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Travel report from Athens and Piraeus

by European Continental Committee, 13 December 2016


On June 24, 2016, the first group of ICOR refugee observers, including myself, as REBELL, started out for Greece. We wanted to get a first-hand impression of the people in the refugee camps and their situation and to make the ICOR known. For the ICOR stands for the right to flee and its member organizations collaborate practically worldwide, in the fight for revolutionary changes and against exploitation and oppression. Greece is a special focal point. Here most of the refugees landed from the direction of Turkey / Syria / Afghanistan. Until the EU made its inhuman and racist deal with Erdogan and the Balkanroute was actually closed.

On Saturday and Sunday we were at the Resistance-Festival of the Greek ICOR-organization KOE

At the welcome meeting in Ambarisa, a self-organized social center, we met delegations from 9 countries. After a brief welcome by Mary from KOE, Leila Khaled gave a welcome contribution. She particularly asked the young people to fight for our future. She is a Palestinian and has been active in the struggle for the freedom of Palestine for decades. As we learned, the Zionist government of Israel tried to hinder their entry into Greece by all means. The Israeli diplomat even threatened the director of the Agricultural University, where the festival took place.

The practical solidarity with the Kurdish liberation struggle through the construction of the ICOR health-care center which we present in the preliminary round was met with great interest. Also the REBELL-initiated Rebellian Music Festival, with 1600 participants, among them 150 refugees from the nearby accommodation. Already during lunch, Dionysis turned to us. He told us that one of his friends helps refugees every day in the port of Piraeus and he organized the contact. After the joint lunch, comrades from the Red Party of Norway told us about their Rojava solidarity project. They want to build a football arena in Kobanê and win many Norwegian football clubs for support.

Piraeus - free goods turnover and refugees being stuck

On Monday morning we started out together with a comrade of the Red Party of Norway on our way to Piraeus. You could feel that it was going to be a strenuous day. 35 ° C, no cloud in the sky and much too high ozone levels, already in the morning. There is a wild refugee camp in the harbor. "Refugees welcome" stood out in black spray paint already at the entry. We had to search for some time and only after a longer bus trip over the terrain we found the camp. It is located far out in the cargo port. It seems that the sight of refugees is regarded as a rather disturbing factor by the capitalist port operators. 67% of the port were sold to the Chinese investor COSCO at the beginning of the year for € 368.5 million. In return, he "committed" to invest € 350 million to squeeze more profit from the work of dock workers in the future.

As soon as we had found the camp and were at the welcome tent, the joyous greeting came: "Ah Ché Guevara, Kobanê, Kobanê". My Che Guevara shirt and the Kurdish shawl, which had been transformed into a headscarf, immediately attracted the interest from the guys. In the luggage we had a leaflet. In English and Arabic, the ICOR expressed its solidarity with the refugees and their right to flee. When I said that in October I had been in Kobanê for a month and had supported the construction of the ICOR health-care center, the ice was finally broken.

The situation of the people is really shocking. If you're lucky, you can get a campground under the highway bridge. All the others camp in the parking lot between cars. The friend of Dionysis and another helper told us: There were once 6000 refugees, but since Macedonia closed the border, the number decreased to 2000. Still too many for the EU imperialists. For this reason, more and more large, fixed tents are being dismantled in order to rebuild them even further outside. As if the refugee crisis was solved with people being as far away as possible from the field of vision.

Under the highway bridge we got talking with a group of refugees. Originally they had come from Syria, from Rojava, some had already been in Turkey for some time. Broken Turkish was our common language. A woman told us that her husband had died in bombardments in Syria. Of Several of them family members are already in Germany and have been there for months now, while they are stuck here. What is being done here is division of families, no reunification, let alone "welcome culture". But even in this bad situation people insisted on their hospitality. We got chairs and tetrapaks with O juice. It seemed that some girls had just started to paint the Kurdish flag in series on paper. Everywhere, on the face and on the hands ... green-red-yellow.

After a warm farewell and handing over one of their freshly painted flags, we set out to explore the rest of the terrain. People wash themselves in simple containers. We could discover just four pieces.

Unfortunately our visit now ended very abruptly. As we found out taking photographs of police stations is forbidden in Greece. In the harbor there were about 100 of their motorbikes. Obviously, the Greek government is afraid of refugee uprisings and fighting port workers. An expression of their nervousness was that nine police officers were busy with us. A three-hour- stay in the police station was only solved after a phone call with our lawyer and his intervention.

However, with all the difficulties, we got to know many new friends and allies for the joint struggle. And, away from the large tourist attractions, a great potential has been revealed for strengthening the solidarity among the peoples and the joint struggle.

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