rsaegean.org | 28 January 2022
Michalis Psimitis "The anti-immigration policy makes the islands an arena of conflicts and tensions"
It is obvious that this escalation of control and surveillance regimes to which you rightly refer serves, among other things, two main goals. The first is located within Lesvos and consists in the pursuit of a pattern of total isolation, complete control and total surveillance of refugees on the island. Thus, we gradually move from the vast and uncontrolled camp of Moria, as a ‘necessary evil’ of a first and chaotic refugee response, to the smaller, organised and police-controlled structure of Kara Tepe, while the final goal is a centre in the Vastria area where refugees will be isolated, trapped in a 245-acre fenced area very far from Mytilene. They will thereby be more effectively controlled: on the one hand they will be deprived of the possibility to move around the city, on the other hand, any forms of collective protest they (are forced to) choose to resort to in the future will be far from the ‘centre’ and therefore remain invisible.
The second goal is nationwide, insofar as the creation of the Centre in Vastria aims to send or rather reinforce an older message to all potential refugees, i.e. those who in the future might venture across the Aegean to reach the Greek islands. The message is “do not bother to come, because a life of deprivation and hardship awaits you, without any possibility to move freely, to circulate, to interact with others, to consume, to protest, in short, a life without dignity”. This realises an older and well-known slogan of the political leadership, to “make their life unbearable” as a precondition for preventing migration! This objective, coupled of course with the fact that we have systematically had deaths at the borders in recent years (as demanded a few years ago by a far-right official who now heads a ministry tasked with protecting life…), marks the essence of our country’s migration policy under the New Democracy era. The planning of the construction of the new concentration centre in Vastria absolutely serves this policy.