Those wishing to visit ground zero of European ignominy must simply drive up an olive tree-covered hill on the island of Lesbos until the high cement walls of Camp Moria come into view. “Welcome to prison,” someone has spray-painted on the walls. The dreadful stench of urine and garbage greets visitors and the ground is covered with hundreds of plastic bags. It is raining, and filthy water has collected ankle-deep on the road. The migrants who come out of the camp are covered with thin plastic capes and many of them are wearing only flipflops on their feet as they walk through the soup. Children are crying as men jostle their way through the crowd.
Tag Archives: Greece
One night last April Konstantinos Potouridis disappeared from his home in Aspropyrgos, an industrial town in central Greece. Two weeks later, his uncle Kostas received a phone call from his abductors. “They said my nephew was still alive,” Kostas explains, “but they wanted €1,500 for his return.” Kostas didn’t contact the authorities. His mother had been killed in a hit-and-run accident a few years previously, but the police had called him a liar and refused to consider his case. “Never trust the police in Aspropyrgos,” he says. “They lie to get promoted.” So late that night, he found himself waiting by the side of the highway. A man in a black sports car pulled up next to him. Kostas handed over the money and the car peeled swiftly away. But Konstantinos never showed up. A week later, the police called Kostas and told him that his nephew had been found – handcuffed, pumped with bullets and chained to a bag of stones at the bottom of the Mornos Channel in the hills above the town. “My nephew got too flashy with his money,” Kostas says. “He had the biggest house on the block, six taxis, motorcycles. There was a target on his back.”
This is not an unusual story in Aspropyrgos, but then Aspropyrgos is an unusual place. Twenty kilometres north-west of Athens, it is cut off from the rest of the country by the sea on one side and an arc of mountains on the other. The Greek state crams onto this rocky plain, which stretches the length of 1,000 football pitches, everything that is too noisy or dirty to put in the capital. Aspropyrgos is home to Greece’s major steelworks, brick manufacturers, quarries, cement silos, power plants and petroleum refineries. “Nowhere was it possible to find land so close to Athens and so cheap,” a local butcher called Eirinaos tells me. “Now those old sheep pastures spit out gold.” The Mornos Channel serves as Athens’s major water supply and Greece’s biggest dump lies on a plateau to the north-east. Accounting for less than 1% of the country’s landmass, Aspropyrgos and the surrounding Thriasio Plain are responsible for nearly 40% of Greece’s industrial output. “Aspropyrgos makes, Europe takes”, reads graffiti scrawled around the town.
ATHENS – In 2015, hundreds of thousands of refugees landed on Greece’s island shores. Many had perished at sea. Today, the international public has been lulled into believing that Greece’s refugee crisis has abated. In fact, it has become a permanent scourge blighting Europe’s soul and brewing future trouble. The island of Lesbos was, and remains, its epicenter.
It may seem paradoxical, but Greece’s anarchists are organizing like never before.Seven years of austerity policies and a more recent refugee crisis have left the government with fewer and fewer resources, offering citizens less and less. Many have lost faith. Some who never had faith in the first place are taking matters into their own hands, to the chagrin of the authorities.Tasos Sagris, a 45-year-old member of the Greek anarchist group Void Network and of the “self-organized” Embros theater group, has been at the forefront of a resurgence of social activism that is effectively filling a void in governance.“People trust us because we don’t use the people as customers or voters,” Mr. Sagris said. “Every failure of the system proves the idea of the anarchists to be true.”
On July 7, I received a message on Facebook.My name Mouaz Khrayba of Daraa, Syria I am 20 years old It is now in the Greek island of Samos My brother was one of the journalists of the events in SyriaI dream to be wellMouaz Khrayba, who had been put in touch with me by a mutual acquaintance, had attached photos of refugees protesting in front of barbed-wire fences on Samos. Many of them held signs, one of which asked simply: what is our destiny?In 2011, I came to learn, Khrayba lived with his family in Nawa, a small city in Syria’s Daraa Governorate. His mother was a teacher, and he grew up one of eight children in a happy home. Opposite their house was a garden with fruit trees and vegetables. Things took a turn during the protests that triggered the Syrian Civil War. The government repeatedly arrested his brother, Zahar, who worked as a media activist and protest organizer. In the armed uprising that followed, their family home was shelled and burned, and Zahar joined a Free Syrian Army battalion. He died of shrapnel wounds covering a battle in Nafaa. Khrayba’s father also lost his life during the war.
Mass beheadings, public throat-cutting, eye-gouging, the chopping up of corpses, torture and mass executions into open graves. Professional butchers employed to decapitate victims. Remind you of anything? No, not the cruelty of Isis, the cult which the US Joint Chiefs of Staff labelled “apocalyptic” only a couple of years ago – and with whom Donald Trump now thinks he is at war.
No, think instead of those nice, relaxed, laid-back, ouzo-drinking, euro-spending Greeks. The years between 1944 and 1949 were enough to curdle anyone’s blood in the land where European civilisation supposedly began, and a new study of that frightful extermination in Greece reads like a template of Syria, Iraq and all the other landscapes stained with the blood of Isis’s victims.
We weren’t expecting to be here very long,” Ayhan, a 28-year-old from Afrin, Syria, says, as she sits with her husband, Hozan, on a porch made of wood pallets outside their modest tent in the Nea Kavala refugee camp in northern Greece.
“I only have two changes of clothes,” she continues, pouring coffee into a row of baby-food tins that have been repurposed as coffee cups for impromptu guests. “What I’m wearing right now, and what I wore when I crossed the sea in February.”
Eigentlich wollte der linke griechische Ministerpräsident Alexis Tsipras alles anders machen als seine Vorgänger: Die untere Mittelschicht und die Ärmsten im Lande stärken, Flüchtlingen und Migranten zur Seite stehen, Transparenz schaffen und Vetternwirtschaft eindämmen. All das versprach der Hoffnungsträger der Linken schon als Opposition und dann auch als Staatsoberhaupt – stets mit der „Sprache der Wahrheit“, wie er immer wieder gerne betont.
Rispondere alle crisi umanitarie con polizia, ruspe, manganelli e gas lacrimogeni sembra essere diventata la norma in Europa. Sarebbero dovute arrivare delegazioni di avvocati, medici, psicologi, operatori umanitari per ricollocare i profughi che da mesi vivevano accampati al confine tra Grecia e Macedonia, invece hanno mandato migliaia di poliziotti in tenuta antisommossa, all’alba, per sgomberare le famiglie che erano in attesa di riprendere il loro viaggio o di trovare una sistemazione. Dove fallisce la politica, arriva l’ordine pubblico.
I don’t want to spoil the party mood after Monday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers, but I firmly believe that if Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had just deigned to wear a tie and negotiated normally, without being led by delusions and opportunism and in a less amateur manner, he would have secured a much better deal from creditors in January 2015.
The conditions at the time were ripe for it. The country’s creditors were favorably inclined to reach an agreement with the new government. The ordeals Greece has been put through since – the imposition of capital controls, the destruction of the banks after their first recapitalization and all the rest of it – were quite unnecessary.