidarity from below”, which later took the form of a state orchestrated campaign celebrating “civil society’s sacrifice”. The “refugee crisis” management was a continuation and intensification of Syriza’s cunning recuperation of the previous movement against devalorisation and in particular volunteer self-help practices which by 2012 had already substituted an aggressive demanding proletarian movement with the self-management of poverty. Thus, unlike Germany where refugees were instrumental in the imposition of a direct wage below the minimum one, the refugees who were to be trapped within Greece were used by the state not to put pressure on the labour market themselves but mainly as a medium for the legitimization of further encroachment on the social wage. The condition of the refugees was used by the state as an exemplary –even if extreme– case where social reproduction and its cost is left to a large extent to NGOs and “social networks” of volunteer work. As a matter of fact, in many cases the NGOs’ paid work and civil volunteer engagement were not just complementary to the state management of the “refugee crisis” but instrumental into taking the initiative in providing care work, thus filling up the state’s absence – with the state then to follow, imposing its own way of controlling, restricting and channeling refugees’ ability to move.

The educational programs planned for about 18,000 refugee children are indicative of such tendencies: after the registration of refugees in the “official” camps, the Ministry of Education set up a Committee for the Support of Refugee Children which registered the educational activities already organized and run by dozens of NGOs and even certain solidarity collectivities of volunteers in order to trace the holes the state would fill in with its interventions. Thus, the Ministry has launched an educational programme whereby nursery classes are hosted only at the camps and children of 7-15 that stay at camps, hotels, squats etc. either go to nearby state schools in the afternoons (after the end of the normal classes) or have classes within the camps. For this segregated programme (funded like in many other cases by the EU) predominantly temp, part-time teachers have been hired who are also flexible enough to be transferred to whichever school the Ministry may like. As for the teaching of the refugees’ mother tongue, this will be left to NGOs together with all sorts of other educational activities at the camps while the training of the teachers of English will be “kindly sponsored” by the US embassy. Solidarity leftist and liberal teachers’ actions –being in indirect communication and cooperation with the Ministry through Syriza affiliates or ex-affiliates– were important in pushing the state to adopt this kind of semi-inclusionary policies, however they were more orientated towards lobbying for the refugees rather than placing the demand of education for the refugees within a more general framework of a reversal of the attack on the social wage for the whole working class (let alone having any practical critique of state education). This can also explain why when offering their volunteer help to refugees they made no differentiation between NGOs, municipal authorities or their own self-organized activities.

As we said before, the state has used the management of the “refugee crisis” to further deepen the attack on the social wage and also to consolidate the attack on the direct wage. To this end, it launched “community service” programmes for unemployed to work at refugee centres and hot spots, underpaid and for short duration – a slight progress compared to unpaid, volunteer work also praised by the state!

The basic content of refugee struggles against either deportation or confinement was to escape the desert that Greece is nowadays. If we limited our focus on the period between early 2015 and mid-2016, during which the influx of refugees/immigrants rose enormously, then we could easily say that the main demand of their struggles was freedom of movement so that they could cross Greece in order to get to Western Europe. It is difficult to cite all pertinent struggles which consist of hunger strikes, demos or riots against the dire conditions in totally overcrowded detention centers, against their confinement, against their state of illegality, against deportations and for better living conditions for the brief, as they would wish, period they had to be in Greece. A list of the most important of them would certainly include

  • riots at Amygdaleza detention centre

  • hunger strikes at Corinth and Paranesti detention centres and at Ritsona camp

  • blocking of the railway track, hunger strikes and clashes with the riot police at Idomeni,

  • demos in the centre of cities (Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki etc)

  • demos near camps (Kilkis, Preveza, Ioannina, Konitsa etc)

  • riots in the hot-spots on the islands (Lesvos, Chios, Leros etc)

