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EU border guards enforce new Turkey deal but refugees resist in Greece

This article is over 8 years, 2 months old
Deportations from Greece began this week as the Aegean Sea lockdown deepens—you are either for the safe passage of refugees or with EU rulers’ cruel punishment, argues Dave Sewell
Issue 2498
Protesting in Athens last Wednesday against Fortress Europe’s deportations from Greece
Protesting in Athens last Wednesday against Fortress Europe’s deportations from Greece (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Greece began deporting refugees to Turkey on Monday under a new European Union (EU) deal backed by Tory David Cameron.

The first two boats took 136 people, mainly Pakistani and Bangladeshi refugees, from the island of Lesvos to Izmir in Turkey on Monday morning. Lesvos residents protested in the port.

Other removals took place from the island of Chios. Some 750 deportations were planned by the end of the week. More than 50,000 refugees are now stuck in Greece after states to its north shut their border.

The border repelling refugees is being pushed eastwards—from Hungary, to Serbia, to Macedonia to Greece and now to Turkey.

Greek MPs voted last Friday to change asylum laws. Applications can now be rejected within days in order to ease mass deportations. The new law was a shameful reversal for the left wing Syriza party.

Previously European courts have ruled against sending refugees to Turkey due to a real risk of their human rights being breached through “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Amnesty International reported last week that Turkey was illegally pushing thousands of people back into war-torn Syria.

The deportations intensify the attempt to stop refugees crossing into Europe by locking down the Aegean Sea, following the deployment of Nato warships in January.


Cameron and other EU leaders try to justify this by saying it will save lives by stopping refugees risking the crossing where many drown.

But researchers from the universities of Coventry and Birmingham found last week that the opposite appears to be true. The rate of drownings gets worse as the journey is made more difficult.

They found that the death rate on the crossing from Libya to Italy leapt up after the rescue mission Mare Nostrum was replaced by a border control operation.

Since the Nato patrols of Lesvos began, more people have begun to cross at night—when there is less chance of detection but more chance of disaster.

And there is evidence that more people may be attempting more dangerous routes.

Politicians’ refusal to let refugees enter Europe safely means “that increasing numbers will die trying,” the researchers argue.

The deadly clampdown has met with resistance—especially from refugees.

Hundreds of men, women and children broke out of the Vial detention centre on Chios last Wednesday. They protested at the island’s main port, demanding the right to take the ferry on to mainland Greece.

And thousands of refugees and anti-racists marched in the capital Athens that night chanting “open the borders” and “freedom”.

Politicians have spent years demonising immigrants and asylum seekers and making harsh border controls seem like common sense.

But there are only two options—stand with refugees for safe passage and open borders, or with Cameron and EU leaders for prison camps and mass drownings.

Financial appeal from Greece

Dear comrades and friends, the website of Greek anti-racist and anti-fascist movement Keerfa has collapsed and it is suspended. This is creating a lot of problems to the antiracist and antifascist actions in Greece.  We face big challenges with the deportations to Turkey and also the trial of Golden Dawn. We need urgent solidarity funding to reconstruct it immediately.

Petros Constantinou

Please send donations to NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE, IBAN GR78 01101670 0000 1674 7083 265

Leak reveals IMF plotting in Greece

Top InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF) officials considered engineering a new debt crisis to blackmail Greece’s government, a leaked transcript has revealed.

The Syriza government is carrying out cuts and privatisations demanded by the European Union (EU) and the IMF. But the IMF demands “reforms”. The conversation from March published by Wikileaks shows two senior IMF figures discussing how to force the pace of negotiations

They show IMF heads discussing the need for an “event”, such as a default on Greece’s debt, to force the government’s hand.

But Greek workers are resisting. Public sector workers were set to strike across Greece on Thursday against planned pension cuts. It will be followed by a march called by all unions on Saturday.

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