By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2860

Protests called after mass drowning of refugees off Greece

Greek anti-racist group Keerfa said it was 'a mass murder caused by the closed-border racist policy'
Issue 2860
Greek drowning protest. Packed crowd with banners in Greek

Protesting in Athens on Thursday

At least 78 people have drowned and many more are feared missing in the deadliest migrant shipwreck off Greece this year.

It’s the appalling toll of the Fortress Europe anti-migrant regime. And it is one that the British Tories enthusiastically support.

The victims, nearly all of them men from Afghanistan and Pakistan, drowned when the boat they were travelling in capsized off the southern Peloponnese. There are many reports that hundreds of other people were also on the boat and have not survived.

The vessel had set out from eastern Libya for Italy.

Greek anti-racist group Keerfa called a protest rally for Thursday evening. In a statement, it said, “Dozens of dead refugees. It’s a mass murder caused by the closed-border racist policy

“We express our condolences to the relatives of the dead who unjustly lost their loved ones because of the EU’s racist policies.

It is no accident, it is a crime at the hands of the Greek government and the EU governments that have turned the Mediterranean into a death trap for refugees by raising the killer fences that block every safe land passage.

“This is how they push the refugees into the hands of the traffickers and the mafia trying to enter from Libya. This mass murder comes just days after EU ministers signed a disgraceful racist new deal. It legalises fences, curbs asylum, and puts even more barriers to every refugee trying to escape death in their country because of wars, dictatorship and disasters.

“The Greek government, along with the Italian fascist Giorgia Meloni, took the lead in this agreement.

“It’s time to rise up and put the Greek government’s murderous racist policy that paved the way for fascists into the dustbin of history. It’s time to scrap the racist policies of closed borders, fences, and deterrence at the border

“We demand open borders, fences down, asylum, citizenship rights, and shelter for refugees.”

According to a statement from the Greek port authorities, the migrants’ boat was spotted for the first time on Tuesday afternoon by a plane from Frontex, the European Border Surveillance Agency.

But, claims Frontex, those on board  “refused any help”. That’s a lie unless Frontex was trying to push them back into even greater danger.

Who would refuse to be brought ashore in a safe place where they could claim asylum?

In Britain Stand Up To Racism co-convenor Weyman Bennett told Socialist Worker, “This awful tragedy underlines the fatal results of racist policies. We will fight even harder against the government’s Illegal Migration Bill which is nearing its final stages and the Rwanda removal scheme. Refugees are welcome here.”

Show solidarity with refugees and demand safe passage 
  • Bristol: We say refugees welcome here No to racist scapegoating, Fri 16 June, 5pm, Water Fountains, Bristol City Centre. Details here
  • London: Refugees welcome, safe passage now, say No to Fortress Europe, end the hostile environment, Mon 19 June, 6pm, Downing Street. Details here
  • Manchester: Safe passage now, refugees welcome, Mon 19 June, 6pm, St Peter’s Square. 
  • Brighton: Safe passage now, refugees welcome, Mon 19 June, 6pm, Clocktower. Details here
  • Leeds: Safe passage now, refugees welcome, Mon 19 June, 6pm, City Square
  • Chesterfield: Safe passage now, refugees welcome, Mon 19 June, 5pm, Town Hall, Rose Hill, S40 1LP
  • Bradford: Safe passage now, refugees welcome, Mon 19 June, 6.30pm, City Park

Update: Thursday: statement by Alarm Phone refugee support group

‘The desire to prevent arrivals was stronger than the need to save hundreds of lives’

On Tuesday  13 June, we alerted the Greek Coast Guard at 16:53 CEST of this vessel in peril, as people had called us for help.

Greek authorities, and reportedly those in Italy and Malta, had already been warned several hours earlier. Thus, the Greek and other European authorities knew this super-full and inappropriate floating ship very well. They did not embark on a rescue operation. At dawn today, Wednesday 14 June, the boat overturned.

In the hours following this maritime disaster, the Greek Coast Guard has begun to justify its failure to help, with the argument that people in danger did not want to be rescued in Greece.

We ask: Why are people at sea so afraid of meeting Greek forces?

It’s because people on the move are aware of the horrible and systematic practices of the Greek authorities, practices approved by the EU. Greece has become the “shield of Europe,” European Commission President von der Leyen once noted, violently preventing people from moving.

People moving are aware that thousands have been shot, beaten, and abandoned at sea by these Greek forces. They know that meeting with the Greek Coast Guard, Greek Police or the Greek Border Guard often means violence and suffering. Boats are trying to avoid Greece, they are sailing on much longer routes and risking lives at sea.

As Alarm Phone, we have documented innumerable instances where overcrowded vessels were capsized because they were making longer routes, trying to evade Greek forces.

One of the most recent examples is a vessel that was in danger on 22 May, south of Methoni and was shoved 524 kilometres into Turkish waters. Some of the people in this case are still imprisoned in Turkey.

After the fishing boat overturned, the Greek authorities rushed to publicly justify their failure to rescue. The reality is that they were warned many hours before the boat capsized and had been informed by various sources that it was a boat in danger.

Reportedly, the Coast Guard and a Frontex aircraft were at the scene. European authorities could have sent sufficient rescue teams without delay. They didn’t because their desire to prevent arrivals was stronger than the need to save hundreds of lives.

Stop death at sea, tear down Europe’s borders.

Source here

Update: Friday: Mass rallies in Greece blame the government and EU

Mass fighting rallies of rage for the crime in Pylos and solidarity with refugees took place on Thursday.

We salute the tens of thousands of angry protesters flooding the streets of Athens, gathering at Propylia and marching to parliament and EU Offices. The wave of solidarity with refugees and anger for the crime of Pylos was pan-Hellenic with demonstrations in many cities.

Thousands of workers, and young people, along with migrants from the Pakistani community mourning hundreds of victims in shipwreck shouted that the tragedy of refugees drowning off the coast of the Gate was no “accident”.  It’s murder at the hands of the New Democracy (ND) government,  the racist policy of fences and persecution of the Port Authority.

Guilty is the EU Fortress Europe that closes its borders with fences and Frontex. It is prime minister Mitsotakis and the racist ND “officials” who put the Port Guard after the refugees. They watched the boat with the refugees sinking and left them helpless.

At the forefront of the protest at the KEERFA block were workers from hospitals stressing that those at the top are to blame for the lives lost because there are no rescuers while the border is guarded to death by thousands of police officers.

Mass rallies across Greece send the message that we need to continue to punish the perpetrators who left hundreds of refugees to die in the wreck.


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