Greece, Lesbos – The fascists attack the migrants, the police clear them and arrest them, the government announces a new restrictive immigration law
May 6, 2018by actforfreedom
Yesterday evening, Sunday, April 22, around 8pm a group of about 200 fascists attacked the migrants who were occupying Piazza Saffo in the city of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos.
The fascists of the “Patriotic Movement of Mytilene”, among which well-known members of Golden Dawn, had in previous days through their facebook page spread the appeal for a demonstration to be held on Sunday 22 on the anniversary of the colonels’ military coup in Greece of April 1967. Reunited at 19.30, after demonstrating for the release of two Greek soldiers imprisoned in Turkish prisons, most of the fascists, about 200, armed with clubs, headed towards Piazza Saffo in Mytilene, occupied by Tuesday, April 17 by more than a hundred migrants, mostly Afghan families, asking for its eviction.
After a couple of hours, around 10 pm, without any intervention of the riot police present in force on the site with two platoons, the number of fascists increased, following a callout on the facebook page to intervene in the square. Singing slogans and choruses as “Let’s burn them alive! Let’s throw them in the sea!” the fascists attacked the migrants by throwing glass bottles and stones taken from the pavements, flares and firecrackers. The migrants defended themselves in a triple circular human chain, with children at the centre, trying to protect them from the projectiles by covering them with cardboard and wet blankets.
The migrants were also joined by local supporters. Only after this resistance of migrants and those in solidarity, the police intervened putting itself between the two groups, but this did not prevent the fascists from continuing their assault, setting fire to bins and pushing them towards the migrants, throwing the rockets and fireworks from behind the bins especially targeting women and children. At around 11pm the fascists attempted a flanking movement, attacking from the side of the market. At this point the police threw tear gas into the square, which also ended up on the migrants. At 1am clashes moved from the seafront of Mytilene to the historic town hall and surrounding streets. The fasc set fire to bins building barricades and interrupting traffic throughout the port. Meanwhile, the police surrounded the Moria hotspot to prevent the migrants there from finding out about what was happening and going out to support their comrades. The clashes in Mytilene continued until 3 am. At least 35 migrants and supporters are injured, 10 of whom, including a child with burns, were hospitalized.
A person who was there tells us: “Let me tell you this about this crazy evening of war tonight: the police could not have coordinate better with the fascists, to the point of attacking local supporters. The fascists were in possession of tear gas; the police gave a free hand to the fascists, looked on as the fascists were terrorizing not only refugees but also the locals. A cafe was attacked because it let in the injured refugees, the fascists tried to attack the ambulances, they attacked anyone who has tried to help or to document their violence.” A supporter reports: “The police had orders (we also heard it many times from their radio transmitters) not to move against the fascists to arrest them but only to disperse them. Finally they decided to remove the fascists from the square but they did not lose much time before throwing tear gas against us because we had simply reacted to the arsonist attacks by shouting that someone would be killed because of their orders not to arrest the fascists. “
At 5:20 the riot police sent buses to the streets and ordered the migrants to evacuate the occupation, justifying the operation as a form of protection for their safety. The migrants, continuing to remain linked, refused to leave the square to the last, shouting slogans against the concentration camp, but after a short time the police with force and threats forced them to get on the buses telling them that they would be taken back to the Moria hotspot. Migrants report that the police told them concerning detention, that “if they were to forget about what happened last night there would be no consequences”. The news a few hours ago is that about 120 migrants, including 25 women and children, have been arrested and detained in the police station, on charges of occupation of public space. Two supporters in solidarity were also arrested.
In fact, as happened previously in Piraeus as well as in Lesbos and Chios, also in this case fascists and police collaborated in the repression of the protests of migrant people.
The occupation of Piazza Saffo had begun Tuesday, February 17, after a procession of about 200 migrants, accompanied by supporters, had left the Moria hotspot. The reasons for the protest were the segregation and conditions of life on the island, detention, deportations and the news of the death of an Afghan man as a result of lack of medical assistance (which actually took place later, following days in coma).
A further reason for the protest was the sentence of the Greek Supreme Court that same day, the 17th, annulling geographical restrictions on freedom of movement previously imposed on people arriving on the islands of Lesbos, Rhodes, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos. The ruling, in force from 18 April, allowed the migrants arriving on the islands from this date to move to mainland Greece, but was not retroactive and so did not include the people already detained on Lesbos.
After this sentence of the 17th, the Greek government of Syriza, immediately took action: on April 18 the Minister for migration appointed a new director for the Greek Asylum Service, and on April 19 a new bill was filed on immigration (which had been languishing for months in commissions) which provides for the restoration of movement restrictions for migrants, on April 20 the new director of the asylum service issued a decision to suspend the possibility of movement in the rest of Greece, finally starting from April 21st the Greek Asylum Service restored restriction of movement for migrants, limited to the islands. The new law will be discussed in parliament in the coming days.
As already announced by the Ministry, the bill provides once again the possibility to confine asylum seekers, paving the way for the imposition of geographical limitation on the islands, as well as further restrictions on the right to asylum and the facilitation of deportations.