The drastic effects of the climate crisis on global heating became increasingly undeniable this month as wildfires ravage across Southern Europe. At least eight people have tragically died, and thousands have been evacuated from their homes as extreme weather raged parts of Turkey, Italy and Greece. As our research strives to demonstrate, it is the most precarious and vulnerable that suffer the climate catastrophe’s most acute damage; a context that is inextricable from colonial histories. This week, as temperatures exceeded 40°C in Greece, refugees and asylum seekers were and are trapped in camps and detention centres in unconscionable conditions. For this month’s newsletter, we show our solidarity with the migrants who are suffocating at the frontline of the climate crisis and call on the Greek government to immediately evacuate those held in detention and living in camps. We begin by sharing a translated statement written by Solidarity With Migrants and Viktoria Solidarity. We close with research into the entangled context of climate and colonialism, as well as share links for how to support this tragic context.
"We cannot breathe in here and outside it is worse. There is no shade anywhere. There is no tent. No tree. The place is burning and we do not have a water hose to relieve ourselves. No one cares about us or if we will endure, how much longer will we last? It feels like we are garbage. For a long time, no camp administrator cared to call for a technician to fix or change the faulty air conditioners... " We have been asking the police to call someone for more than a month and a half. They note it. They tell us that someone will come. And they never come. The situation today, now, is threatening. We ask for the water hose in order to throw water around and they won't give it to us." — Amygdaleza, August 2021
The fires that broke out in the last twenty-four hours should have found the state mechanism aware and ready, for days, because of the prolonged heat (and therefore of the increased possibility of fires). Only all this state mechanism was incapable of defeating the flames. From Greece to Turkey, governments had to choose between which houses and which areas they would (try to) save, and which they would not. The final report in Greece is that dozens of areas have been completely burned and hundreds of houses have been destroyed.
Due to the fire of Aug 3, we once more saw the criminal face of the Greek state. At a time when Varybobi and Tatoi were burning, less than a kilometer away from the flames, the migrant women in the Amygdaleza camp were drowning in the smoke. Later, even the water was cut off. Those who are being punished by the Greek state for their immigration status by imprisoning them in Amygdaleza, experienced once again what a modern concentration camp is like. The living conditions in the camp are abysmal in all respects. Crowded containers that reach 50°C in the summer heat. Living there is torturous and beyond all reason. Later that day, while there was a government recommendation that everyone in Athens should stay in their home with windows and doors tightly closed because of the harmful air particles, those incarcerated in the refugee camps remained exposed to the smoke and ashes. The prisoners of Amygdaleza could not run away from the flames. Families and relatives were not allowed to visit them as the road was closed and access was impossible. No rescue operation was ever set up for them. At a time when locals were anxious about their homes and trying to protect themselves, the incarcerated immigrants thought that the only way to escape Amygdaleza, from this hell of "administrative detention" and lawful torture, was for the fire to reach them. Caged, unable to move in any direction, they saw the flames approaching and the atmosphere full of ashes suffocating them. For many hours they had no water, and for even more they had neither air conditioning nor cold water in containers where the temperature reached up to 50°C.
Early on, migrants inside demanded the immediate evacuation of the camp and their transfer to a safe place. IOM [International Organisation for Migration] broadcasted fake news about the evacuation while all of the Greek media and news agencies completely silenced the event. In short, at the institutional level, the demands of the camps inhabitants were not only not listened to but were also suppressed. The highlight of this inhumane treatment was when the cops of the camp attacked and violently snatched the phones from anyone who was trying to relay the situation. Obviously, the Greek state does not want the internal image to be transmitted to the outside. Even in this moment of urgency and panic, they tried to conceal the attempted murder of hundreds of people, as they have been doing for so many years with the pushback-type drowning attempts in the Aegean.
For the state, the lives of migrants do not matter as much as the lives of locals. The above was made clear by the Minister of Μigration Notis Mitarachi who, when the Greek Government was asked on social media about the release of the fire victims of Amygdaleza, answered with absolute cynicism "Yes we have a plan, but you do not care about the locals". This comparison of locals and immigrants is a normalization of the apartheid treatment experienced by many immigrants in this country. A condition that due to its normalisation remains invisible. So, their plan was to exhaust all margins of barbarism in the lives of the inmates. But the other half of the violence is to tolerate it...
Just as we were not all equal in the face of the economic crisis and the pandemic, so we are also not equal in the face of "climate change", that is, the ecological catastrophe for which the "magic world" of capitalism is responsible. Only this life is becoming more and more unbearable in recent years, for more and more people, both immigrants and locals.
For our part, we propose joint struggles of local and migrants and support the demands of the oppressed. Because "social solidarity" is the conflict with the cannibals of this world. Because we will not consent to the crimes of the Greek state and EU border guards. We stand by the migrants who are suffocating due to modern apartheid and are fighting with dignity for life, health, freedom, visibility.”
— Solidarity With Migrants
Here are ways you can support the ongoing crisis in Greece:
Donate to Coordinator of Solidarity Groups & Structures of Attica or the Hellenic Red Cross in account below:
Beneficiary: HELLENIC RED CROSS
Account Number: 0026.0240.30.0201205013
All deposits must be marked "Wildfires".