Press Conference of Solidarity Initiative for the 300 Immigrant hunger strikers 18/2

“We’re not afraid to die”

Immigrant hunger strike Hassan collapsed during the press conference. Dr.
Thanasis Karabelis, immediately confronting the hunger striker’s fainting
incident, then informed  supporters and journalists present. Hassan
sufferedhypoglycaemic shock and unconsciousness, accompanied by
convulsions, as a
result of extended hunger strike and long-term exposure to the cold. The
incident illustrates the extreme situation of the strikers who have been on
austere hunger strike for 25 days now, taking only water, sugar and salt.

Earlier, Hassan with a trembling voice had said: “As you well know, today is
the 25th day of our hunger strike. So far we have had no response from the
Government. No one has spoken. What is the Government waiting for? Is it
waiting for us to die? Then let it leave us to die peacefully. Death does
not frighten us, at least we have fought. We already have four people in the
hospital …

Thanasis Karabelas, a member of the medical team supporting the hunger
strikers, said that on this the 25th day the strikers were facing very
serious problems. Four people are hospitalized in Athens – one in
Efangelismos Hospital with a serious heart condition, and three people in
the General State Hospital of Nikaia with severe dehydration, including one
with symptoms of gastroenteritis, receiving treatment and antibiotics.

The occurrence of the immigrant hunger striker’s fainting today shows,
according to Mr. Karabelas, the hunger strikers’ dire situation  – which
will worsen the upcoming days. “The Government will shortly find itself
confronting a serious humanitarian catastrophe. They’re facing the hunger
strikers with superficiality, thinking that they can avoid the issue.”

Continuing, Thanasis Karabelas said: “The Government, despite presenting
itself as “the guardian of legitimacy” has chosen illegality. Immigrants are
presented as being ‘outlaws’ claiming legitimacy.” The restrictions faced by
illegal labor, which the immigrants’ struggle has placed in the spotlight,
is foreseen in the European Directive 52/2009, which must be incorporated
into national legislation.

He added: “The bomber Minister Loverdos’ bomb would be a joke if it were not
tragic. He should be ashamed. He’s been spreading false reports knowing full
well that no striker has flu.”

And in closing: “We urge the Government to intervene immediately to satisfy the
the hunger strikers’ demands, and to take all measures for their protection,
because a serious humanitarian catastrophe is imminent.”**

Peter Yiotis, of the Solidarity Initiative, made reference to the Prime
Minister’s hypocritical stance – who, as opposition leader in November 2008,
supported the 15 immigrant workers’ hunger strike in Chania and their demand
for legalization. “The Minister of the Interior continues to refuse to find
a solution, while the wave of support for the hunger strikers has become
enormous: from institutional members, to unions, hundreds of artists and
intellectuals, thousands of supporters in Greece and abroad.” “Mr. Ragousis
must intervene immediately. To lead the hunger strikers to hardships and
sufferings in hospitals is tantamount to mass torture.”

Finally, P. Yiotis called upon everyone to participate in the afternoon
gathering and  march at 6.00 pm from Mouseio to the Ministry of the Interior

Lastly, Hajj Abdul, also of Solidarity Initiative, said: “We are sending a
message to the Prime Minister, who has said that he was a cleaner in Sweden
and has experienced racism. It is time to intervene before it’s too late. So
that we not have any dead.”

Athens, 18th February 2011, 25th day of the hunger strike

Solidarity Initiative for the 300 Immigrant hunger strikers