Greek right-wing government attacks civil liberties


This video says about itself:

Protesters denounce criminal negligence of the Greek Coast Guard during recent migrant boat sinking off Agathonisi in which sixteen people lost their lives. On 16 March sixteen people, including at least five children, drowned when the small boat they on capsized in the Aegean Sea. The only three survivors raise serious allegations against the authorities. Relatives of those lost at sea- including an Afghan mother who lost her two sons gather at Syntagma square in Athens to protest and demand responsibilities about the incident, as the Greek Coast Guard ignored the emergency calls.

Athens, Greece, 04 April 2018.

From the Dawn of the Greks blog, 12 November 2019:

The repression wave in Athens continues…

Clashes between students and riot police erupted in the Economic University AOSEE in downtown Athens yesterday September 11th. Dozens of students entered the premises of the institution in order to protest the Senate decision to close the University for a week “deliberately and for no reason”, as they say. …

Today, November 12th, the riot police in Athens evacuated one more squat in the center of Athens at Bouboulinas street, where 138 refugees and migrants were living. The situation with the repression wave of the new [right-wing] government remains out of control. Many squats and social spaces in Athens have been evacuated already. Mainly the victims are migrants and refugees.

From the Keep Talking Greece site, 11 November 2019:

Greek gov’t brings back Blasphemy Laws, penalty up to 2 years in prison

The conservative Greek government brings back the Blasphemy Laws the previous government SYRIZA had abolished less than six months ago. Violating the blasphemy laws could send those insulting God and the Greek Orthodox Church up to two years in prison.

Right-wing Greek government attacks refugees


Refugees in Greece, AFP photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Greece votes on stricter asylum law, aid organizations are worried

Today, a bill is being discussed in the Greek parliament with rigorous changes to the asylum law. That will be voted on tonight, because the centre-right government of Prime Minister Mitsotakis wants to introduce these new, harsher rules as quickly as possible.

The government hopes that this will make it easier to deport migrants … Athens is struggling with considerable backlogs in the asylum procedure and with the largest influx of refugees and migrants from Turkey since 2016. Nearly 44,000 people entered Greece via the sea this year.

Criticism

More and more international organizations and many Greek aid organizations are now criticizing the government plans. Eg, the UN refugee organization UNHCR, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are concerned. “The proposed changes endanger people who need international protection,” said Philip Leclerc, UNHCR representative in Greece.

According to Human Rights Watch, numerous procedural changes are being implemented that impede access to a fair asylum process and affect the right to appeal. “It is a clear attempt to increase the number of deportations in the light of the recent increase in asylum seekers,” said Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Eva Cosse.

The organizations are calling on the bill not to be hurried through parliament and to adjust the law.

Harsher policy

It seems that the government is not sensitive to that. …

The conservative government has already indicated that it wants to pursue a tougher policy when it took office in July. The long asylum procedure must be streamlined and asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies must be returned to Turkey or to the country of origin.

Athens also constantly advocates a fair redistribution of refugees within the European Union. Prime Minister Mitsotakis said again at a conference yesterday that Greece cannot handle the problem alone.

Most refugees don’t really want to get asylum in Greece. They want to travel on to other countries where they can meet with relatives or friends; and where there is not as much economic ruin and unemployment as in Greece, hit by European Union austerity. However, razor wire and other European Union anti-refugee policies are stopping refugees’ intended travel to the north-west.

Crisis on islands

In the meantime, the situation on the Greek islands where there are refugee camps (Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos) is becoming increasingly acute. There are now more than 30,000 refugees on the islands and all camps are overcrowded. There are also major problems with housing, medical care, hygiene and safety.

The Greek asylum system is overloaded. Asylum seekers arriving on islands are told that their first appointment with the asylum service will be only in 2021 or 2022. According to the deal the EU concluded with Turkey in 2016, only vulnerable groups such as minors, the elderly and the sick are allowed to leave the islands.

“Strict deadlines, more rules and more requirements for the documents that refugees must submit in the procedures are no solution,” says lawyer Maria Papamina of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR). The organization therefore fears that refugees, and certainly the most vulnerable groups, will have no chance of asylum or appeal with the new rules. The GCR argues for better access and more personnel in the asylum service and adequate legal assistance.

Neanderthal discovery on Naxos island, Greece


This 14 April 2018 video, in English with Greek subtitles, says about itself:

Carter’s Corner #6 – Neanderthals on Naxos!

