National elections were held in Greece on 21 May. The so-called “progressive forces” of the left and center parties were defeated—once again—by the right-wing New Democracy Party, which has held control of the government for the last four years. The conservative neoliberal right won by a considerable percentage which came as a big surprise to most people. Greece will go to a second election round on 25 June, determining the final result.
Meanwhile, two days before the national elections, on 19 May, the New York Times published a particularly revealing report on the pushbacks in Greece: an article with video evidence that shows the Greek Coast Guard rounding up 12 asylum seekers, including young children, and abandoning them on a raft at sea. More specifically, according to the article, the migrants were stripped of their belongings, including cash and phones, and were forcibly loaded onto a raft. They were then set adrift, left to navigate the waters in an engineless raft prone to capsizing. The practice highlighted by this critical report is not the exception but the rule in managing the Greek and European borders. Although pushback-related news is not covered at all by the mainstream media, this news doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
The Greek government has denied knowing anything about this incident that was brought to the public’s attention while at the same time proudly referring to its migration policy as “tough but fair.”
The fact that this government has again received a vote of confidence from the Greek people is of particular concern to CPT-Aegean Migrant Solidarity, as we fear that its implementation of anti-migration policies and illegal pushbacks—together with the European Union—are being socially legitimized, and therefore can continue to be implemented unhindered.
We do not want to believe that the people of Greece are accustomed to the horrors of border violence and death and that the issue of the inhumane treatment of migrants no longer concerns them.
We pray that these violent border policies, which in some cases have cost lives, will eventually be roundly condemned and rejected by the Greek people.