Today and also tomorrow Lesvos and the Northern Aegean islands are on general strike as a result of the central government‘s decision to „send riot police to islands of Lesvos and Chios to impose violent transformation of new prisons in defiance of the will of islanders.” as Regional Governor Moutzouris put it, when he called for the general strike yesterday.
The resistance of local people against the construction of a closed detention camp for migrants in the north of the island of Lesbos goes on. Over the last several days the situation has been escalating further and further. In a cloak and dagger operation Monday night, the government in Athens moved several units of riot-police and water cannons to Lesbos, in order to stop local people from blocking access to the construction site near the village of Karava. Protesters that tried to block the port of Mythilene in order to prevent the arrival were met with force by the police which led to riots through the night.
Yesterday as, the road towards the planned construction side was blocked by locals and police forces intervened, tensions rose even higher, and it is unclear where this development will lead to in the days to come. Different local people fight against the prison camps, sometimes they even come together in one spot, albeit coming from contradicting political leanings: People from the villages, fishermen and farmers, the far right with their nationalist and racist ideology, that try to take advantage of the situation, but also communist groups, antifascist activists and progressive forces that position themselves in solidarity with the migrants against the politics of the central government and the EU. The attitude towards the presence of interntational NGOs is also quite difficult to gasp – some locals are blaming them for attracting migrants, others see common ground in their opposition against the closed camps.
From our side, it is clear: The horrific conditions for migrants on this islands are a direct result of the EU policies of externalising borders, instead of taking responsibility and providing legal and safe passages for people fleeing war and hunger in their home countries.. But the EU and the greek government didn‘t just abandon the refugees but also the locals living on the islands bordering Turkey, which is breeding ground for the far right to spread their propaganda and increase their influence. Our solidarity is with the locals, but that doesn‘t excuse fascist and nationalist ideologies.
There shouldn‘t be any closed detention camps nor prison islands. There should be solidarity and freedom of movement with safe passage for refugees. Day by day, the situation on the islands becomes more and more unbearable, first of all for the refugees trapped there. Don‘t blame the migrants nor the NGOs, but blame the politics of Fortress Europe!