January 23rd, 2012
The old factory of Peiraiki–Patraiki (Greece’s former largest textile producer) is a huge area of abandoned buildings right across from the last entrance/exit of the new port of Patras. In the last several months a few hundred migrants from Afghanistan, Sudan and some others from Algeria, Somalia and Morocco have started to live in this area. It’s precarious ‘housing’ for the people who seek an exit from Greece daily, through the port, to a new life.
It is not only a daily dream and aspiration to leave, though, but also a constant struggle to survive; a daily fight with all that it entails. Trucks run over migrants killing them, and migrants die inside of trucks looking for shelter, or even die from cold; they face the elements and some freeze to death. Then there are always the port police, who beat them, torture and humiliate them.
The last 20 days, during the Christmas holidays, we stood next to the migrants after repeated incidents, which sum up the conditions of misery and barbarity reserved for their life in Patras, as a border, as a passage for their transit to Europe. To be more specific:
20-12/2011: A 27-year-old Afghan seriously injured his head after he jumped from the second floor of a building in a construction site in his effort to avoid the cops that were chasing him in Rio (area of the city of Patras). The same cops, despite the fact that they saw his fall, left the 27-year-old where he was, laying injured. After a while some residents from the area called an ambulance. At the hospital doctors denied him care (because he did not have documents). When they realized he had internal bleeding in his brain, they operated. After the operation he remained sedated for 15 days. Today he is in the neurological clinic of the general hospital of Patras in a stable condition.
23-12/2011: Migrants living in Peiraiki–Patraiki made a demonstration to the city centre and back, with the support of people showing solidarity, to protest about the incident with the 27-year-old and their general living conditions.
27-12/2011: Two juvenile Afghan migrants, who had been missing from the previous day, returned to the old redundant factory with head and leg injuries after they were seriously beaten by the coast guard inside the new port.
3-1/2012: Three migrants (between the ages of 15 and 19), who had just arrived at Peiraiki–Patraiki and hadn’t managed to find a place to settle, found shelter in the cabin of an abandoned truck inside the factory. They made a small fire in a metal box to keep warm, but were stuck inside the vehicle. This resulted in one of them dying from a lack of oxygen and the other two going to hospital with serious health problems. The local media totally distorted the incident and said that the migrant was found dead in the area of the port, inside a truck that had Italy as its final destination.
4-1/2012: The day after the death inside the truck, about 10 fuckers from DIAS (motorcycle cops division) entered the factory at dawn. They woke those sleeping there with kicks, proceeded to tear and burn their papers, stealing their money and mobile phones, and insulting and humiliating them.
5-1/2012: Police forces raided the old redundant factory and arrested more than 50 migrants, then gathered and burnt their possessions with the assistance of OLPA S.A. (Port Authority of Patras–OLPA, the organization that manages the port of Patras) and probably with the aid of the Municipality of Patras, too. Specifically, they gathered clothes, shoes, blankets and anything else they could find that belonged to the migrants into piles, to throw into the fire or the garbage.
According to police accounts, 25 of those arrested were released and the others were transferred to detention facilities in regional police departments (in Pyrgos, Aigio, etc.). While the fire burned in the three different places the cops had started them, destroying the migrants belongings, people from OLPA sealed the factory to make it difficult for the migrants to remain.
After the arrival of people in solidarity with migrants to the area, the cops left. The fire brigade arrived 2–3 hours later. That afternoon, anarchists, anti-authoritarians and others in solidarity made a demonstration in the centre of Patras as a first response to the oppression operation against migrants.
To us it is very important to point out the special roles that OLPA, the police, the coast guard and the corporate media play in the repressive operations against the migrants of Peiraiki–Patraiki. We would like to begin with OLPA, the owner of this site that uses the excuse of future money-making in the factory area to justify anti-migrant pogroms. OLPA bears political responsibility for the events of January 5th, as well as any other operation that might happen in the future in this specific area. For this organization, the port is a red zone and a border of the Europe fortress that must be guarded with intensive checks (by security guards and port policemen), so that the port of Patras does not fail to have the image of a modern European port. As a result, they stand against the presence of migrants either inside the port or inside the buildings of Peiraiki–Patraiki, since their presence close to the entrance affects both the credibility of transporting passengers and goods, and its image as a potential tourist area. The objective for OLPA is to make migrants appear to disappear from this area. This can be achieved through the collaboration of coast guard and police, who are responsible for years of humiliation, beatings, torture and deaths of migrants.
The way the law enforcement mechanisms work has been widely known for years now. At the same time they participate in migrant trafficking for a fee, they pretend to fulfill their institutional role of order and legality. With typical mafia tactics, they let some of them pass whenever this is favourable for their trafficking arrangements, while seriously beating migrants whenever they don’t follow the ‘proper’ way to enter the harbour. For us, their institutional role and their mafia role are two sides of the same coin. They confirm their existence as an institution that perpetuates the terms of oppression and exploitation. Basically, this is what they do whenever they beat migrants, attack whomever resists, while they protect the bosses and their structures. This is also exactly what they do when they torture migrants, when they force migrants’ heads into the freezing sea, when they steal their cash and mobile phones, when they curse their country and their god, when they burn their shoes, clothes and blankets…
Of course we should never forget the mass media in all of this. From the death of the migrant inside the truck from lack of oxygen in his effort to get warm, until the pogrom that took place on January 5th, the mass media withheld the facts or distorted them. They are the same institutions whose rhetoric rests on their effort to create a society based on fear of migrants and proposes more policing as the solution. While trying to morally legitimize their speech, every now and then they recall the awful living conditions and the ‘tragedy of these people’ in order to dress the work of repressive mechanisms in a humanitarian cloak.
We stand in solidarity with migrants, not as coming from a position of charity, but from recognizing that in a society structured in classes, complete with authoritarian relations, the only choice for those from below is to create communities of struggle, without hierarchy and national divisions. In our eyes, the enemy is not migration but wars, economic plunder, the bleeding of whole countries and people, and finally capitalism —meaning, all that cause the migration…
COPS, COAST GUARD, PORT AUTHORITY, MASS MEDIA,
WE’LL ALWAYS STAND AGAINST YOU.
HANDS OFF MIGRANTS! SOLIDARITY IS OUR WEAPON!
collective undertaking of speech and action Perasma (Passage)
from the occupied Maragopouleio, 102, Gounari Street, Patras