  • occupations of the ports of Piraeus and Chios

The blocking of the railway at Idomeni cost around 4 million euros (to export companies mainly but also to companies which import commodities and raw materials from Central Europe) due to extra charge on transportation through alternative routes and delays of deliveries. By pitching their tents directly on and around the train tracks for over a month, the immigrants were trying to put pressure on Greece and Macedonia to open the borders.20

The response of the Left and the majority of the anti-authoritarian milieu to the “immigrant/refugee question” should be considered in the broader context of the low and totally inadequate level of class struggles in Greece nowadays and in connection with the double impact of Syriza as first an oppositional power and later as the government. The recuperation of that part of the struggles of the previous period which was more and more oriented towards self-help, as the main response to the crisis of reproduction of capitalist relations, gave the Syriza government the power to present itself as the charitable state that embraces self-organized, solidarity networks. Thus, in the case of the “refugee crisis”, the Syriza government applied the same humanitarian strategy guiding from above the “hospitality movement”, organizing campaigns for the collection of food and clothing and capitalizing on the party’s anti-racist components reaching out even into parts of the anti-authoritarian milieu through long-lasting political relations and cooperation. Without doubt, Syriza’s humanitarianism did not only have an ideological target but also a very material one: apart from the NGOs of all sizes, solidarity support was welcome, including its self-organized form, to a great extent, as a way to minimize state expenses, as far as the “refugees” reproduction of their capacity for future labour was concerned.

So, since the solidarity movement has fitted within this broader condition to a great extent and even against its intentions, certain questions are legitimate:

How can common struggles among locals and immigrants develop given that solidarity initiatives are either exclusively oriented towards “help” to refugees or when the intentions of the refugees themselves are different from staying within the borders so that they could put their struggles under a common, less temporary perspective? How can class solidarity possibly develop, which is in principle horizontal and mutual, given such sharp objective and subjective differences between the different layers of the proletariat?

On the other hand, when the overall political content of their activity was not in fact, as we saw above, an indirect affirmation of Syriza’s humanitarian policies, certain initiatives by solidarity activists to house refugees by occupying buildings were a material contestation of bourgeois property and thus went beyond humanitarianism. But even when there are no such actual political connections to the government, rarely has the content of these initiatives taken an orientation towards merging struggles of local workers (meaning here both Greeks and second or first generation immigrants) and refugees, surpassing the unilateral “offer” from the solidarity activists to the “dispossessed” refugees. And this is basically because subjective motives differ and the material conditions for the creation of communities of struggle are also absent. Notwithstanding the intentions of even the most radical activists, class solidarity as a mutual support in a common struggle was not the case. Given this, most solidarity activities were thus limited to end up being “radical” versions of charity no matter what their intentions were. And this should be considered as a self-critique first of all and of the radical movement in general, as the case of the refugee children’s semi-inclusion in state education exemplifies: faced with racist reactions from certain parents supported or guided by Golden Dawn, the movement’s response (and ours included) faced its own contradictions and inability to assert class politics as it did almost nothing more than practically supporting and facilitating a semi-inclusory government project. Isn’t it proof of the fact that when class struggles are weak, the dominant attitude will be the affirmation of the “lesser evil” logic, particularly when the most vulnerable part of the proletariat is concerned?

It remains to be seen whether a movement of common struggles could develop addressing common, social needs once the entrapped refugees/immigrants have no other place to go and therefore be obliged (and wish) to break their separation from local proletarians, who are certainly better off but demoralized, under constant attack by the capitalist devalorisation process.