From McMaster University in Canada:

Scientists find early humans moved through Mediterranean earlier than believed

October 16, 2019

An international research team led by scientists from McMaster University has unearthed new evidence in Greece proving that the island of Naxos was inhabited by Neanderthals and earlier humans at least 200,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

The findings, published today in the journal Science Advances, are based on years of excavations and challenge current thinking about human movement in the region — long thought to have been inaccessible and uninhabitable to anyone but modern humans. The new evidence is leading researchers to reconsider the routes our early ancestors took as they moved out of Africa into Europe and demonstrates their ability to adapt to new environmental challenges.

“Until recently, this part of the world was seen as irrelevant to early human studies but the results force us to completely rethink the history of the Mediterranean islands,” says Tristan Carter, an associate professor of anthropology at McMaster University and lead author on the study. He conducted the work with Dimitris Athanasoulis, head of archaeology at the Cycladic Ephorate of Antiquities within the Greek Ministry of Culture.

While Stone Age hunters are known to have been living on mainland Europe for over 1 million years, the Mediterranean islands were previously believed to be settled only 9,000 years ago, by farmers, the idea being that only modern humans — Homo sapiens — were sophisticated enough to build seafaring vessels.

Scholars had believed the Aegean Sea, separating western Anatolia (modern Turkey) from continental Greece, was therefore impassable to the Neanderthals and earlier hominins, with the only obvious route in and out of Europe was across the land bridge of Thrace (southeast Balkans).

The authors of this paper suggest that the Aegean basin was in fact accessible much earlier than believed. At certain times of the Ice Age the sea was much lower exposing a land route between the continents that would have allowed early prehistoric populations to walk to Stelida, and an alternative migration route connecting Europe and Africa. Researchers believe the area would have been attractive to early humans because of its abundance of raw materials ideal for toolmaking and for its fresh water.

At the same time however, “in entering this region the pre-Neanderthal populations would have been faced with a new and challenging environment, with different animals, plants and diseases, all requiring new adaptive strategies,” says Carter.

In this paper, the team details evidence of human activity spanning almost 200,000 years at Stelida, a prehistoric quarry on the northwest coast of Naxos. Here early Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and earlier humans used the local stone (chert) to make their tools and hunting weapons, of which the team has unearthed hundreds of thousands.

Reams of scientific data collected at the site add to the ongoing debate about the importance of coastal and marine routes to human movement. While present data suggests that the Aegean could be crossed by foot over 200,000 years ago, the authors also raise the possibility that Neanderthals may also have fashioned crude seafaring boats capable of crossing short distances.

This research is part of the Stelida Naxos Archeological Project, a larger collaboration involving scholars from all over the world. They have been working at the site since 2013.

For more on the project, visit the Stelida Naxos Archeological Project’s website.

Refugees in trouble, Greece, Libya


African refugees are rescued from a dinghy in the Mediterranean Sea

From daily News Line in Britain:

Lesbos: epicentre of refugee crisis

12th October 2019

WARS in Syria and Afghanistan are driving refugees through Turkey as they make their way to Greece. Many land on the Greek island of Lesbos, which is now an epicentre of the country’s migrant crisis.

It’s a dangerous journey – but one made slightly easier by Refugee Rescue, the last remaining humanitarian rescue boat in the area. 16,000 refugees have fled to a Greek island this year.

With a crackdown on refugees in Turkey, and tough immigration policies elsewhere in Europe, the number of people fleeing to Lesbos by sea has soared to more than 16,000 this year, according to the UN.

That’s the biggest influx since 2016. As the only NGO left in Lesbos with a rescue boat, the group is working overtime, all the time.

‘We are tired, we are tired,’ said Giannis Skenderoglou, a crew coordinator for the group. ‘But that, that’s our job.’

Refugee Rescue said: ‘Refugee Rescue is a grassroots NGO operating a skilled Search and Rescue (SAR) team on the North Shore of Lesbos, Greece. Our boat crew and rescue vessel “Mo Chara” are on call 24 hours per day, ready to assist those in distress at sea.

‘Onshore, our land teams man spotting operations that keep watch along the treacherous coastline, and work alongside partners to provide emergency relief for those who have just arrived.

‘Refugee Rescue was founded in response to inadequate SAR infrastructure in 2015 when thousands of people were arriving to the island by boat, having been displaced by war, conflict and persecution.

‘Dinghies often directly navigate towards dangerous rocks or shallows that can easily break the floor of these flimsy rubber boats, causing them to sink or capsize.

