Local residents of Lesvos and Chios prevented a ship carrying construction materials and machinery for the construction of migrant camps from docking. The Greek government plans to build “closed and controlled access centers” on both islands.
Local residents of Lesvos and Chios prevented a ship carrying construction materials and machinery for the construction of new migrant camps from docking.
Hundreds of local residents and local officials, first on the island of Chios in the northeast Aegean and then on Lesvos, gathered in the main ports of the two islands on Thursday (January 6) to blocking the cargo ship “Pelagitis”, organizing large-scale protests against the government’s initiative.
Residents stage protest, despite holidays
The ship, which was also carrying other cargo, was unable to land on either island and finally set sail around 6 p.m. for Thessaloniki.
“We call on the workers and institutions of Lesbos to rise up,” the Pan-Lesbos Workers’ Center said in a press release. “The government’s plan to create new detention centers will not be accepted. The local communities of Chios and Lesvos have spoken out; no new migrant centers, whether closed or open. We have warned them: do not don’t think about trying to bring the machinery to Mytilene. The people of Lesvos are waiting for them. We are here to prevent it,” the organization said.
Although Thursday is a national holiday for the Epiphany in Greece, residents of both islands, along with local officials, gathered to block the gates of the two ports throughout the day, shouting slogans and carrying signs. with the dominant theme: “Not on Chios, Not on Lesvos, not anywhere. No more concentration camps on the Greek islands.
There were also slogans expressing their support for the refugee populations.
The reaction of the government remains to be seen.
It remains to be seen what the reaction of the government will be. Two of the new closed and controlled access centers have already been built in Samos and Leros, and three more are planned by the government, including two in Chios and Lesbos.
Beyond celebrations among local residents for what was seen as a great victory for the people, the move raises questions about the government’s plans.
The relatively small police forces present on both Chios and Lesbos stand in stark contrast to the scenes of ferries full of riot police descending on the islands in February 2020, when there were clashes between locals and police on the same problem.
According to local media, Thursday’s events were perhaps an indication that the government does not want to clash further with local communities, given the current political situation in Greece with New Democracy’s declining popularity.
Many media observers also say it could have been an “experiment”, or a litmus test to gauge the reaction and mood of the local population.
As of this writing (January 7), no official statement has been issued by the Greek government regarding the incidents at the ports of Chios and Lesbos.