Acharnon Street, 22 March 2017
For those of us at the Refugee Accommodation Space City Plaza community, the need and the call for a large pan-European mobilization against the completion of anti-refugee policies by the EU and its member states, and e focus on an alternative to these, became prominent last November, during the celebration of the first six months at City Plaza.
18th March, a date which makes one year since the signing of the EU-Turkey deal, was the ideal opportunity to turn this idea into a reality. The response to our call by initiatives, organizations and structures from over 50 European cities is enough to make this mobilization a success. However, we believe that we have to insist on he following points:
In Athens, the initiative for the organization of the 18M protest, through its common call and actions in camps, social spaces and workplaces, led to the biggest antiracist protest of the past few years. It is not a given that this was going to be achieved together by everyone involved. Over the past few years, we were divided into separate protests. City Plaza contributed to this (not on its own, of course) through its call for a common assembly for setting up the framework for the mobilization.
This way, thousands of different moths, thousands of different slogans in many different languages rallied against racism, war, poverty and fascism, against the EU-Turkey deal of shame. The participation of refugees from camps was very large, and sets an important precedent for ongoing struggles.
The picture in cities across the country was similar. Over 19 demonstrations took place in the rest of Greece, on islands and cities, where refugees and locals created a big event that resonated throughout the country. The Panhellenic Network of Antiracist and Migrant Organizations contributed significantly to making this a nationwide event.
Despite and disagreements which may have arisen, the initiative and the demonstration showed, in practice, the potential and the counterexamples which can be set within the movement through the coordination and unity of struggle, when these have deep roots.
At the same time, we should give special mention to the international campaign, and to the great response to the call for an international day of action. From Rome to London, from Berlin to Basque Country, the streets were filled with people protesting against racism and austerity. This is an important internationalist precedent, not only because it highlighted the fact that the issue of refugees is not cut off from the other forms of oppression and discipline for people’s, but also because it can serve as a reference point for a systematic networking of European social movements.
From the first day, City Plaza has, since day one, attempted to serve as a wider center of struggle for the solidarity movement. It wishes to show that, apart from the terrible government camps, there is an alternative, that it is possible for spaces to exist with cities, in which living conditions are dignified and relationships are equal. Spaces in which, despite their localization or material constraints, the wish to «live together» is turned into reality. And it is exactly this desire which filled the City Plaza block with a multitude of colours, people, languages, and feelings. A block in which the sense of community and of the essential common struggle were not only theoretical declarations but lived experiences. In this way, refugees, locals, as well as many international activists, contributed to breaking the routine and monotony of mobilizations last, reminding us that it is beautiful to struggle collectively in order to change the world.
We therefore keep 18th March in our memory as a practice and as a reminder of the potential of social movements, without disregarding our duties for the coming period. The whole of the social movement should stand against the European atrocity against refugees, which is presented as the only alternative (that, too!), and to oppose it through an internationalist and class lens, to defend the unity of individual, political, and social rights.
In the coming period, City Plaza will attempt to take new initiatives for the continuation and deepening of movement coordination for the refugee issues, both inside and outside Greece.
The events to celebrate one year at City Plaza in April may be an opportunity to share experiences, thoughts, and ideas.
Close the camps of shame, not the solidarity squats.
No to the EU-Turkey deal
Against the government policies of repression and «management»
Freedom of movement. Equal Rights.
Solidarity will win.