‘Smugglers abandon groups of refugees on rocks and inaccessible beaches. Many boats also land on treacherous rocks and people are then stranded in locations that are difficult to reach. There is no cliff rescue here, no helicopter to come and help them, and people are often impossible to reach from land.

‘Hundreds have already lost their lives and people are still crossing the perilous stretch of water between Turkey and Lesbos every day. As long as people are denied safe passage to Europe, they will continue risking their lives unnecessarily, forced to take what is now one of the world’s most dangerous migratory routes in search of refuge.

‘By offering a consistent and skilled emergency response along this treacherous coastline, we seek to make this journey a little less deadly, with the hope of stopping any more lives being needlessly lost to The Aegean.’

Meanwhile, Médécins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) issued its own statement on Libyan refugees and migrants.

MSF said: ‘MSF is currently working to provide medical help to people trapped in appalling conditions in Libyan detention centres.

‘People are detained simply because of their migration status in overcrowded conditions, with a lack of access to sufficient food, water or medical treatment.

‘A recent assessment of just one of these centres found alarming levels of malnutrition, with some people held in a room so small there was no space to lie down. Worse still, one third of the people detained indefinitely in this centre were children.

‘But in recent days, things have got even worse. Fighting in and around Libya’s capital Tripoli led directly to the deaths of 40 vulnerable migrants and refugees after a detention centre in Tripoli was hit by an airstrike on 2 July.

‘Trapped in these centres, and at severe risk of being caught in the crossfire, migrants and refugees are unable to flee the fighting and are suffering from increased disruption to food and other supplies – some report not having eaten for days.’

Just seven of the 28 EU member nations agreed to launch a new system to help those rescued in the Mediterranean. A large majority of European Union member countries have refused to back a plan to quickly get migrants off boats in the Mediterranean Sea and distribute them among willing EU partners.

At a meeting of EU interior ministers, only Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal offered to take part in the ‘fast-track’ plan drawn up by Germany, France, Italy and Malta, which would screen migrants, relocate asylum seekers and return people who do not apply or qualify for asylum, all within four weeks.

‘We were seven yesterday, seven this morning and seven this evening. So things haven’t changed much,’ said a downbeat Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s minister responsible for migration. ‘Why us, and why no one else?’

For more than a year, humanitarian ships that have picked up migrants from Libya in unseaworthy boats were blocked from docking or disembarking passengers in Italy or Malta. Italy’s former anti-migrant interior minister even threatened to jail the crews of charity-run rescue ships.

The stance taken by the two countries resulted in standoffs that kept rescued migrants at sea for weeks until other EU nations pledged to take at least some of the people seeking safety or better lives in Europe.

Tuesday’s meeting in Luxembourg had been meant to gauge enthusiasm for the temporary plan, in which countries would make ‘pre-declared pledges’ on how many asylum seekers they would accept. Details of the scheme are sketchy, but it would operate for at least six months, unless migrant arrivals increase dramatically.

Earlier, France’s European affairs minister, Amelie de Montchalin, had claimed that several countries were willing to accept asylum seekers.

‘I think there are around ten countries that are ready to play the game. Perhaps others,’ she told reporters. ‘We are going to be able to say that when a boat arrives, we know who to call and that there are countries ready to send teams in.’

But Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said that those who agreed to take part ‘are those three or four states that had already said they were available, like Luxembourg and Ireland.’ She said she hoped that more EU partners would sign on by the end of the year.

Asselborn said that … those opposed to migrant-sharing quotas in the past – countries like Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – ‘remain against it’.

Well over a million migrants arrived in the EU in 2015, most of them refugees from countries at war like Syria or Iraq, sparking one of Europe’s biggest political crises as nations bickered over who should take responsibility for them and how much others should be forced to help.

New arrivals have now dropped to their lowest levels in about seven years, particularly between Libya and Italy, but EU countries are still unable to agree on the best way forward, and far-right and anti-migrant parties have taken advantage of the confusion.

New right-wing Greek government attacks students


This 2014 video is called Learn Greek Holidays – [1973] Athens Polytechnic Uprising – Επέτειος του Πολυτεχνείου.

So, the new right-wing Greek government not only attacks refugees

By George Gallanis:

Greece’s New Democracy party seeks to overturn law protecting students from police repression

30 July 2019

The proposal by Greece’s new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a member of the right-wing New Democracy (ND), to end the country’s Academic Asylum law must be taken as a serious warning by the Greek working class. The Greek ruling class is preparing the grounds for a dictatorial state reminiscent of Greece’s 1967-1974 junta, from whose bloody legacy the law was born.

