It has been a while now that commentators have expressed concern that the wave of immigration passing through Greece will be stuck in Greece. After the cascade of border closures from Austria all the way down to Macedonia (FYROM for the nationalist readers of this blog), the inevitable has come to pass. While Syrians and a select other nationalities are allowed to pass on, everyone else (considered a migrant and not a refugee) is stuck on the Greek side of the border.
After the collected groups of people reacted to their predicament by blocking the railway line linking Greece to the Balkans, the government took action to remove them and offer some ‘progress’ on this issue.
What did they do? They pilled everyone into buses and dropped them in Athens in one of the disused (Olympic legacy anyone?) Olympic stadiums. Here is what the international press said about this ‘solution’.
Al Jazeera reported that hundreds of asylum seekers lined up to receive food outside a former Olympic Taekwondo centre – now a makeshift camp for refugees and migrants – while dozens of heavily armed Greek riot police watched.
You may think that these are young men, looking for work, so they can take a bit of rough sleeping? The Guardian told us the story of Amina:
is eight years old and running a fever. In her thinly padded pink anorak, hood pulled up over her curls and pallid face, she watches listlessly from the couch as her parents listen carefully to the doctor’s instructions over her medication.
In another place, in another city, at another time, perhaps, this sick child would be taken home to be tucked up in bed with hot drinks. But Amina has no home any more and tonight her bed is a grey donated blanket on the concrete floor of the tae kwon do stadium in Athens. Once this building was the pride of Greece’s 2004 Olympics; this weekend it is a squalid, cold place full of desperate people.
Yesterday (15.12.15) the people were informed that they will participate in a novel type of Immigrant Olympics and move to a different ex-Olympic venue, this time in Hellinikon (site of the old Athens Airport). Today (16.12.15) everyone was told to await evacuation and relief teams (volunteers) were told not to prepare provisions. Alas, no one had bothered to arrange transportation and those who made it to the new site found the venue closed and unavailable, as teams are trying to clean it from debris collected during the years of ‘use’ after the Olympics.
What sort of government is this you may ask, which brings hundreds of people into its capital city and leaves them stranded to fend for themselves? It is a government represented by this guy, Panos Kammenos, the Minister of Defense.
The government, beyond ignoring border safety, internal security and basic human rights is actually doing something progressive. Civil partnerships for gay couples are getting debated in parliament. Well done to Syriza for bringing this to Parliament and passing the first committee hearing (You see, I am not always negative!).
The aforementioned Mr Kammenos takes a different view however. He is against it, and his MPs are voting against the proposal. Asked by a friendly (oh so friendly) journalist yesterday on national TV whether he is homo-phobic, Mr Kammenos offered this gem:
“Καλά, ο Ομπάμα μπορεί και να τους παντρεύει αν θέλει. Και στη Γερμανία έχουν αποφασίσει να κάνουν οίκο ανοχής για κτηνοβάτες, θέλει ο άλλος να πηγαίνει με σκύλο με γάτα, με καμήλα, με καμηλοπάρδαλη. Επειδή λοιπόν το κάνουν στη Γερμανία, θα θέλω εγώ να παντρεύεται ο άλλος καμήλα;”.
[my translation] “Ok, Mr Obama can marry who he wants. And in Germany they have decided to open brothels for bestiality, if one wants to sleep with dogs, cats, camels, giraffes. Because they are doing it in Germany, would I want someone to marry a camel?”
You have to appreciate the parallel. While the government of Syriza is treating refugees and immigrants like animals, a minister is teaching us about the options for animal sex in other Member States.
Splendid. Given the choice between Mr Kammenos and a camel, I know which I would choose.