Saturday, July 26, 2008


I originally saw this notice on the A-Infos website, but it comes originally from the website of the No Borders Patras (which has an English section). Patras is a rather cosmopolitan city in the northern Peloponnese, on the Gulf of Corinth. It is the "homebase" of the Greek platformist organization. It is also a crossing point for many migrants who transit through Greece- or end up staying. Patras is the site of a refugee camp where conditions are appalling, and the authorities are determined to make them worse..

Here's the callout for an event at the end of August that will protest the borders, both internal and external that restrict freedom of movement in our world. The following has been slightly edited for reasons of English grammar and spelling.


Greece, Call out for No borders* Patras 2008, August 29-31:

Year 2008 and the administrators of the worldwide authority wage wars and spread exploitation in order to further spread their sovereignty. One of these war conflicts is in Afghanistan, where the western powers, including the Greek state, and leaded by the USA, invaded in the name of the “war against terrorism” and they still fight this so called “humanitarian” war seeking to dominate the region on all levels. When the first bombs fell on Afghanistan Greek society was demonstrating against the war, but today when the repercussions of war reach our region most of the people are hypocritically closing their eyes in front of these repercussions.

One of these repercussions is the situation in the city of Patras. Refugees from Afghanistan and other Arabian countries come to this city-gate of Europe with the expectation to travel further into Europe, and for some of them who might be lucky to acquire papers to stay in Greece. But they live in a climate of terror and violence by the authorities. They leave their countries because of the war which destroys everything or they leave in order to escape from the religious fundamentalism of the Taliban. They live and travel with the hope to establish in Europe a new life, a life more dignified and free from the one they left behind. However even here they suffer a different expression of the same war, as they are “illegal”, without papers, and they are not allowed to move freely. They live in the outskirts of society and actually they are deprived the recognition of their right to existence.

In Patras, the Afghan refugees reside in an ad-hoc settlement which is besieged by the police. The settlement is located in the eastern part of the city near the port and it is blockaded by the police in order that nobody can exit freely from it. The population reaches approximately 1000 young men and during the summer a lot more. This spatially small community has existed in Patras for the last 13 years, when it was originally built by Kurds of Iraq. The refugees are stacked in ad-hoc lodgings, which they construct with scrap materials. The hygienic conditions are non-existent as they are not allowed to have water, electricity or even toilets. As if this was not enough, since January 2008 they have experienced a blockade because of a decision by the authorities that forbids them to move in the city and especially around the port. So the police have surrounded the settlement on a permanent basis and whoever attempts to exit its borders is beaten, arrested, or even kidnapped and deported.

The majority of the local society is indifferent; they pretend that they do not see the crime committed in Patras, they continue to live their lives without speaking for or against the situation. Nevertheless a small portion of the citizens has allied with local businessmen asking for the destruction of the settlement and the displacement of the refugees. In the same context the authorities of the municipality and the prefecture together with the local mass media, refuse to look into the matter and they even try to prevent any kind of material help. On the other hand, organizations of the antiauthoritarian space and the left space have formed a solidarity front and they accomplished a prevention of a planned police operation, which aimed to the demolition of the settlement, by organizing two big marches with all the refugees in the city center (January – February 2008), and, furthermore, they support the immigrants by material, legal, and medical aid on an everyday basis. An example of this is the installation of a water network inside the refugees' camp during the preparatory meeting of May 2008 and its legalization by the solidarity movement.

But as the matter remains open, with a hot summer in hand and the police besiegement in full effect, a multiform and dynamic action is more than necessary. A continuous social and politically activity that will communicate the problems and the demands more widely, that will bring the Greeks closer to the refugees, so as to reach its peak with an event that will force society to open her eyes and decide at last to take an active position.

We call for No Border Patras from the 29th until the 31st of August 2008. The importance of such a No Border has a double meaning, since the city of Patras faces both internal and external borders. Internal borders in the forbidden zone of the port, which in the name of security excludes the city from its access to the life-giving factor of the sea; internal borders that have enclosed the refugees inside the settlement. On the other hand we face the national borders, which forbid refugees form entering the port or traveling to another European country.

Some of the objectives of No Border Patras are through a series of events, discussions, and direct actions to bring an end in the multidimensional violence that is practiced on the refugees and to make the voice of the refugees to be heard as widely as possible.

Our speech and action of an essential solidarity must listen to the demands of the refugees and transform them into a spearhead for a free and dignified life for everyone. No Border Patras can constitute a place of freedom against any kind of borders and against the monodimensional beliefs, so as to create a wide and solid front that will deconstruct the EU anti-immigrant policies aiming the transformation of Europe into a fortress and a world divided according to the interests of the sovereigns.

* No-one is illegal

* Asylum for everyone

* Against internal, national and supernational borders

* Freedom of movement

*Against the police blockade of the refugee settlement

*Against the arrests, the kidnappings and the beatings

* Abolition of the Return Directive and all the international anti-immigrant agreements.

* Reclaim the public space of the port by Patras' society

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