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After 25 days of hunger strike the condition of immigrants is critical

18 February 2011 / 20:02:28  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

A press conference on the health condition of immigrants was held in Ipatiya building where the immigrants on hunger strike are housed. One of the starving immigrants named Hassan took the floor first. He was able to utter a few sentences and collapsed due to hypothermia and exhaustion. The same is the condition of most of the total of 300 immigrants in Athens and Thessaloniki after 25 days of hunger strike.

Even before the press conference Hassan, who was sitting in one of the chairs, began to tremble. Then one of the activists brought a quilt to cover him, but apparently the young man felt very bad.

"It's been 25 days and we still have no response from the government. We do not know what will happen from now on. Death does not scare us. Let us at least die calm that we have fought," managed to say Hassan before losing consciousness.

According to the doctor Thanassis Karambelis who helped him the immigrant was close to spasms.

After 25 days spent only with water, salt and sugar four strikers are already in hospital. One of them has severe heart disease, two have severe dehydration and one is with intestinal problems. "The health problems they had before the hunger strike had aggravated, heart arrhythmias and unconsciousness appeared in some of the strikers," the doctor said, adding that "the condition of strikers is critical and is at the extreme."

"Soon the government will face a serious humanitarian catastrophe. Ministers believe that by being frivolous towards the immigrants they will avoid their responsibility, but it will not happen," the doctor stressed several times.

He said immigrants who held a hunger strike at the peril of their lives presented in a vivid manner the problem of illegal employment in Greece.

"There is a way out of the situation and with dignity, Mr. Papandreou" said the doctor, and proposed the EU Directive 52/2009, which "prohibits illegal labour" to be included in the Greek law and implemented.

"We call on the government and the Prime Minister in person to implement the Directive and to take all measures to protect the life and health of immigrants, because he will face his responsibility and humanitarian catastrophe very soon, much sooner than expected. And that was not supposed to happen in our country."

Until now, the immigrants and the members of the Solidarity initiative that support them have no contacts with any government body. "The competent ministries show a complete indifference to the existence of the Directive that satisfies the immigrants’ requests," said Thanasis Karambelis.

Petros Yotis from the Solidarity initiative read excerpts from the statements of the today’s Prime Minister made in 2008 on occasion of the hunger strike held by 15 immigrants on the island of Crete. Then George Papandreou declared his support to the strikers and the text is titled "Solidarity to the immigrants’s ongoing hunger strike in Hania."

On behalf of the strikers Haji Abdul from the Forum of Immigrants in Crete recalled George Papandreou words that he worked as a cleaner when he was a student in Sweden in order to make his living. "He felt  racism on his back. Now that he is the highest-ranking politician in the country let him not allow people here to die, but to satisfy their demands before it is too late. The government should not wait for the first victim to speak at the body."

A procession will be held from the National Museum to the Interior Ministry and back at 6:00 pm with a request to satisfy the demands of the immigrants on strike.

Tags: SocietyImmigrantsHunger strike
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