Assembly no lager in Thessaloniki
The assembly of No Lager in Thessaloniki was created, setting as its central focus the migrant concentration camps. We have been aware that there was a gap in the current social movements when it came to an analysis and action against this basic tool of modern totalitarianism. The initiative of the No Lager assembly of the comrades in Athens was the one that set the meeting point for the creation of the assembly in Thessaloniki.
- What is this assembly
It is an assembly of people active in the antagonistic movement and not a committee or a coordination of groups. It is an assembly that aims to have a constant, deep and continuous in time activity on the matter. For this reason, we chose to function as an assembly of individuals instead of representatives (although people that participate in assemblies with already fixed positions on the matter take also part in No lager).
- How does it function
The aims of the assembly include the theoretical process, the articulation of information, the networking with equivalent initiatives and individuals as well as the organization of actions against concentration camps. Since the individuals that make up the assembly take part in various assemblies, they inform them of the activities of No lager and they provide us with the dynamics of the opinion and proposals for action of the other assemblies. This internal elaboration inside the movement was intentionally selected, as it is considered necessary to go beyond the surface and demonstrate the matter of concentration camps as a vanguard point of the movement, so that its public address and activity can be more cohesive and collective.
- Why concentration camps
Concentration camps consist one of the most characteristic features of totalitarianism. Together with the construction of an internal enemy, they are the most recognizable tool of fascism in its historical expression. We do not go along with the logic that “fascism comes first for the others, and then for everyone”. We do not oppose concentration camps, because “our turn will come next”, but we recognize the struggle against concentration camps as the central front of the social war. Concentration camps epitomize the greatest disgrace to human dignity, the most violent attack against class conflict and their very existence proclaims the advent of fascism.
We are the Other, otherwise we are nothing.
- The migratory matter – then and now
During the times of wealth, the depreciation of migrant labor became the coal in the engine of “progress” and the “miracle” of “potent Greece”. For two decades a pervasive racism was nourished on the robbed lives of the forbidden workers that came to infiltrate all aspects of the greek society. The illegitimization of the migrants, the politics of the borders, the humiliation of the migrants by the repression forces and all kinds of public services together with the atrocity and barbarity of the cops and the small or bigger bosses, contributed to a system of rough exploitation of the migrants. During those years the migrants were either invisible or identified with crime, all through the grinding machine of the media that promoted the migrants’ misery together with the society’s corruption.
With the advent of the crisis, the migrants, as the most devalued part of the working class, were turned into scapegoats. In the frames of the destruction of the living labor as a necessary stage to the capitalistic circle of destruction and “development”, the forbidden migrants became superfluous as a cheap labor force. However, they were given another role, the one of the advertised victims of the state of exception, of human-wastes, prey for the hatred of the impoverished greek society.
The beginning was made with the “resident committees” just to continue with the fascist gangs that were organized in order to attack against migrants. Detention centers, although their existence was kept hidden for years, became the central point of the discourse of the institutional fascism’s hatred. It is no coincidence that at first the establishment of concentration camps was announced as such, and only later –after the message was received- they were renamed into “closed spaces of hospitality”. The operation of Xenios Zeus, a totalitarian supplement as a means for the mass regulation of the population (only in Athens 77.526 arrests of migrants that in their majority were “legal” took place, while the number of migrants without papers that were arrested was 4.435). Of course these military-like purging operations were accompanied by the typical fascist discourse on hygiene (description of the 300 migrants on hunger strike as a “hygiene bomb”, public pillory of the HIV-positive prostitutes).
- Towards an antagonistic response
The movement, although it has always been by the side of the migrants, seems to silence in confusion during the last years. And it does that at a moment when migrants not only receive the greatest attack of all, but they also respond to it with vigor. Riots and hunger strikes at the concentration camps, mobilizations of the migrant workers in Manolada, demonstrations initiated by migrants (in Thessaloniki on February of 2013 as a response to the death of Babakar N’Diye as well as this April for the incidents in Manolada). Struggles that come to add to the mobilizations of the migrant peddlers, to the hunger strike of the 300 migrant workers, to the strike of the Egypt fishermen in Michaniona, to the struggle of Konstantina Kouneva, to the hunger strike of the 14 migrant workers in Chania in 2008 and to many others.
Over the past years the antagonistic movement has organized solidarity demonstrations for the migrants, No Border actions, etc. During the recent mobilizations, though, it seems to idle, with the exception of the actions of the comrades in the neighborhoods of Athens against the nazi pogroms that have taken place even more fiercely lately.
Until now the opposition to concentration camps has been deeply conservative and disputatious (migrants are a dirt that has to be kept away from us) and was only met on the other side either with expressions of philanthropy (like the one that happened in Amygdaleza) or with a cynical call for the necessity of concentration camps for the financial backing of local economy. Of course concentration camps, totalitarians to their basic role, consist of a huge business for the “absorption of the EU subsidies”, while the service of thousands of cops in Thrace through the Aspida operation covers, to an important degree, the profit that has been slipping away from the area as a result of the disbandment of universities and the subsequent departure of the student population.
The institutional left wing organizations and parties have been dealing with the “migratory matter” in the frames of “multiculturalism and integration of diversity” for years now. However, as left wing parties seem to be heading for governmental power, they consider that a reference to concentration camps -always subtle and into the social movement as a pretext- fits perfectly to their “radical” profile (of course the immigrants never fitted to the populism of the squares’ movement). Against the migrants’ concentration camps’ totalitarianism we meet a mixture of claims about modulation to the European legislation, philanthropy, enhancement of the conditions of detention and political opportunism (“we do all the necessary so that nobody can say that the matter does not concern us, but we don’t pose it as a central matter”).
Of course the criticism to the institutional/governmental left wing or to the fascist parts of the society is an easy way to hide the nudity of our own movement.
For years now migrants have been treated as invisible, to the profit of a great part of the greek society, that covered in a silence of guilt the crimes that burdened the migrants. As the degradation of labor takes the shape of its organized destruction, the exploitation of the migrants as a cheap labor force is converted into the elimination of the human existence. Concentration camps are the emblem of this totalitarianism.
This formally announced politics renders the migrants a visible example for everyone. The formal discourse of the state (that presents no difference to the nazi one), only a bit after the assassination of Paulos Fyssas and the onset of the “state antifascism”, implied with great clarity what the tactic of the scapegoat has in store: when we run out of immigrants, there are always the Roma people.
The crime is visible. It is time for the answer to become visible too.
Demolish all concentration camps!
Papers to all migrants!