The City Plaza squat at 78 Acharnon celebrates its first month. The hotel now houses refugee families totaling 385 people, including 180 children. These include 22 single parent families, as well as people with disabilities. The nationalities that make up City Plaza include Afghans, Kurds, Syrians, Palestinians, Iranians, Iraqis and Pakistanis. The families being housed at City Plaza were selected on the basis of their previous “housing” arrangement as well as on the particular problems being faced by each one. Each family lives in a separate room of the hotel, while all inhabitants are provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as with hygiene products and other essentials. Nearly all are covered through solidarity offerings, while the few purchases that need to be made are financed through donations sourced from within Greece and from abroad.
In a framework of self- organization and coexistence, there are teams for cleaning, cooking, security, education and childcare, medical care, communications, reception, as well as regular assemblies of refugees and solidarians. Initiatives such as that of City Plaza, apart from granting obvious rights and needs, also put in practice a conception of everyday life which aims to, through self organization and “bottom up” emancipation, ultimately form a space of freedom and creativity, which will act as living proof of the society which we envision.
Refugee Accommodation Space City Plaza had and still has as its founding principle the ensuring of dignified living space for refugees, in an attempt to act as a paradigm for tackling the housing issue faced by over fifty thousand refugees trapped in Greece – and not only that. In the face of the terrible conditions of thousands of refugees being cramped in so called “hospitality centers” off the urban grid, we propose coexistence and cohabitation in the centers of cities.
We do not, of course, believe that the problem can only be solved through squatting, as the provision of shelter is a fundamental obligation of the state; we do, however, believe that squats can act as a means for claiming rights and for struggle, so that a definitive solution may be given to the issue of permanent housing, as well as to issues pertaining to social inclusion of economic and political refugees, relating to their access without restrictions to social services, the granting of asylum to those who wish it and, of course, to securing that which is needed for those who wish to continue their journey to their destinations.
There is no doubt that following the EU- Turkey deal of shame, and not only the submission of the Greek government to it, but its active cooperation furthermore, the problems of refugees only become greater. Idomeni and the port of Piraeus, the worsening of living conditions in the hotspots, the dramatic conditions in centers such as those in Ioannina and Koutsochero, the continuing deportations and detentions, prove that government policy is not only anti-refugee, but has also reached a dead end as such. We continue to believe that the struggle for the right to free movement and open borders must expand and be coordinated at European level, in complete opposition to the governments of the EU. At the same time, we need struggles to take place in each country, especially in those welcoming the greatest number of refugees, for equal rights to economic and political refugees, common struggles of locals and refugees against xenophobia, racism, exploitation and exclusion, for open and welcoming societies, so that the policy of solidarity, equality and freedom may at last prevail.
City Plaza as a center of struggle
We believe that the struggle for the rights of economic and political refugees is part of the struggle of the wider social movement against austerity, the memoranda, class and national divisions. We wish for City Plaza to be a lively hub of activity for this common struggle. Nothing more, nothing less.
Together with those who are active in the dozens of initiatives and anti racist movements, together with worker’s clubs and neighborhood spaces, together with people’s assemblies and cultural centers, we want to rethink the forms of organization and coexistence in everyday life, both within and outside the squat. We want to try to create a broad network of unions, schools, hospitals, not only for the support of City Plaza, but mainly for solidarity to the trapped refugees and for resistance to the ant refugee policy of the government. We wish to insist on the importance of the local, by strengthening our links to the Victoria Square neighborhood which, for the past few years, has become a hub for migrant movement, as well as a locus of extreme right intervention.
OPEN ASSEMBLY – MONDAY 23 MAY, 18.00, AT CITY PLAZA