DODECANESE NETWORK OF SOLIDARITY GROUPS
On Saturday, the 22nd of April 2017, on the island of Kos, the Solidarity Groups that supported the vast refugee and immigrant movements, which in the last two years had turned into a humanitarian crisis, held a meeting.
There had been previous attempts to coordinate our efforts which had been fruitless due to the heavy workload we faced. The geographical fragmentation of our islands however, did not impede us from having a substantial collaboration from the first moment of the refugee flows which pertained to the exchange of experiences, moral support and mutual help of our groups in basic items.
At our first meeting, we were given the opportunity:
- For all those of us, the poorest people of Europe, who shared the despair and expectations of the people who were persecuted by war and hunger, who showed solidarity in the face of these world changes along with the invaluable help of people from around the globe,to become acquainted up close.
- To evaluate our efforts thus far.
- To convene our common action, to stand, even more efficiently, by the side of the victims of war and wretchedness and against war, exploitation and racism which bring forth these victims.
We have lived and continue to live, at a different pace and different circumstances, the attempted genocide of the Syrian people, who are decimated by a vicious imperialistic conflict and the despair of the peoples who experienced before Syria, the “smart” bombs, the instigation of civil wars, the deep regressions and fundamentalism of theocracy, political or racial discrimination and savage class division.
We witnessed the mass death scattered by the mafia circuits, protected by the political analgesia of a Europe entrenched in a fortress of inhumanity and extreme conservatism at every level.
The sea, which gave us life and raised us, the last two years has become a mass watery grave which buried along with the thousands of persecuted Aylans, any delusions for a new necessary European enlightenment contrary to the new middle age of vicious exploitation and unending wars.
We felt proud, with historic awareness, because we became an impediment to a new genocide and an embankment to the European partnership of inhumanity and neofacist intolerance.
Aproximately 400,000 people passed through our islands and with the support of an unprecedented wave of solidarity, they received some necessities for survival. Furthermore, they found comfort when they buried their dead, healthcare when giving birth and in their illness, assistance with beauracracy and protection from neo-facist attacks.
We felt even more proud because all these efforts honor the history of refugees and immigrants of our own land, and spring from a grass-roots self-organisation without petty political protectionism. Thus, this experience gave us the courage and the hope to fight back against the great capitalistic crisis that is devastating the land and the rise of facism that accompanies each such crisis and becomes more and more lethal.
However, today’s refugee situation leaves no room for pride.
Today, 3000 refugees are trapped on our islands in subhuman conditions due to the abject agreement between Europe and Turkey which was co-signed by our country.
These people endure the modern version of concentration camps under the euphemism of “Hot spots”.
The substandard living provisions in accomodations, fare, the non-existence of healthcare, the non-existent or thwarted school integration for their children, become unbearable because they leave no margin for hope.
With the transgressions against all international lawful agreements the refugees are enduring, perhaps for the first time in modern history, the annulment of every self-evident right to apply for and interview for asylum. Apart from the mass rejections, there are infinte cases where the right to apply for a secondary examination is violated. The cases where the official procedure is observed, there is no assurance for the basic respect of the need for the granting of asylum.
Families that dwell in the same space of enclavement, are separated with asylum granted to only one of the two parents. The reunion of families has become practically impossible, minors become unaccompanied and from the beginning of their Odyssey up until today remain just as unprotected.
Thus the mass deportations have become more and more commonplace with authorities who are indifferent to how fatefully a deportation can affect the life of a refugee and the “Pre-departure Center” on the island of Kos is in effect the Guantanamo of the Aegean.
This whole situation, along with the lengthy imprisonment with everything that it implies, has led to dramatic psychological tensions, many suicidal attempts and mass depression. We have also confirmed that in many cases, there have been attempts of the penalization of refugees, with “searches”, which, up until now, have produced no result except to make covert intentions clear and definitely bring to mind related practices.
One of the very dangerous consequences of all these circumstances is the acclimatization of society with the new type of concentration camps. Unfortunately, with the perception that these only concern “someone else”, “the foreigner”, concepts and conditions enter our daily life as normal, when they should, instead, awaken our reflexes and indicate to us that the darkest experiments in history have always had generalization as their main objective.
The existing status of school integration for the refugee children in our area remains a big thorn as only in Rhodes and in Kalymnos have children been enrolled in the official state school. In Kos and in Leros, the absence of refugee children from the schools generates a lot of questions, especially with the publicly expressed opinion of school directors to not admit any of the refugee children.
Given the experiences we have had till now and the present needs, the Dodecanese Refugee Solidarity Groups, as a Network, have co-decided:
1. The immediate and continuous communication between the groups for the notification of crucial issues and their management.
2. The consistent publicising of all outstanding cases for the sensitization of the public and broader support.
3. The handling of deportations as an issue of precedence with emphasis on the cases of minors and refugees whose lives are directly endangered.
4. The integration of all refugee children in school, which is not the possession of any individual, and is necessary not only for their personal adjustment into society but is required by law for all the children of the world.
5. To ensure healthcare, without discriminating behaviors on behalf of authorities and beauracratic obstacles.
We appeal to our islanders, who have been refugees themselves and for whom immigration is not only part of the past but also the present of an extortioned country, to stand up to the height of our history.
We appeal to the medical, legal and educational sectors, to honor the oath they have given, to testify their part in history. We request from all of their collective instruments to take over the safeguarding of the right to health, education and the protection of human integrity, as is designated by the constitution of our country and international agreements.
We request from international organisations such as the UNHCR, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, the Greek Council for Refugees to put the issue of deportations and the necessary legal coverage as their first priority.
We request the immediate employment of staff (administrative officers, nurses, psychologists, social workers, technicians and janitors) wherever there is a refugee population (army camps,hotspots or hosting structures as in the Leros Pikpa) given that the contracts of the staff of the Reception and Identity Service expired on February 28, 2017. They have not been renewed nor has there been any proclamation for the appointment of new staff and as a result, the needs of the refugees are inadequately covered in spite of the constant and unlimited offers of the volunteers.
We request from every thinking person to not settle for the Guantanamos, nor tolerate prejudice and inhumanity.
The Dodecanese Network of Solidarity Groups will continue to struggle to ensure life and hope to the victims of war, poverty and social segregation and for our Aegean Sea, from a watery grave, to become a sea of humanity.
Kos, April 22, 2017
Dodecanese Network of Solidarity Groups