Greek workers battle cuts–while refugees freeze

Refugee family – trying to keep alive from cold in a flimsy shelter. Photo credit: Panos Papanikolaou
Refugee family – trying to keep alive from cold in a flimsy shelter. Photo credit: Panos Papanikolaou

ALL this week, poor Greek farmers intensified their struggle against the government’s policies of high taxation and pension cuts by setting up dozens of road blockades with their tractors throughout Greece.

At the two biggest motorway blockades, at Nikea junction in central Greece and at the Lefkonas junction near the Greek-Republic of Macedonia border, police buses were placed on side roads and riot police squads threatened confrontation. But they could not stop the masses of tractors and the determination of the farmers.

At the moment each blockade co-ordinating committee is closing down the motorways for two hours at a time. The next stage will be decided at farmers’ meetings this weekend. The mood is defiant and all farmers’ associations banners proclaim ‘annul the law!’ which was passed last year by the Tsipras government on European Union and IMF orders. Delegations of workers from City Trades Councils and of students have marched to the blockades.

• The atrocious conditions prevailing at the Greek government-run refugee concentration camps or ‘detention centres’ on the Greek islands have claimed two human lives early this week as four attempted suicides were also reported.

Last Tuesday, a 20-year- old refugee was found dead inside a tent covered with feet of snow at the Moria concentration camp on the island of Lesbos. Then, last Wednesday on the concentration camp on the island of Samos, a Kurdish refugee from Iraq died of heart failure. His devastated wife and three children remain on the camp.

On the same day on Samos four refugee men attempted to take their own lives. Since last November, well before the current snowy weather hit Greece, Greek workers’ and students’ solidarity groups had warned through demonstrations of the dangers ahead, since living conditions at refugee concentration camps are absolutely atrocious.

There is no heating, no running water, no proper food, no proper shelters. Solidarity groups are calling for the closing down of the concentration camps, for freedom and proper shelter to all refugees and have accused the government of ‘terrible crimes’.