“We won’t eat till they look at our claim”

Here are some pics that tell the story as eloquently as reams of text… the ones of the police kettle are by the wonderful Dimitris A and the rest are mine. I’ve also done a bit of filming, but it needs a lot of editing so might not be up for a while.

The title of this post is a quote from Ezmerey, one of the Afghan campaigners speaking on behalf of his friends on hunger strike. One of the big problems with seeking asylum in Greece, is that the actual process is incredibly difficult. These men aren’t appealing a decision because no decision on their claims has been made. The police manage immigration here and only look at claims once a week (it’s usually Friday) at around 11 at night. Hundreds queue up to have their applications looked at and just 20 are chosen. The backlog is around 70,000 and will take years to clear, one lawyer told me. If you have a genuine claim – applicants from Afghanistan or Somalia for example – it is less likely your case will be looked at. More on this in another post.

afghan boy looks in fear at the riot police

riot police surround afghan men on way to greek ministry of citizen protection

police look on as Afghan men defiant in Greece

University of Propylaea

Afgan man with sewn lips

This man has been on hunger strike since 29 December with five others. After failing to get a response from the ministry of citizen protection on Tuesday, two more Afghans have joined them.

The 100 Afghans involved in the Propylaea protests includes women and children. They take turns to camp outside in these tents outside the university.
Afghani children join the protesthome on streets of Athens

Afghan campaigners outside university in Athens
The empty chairs represent the two hunger strikers rushed to hospital last wknd. They've since been released and are continuing with the strike.

Afghan hunger strikers rushed to hospital

Hundreds of Greeks have signed the petition in support of the Afghan asylum seekers campaign. Many stop to ask questions, but not everyone has been positive. The camp has been attacked several times by far-right anti-immigrant groups. On Saturday night, police struggled to control clashes between these groups and anti-fascist protestors in the district of Agios Panteleimonas, a large immigrant area. Some very good pictures of that here – http://tinyurl.com/67fwn3a

Afghan camp on main shopping district in Athens

Greek woman stops to talk to Afghan asylum seeker