Okay, to be honest, I’d expected the hunger strike by the 300 greek immigrants to end, well, horribly. But instead, the government pretty much caved, after a month and a half of big talk and threats. The hunger strikers have won. It is a bit of a compromise, yes, but, what they have done is amazing. What they got:
- the time limit for application for permanent residence in the country is now dropped to eight years (down from twelve).
- work credit (ensima) are disconnected from the application for permanent residence.
- all three-hundred migrant hunger strikers will be allowed to apply for 6-month rolling permits until the reach they 8-year limit in order to gain permanent residence.
I don’t know this stuff inside and out, but:
the first concession is a major step, but the second concession is huge. Basically, (as far as I can figure out), migrant workers in greece have had to spend all their time hustling for stamps that say they’ve worked, despite a lot of employers not giving them out, etc… so if you’d come to greece and hadn’t always found work, you would be out of luck when you applied for residence. And now that has changed.
The last concession is good, since just yesterday the government was threatening to deport the hunger strikers.
Okay, and here’s the thing: this is big news for migrants in greece, but it’s big news across the globe as well, or at least it should be. These 300 people (that’s a fucking lot of people, you understand, to do something this extreme) were ready to die to confront the horrors of the immigrant situation. And they were self-organized: they weren’t being used by the ISO or any other political group (even the anarchists) to achieve anyone else’s goals. They stood up to rain, snow, prosecution, siege, and near-death without buckling. If the spirit of Tahrir Square is the spirit of developing nations (from which most migrants originate) fighting for justice, then I would argue the Cretan hunger strikers are the model for migrants who have landed in the first world.