Notes on the press conference 24/2/2011

February 24, 31st day of the hunger strike

The press conference was opened by Euclidis Tsakalotos, an economist from

the University of Athens, who said:

«I think that in a situation such as this, intellectuals have a duty to give

voice to those who have no voice. It saddens me that at my university we

didn’t give asylum to the immigrants – to those who only want to have their

voices heard. Secondly, intellectuals have an obligation to highlight the

hypocrisy of establishment words, the words of those who govern us, of the

elite and ruling classes. The hypocrisy is that they use immigrants in their

homes, for their children and elderly, in their vineyards and factories.

Their hypocrisy, dressing its selfishness in the clothing of virtue,

maintains that they’re acting for the «good of the country».

Thirdly, intellectuals have an obligation to stand with the underprivileged

– in person, not merely with their articles but also with their presence at

events here in this place. To highlight that the battle of immigrants is our

own, a battle of people who are guided by different values: the values of

solidarity, dignity and comradeship.»

Kostas Douzinas, Deputy Dean and Director of The Birkbeck Institute for the

Humanities, University of London, said: «It is a great honor to be here

before 250 immigrants on hunger strike, unworthy before them.» «To act

contrary to the instinct of self-preservation, the instinct which says that

to eat, survive and live a normal life is the heart of what is called

freedom, the free man. To undertake a hunger strike means that you’re

bearing witness. You’re bearing witness in the sense of testimony. You’re

testifying that there is a higher good than the highest value of life. You

bear witness too in the sense of sacrifice, of sufricium, of sacer facere,

in other words that we’re doing something sacred, we are made sacred. The

hunger strikers bear witness on a personal level, the earthly with the

infinite, with the virtue of dignity. According to Kant, dignity is found

only in humankind, everything else has a price.

Secondly, there is the meaning of justice – of justice that many times is

not served by the law, becoming law-lawlessness. And this lawless law is

summoned by justice to the law courts of history.

Thirdly, there is humankind. We are told by teachers and books, advocates

tell us – that human rights are given us, they belong to us because we’re

human, not because we’re citizens, not because we’re individuals, not

because we’re Greeks. These people, expressing dignity, don’t have political

and civil liberties, they don’t have human rights. The law that negates them

is a lawless law. »

*In closing, Kostas Douzinas addressed the Secretary for Immigration Mr.

Andreas Takis who, in the past, had translated his works. «At that time we

talked about these issues, about Law, Justice, Human Rights. It is your

obligation, Andreas Takis, in keeping with your history and quality to bring

a solution, otherwise you must resign.

There is a general principle that everyone must follow: Anyone who lives in

a place must have the same rights as everyone else. »

*

«The free, witnesses, people, giving us the essence of freedom, going

against nature, are the only humans, the last humans, according to Hegel.

This focus would be a great blessing if it really infected Greek society,

the rest of the Greeks, with dignity, sacrifice, and freedom.»

The writer Vassilis Alexakis said: «The immigrants here have reminded us

that we are a country of immigrants. Their story is the life story of Greeks

who emigrated in the early 20th century to America, Australia and elsewhere.

These people bear witness to our own history. We have written and sung

countless songs about the pain of expatriation, and we forget that we as

immigrants have confronted the difficulties. The immigrants here remind me

of my own history because I have lived through some of their anguish – when

I was asked for a residence permit so I could get a job, and a work permit

in order to get a residence permit – and they lead me from the police to the

Ministry and back again.

«The problem is general, and many hide behind them so as to do nothing. They

remind one of the avaricious ladies of Kolonaki who don’t give money to

beggars because at the next corner there will be another. So let us solve

this problem at least. » «Finally, I want to say something of despair. I’m

afraid lest someone die, their situation is desperate. It is a great shame

upon the Greek Government to let the immigrants die at our door.»

Finally, member of Solidarity Initiative, Petros Yiotis, answered questions.

Regarding Mr. Ragkousis’ proposal to provide six-month residence permits

with State ‘tolerance’ towards the hunger strikers, he said:

The existing legal framework allows the Government to meet the primary and

urgent demands of the hunger strikers and a large part of Greek society,

namely their legalization. The immigrants were already aware of the leaks by

Mrs. Dalara – which Mr.Ragkousis formally announced today. They have not

spent a month on hunger strike in order to get the State equivalent of a  pink

card – which they could get with two photos and a fee.

Today we face a humanitarian disaster, and Mr. Ragkousis has not given

answer to this. Apart from everything else appended, the Government wishes

to remain in modern Greek history as the Government of assassins.

Regarding the prosecution of members of Solidarity Initiative as well as the

hunger strikers themselves, he stated:

«The ridiculous felonious charge of smuggling immigrants was dropped. The

rest of the charges are untenable, groundless and intended to terrorize the

hunger strikers. They talk about damage inflicted at the Law School – where

there was not even an ink mark on the walls. They talk about the violation

of domestic asylum, – when a unanimous decision of the Board of the Law

Students Association had invited the immigrants to hold their hunger strike

in the empty building».

In closing, he directed himself to journalists: «Mr. Ragkousis has asked

journalists to transform into little parrots – to help hunger strikers and

their supporters to comprehend that what he says is correct.

Mr. Ragousis treats the hunger strikers as a bunch of spineless creatures

whom any journalist can mislead. I know that as of today they will play the

dirty law game using other terms and other content. I appeal to anyone who

wants to be called a journalist to resist this game.»

Athens, February 24, 31st day of the hunger strike

Solidarity Initiative

Ο Αλέν Κριβίν κοντά στους 300 μετανάστες απεργούς πείνας

Επίσκεψη του Αλέν Κριβίν στους μετανάστες απεργούς πείνας Συνεχίστε την ανάγνωση Ο Αλέν Κριβίν κοντά στους 300 μετανάστες απεργούς πείνας