Footnotes

1Critical approaches to national and international efforts to manage the flows of poor migrants into advanced Western economies over recent decades have tended to be premised on the notion of physical or geographical exclusion. Accordingly, nation-states, transnational regions and even whole continents have been described as striving to solidify their borders against migration from impoverished or otherwise disadvantaged parts of the globe. This claim appears to contain a significant element of truth when one considers, for instance, that irregular migrants are often forced by border regimes to navigate risky border zones and, indeed, that many of them die as a result. There is increasing recognition in the literature on migration, however, that borders can be far more permeable than usually assumed, and they are thus better described as points of variable intensity than as strictly linear and rigid structures. A considerable number of scholars working in this vein have sought to explain the permeability of borders from the perspective of political economy, extending their focus beyond practical factors that may undermine effective border control as such (e.g., extensive borderlands or limited availability of financial resources) and, rather, privileging the role played by governing elites inside nation-states in adopting policies and promoting practices that essentially relax border controls so as to enable mass import of exploitable migrant labour according to domestic market needs and dominant political interests. Leonidas K. Cheliotis, Punitive inclusion: The political economy of irregular migration in the margins of Europe. This interesting analysis shows how an exclusion approach to irregularmigration control can be wrong since restrictions are imposed on outflows of migrants to secure an exploitable workforce to serve labour market needs, as has been the case with Greece. This was made possible in various ways, trapping in a sense migrants within the country to have a highly exploitable reserve pool of workforce. Ironically, however, the analysis stops just before Syriza comes to power, thus, leaving it safely untouched, while it is through Syriza that refugeesare now trapped in the country, although for quite different reasons…

5 https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/publikationen/publikation/did/zuwanderungsbedarf-aus-drittstaaten-in-deutschland-bis-2050/

The conclusion of this paper states bluntly that in the next 36 years, an annual average of between 276,000 and 491,000 people must arrive from third countries if the potential labor force is to be held at a constant level. This strategy should be applied in combination with an activationof the unemployed, longer working hours and longer working lives

8 Such an absorption may be slow though, however, it would not be wise to assume that capitalists do not tend to make long-term planning. See, https://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.519306.de/diw_econ_bull_2015-45-4.pdf

9 Certain aspects of German asylum legislation have been made more restrictive in recent months. The aim of these changes has been to dissuade people from countries with low protection ratesthose highly unlikely to have their claims grantedfrom making the journey in the first place, and at the same time to streamline the asylum process for those who are likely to be granted protection. Recently implemented measures include simplifying the process by which rejected asylum seekers are deported, suspending family reunification for those with subsidiary protection (meaning that the person does not qualify for refugee status, but it would be unsafe for them to return to their home country) and expanding the list of safe countries of origin. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:KqKPtVuMroJ:www.bfna.org/publication/germanys-response-to-the-refugee-situation-remarkable-leadership-or-fait-accompli+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=gr

10 On January 27th 2016, the European Commission accused Greece of neglecting its obligations under the Schengen agreement to carry out external border controls, saying that a visit by EU inspectors in November 2015 found that Greece was failing to identify and register arrivals properly, to fingerprint everyone, and to check travel documents for authenticity and against security databases.

12 On March 20th 2016, there came into effect the agreement between the EU and Turkey to restore control on migrant movements. As the deal outlined, migrants arriving in Greece would be sent back to Turkey if they did not apply for asylum or their claim was rejected. Any Syrian who was returned to Turkey would be replaced by a Syrian resettled from Turkey to the EU, preferably the individuals who did not try to enter the EU illegally in the past and not exceeding a maximum of 72,000 people. Turkish nationals would have access to the Schengen passport-free zone by June 2016 but this would not include non-Schengen countries such as Britain. The talks aiming at Turkey’s accession to the EU as a member would start in July 2016 and a promised $3.3 billion aid would speedily be delivered to Turkey. Under the deal the EU would send around 2,300 experts, including security and migration officials and translators to Greece who would help implement the deal.

13 According to the official data, while asylum seekers in Germany in 2015 reached 890,000, in 2016 their number fell to 280,000.

