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December 12, 2013
December 12, 2013

18 December 2013: European Day For Action Against Detention Centers

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18 December 2013: European Day For Action Against Detention Centers


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In 21st century Greece, an operation has been set into motion whose aim is to terrorize, torture and humiliate thousands of people, while insulting us all: refugees are being held in concentration camps. This is about real storehouses for human beings, located all over eastern continental Greece, on the Greek islands and even in Athens and Corinth. The only “offence” committed by the thousands crammed into these spaces is that they are here without papers – no matter if they come from war-torn Syria, occupied Palestine or African countries ravaged by extreme poverty. The Greek state is violating both European treaties and its own constitution, without showing a trace of humanity or sensitivity when it sentences thousands of immigrants (including minors, people who require medical assistance and torture victims) to an 18-month imprisonment in the most deplorable conditions: no yard time, a complete lack of hygiene, inadequate food and medical care, no communication with friends and family. The goal is to discourage new immigrants from entering Greece. The Greek state has the arrogance to describe immigrants as a “health time-bomb”, while dismantling the public health sector and ignoring the inhumane conditions of the refugee detention centers, thus putting the health of both Greeks and immigrants at great risk.

Although the EU allocates funds for detention centers, the Greek state either does not use them, or uses them to finance the oppression of economic and political refugees. The disgrace only gets worse if we consider that the vast majority of detainees in concentration camps cannot be deported, making their imprisonment nothing but a punishment for having tried to escape war and extreme poverty. This is the epitome of hospitality! (Police “sweep” operations have been named “Operation Xenios Zeus”, after the ancient Greek god of hospitality.) “Greece is no longer an open door when it comes to immigration”, the Minister of Public Order has announced. The Greek government, though, has opened the country’s doors wide to the Troika and to local or foreign capital, which are responsible for the memoranda that have impoverished millions of Greeks and immigrants and have created zones of absolute social degradation within Greece.

At the same time, we are observing European leaders trying to transform Europe into a huge fortress. Europe first devastated whole continents, through financial plundering and imperialist wars, and is now building walls to protect itself from its own victims. This policy causes more and more “Lampedusa” incidents, increasing the misery of hundreds of thousands of people who are simply looking for a place in the sun. The incidents near Lampedusa, near the Greek island Leukada, the people who die on a daily basis in the Ionian, the Aegean and the Mediterranean are parts of the same immigration policy implemented all over Southern Europe. It is a policy based on fortified states and the exclusion of immigrants.

Faced with this brutality, we have taken the initiative to organize a nationwide campaign against detention centers and detention in police cells, where the same appalling conditions are found. The campaign is open to any collective and to any individual willing to resist to the illegitimacy of concentration camps and European and Greek immigration policies. It is a long-term campaign and we are well aware of the fact that its main goal (the closure of detention centers) will not be achieved without struggle and persistence. The campaign is meant to cover many levels both in institutions and within the movements. We discuss and plan our actions every Thursday at 20.00 at the “Steki Metanaston” (13 Tsamadou, Exarchia, Athens).

Our goal is to make Greek society aware of the issue of detention centers in many ways and through different interventions, such as protesting in police stations (e.g. in Omonia) and concentration camps (e.g. in Amugdaleza and Corinth), using the institutions and spreading the word through the internet. Our first goal is a big demonstration on December 18th in the centre of Athens, for the International Migrants Day. On that day we are going to condemn the government’s immigration policy and demand, together with the immigrants, what is self-evident.

Enough with the disgrace of concentration camps and of the thousands of immigrants detained in police station cells all over the country under even more deplorable conditions. None of our social problems has been solved by imprisoning those people (who actually believes that immigrants are responsible for mass unemployment, the dismantling of the public sector and the hundreds of thousands of dismissals?): on the contrary, lives are being destroyed, racism is increasing, immigrant-exploitation rings are gaining power and corrupting Greek people, while any idea of democracy is being dishonoured.

Let’s fight, by extending the open initiatives that already exist in many cities to all of Greece, so as to give medical and legal organizations free access to detention centers, to free all immigrants without papers and to get travel documents for all refugees who want to move to the west.

  • Open reception centers for immigrants and refugees
  • Asylum for all refugees
  • Regularization of immigrants who live and work in Greece

EVERYONE in Omonia Square on Wednesday, 18th December, at 17.00!


Open Initiative Against Detention Centers

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