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Starving immigrants will stop drinking even tea

09 February 2011 / 13:02:48  GRReporter
4224 reads

Marina Nikolova

Starving immigrants have announced that from today they would stop drinking tea and would take only water, salt and sugar. This is the fifteenth day of their hunger strike and they are determined to sacrifice their lives but to continue the strike until their demand for legalization of immigrants is met. Haji Abdul from the forum of immigrants in Crete said they were weak, some had sore throat and cough, but in general the spirits were high.

Today the weather is sunny and warm but there was a heavy rain in Athens few days ago and the immigrants who sleep in tents in the yard of the building they were offered walked in knee-deep waters. 104 people sleep in large tents stretched in front of Megar Ipatiya that hosted them for 15 days initially. According to the agreement between the Dean of the University of Athens and the owner of the building on Patisia Avenue, the immigrants are allowed to stay there for two weeks but they said they would not move again to another place and would stay there to the end of the strike.
There will be a concert tomorrow in support of the 300 immigrants from Crete who went on hunger strike two weeks ago. It will be held in front of the Archaeological Museum and Fivos Delivoryas, Alkinoos Ioannidis and the band Ipogia Reumah will play. Moreover, Friday was declared an international day in support of striking immigrants and various events will be held across Europe. In Athens there will be a demonstration that will begin at 6 pm in front of the Archaeological Museum and will go to the Parliament.

The more days go by, the more immigrants get exhausted. According to Haji Abdul, no death should be allowed because it would be terrible. Many organizations and immigrant associations – all Albanian organizations, the Philippine association Kasapi, the Kurds unions, the union of Egyptians, the Moroccan community – support the strikers. Representatives of the unions supporting the cause of the striking immigrants spoke at a press conference held in the courtyard of Megar Ipatiya. Konstantina Kuneva had to attend but she did not come because of acute health problems and sent a letter expressing her support.

"The root of life lies in tenderness and compassion ... I am sending my greetings to all and especially to the 300 fellows on hunger strike. In my opinion they should insist on legalization. There must be found a way to be credited the days they worked and which they can not prove. There should be legislation and tighter controls on employers, because due to the crisis more workers have no insurance, regardless of their origin... These people’s living in Greece means that they have income to live on. They are neither thieves, nor criminals, nor do they want to do wrong. They want the normal conditions to continue to live legally and with dignity. There must be found a way to prove that they work," said the letter Konstantina Kuneva sent.

A representative of the strikers told everyone that no one could command the immigrants - neither organizations, nor unions, and that they themselves take the decisions. His statement was based on the recently forwarded prosecutor’s call  for five members of the forum of immigrants from Crete who were accused of human trafficking because they had helped them to arrive in Athens from Chania.

"It is assumed we are legal but the government keeps us in hostage. Years ago there were 500,000 residence permits to immigrants, but now they are not more than 200,000. You are required to earn 800 euros a month and be insured enough but it is more difficult to find work in the crisis. So, the people can not retain their documents. We will support the strikers until they change the government policy," said Azak Chiku from the cultural centre of Kurdistan. "We are the like. All immigrants living in Greece have gone through the same difficulties. The government should negotiate with the immigrants’ communities not with each other, because the immigrants have problems, not the ministers. We should solve the problems together."

"We can not talk about immigrants like they were criminals or people with no future," said Hepines of CWI, also in support of the strikers. "Many people can no longer pay their rents. We, the immigrants and the Greeks, are in the same boat. There are no differences between us. There is nothing certain about tomorrow. I’ve been here over 20 years. I should retire after 15 years and I have no own property. Six years ago the minister made us leave the markets by virtue of law but it is written in our residence and work permits that we are traders. Every year I should present to the police an evidence of revenues of € 15,000 because I have four children. Can you tell me how many Greeks have such annual income?"

Tags: NewsSocietyImmigrantsHunger strike
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