14 By the end of October 2016 about 700 persons had been forcibly returned to Turkey. At the same time, the EU Commission blames the Greek state for inefficiency, since this number accounts for only4% of the total and none was ordered back after being recognized as a refugee.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-europe-migrants-greece-idUKKBN12W4DP?il=0

There was a slight increase in the number of deportations by the end of January 2017, raising the number of those migrants who have been returned to Turkey to 865, a number considered unacceptably lowby the EU. Thus, plans for drastically increasing the number of deportations and hardening the terms of immigration management are under way.

See, https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2017/01/30/greece-plans-to-fast-track-asylum-claims-to-save-e-u-turkey-deal

16 On the islands and especially on Lesvos there were more than 200 NGOs operating on the spot, ranging from small citizensinitiativesto huge professional organizations! The role of NGOs in general in managing immigrantsneeds (reception, accommodation, catering and transportation) was promoted by the state both for the privatization of some of its functions and for the de-politicization of the causes of immigration. At the same time, NGOs get their core funding from the UN.

17 http://infomobile.w2eu.net/2016/04/03/solidarity-structures-in-greece-confronted-with-criminalization-control-and-diverse-obstacles/#more-3776.

At this site this differentiated strategy of the Greek state is condemned as hypocritical and ungrateful: These activists are now partly criminalized, while in the same moment they are still asked to provide food for the open camps on the Greek mainland when there is a lack of food or even for those detained, what solidarity groups denied!

18 In September 2016, after a three-day protest of refugees at Katsikas camp near Ioannina demanding to be transferred to a sheltered place, the police detained members of NGOs and volunteers for some time recommendingthem not to instigate refugees to revolt.

19 There are about 45 provisory mass refugee officialcamps all over mainland Greece, most of which are tent camps, difficult to reach from cities/urban centres and often ruled by the army.

 


 
Some further information about refugee revolts in Greece
(november 2016 – march 2015)

25/11/16:

Greece, Lesbos: refugees set fire to part of camp & attack cops after woman & child burn to death in a different fire caused by faulty gas connections

16/11/16:

Greece, Chios: refugees set fires, loot stores etc. “…they smashed a fireworks store and started displaying them into houses and residents, smashed cars and shops around the place. The significant part of the camp has burned.”

24/10/16:

Greece, Lesbos: migrants torch 4 offices used for social control, chuck stones at cops Jose Carreira, executive director of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), said at least four shipping containers where interviews were conducted were entirely destroyed, and three more were damaged. “Incidents have occurred in the past but this is the most serious one,” Carreira told AFP.”

16/10/16:

Greece, Thessaloniki: migrants riot after cops refuse to take accident victims, who subsequently died, to hospital Video here

24/7/16:

Greece, Kastanies: clashes at No Borders camp, cops firing tear gas and stun grenades at about 150 people

8/7/16:

Greece, Leros: migrants confront cops

18/5/16:

Greece, Idomeni: cops clash with refugees as they clear out camp on railway track “police had to resort to flash bangs and tear gas to disperse a group of about 200 refugees, who were attempting to use a train wagon as a barricade.”

26/4/16:

Greece, Lesvos: migrants riot against teargassing cops “There were reports on social media that refugees had taken control of the camp, chanting “Freedom, freedom” over the public address system. The clashes broke out after a Greek policeman reportedly slapped or hit a minor, refugees inside the camp said.  The violence took place during a visit to the camp by Yannis Mouzalas, the Greek migration minister, and a Dutch minister.” More here “Tension sparked when the ministers entered the unaccompanied minors department and some young men asked them if Europe wil ever open the borders for them. The reply of the Dutch minister was a desicive and rude “no”. Anger spread out and some teenagers sprayed with him water. Greek riot police answered with a really violent attack, beating at least 2 minors. That incident provoked a full uprising with young refugees throwing stones at the police, lighting fires and taking over the sector. New police forces arrived and with the extensive use of tear gas they managed to control the situation. Sources speak of at least 20 injured refugees, 2 of them with broken legs.” Video here

lesvos 26 4 16Lesvos containers on fire

22/4/16:

Greece, Athens: hotel occupied to support migrants

19/4/16:

Greece, Idomeni: migrants riot over cop van’s hit-and-run Hordes of men reportedly wanted revenge when it was claimed cops had run down a migrant in a van….The mob is said to have smashed a window of a police van before they were driven back by officers.

