In Athens, on 13 to 14 February took place a meeting of solidarity groups of people, collectives, activists and autonomous people, from all over Greece, working on the refugee crisis. In this meeting, I found a copy of “The coldest summer” (Το πιο κρύο καλοκαίρι, Τρεις πραγματικές ιστορίες προσφύγων), an illustrated edition of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. In the cover image, there is a beach in Lesvos island, in Greece, full of red lifejackets and a plastic sea boat with refugees, that just arrived from Turkey.
“The coldest summer” edition documents the difficulties encountered by Syrian and Afgan refugees, on their journey to Europe. The illustrations were made by Dimitra Adamopoulou Thanasis Peter and George Tragaki, based on interviews with refugees, presenting briefly the conditions that they experienced in their countries, the trafficking risks, their difficulties to cross the Aegean sea, in Greece (as refugees call it “The great river”) and the brutal treatment by the European authorities, especially in Hungary that closed their borders and slamming the door on thousands of refugees and the bureaucracy nightmare in Greece, Germany etc).
The three stories manage to motivate emotionally the reader to be supportive of the refugees. It includes valuable information about their journey and the restriction on their movement. However, the stories presented briefly. For this reason, there are many generalisations and simplifications. A typical example is that through the storytelling there is no mention of the fact that the solidarity movement for refugees which take place in Europe is also politicised and not just a charity action.
In addition, “The coldest Summer” issue includes an interesting articles by Michalis Panagiotakis, that is called “10 points for the geopolitical situation of the refugee crisis” It refers to the causes of the refugee crisis, mentioning the continued destabilisation of the Middle East by the continuous interventionism of USA (I would like to add also the European Union) and the bombing operations against them.
A second point is about the failure of the “Arab Spring” to establish more democratic regimes. In my opinion, the “Arab Spring” is a rather confused situation, which is open to many interpretations. Eventually, the so-called “democratisation” was used by the Western countries as a pretext for their constant interference, presenting themselves as a Saviour.
Finally, the text mentions the inability of immigrants and refugees be integrated into society, trapping them in a system of “illegality”. The EU do not recognise them equality in terms of both rights and obligations, including those of legal employment. This illegal status makes them vulnerable and easily used by the European governments as a cheap workforce. This is a great truth, which can become even more complicated with the distinction between refugees and economic migrants. What defines who is a refugee and who is an immigrant? Who is an asylum seeker and who is not? Once the war in Syria will finish, the Syrian refugees will still be refugees or they will be just economic migrants, that they will be forced out of EU, pushed back to a country devastated by a war, equipped with our modern weapons?
Read it online:
(Greek language) here
English language here