Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the Refugee Movement for Rights and Justice, a new mobilization that has arisen in Greece in response to the latest attacks on refugees’ human dignity and rights. Approximately 600 individuals and families will be stripped of critical benefits under a new series of measures announced by the Greek government.
The Greek Ministry of Migration Policy announced that recognized refugees will lose their access to housing and cash assistance under a European Union policy. It should be noted that even recognized refugees in Greece struggle to find housing or employment and often have no means to support themselves. This policy is in fact a policy of exclusion that is layered upon many other systems of discrimination, racism and rejection that refugees face in Europe at the hands of European states.
It should especially be noted that the European powers driving this decision include the most powerful states in the EU. These countries are deeply involved in the ongoing wars, exploitation, violence and climate destruction that have forced people to migrate from their homes in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine and sub-Saharan Africa. In many cases, EU bombers have directly participated in the military invasion of these countries, while in other cases, weapons industries have profited directly from ongoing wars. EU foreign policy is also directly complicit in the Israeli colonization and apartheid regime in Palestine, including the siege on Gaza that has forced many people to flee their homes.
Therefore, the very powers that are directing the Greek government to cut the small lifelines of aid provided by cash and housing assistance or refugee camps are responsible in large part for their suffering, dispossession and forced migration. In addition, the crisis of refugees in Greece, many of whom are struggling to reach other European states, has been cemented by the development of the Fortress Europe policy and, in particular, the EU-Turkey deal which has forced countless impoverished and marginalized people to take even greater risks to reach safety. People struggling to preserve their lives are threatened with forced deportations to countries facing current military occupations and wars at the hands of the United States, the European Union and their imperialist and reactionary regime allies.
The seas have become deadly for people seeking refuge and asylum, and now even recognized refugees are facing further exclusion and impoverishment at the hands of the Greek government and the EU powers. It should be noted that this, much like the policies that have deepened the economic crisis in Greece on the backs of working-class and poor people, are directed by the EU in the interests of the wealthiest imperialist powers and their capitalist classes.
Greek people and refugees in Greece together suffer from austerity and the confiscation of basic economic and social human rights at the hands of an EU regime that seeks to extract wealth at the expense of the Greek people – and at the expense of refugees forced to flee their homeland. This is only the latest appalling action of the Greek government under Alexis Tsipras.
Tsipras’ party SYRIZA was elected to govern Greece with a mandate to fight back against EU austerity, confront racism and support the Palestinian people. Instead it has acquiesced to harsh regimes of EU control and domination, deepened the Greek military and economic alliance with Israeli apartheid (including the planning of the so-called “EastMed” gas pipeline for the theft of Palestinian natural resources) and is now imposing an even more brutal regime of poverty upon the most marginalized people in the country, again at the behest of EU authorities.
In response, the Refugee Movement for Rights and Justice has announced a series of actions to demand that this new policy be stopped before people’s lives and health are put at even further risk. It should be noted that many refugees already face inhumane and nearly unlivable conditions inside the refugee camps. “Those who can spend astronomical sums to finance wars and create our crisis and our suffering must assume the responsibility to find a solution,” declared the movement in its founding statement. The Movement’s next action will be a demonstration planned for 16 March at 2:00 pm at Victoria Square in Athens.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands in full solidarity with the Refugee Movement for Rights and Justice and joins in its demands. We note that among the refugees seeking asylum in Europe are many Palestinians, many going through a second Nakba after being forced from their homes and lands by Zionist forces in 1948 and many more facing a new Nakba due to siege, occupation and colonization in Gaza and throughout Palestine. These refugees have been denied their fundamental right to return to their homes and lands for over 70 years.
Furthermore, we emphasize the fundamental responsibility of U.S. and EU imperialism for creating the crises that have taken countless lives and forced many others to seek safety – where instead, many find only even more death, destruction and repression due to racist and colonialist policies of exclusion, deportation and militarization. For all refugees, we demand and defend the right to stay and the right to return, the freedom to move and the full recognition of their human rights, especially their economic, social and cultural rights including the right to health care, education, housing and work. We urge all friends of Palestine in Greece to take action and lend their support and action to this critical call for justice.
We reprint below the founding statement of the Refugee Movement for Rights and Justice:
A few days ago, the Greek government, through the Ministry of Migration Policy, made a decision backed by the European Union – DG Home Fund Agency to cut financial and housing aid to the refugees. This decision is intended as a first stage for over 600 people and families on Greek territory.
The implementation of this unjust and hasty decision will create a new crisis that will only add to the ongoing suffering of the refugees. Hundreds of families, children and youth will be displaced to the streets, where neither shelter nor food will be found. This unjust decision is also a result ofthe Turkey-EU agreement in 2016, which resulted in the conversion the Greek Islands to refuge to mass prisons and detention camps until this moment. In addition, such decisions only encourage and incite political forces on the extreme right in Greece and throughout Europe to exploit the living conditions of the Greek people, suffering from a suffocating financial crisis. This is also the result of the reckless, profit-seeking European policies that come at the expense of human rights and international law.
It is our duty as refugees of various nationalities and social backgrounds to stand together collectively to confront these racist decisions, peacefully and in unity, in order to raise our voices high, pressure the concerned parties to shoulder their responsibilities, and obtain all of our rights, which have so far been violated and denied. Our first goal is to not allow the implementation of this decision or any similar resolutions that violate our rights as refugees.
In response to this situation, we are duty-bound to shoulder our responsibilities toward our people, all of the poor and the refugees. We are a group of refugee youth of different nationalities who have come together to form the Refugee Movement for Rights and Justice to confront these decisions and develop a series of actions and activities to challenge these machinations of political interest on the part of the Greek government and the European Union. We know very well that the justifications expressed by international organizations, alongside the Greek government and the European Union, are nothing but deception and an attempt to cover up the failure of their programs. The disbursement of hundreds of millions of Euros on temporary projects has failed to provide a real, radical solution to refugees’ suffering.
Those who can spend astronomical sums to finance wars and create our crisis and our suffering must take responsibility in finding a solution. This financial and housing assistance is insufficient and does not meet our needs, but it is one of our rights that we will not abandon.
Stopping this unjust decision depends on our participation and the spirit of solidarity among the refugee population. This decision is only a first step in targeting all refugees and their rights, contrary to justice and international law.