17/4/16:

Greece, Idomeni: more clashes between migrants and cops

Idomeni 17 4 16

10/4/16:

Greece, Idomeni: refugees break through border, beaten back by cops (video) More here (this thread here has constant updates on the situation with refugees and migrants in Greece)

7/4/16:

Greece, Samos: migrants force cops to let them out of detention centre “Rioting broke out at a migrant “hotspot” reception center on Thursday on Samos, which resulted in 250 refugees pouring into the streets of the Greek island…About 560 people from the hotspot demanded the police officers, who had been protecting the center, to let them leave the facility and started threatening policemen with knives and broken glass… the local police chief decided to open the facility’s doors and allowed some 250 migrants to leave the center, however the local authorities continued their efforts to return them back”

1/4/16:

Greece, Chios: 100s of migrants break out of detention centre 

29/3/16:

Greece, Idomeni: refugees occupying railway tracks clash with cops trying to remove them The protestors reacted violently when police attempted to clear the tracks, throwing stones at police. A minor scuffle then ensued when the police officers detained a woman and put her into a patrol car, with the gathered refugees rushing the officers and pulling her out. Calm was restored a short while later in the Greece-FYROM no-man’s land, with the protesting refugees remaining on the tracks. They have now also set up a sound system so that they can keep those staying at the Idomeni camp informed”…Athens: report of anarchists helping refugees occupy private empty houses and a university building

27/3/16:

Greece, Idomeni: Afghanistan and Pakistani refugees try to break through border to Macedonia, but Iraqi and Syrian refugees help cops in preventing them doing so

29/2/16:

Greece/Macedonia:  Migrants tear down border fence, attack police, and are dispersed with tear gas

22/2/16

Greece, Idomeni: Afghan refugees ooccupy rail tracks against exclusion from neutral zone

14/1/16:

Greece (Lesvos): volunteers working to save stranded migrants arrested after saving a boat.

 More here https://www.facebook.com/yiannisbaboulias/posts/10207726570338360
“Syriza …is accepting European “help”. The first actions are to arrest volunteers in Chios and Lesvos with ridiculous charges (some were charged with trafficking, others with carrying small amounts of weed), close down infrastructure like soup kitchens and observatories for approaching boats to help those arriving and establish fast deportation routes back to Turkey, where a recent BBC report showed that refugees have been tortured. This breaks two promises: the first is that under Syriza, solidarity networks that essentially fill in the gaps for a semi-collapsed central government, would be allowed to operate unabated.The experiment was successful, but now it’s being curtailed. The second promise broken is that of the promotion of human rights and humane treatment of refugees. By agreeing to allow Frontex to operate as border police and with the tactical police cracking down on activists, Syriza is succumbing to turning Greece to an open air detention centre for refugees, and the country as a whole to a European borderland where a quasi-autonomous force (Frontex) operates with a hazy mandate. The final straw is the extension of the operation of detention camps in Greece, all of which have come under heavy criticism for the squalid conditions under which detainees live, until at least 2018. The government has vowed time and time again that they would be shut down. Now they won’t be.”

