Photo: Vasilis Aswestopoulos
The nerves are on edge: space, resistance and scenes as feared by the government
The nerves of the refugees and migrants in Greece are on edge. Moreover, in the Greek media there are more and more critical articles and caricatures about the refugees. Government strives to bring order to chaos.
At the same time, the IMF is demanding more and more austerity measures in order to finish, together with the European lenders, the first review of the third loan package that has been pending since October.
Piraus, a new Idomeni?
Wednesday morning in Piraus at the passenger terminal E3. It was a shock for all involved. A man from the group of refugees and immigrants held a four-month-old girl in the air and twirled with the child in the air. He threatened with it as with a club and went up to an officer of the harbor police. Many had the impression that he wanted to throw the child into the sea. Here’s how it played out on Greek TV screens.
In slow motion, the video purports to show that the egregious act by what turned out to be the baby’s father was apparently preceded by a shove from a uniformed man. Moreover, shortly before, the officers had detained another fugitive as if he were being arrested, causing an uproar among the crowd of others standing around.
It was a scene like the one the Greek government fears when it moves to evacuate the camps in Idomeni and Piraeus. The situation, which almost led to a catastrophe, was triggered after the Secretary General of the Ministry of Immigration, Vassilis Papadopoulos, officially informed the refugees and immigrants about the closing of the borders and asked them to leave the passenger terminal E 3.
Papadopoulos, however, had previously caused an uproar when he asked the press representatives camped at the port to leave, because he wanted to talk to the refugees in the middle of the port without publicity.
The reason he gave for this was that he did not want to be photographed or filmed. The media representatives claimed that he was a public person in an official capacity on public property. Meanwhile, the refugees and immigrants gathered for the official information on the forecourt of the passenger terminal E3 became more and more impatient.
The government is still trying to convince people to leave the wild camps without using any force. As the water police officially announced, the port of Piraeus must be cleared within 10 to 15 days. The statement also mentions that, in the government’s opinion, some dubious aid organizations, or rather their employees, as well as some groups of volunteers, have been inciting the refugees.
In the same vein, most of the media. Even the serious conservative newspaper Kathimerini commented on the whole situation with a caricature bordering on tastelessness. It shows in different stages a man throwing a baby like a bullet stober. As a subtitle to it reads: "It could be a leaflet from an aid organization in Piraus."
In fact, leaflets have been circulating, both informing refugees of their rights and indirectly calling for resistance to any government plan to send them to state camps.
On late Wednesday night, some helpers had actually encouraged the refugees to take action. The anti-fascist KEERFA, which is close to the Trotskyist party alliance ANTARSYA, had called for a protest camping on Syntagma Square in front of the Athens Parliament. The police prevented the passage. Afterwards, some of the refugees started the return journey to Piraeus, while others, about forty people, moved through the city with helpers whose party or group affiliation is not known in detail.
They were confronted by the police in the vicinity of the main building of the Athens University and expelled from the square. "Those who do not comply will be arrested", said the leader of the operation. In fact, there were dozens of arrests. Three Greek aid workers have been transferred to the police prasidium, the immigrants and refugees to the police foreign affairs department. After a short arrest all were released again.
Photo: Wassilis Aswestopoulos
The action fell just in the beginning of the general strike of Thursday, in which actually also the media are involved. Only some online portals provided news. Taking advantage of this, the government made another attempt in Piraus on Thursday morning, without press, to move people from there to other camps. Although the port police tried to persuade the refugees to board the waiting buses by taking photos of the camps in the morning, the effort was fruitless.
Without the media, however, it was possible to clear the E3 passenger terminal while the rude demonstration against the austerity resolutions was taking place in the center of Athens. Still in the afternoon it was cleaned. The refugees, almost all of whom refused to leave the port of Piraus, are now camping outside the passenger terminal E1. So now all those outside terminals E1 and E 2, as well as in the so-called "stone warehouses" of the port gathered.
A demonstration by burghers and right-wing parties against the presence of the refugees is expected on Friday evening.