On Tuesday July 18, 2017, police attacked a peaceful protest that took place in the detention center of Moria using tear gas and flash grenade grenades. Some of the protesting migrants resisted, responding with just a small measure of the violence they experience daily. Many hours later, while the interior of the detention centre had returned to what passes for “normality”, riot police and plain clothes officers started a raid. They beat people indiscriminately and finally arrested 35 people at random. Their sole criterion was skin colour, targeting only people of African descent. The arrestees were brought to the Central Police Department of Lesvos, where they were held without any medical help despite having suffered severe beatings. Severely beaten and terrified, the 35 accused were presented to an investigator to face serious charges, most notable among which was “life-threatening arson”. This accusation may result in many years of imprisonment, and simultaneously exclude the convicted from the asylum process. Thirty of them were placed in pre-trial detention, while the rest were handed restrictive orders of residence on the island.
On Friday April 20, the 35 accused will be tried in the Mixed Jury Court of Chios. All of them deny their participation in the events, and have presented proof of their innocence. The “war against migrants” is intensified, taking as its victims those already placed at the bottom of society. The policy of constructing spaces of exception at the European borders – spaces where all those who have not lost their lives during their passage will be detained and suffer severe dehumanisation and violence – is now present and expanding in the interior of Fortress Europe. At the same time, through a militaristic racist rhetoric, the national regime is drumming up consensus to the continuation and intensification of policies which further devalue those placed “at the bottom” of society. The only chinks of light breaking through this cloud of totalitarianism are the ongoing resistances that rise through the diverse, horizontal and unmediated struggles of those opposed to it.
We are not standing by the 35 persecuted immigrants simply because we believe in their innocence, but because we understand their persecution is another tool of state-capitalist repression against all these struggles. The state is targeting the weakest, to ensure the compliance of all others who choose to resist the devaluation of their lives. This is a counter-insurgency practice, enacted through police violence against and judicial repression of all those that refuse to kowtow to the mediation agents of the NGOs, the quasi-governmental organizations and the political parties. It is a widespread and ever-increasing repression, as we see in the new reformation of the correctional code used to suppress the inmates of Greek prisons, in the fines imposed on conscientious objectors to the military, in the criminal persecution of unionist struggles and of people resisting the environmental degradation of their homes.
For all these but also for every other reason in the world, we stand beside the persecuted migrants and we clearly state that this struggle is just another important struggle of our class. And that is precisely why we will stay by their side to the end – until they are finally let free.
For a world of freedom, equality and solidarity
Solidarity Assembly for the 35 Persecuted Migrants of Moria