2/1/16:

Greece, Corinth: refugees riot, burn mattresses throw stones at guards, in resistance to their expulsion

1/1/16:

Chios: 100s of asylum-seekers break out of detention centre just days before possible deportation

25/11/15:

Greece, Athens: anarchists break into German ambassador’s home to protest European refugee policies

18/11/17:

Mytilini, Lesvos Island: SYRIZA’s offices attacked twice and banks vandalised

31/10/15:

Greece, border with Turkey: protesters demanding dismantling of  anti-refugee fence clash with cops 

29/10/15:

Conscripts from 50 units of the armed forces refuse to participate in anti-migrant operations ‘The Greek state and the army are part of the problem and not its solution. The SYRIZA-ANEL government continues the War on Terror, participates in imperialistic plans, targets “asymmetric threats” (immigrants, social movements), playing on the false distinction of “good” refugees from war – and “bad” economic migrants. The Armed Forces call on us, the conscripted soldiers alongside professionals and officers, to make war on the “enemy within”… We, the 16th Division in Evros, are on guard against migrants coming from Andrianopolis. We’re ordered to take part in Crowd Suppression Drills, as in Kos after the dramatic events in Kalymnos when the governor requested military aid to use weapons against hungry-thirsty-imprisoned immigrants. We guard the murderous fence which is the real reason of all the drownings in the Aegean. WE DON’T FIGHT, WE DO NOT SUPPRESS, WE DON’T HUNT DOWN MIGRANTS. We, the soldiers in struggle are against all this, against both their past and present crimes. We call for a mass movement, both inside and outside the Army…This statement, although released on 19th of this month, was only translated on the 27th, and I include it here to give such an exemplary action wider exposure. Any further info on the consequences and further developments of this move would be welcome. [SK]

SamFanto: Though  almost anywhere else conscripts making a statement like this is virtually unheard of, apparently this is not that unusual in Greece, which has a tradition of far leftists accepting being conscripted and forming some kind of opposition within the army; anarchists, however,  are far more likely to find ways of avoiding the army by having themselves declared mentally unstable or whatever.

A friend in Greece writes:

1. I don’t think that the conscripts are involved in a act of specific
insubordination with regard to specific orders to hunt down
immigrants, because the Greek army is not so much involved in policing
immigrants during the last years. This is the job of the coast guard
and FRONTEX. Before some years drafted soldiers were used for the
policing of land borders but since the building of the fence the flows
through the land border with Turkey are much lower.

However, the act of signing such a statement itself constitutes a
violation of the army law and in that sense it is a respectable act of
insubordination.

2. Anarchists with maybe a few individual exceptions are campaining
against military service as such and therefore do not attempt to
contact and agitate amongst military conscripts.

3. There is alternative community service but it lasts for 24 months
(or 18 I have to check the legislation changes) and nobody opts for
that. Most of the anarchists, as I told you in the phone, get examined
by psychiatrists friendly to the milieu and get false medical papers
with which they can avoid service after 3 examinations within a period
of 2-3 years.

4. There are also a significant number of anarchists (maybe 20, maybe
more) which made a policical statement of refusing the draft and face
legal persecution. For example, N. Maziotis started his political
trajectory in the milieu with such an act.

5. There is no social movement to resist the draft. There is a quite
big part of young people who avod the draft through the use of
psychiatric exams. Its completely unconnected with the crisis of the
recent years.

6. I believe that nobody wants to go to the army to avoid poverty and
unemployment. First of all, a conscript needs money to have a not
completely miserable life there. Money provided by the state is a joke
(something like 5 euros per month).

That’s all for now. I think that this act should not be taken out of
its proportions which are rather narrow.

6/9/15:

Greece, Lesbos: 3rd day of clashes between migrants and Syriza’s cops

4/9/15:

Greece, Lesbos: 200 migrants clash with cops

31/8/15:

Greece, Macedonian border: cops clash with protesting refugees

22/8/15:

Macedonia, Gevgelija (Greek border): 1000s of migrants manage to get through

21/8/15:

Macedonia, Gevegelija (Greek border): cops fire stun grenades at migrants trying to cross border; migrants throw rocks

13/8/15:

Greece, Kos: starving migrants tear-gassed by Syriza’s cops whilst being locked up in stadium without food and very little water during heatwave more here

10/8/15:

Greece, Kos: cops lock themselves in police station for fear of rioting migrants

7/3/15:

