Socialist Worker

Anti-racists will march in 17 countries on Saturday: Greece will see eight demos

by Petros Constantinou in Athens
Issue No. 2495

Some of the publicity for marches in Greece, Poland, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and Austria

Some of the publicity for marches in Greece, Poland, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and Austria


This Saturday is the first time since refugees broke through Europe’s borders last year that the mass movement has coordinated internationally.

There are demonstrations in 15 European countries plus Lebanon and Australia.

We expect huge protests in Greece—in the capital Athens, on the island of Lesvos and in six other locations. It will tell the government and the European Union (EU) to welcome refugees and open the borders.

The “Balkan route” used by refugees has been closed off. There are now 40,000 refugees stuck in Greece.

The movement wants them to get full rights—to work, to get housing, to use schools and hospitals. As well as trade unions and students, many migrants and refugees will march.

Anti-racists produced leaflets in seven languages for people in the new “hotspot” centres or sleeping rough.

There’s been a very good response. A lot of the Syrian refugees took part in the Syrian revolution.

Solidarity

A group of 300 Afghans went out and protested last week. The scale of solidarity with refugees in Greece is immense. In one poll 85 percent of people said refugees should be welcome and 55 percent had donated to them.

This is part of the same shift to the left in Greece that saw left party Syriza elected.

The border closures have trapped around 15,000 refugees in conditions similar to the Calais “Jungle” at the tiny mountain village of Idomeni.

While elderly residents have opened their homes to refugees, the government is trying to disperse them and drive them back.

Syriza has signed up to the policy of Fortress Europe.

It accepts the border closures, and accepts Nato patrols and a deal between the EU and Turkey to stop refugees entering by sea.

This EU plan will be discussed at a summit the day before the demonstration.

Even the United Nations objects to it. It will push refugees to more dangerous routes. They will have to pay more to people smugglers—and even more refugees will drown.

The government is reopening detention camps to send a message to refugees.

The day before the demonstration the killer of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas is set to be released. The justice system has shamefully dragged its feet in prosecuting the fascist Golden Dawn party, and now the 18 months he can be held without trial are up.

But the anti-fascist movement will be there. We won’t leave the fascists any space.

Petros is an Athens councillor and coordinator of Keerfa, Greece’s leading anti-fascist organisation

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