I woke up this morning to the shocking news of a shooting incident in Nea Manolada in which over 30 people were injured, several seriously. The victims were all migrant workers mainly from Bangladesh who work in the strawberry fields in the area. The workers had gathered (allegedly) to demand wages that had been unpaid for 6 months when they were shot at by at least one of the three Greek supervisors.
This is not the first time this area has been in the news:
Manolada has been at the center of cases involving violence against migrant workers a number of times in recent years. Last year, two Greek men were arrested for beating a 30-year-old Egyptian, jamming his head in the window of a car door and dragging him for around one kilometer.
I am speechless at the moment as to how to respond. It sounds so much like an incident that would happen in South Africa or a developing country… not in Europe. How have we come to this ?
We have seen the rising xenophobia and racist rhetoric sweeping the country. It has become so commonplace to hear or read about foreigners being “filth”, “sun-human” “invaders”, “scum” that people are seeing them as such. The rise of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) has given racism and xenophobia a voice. A legitimacy. We have an “MP” that calls immigrants “sub-human” sitting on the Council of Europe’s Anti-discrimination committee !
Immigrants are now blamed for everything. If you have read ANY forum that deals with these issues in Greece, you will have read the vilest, most racist remarks I have ever seen (and I’ve read a lot) and it’s not just coming from a few neo-nazis. It has become acceptable to despise foreigners and to say it openly. I have seen immigrants blamed for everything from the transport strikes to the financial crisis. From the litter in the streets to the collapse of the healthcare system. It’s disgusting, frightening and inexcusable.
I hold Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) and their supporters and EVERYONE who voted for them responsible for this appalling attack. Their continuous and nauseating attacks on the “other” has legitimised hatred, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.
A protest vote is one thing. Voting Nazis into power is quite another.
I call on everyone here in Greece who abhors racism, slavery, violence and hatred to boycott strawberries farmed in this area. Economics is the only real power we have. I’m starting with strawberries but I am going to look into what other products are farmed/produced by slave labour and post here.
Please share this horrific news from Greece around the world. People must know what is happening here…
I will update this post as I learn more.
A social media campaign has started on Twitter at #bloodstrawberries
The government reacted to Wednesday’s attack on migrant farm workers in the Ilia region in the Peloponnese by their employers calling it an “unprecedented and devastating” incident.
“The injuries suffered by protesting farm workers in Manolada are being condemned in the most absolute manner by the entirety of Greek society,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a statement Thursday.
“This unprecedented and devastating act is alien to Greek morals and the reaction of the authorities will be swift and proper,” he said.
Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias issued a separate statement condemning the attack.
“Respect for the law is a fundamental obligation for all of us, but also a necessary condition for the country’s economic revival,” he added while criticizing cases of economic exploitation.
Most political parties issued statements condemning the Manolada shootings.
According to this report, some of the injured workers were arrested after their release from hospital and taken to detention centres for deportation.
Is this really Europe ?