Greece, Corinth: cops fire tear gas as demonstrators break into refugee detention camp

Footnotes
 
1. “Critical approaches to national and international efforts to manage the flows of
poor migrants into advanced Western economies over recent decades have tended
to be premised on the notion of physical or geographical exclusion. Accordingly,
nation-states, transnational regions and even whole continents have been
described as striving to solidify their borders against migration from impoverished
or otherwise disadvantaged parts of the globe. This claim appears to contain a
significant element of truth when one considers, for instance, that irregular
migrants are often forced by border regimes to navigate risky border zones and,
indeed, that many of them die as a result. There is increasing recognition in the
literature on migration, however, that borders can be far more permeable than
usually assumed, and they are thus better described as points of variable intensity
than as strictly linear and rigid structures. A considerable number of scholars
working in this vein have sought to explain the permeability of borders from the
perspective of political economy, extending their focus beyond practical factors
that may undermine effective border control as such (e.g., extensive borderlands
or limited availability of financial resources) and, rather, privileging the role
played by governing elites inside nation-states in adopting policies and promoting
practices that essentially relax border controls so as to enable mass import of
exploitable migrant labour according to domestic market needs and dominant
political interests”. Leonidas K. Cheliotis, Punitive inclusion: The political
economy of irregular migration in the margins of Europe. This interesting analysis
shows how an exclusion approach to “irregular“ migration control can be wrong
since restrictions are imposed on outflows of migrants to secure an exploitable
workforce to serve labour market needs, as it has been the case with Greece. This
was made possible in various ways, trapping in a sense migrants within the country
to have a highly exploitable reserve pool of workforce. Ironically, however, the
analysis stops just before Syriza comes to power, thus, leaving it safely untouched,
while it is through Syriza that “refugees” are now trapped in the country, although
for quite different reasons…
 
2.http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-press-releases/-/3-04032016-AP
 
3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/11813485/
 Germany-expecting-up-to-800000-asylum-seekers-this-year.html
 
4. http://www.wildcat-www.de/en/wildcat/99/e_w99_migration.html
See also:
https://www.destatis.de/DE/PresseService/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2016/03/
PD16_105_12421.html;jsessionid=4AB21217731D387C3FF8C08B02F65565.cae4
https://www.destatis.de/DE/PresseService/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2016/09/
PD16_327_122.html
https://www.destatis.de/DE/PresseService/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2016/07/
PD16_246_12421.html
 
5. https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/publikationen/publikation/did/
zuwanderungsbedarf-aus-drittstaaten-in-deutschland-bis-2050/
The conclusion of this paper states bluntly that “in the next 36 years, an annual
average of between 276,000 and 491,000 people must arrive from third countries
if the potential labor force is to be held at a constant level. This strategy should
be applied in combination with an “activation” of the unemployed, longer working
hours and longer working lives…
 
6. http://www.zew.de/en/das-zew/aktuelles/der-beitrag-von-auslaendern-und-
kuenftiger-zuwanderung-zum-deutschen-staatshaushalt/?cHash=379d94a982c6ef93f253467caa34cd4b
 
7. http://www.wildcat-www.de/wildcat/99/w99_migration.html
 
8.Such an absorption may be slow though, however, it would not be wise to assume
that capitalists do not tend to make long-term planning. See, https://www.diw.de/
documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.519306.de/diw_econ_bull_2015-45-4.pdf
 
9. “Certain aspects of German asylum legislation have been made more restrictive
in recent months. The aim of these changes has been to dissuade people from
countries with low protection rates—those highly unlikely to have their claims
granted—from making the journey in the first place, and at the same time to
streamline the asylum process for those who are likely to be granted protection.
Recently implemented measures include simplifying the process by which rejected
asylum seekers are deported, suspending family reunification for those with
subsidiary protection (meaning that the person does not qualify for refugee
status, but it would be unsafe for them to return to their home country) and
expanding the list of safe countries of origin” .
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:KqKPtVuMroJ:www.bfna.org/
publication/germanys-response-to-the-refugee-situation-remarkable-leadership-or-
fait-accompli+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=gr
 
10. On January 27th 2016, the European Commission accused Greece of neglecting its
obligations under the Schengen agreement to carry out external border controls,
saying that a visit by EU inspectors in November 2015 found that Greece was failing
to identify and register arrivals properly, to fingerprint everyone, and to check
travel documents for authenticity and against security databases.
 
