SINCE last Saturday the Athens-wide pogrom against immigrant workers, codenamed Xenios Zeus and carried out by thousands of armed police, has rounded up over 7,500 migrant workers according to Amnesty International. Of these, about 2,000 did not possess validated documents.
On Thursday morning armed police surrounded a train at the Athens central railway station and arrested, en-masse, all 135 immigrant workers on it.
It has taken nearly a week for welfare organisations, such as the Greek Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to condemn the unprecedented pogrom by Greek police against immigrants.
In a press release on Thursday, the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) stated that ‘it understands and appreciates Greece’s right to protect its borders but this cannot override Greece’s obligations under European and international law to respect the rights of refugees seeking political asylum’.
GCR said that the Xenios Zeus operation was ‘apparently being conducted without any precautions to identify refugees meriting protection from other migrants.’
GCR also pointed out Greece’s failure ‘to effectively process asylum claims submitted to authorities by immigrants’ and claimed that in some cases Greek police officers make immigrants unwittingly sign documents terminating their applications for asylum thus opening the way for their deportation, often to countries where their lives might be in danger.
Amnesty International published a report carrying arrested immigrants’ accounts of 170 persons imprisoned in a medium-sized room who had to take turns in lying down on the floor to sleep. They were given water, and food that was inappropriate to their religion which they did not eat.