In Shisto, a few kilometers from the harbor of Piraeus, a Hot Spot started functioning in the end of February. The Hot Spots are part of the plan of the government in order to manage migration. They are mainly temporary structures for the refugees to settle and are mainly in the responsibility of the army.
While the Shisto camp was still under construction a mobilization was set up against it. Mainly people from the Golden Dawn party, signing as “Citizens of Piraeus”, launched a big campaign throughout the city against the construction of the Hot Spot. The days before the 8th of February –when the mobilization took place- the streets of the city were full of leaflets with the slogan “NO CENTER OF ILLEGAL MIGRANTS IN SHISTO” while the basic points translated here were:
- Our local societies cannot afford any more deterioration.
- We don’t want to be a center of incoming illegals.
- We cannot afford any more unemployment and criminality.
- We cannot let our country be islamiphied.
Furthermore in Perama -as it is the neighborhood closer to Shisto- they were also collecting signatures door to door. Around 200 people participated in the mobilization against Shisto and many of the MP’s of the Golden Dawn Party.
In parallel there was another gathering, just a few meters away, by antiracist and antifascist collectives opposing Golden Dawn with main slogan “KICK OUT THE FASCISTS FROM OUR NEIGHBOORHOODS”.
In between the two gatherings strong police forces were preventing the clash.
On the 22nd of February, a few days before the opening of the camp, probably the same fascist groups that organized the demonstration against Shisto, hanged a cross and the head of a pig on the wires around the camp. They wanted to suggest that this is an unwelcoming place for Muslims.
I visited Shisto three times since it started functioning. In an old and abandoned army camp more than 2.000 people reside today. They are mainly Afghans, who are not longer considered “refugees” and cannot cross the borders through the Balkan route.
They are free to exit the camp with a white paper they are given while also local groups and NGO’s can enter more or less freely the camp. Around 2.000 people are settled in Shisto now. The infrastructure is provided by the army and by some NGO’s or international institutions like UNHCR.
While I was there the Municipality of Drapetsona – Keratsini brought two old goalposts and the game immediately started…
Around the Shisto camp small economic activities just popped up. Taxi drivers queue in the entrance in order to transfer people who want to go out and employees from mobile telephone companies are always around the camp to sell sim cards to the migrants. At the same time, a canteen that used to be open only on Sundays when an open air market is taking place in Shisto, started functioning daily. A couple from Perama together with their 30 years old son are running the family “business”. They added chicken meat –as Muslims don’t eat pork- and falafel to their menu while they also translated the catalogue to Farsi.
Today people in Perama are ambivalent about Shisto camp. Many of the residents are in solidarity to the refugees and are trying to support them. On Saturday the Solidarity Assembly of Perama made a stand in the central square of the town to collect stuff for the refugees and hundreds of people came to support and bring things. At the same time other people say they are afraid and worried. In the upper Perama residents even made “night guards” to secure their houses: “They come around here, in the night, we hear the dogs barking, we go out. They haven’t done anything yet, but we have to be careful”. And he adds “Because we have our children, that’s why we are afraid”.