11. http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/
GreeceOperationalUpdate%238-29Nov-31Dec2015.pdf
 
12. On March 20th 2016, there came into effect the agreement between the EU and
Turkey to restore control on the migrant movements. As the deal outlined, migrants
arriving in Greece would be sent back to Turkey if they did not apply for asylum or
their claim was rejected. Any Syrian who was returned to Turkey would be replaced
by a Syrian resettled from Turkey to the EU, preferably the individuals who did not
try to enter the EU illegally in the past and not exceeding a maximum of 72,000
people. Turkish nationals would have access to the Schengen passport-free zone by
June 2016 but this would not include non-Schengen countries such as Britain. The
talks aiming at Turkey’s accession to the EU as a member would start in July 2016
and a promised $3.3 billion aid would speedily be delivered to Turkey. Under the
deal the EU would send around 2,300 experts, including security and migration
officials and translators to Greece who would help implement the deal.
 
13. According to the official data, while asylum seekers in Germany in 2015 reached
890,000, in 2016 their number fell to 280,000.
 
14. By the end of October 2016 about 700 persons had been forcibly returned to
Tu r k e y. A t  t h e  s a m e  t i m e, t h e  E U  C o m m i s s i o n  b l a m e s  t h e
G r e e k  s t a t e  f o r inefficiency, since this number accounts for “only” 4% of the total and none was ordered back after being recognized as a refugee.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-europe-migrants-greece-idUKKBN12W4DP?il=0
There was a slight increase in the number of deportations by the end of January
2017, raising the number of those migrants who have been returned to Turkey to
865, a number considered unacceptably “low” by the EU. Thus, plans for
drastically increasing the number of deportations and hardening the terms of
immigration management are under way.
See, https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2017/01/30/greece-plans-
to-fast-track-asylum-claims-to-save-e-u-turkey-deal
 
15. See http://www.eliamep.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2016.pdf
, p. 4 and http://asylo.gov.gr/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/
Greek_Asylum_Service_Statistical_Data_EN.pdf
 
16.On the islands and especially on Lesvos there were more than 200 NGOs
operating on the spot, ranging from small “citizens’ initiatives” to huge professional
organizations! The role of NGOs in general in managing immigrants’ needs
(reception, accommodation, catering and transportation) was promoted by the
state both for the privatization of some of its functions and for the de-
politicization of the causes of immigration. At the same time, NGOs get their core
funding from the UN.
 
17. http://infomobile.w2eu.net/2016/04/03/solidarity-structures-in-greece-
confronted-with-criminalization-control-and-diverse-obstacles/#more-3776.
At this site this differentiated strategy of the Greek state is condemned as
hypocritical and ungrateful: “These activists are now partly criminalized, while in
the same moment they are still asked to provide food for the open camps on the
Greek mainland when there is a lack of food even for those detained, what solidarity groups denied”!
 
18.In September 2016, after a three-day protest of refugees at Katsikas camp
near Ioannina demanding to be transferred to a sheltered place, the police detained
members of NGOs and volunteers for some time “recommending ” them not to
instigate refugees to revolt.
 
19. There are about 45 provisory mass refugee “official” camps all over mainland
Greece, most of which are tent camps, difficult to reach from cities/urban centres
and often ruled by the army.
 
20. http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/refugees-close-greek-
macedonian-railway-train-943462753

 

 
 

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