Pushbacks. That will be the word that describes the situation on the Island at the moment. Almost on a daily basis, dinghy’s full of people are being pushed back. Without any consideration for safety, dignity or self determination the Hellenic coast guard has been illegally denying people their right to request asylum. To them, these are not people, but only an annoying nuisance that has to be kept out of the country at all costs. The pushbacks are not only happening at the sea, but the very idea of allowing migrants to be in Europe is being pushed back. The physical presence confined to camps, out of sight and out of mind. Recently the government announced that they will strive for all refugee camps in Greece to be turned into closed structures. This until “the flows from the opposite Turkish shores stop, so that the issue can be reconsidered again by the government”. All but rhetoric, because we know the flow will never stop until there is no more structural inequality, racism and war, and they will never open the camps once they are closed. How will this ever end, when the nations of this world continue to profit off the misery and death that they cause?
No starker can the contrast be, with the celebration of World Refugee Day. In the middle of the city, on Sapfous Square, a band made up of migrants from Moria was playing. The atmosphere was festive, with the band playing and various speeches that pay homage to the plight of migrants. In the break, banners displaying various organizations like UNHCR, EASOU and others that openly collaborate with the the European asylum system where displayed. The sad irony was made even more palatable, while on the same day a boat was lost in the central Med. Only three bodies where recovered, but no doubt that more drowned. Whilst the EU publicly declares that “Black Lives Matter”, people are being pushed back, being beaten up by cops or drowning on the borders.
On Sunday there was another event on Sapfous Square. An event to take back the public space in the city from the xenophobia and hate that has become all to common the last months. Simultaneously with the nationalist ritual of the lowering of the Greek flag, an event attended by dozens of locals wrapped in Greek flags and singing the national anthem, we gathered to secure the space. And despite heavy police and fascist presence the event lasted until well in the night.
Normal life has more or less resumed in Mytilini, but again the restrictions for Moria have been extended. It is painfully obvious that these extensions are only a formality to restrict movement of migrants in Moria and especially in Mytilini. Every time these restrictions are arbitrary extensions are extended it fulfills and reinforces the ideas of the racist government of Greece and Europe in general. As the situation not only continues, but continues getting worse, at some point we will face a situation that will be impossible to reverse. With joy and hope we read about the different demonstrations around the continent on world refugee day. But we would like to point out that the increased militarization of the borders is not something that can be fixed by having one demonstration, or even spending time at the borders doing solidarity work. It will have to be fought with more then just words and banners.
No Border Kitchen Lesvos
(via Athens Indymedia)