On Thursday, the 27th of January, the 237 migrant workers who were staying at an unheated, empty and unused part of the Faculty of Law at the University of Athens, still under restorative construction, were ordered to leave the place. They had started a hunger strike two days before, on Tuesday the 25th, demanding the legalization of all migrants in Greece, and had made the place of the hunger strike known days before beginning their fasting struggle, both to the University rector and the student union.
From 5pm onwards, dozens of special force police units blocked all access to the building of the Law School where the migrants were staying, with three consecutive rows of fully armed guards. Under Greek law, and due to a tradition of struggles, university premises enjoy ‘asylum’ and are off limits to police unless they are specifically invited by university authorities or when a serious crime is being committed. Here, the serious crime was sleeping in a building site and risking one’s own life for the right everyone deserves – the right to be recognized as an existing person, to live and work like everybody else.
In other words, after an orgy of orchestrated media propaganda the day before, that disclosed the fact that the migrants are on a hunger strike and emphasized their illegal status, on Thursday the university asylum was abolished in order to address the serious crime of dignity. (The university rector obviously chose the side of the reactionary bloc of fascists, the media and the government.) Then the torture of the hunger strikers began. Two Attorney Generals escorted by police who had entered the Law School, told representatives of the hunger strikers that all strikers should leave immediately and be transferred in police vans to another private building designated by the government. While the hunger strikers felt deeply offended, and had not imagined that anyone would dare move them around in the condition they were in, they held firm to their terms for leaving the building: They asked for the riot police to let the gathered demonstrators approach the building, so that the strikers join the solidarity demo and lead it towards the new location.
It looks like the Greek police and politicians’ CIA training and seminars on exhausting the opponent are paying off. For nine hours the strikers were being threatened, they were offered lies, fake deals and promises the authorities kept breaking, a ‘negotiation technique’ that aimed at prolonging the process for as long as possible, so that the solidarity demo would disperse and the strikers become more disheartened. One hunger striker tried to kill himself by jumping off the building and was stopped by his comrades. The pressure was enormous, and most strikers did not know exactly what was going on.
The strikers were finally left to exit the Law School building with a solidarity group in the small hours of the night. Even after all this suffering, they carried their bags and blankets with their heads held high, and marched briskly the empty streets of Athens shouting slogans of victory. The sleepless migrants were taken to some mansion, owned by a businessman who is a friend of the minister of education and other MPs. All eight rooms of the mansion were locked. The heating was off and the building was freezing. The toilets were inoperative and filled with luxury furniture that had been removed from the corridors. There was no water. Around half of the hunger strikers were allowed to lie on the floor of the corridors and the rest were left outside on the lawn in front of the building. At 6 o’clock in the morning of a particularly cold day, it started raining. 80 hunger strikers that had been left outside to rest under the winter sky, were transferred, by a small solidarity group that was staying with them for protection, to a social centre nearby.
on Thursday, the 27th of January
-237 hunger strikers were terrorized by special police forces with bullet-proof vests and heavy weapons
-237 hunger strikers had to endure 9 hours of meaningless negotiations
-80 hunger strikers were left sleepless in a yard for a whole night in cold and rainy weather, 157 were amassed in the corridors of the first floor of a businessman’s mansion with no toilets or water
The actions of the Greek government and the police, with the help of the media, transgressed every moral law. They showed no respect to the university asylum, but, most importantly, they showed no respect to the sacred figure of the hunger striker, who, in claiming life and dignity, only has his own life and dignity to offer.
Open Initiative of Solidarity to the 300 Migrant Hunger Strikers – Thessaloniki