Athens: Police crackdown on migrant street vendors and people in solidarity at ASOEE faculty on April 8th, 2014

Antifa banner in Thissio (Athens, 12/4): “Solidarity with the migrant street vendors of ASOEE”

In the last month, the police have unleashed a show of force at the Athens University of Economics and Business, more commonly known as ASOEE (on Patission Street). Every day, all kinds of cops are deployed around the faculty aiming to intimidate us and make us stop selling items on the pavement in front of ASOEE. With the municipal elections approaching, the various candidates are trying to prove who among them will be the most effective in “restoring the order in the city centre” of Athens, who will be tougher against us, the immigrants, who will be harsher against the students and those who struggle everyday standing next to us.

On the 8th of April, the police once again encircled ASOEE’s building. At approximately 11am, a group of twenty with identical appearance and objects in their hands assaulted street vendors, and unsuccessfully attempted to block the entrance to the faculty. A few minutes later, cops stormed the area. At 3.30pm the scene was repeated. This time nearly 40 guys (plainclothes cops and some of the previous group) unleashed another attack, and 2-3 of them blocked the entrance gate to the building. Simultaneously, alongside anti-riots squadrons, DELTA motorcycle police teams drove down surrounding alleys and started to chase, beat and arrest people at random. One male student and twelve immigrants were thus brought to police station. The same afternoon the students association called for an assembly, in which a lot of other people in solidarity participated, and decided to march toward the Kypseli police department where the arrestees were being held. The demonstration was halted by the police; shortly afterwards, a protest gathering took place in Amerikis Square. The next day the arrestees were brought to court on charges of resisting authority, simple assault causing bodily harm, and illegal trade. At the same time, cops invaded houses of the arrested persons without the presence of public prosecutor, but they didn’t find anything of interest. The trial was postponed for the 23rd of April; the student was released, but the twelve immigrants are still being held by decision of the police.

Cops have activated a series of racist administrative laws (presidential decree 113/2013, law 3386/2005), and deemed the arrested immigrants as “dangerous to public order and security.” These are legal provisions under which the police, regardless of the formal decision made by a court, have the power to decide upon detention of any immigrant, even those who have papers. In practice this enables the police to confiscate documents of detained immigrants, to incarcerate them for eighteen months in a concentration camp, and to order their deportation. In other words, the police have the authority to capture immigrants, charge them with anything they want (besides, it’s what they do best…), and thus decide that their arrest makes them “a danger to public order or security of the country,” and allege that there are grounds for their detention and deportation. In case of appeal in the first instance against this decision, the competent authority to issue a decision is once again the police. The last legal option available to detained immigrants is to appeal to an administrative court, where the chances of vindication are virtually non-existent — the judges examine the files by a fast-track procedure (literally a 5-minute proceeding), simply ratifying any prior decision of the police. These provisions were recently used in the case of four immigrants that were arrested in police operation at ASOEE on the 22nd of October 2013, and in the case of one of the eleven arrestees in Victoria Square (downtown Athens) during flyposting against detention centres on the 28th of December 2013.

When we left different countries behind, we believed that we would at least continue to live in freedom. But we have lost our freedom ever since we arrived in Greece, even if migrating to Greece meant that we had to risk losing our lives at sea — like those who drowned off the coast of Farmakonisi Island or, more recently, off the coast of Lesvos island. So when we came here, we found ourselves in a type of prison, a prison without walls. They slander us using racist campaigns of misinformation. According to the media, we are nothing but thieves, murderers, and carriers of diseases. By implementing racist and outdated laws they don’t allow us to work. Cops, fascists and racists hunt us in the streets. And this doesn’t happen only around ASOEE; same is the situation in Monastiraki, Thissio, Omonoia, in all of our neighbourhoods. We live everyday under the threat of imprisonment, either in a police station or in a detention centre. And the detention term is ever growing: in the beginning the period of incarceration was three months, then six, nine, currently eighteen months, and from now on detention can be indefinite (if one refuses cooperation for “voluntary departure from the country”).

And now, by constantly unleashing police operations outside the faculty, they forbid us to sell things on the street, which has been the only way for us to survive. It has been the only way to earn some money, to pay our rent, the water and electricity bills, and to buy some food. What we really wish is to be able to live with dignity by the sweat of our face.

Without papers, we can’t work, we can’t even go outside of our homes, we can’t integrate into society, and we have no access to medical care — why don’t they just burn us alive, then?

We are not thieves, murderers, or rapists. We hear everywhere that the Third World countries are un-civilized. However, in those countries there’s no such hate-frenzy against foreigners, or so many detention centers, or so many border fences, or so many drown by the coast guard police. Greece doesn’t seem to understand that we, the immigrants, are not a problem. We want a world without discriminations, without injustice, without racism, without rich or poor. Every day, we face survival anxiety, police brutality, and the violence of bosses — we are not a problem; but we can become one.

Everyone to Evelpidon courts on Wednesday the 23rd of April 2014 at 12pm
Freedom for the arrestees
Not a single immigrant in detention camps

Communities of struggle by locals and immigrants in ASOEE and everywhere

Assembly of immigrants and solidarians of ASOEE
Every Thursday at 20:00

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