The law, put in place in 1982, bars police from entering university campuses. Police can only enter campus grounds if given permission by university administrators. The law guarantees students protection from arrest or state brutality. Such a law exists nowhere else in Europe.

The law was put in place in response to the brutal murder by the US-backed military junta of at least 23 students and pedestrians, including a five-year-old boy, during the uprising at the Polytechnic University in Athens, now called the National Technical University of Athens, on November 17, 1973. On that day, the third day of protests, students launched a strike under the slogan of “bread, education, freedom”. Students were calling for the downfall of the Greek military junta, led by CIA-connected George Papadopoulos, which had taken power in 1967. That day, tanks and soldiers would come crashing through the university’s gates and carry out the slaughter.

November 17 is marked annually by demonstrations of youth and workers throughout Greece in remembrance of the victims of the Greek military dictatorship.

In 2011 the law was scrapped under the [‘center-left’] PASOK government, and for the first time since the collapse of the junta in 1974, Greek police entered university campuses on November 17 of the same year, a day marked by Greece’s largest protests in years. That evening, police entered the campus of Aristotle University after chasing a group of youth into the grounds.

The Syriza government, led by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, reinstated the asylum law in 2017. …

New Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis (ND) promised to increase state violence and repression. He said, “We will strengthen the police, which has to do its job well. We have to protect policemen, while there has to be more police activity in the centre of Athens. For the next government security is a political priority … Police commanders of precincts that go into hostile areas will be rewarded.”

Mitsotakis is putting forth the lie that the Asylum law has allowed university campuses to become festering centers of violence and drug use. He said, “We want universities where students and teachers aren’t afraid; universities that we are not ashamed of … I pledge that no space will be occupied in our public universities. The gangs that today exist there will be eradicated.”

In reality, Mitsotakis, representing the aims of the Greek ruling class, wants to strip away protections from the working class and students that would prohibit the ND government from violently repressing, or as Mitsotakis bluntly put it, “eradicating” demonstrations and strikes by students and workers. This aim is also bound up with the fact that campuses have also been used by refugees as shelters from the Greek police.

In every country the ruling class is responding to the growing revolutionary challenge from below with a sharp shift to the right and toward dictatorial measures. The threat to scrap the Academic Asylum law comes at a time of growing class tensions that have seen a wave of explosive protests and strikes.

Greek refugee camps, hell on earth


This Dutch 27 July 2019 video is by Dutch NOS TV correspondent Saskia Dekkers, who filmed secretly the horrible conditions for refugees from NATO ‘humanitarian’ wars on the Greek island Samos.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Refugee camps on Samos a hell: “I have not seen it like this before”

The refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos is intended for 650 migrants, but in the containers alone two thousand asylum seekers are jampacked on top of each other. In addition to the official camp there are makeshift tent camps. A further 2500 migrants live there. About ten boats with refugees arrive on Samos every week.

Abibulaye is from Togo. “When you arrive at the asylum service, they say the next day: ‘go there and find out’. And you don’t know anyone, you have no money, that’s bad.”

Rats

The situation is serious, says Europe correspondent Saskia Dekkers, who visited Samos. “I have not seen a situation like this anywhere else … People sit on top of each other. There is no running water, there are no showers or toilets. It stinks and we have seen rats among the tents.”

There is far too little room for all people, says Dekkers. “In places where people defecate, new tents have been set up. Many Afghans, Syrians and Congolese people are waiting here for their asylum application.”

Refugees in Italy have received much attention in recent months. In the meantime, the number of refugees in Greece is increasing again. Almost twenty thousand asylum seekers are now stuck on the islands. Almost all people who have arrived in the past year. Europe correspondent Saskia Dekkers secretly filmed on the island of Samos. “It seems that the refugee camps are deliberately kept unlivable by the European Union and Greece.”

… The Samos MP [Christodoulos Stefanadis, of the right-wing Nea Demokratia party] is in favour of a tough migration policy by his
[Nea Demokratia] government. …

Dekkers: “The camp is very hot and there is not enough water. But the biggest problem people tell us is the uncertainty. Nobody knows what their situation is.”

“You don’t know who you are anymore. I have been waiting for 7, 8 months now and my first date for an asylum interview is in 2021. I don’t know where I stand”, says an African asylum seeker.

Police raid migrant squats in central Athens: here.