Immigrant farm-workers tortured by Greek landlords Friday, July 17, 2009
By: Nikos Kavadias
Down with anti-immigrant attacks!
A monstrous crime was committed on June 18 in the Greek town of Nea Manolada. Two immigrant farm workers from Bangladesh were beaten up, tortured and pilloried (publicly humiliated) by two Greek landlords, Dionisis Gomostiotis and Petros Samaris.
Greek authorities assaulted and burned an immigrant refugee camp down to the ground in Patras on July 12.
The bigoted landlords alleged that the workers were stealing their sheep. They never filed a police report.
According to their story, they waited one night by their pen and saw three immigrants approach it. They recognized two of them but the next day could not find them. They then attacked another immigrant from Bangladesh, tied him up and tortured him until he agreed to guide them to the other immigrants.
When they found the immigrants they were after, they assailed, threatened, tied up, beat and tortured them. Then they roped them behind their motorbike and dragged them through the town center.
At one point, the workers got tired and fell down. The thugs stopped their bike, propped them up, beat them and continued pillorying them. They stopped only when the police arrived.
The police, loyal as always to the propertied classes, arrested all four of them, claiming that the workers were undocumented.
On June 22, the district attorney of Amaliada openly sided with the thugs. The Bangladeshi workers were charged with felonies for their alleged attempt to steal sheep, while the Greek bigots were charged with misdemeanors.
One year ago in the same town, immigrant farm workers staged a three-day strike against the local strawberry agribusiness. The landlords responded with a violent rampage. They threatened and beat workers with clubs and fired shotguns in the air. They even threw dynamite at the workers’ protest rally. The workers stood their ground and forced the landlords to concede.
During those events, the police witnessed the landlord terrorism but did nothing to stop it.
Government policies promote racist attacks
The recent attacks and the response of the local authorities are no surprise. They flow from the racist anti-immigrant policies of the Greek government itself. In its effort to keep wages low and the working class divided, the government is constantly escalating its attacks on immigrant workers. It denies even the most basic human rights.
The Greek government ignores its most basic duties under international law towards refugees. In 2008, the Greek government granted refugee status to only 358 people of 29,573 who applied. Tens of thousands more immigrants tried to apply but were unable to. Applications must be delivered in person and applicants need to wait for up to two days in line. Instead of granting asylum, the government is mass deporting the refugees.
On July 12, Greek police raided and burned to the ground a refugee camp in the town of Patras. On June 23, 25 undocumented workers from Afghanistan were flown back to the war zone—back to a country occupied by NATO forces, including Greek troops. An increasing percentage of immigrants come from countries that are in the crosshairs of imperialism: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, and Pakistan.
The government is now preparing concentration camps where undocumented immigrants will be incarcerated for 12 months before being deported.
Greece is the entry point to Europe for many immigrant workers. The government is increasing its anti-immigrant assaults in cooperation with Italy, Spain and other European countries.
The entire Greek elite is supporting these attacks on immigrants, including the major opposition PASOK party, the chauvinist LAOS party, all mainstream media, local governments and land developers. Nazi gangs that appear as "citizens’ committees" are assaulting immigrants in their houses or on the streets with makeshift or real weapons.
The rise in racism and violence against immigrants in Greece and other imperialist countries is not accidental. Mass immigration in the era of capitalist globalization is a result of the owners' need to under-develop and dominate the resources of poorer countries abroad and the need for cheap labor at home.
During times of economic crisis, when workers all over the world face a tidal wave of unemployment, the capitalist powers seek to turn as many sectors of society against immigrants as possible in order to direct workers' anger and frustration away from the guilty party: the capitalist class. Racism and attacks on immigrants are given the seal of approval by government oppression, violent raids, mass deportations and worse.
Joining immigrants in struggle against racist attacks is a necessary component of working-class struggle, especially in a time of global economic crisis.