Citizen Protection minister Michalis Chrisochoidis, a member of Pasok (rough equivalent of the Labour Party), is leading an anti-refugee drive in the run-up to Greece’s parliamentary election on 6 May.
The last act of the Papademos coalition government was to pass legislation for the construction of 31 concentration camps (in former military facilities) for illegal immigrants, identified in the election campaign as threat number 1.
Health minister Andreas Loverdos, also Pasok, says that illegal immigrants should be put in separate units in the hospitals and kept in isolation because they pose a health threat. All immigrants from countries where certain diseases are rife should be put in quarantine.
Giorgos Kaminis, mayor of Athens, with the blessing of Papademos, has starting a drive to “reinvigorate and reconstruct” the centre of Athens, which translates to police stormings into immigrant areas with the aim of deporting the maximum number of refugees before election day. Antonis Samaras and New Democracy have also emphasised their commitment to a drive against “illegal immigrants”.
This is a concentrated effort by Pasok and ND to shift the political agenda from the uncomfortable economic sphere, where there is no positive narrative on offer and everything has been signed and agreed before hand with the EU/ ECB/ IMF Troika, towards the scapegoating of immigrants.
As German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said, bondholders are worried that “the Greek politicians are incapable of governing and the Greek people do not wish to be governed”.
The capitalists’ answer? Redirect people’s anger against the weakest, most vulnerable, and most deprived layers of Greek society.
By diverting popular anger towards illegal immigrants, the capitalists hope the parties supporting the EU/ ECB/ IMF memorandum will get through at this election and the movement of resistance will be split and weakened.
Local councils are being economically strangled and cutting down on services. The government is bribing them with money if they accept the building of refugee concentration camps, and trying to persuade citizens who, for various contradictory reasons, resist the building the refugee camps in their areas by promising them jobs.
Anti-racists will demonstrate in Athens against the refugee concentration camps and police racism on Tuesday 24 April.
The demonstration is supported by the Network in Defence of Political and Social Rights, the Union of African Women, the Union of Refugee and Immigrant Workers, the Movement against Racism and Fascism, the Pakistani community movement, the Iranian political refugees, Antarsya, Syriza, and many other organisations.