Local residents of Lesvos and Chios have 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 the two islands.
Local residents of Lesvos and Chios have prevented a ship carrying construction materials and machinery for the construction of new migrant camps from docking.
Hundreds of local residents and officials, first on the island of Chios in the northeastern Aegean Sea and then on Lesvos, gathered in the main ports of the two islands on Thursday (January 6) to block the cargo ship “Pelagitis”, organizing large-scale demonstrations against the government’s initiative.
Residents demonstrate despite the holidays
The ship, which was also carrying other cargo, was unable to dock on any of the islands 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 plans to create new detention centers will not be accepted. The local communities of Chios and Lesbos have spoken; no new migrant centers, whether closed or open. We warned them: don’t think about trying to get the machines to Mytilene. The people of Lesbos are waiting for them. We are here to prevent it, ”the organization said.
Although Thursday is a national epiphany holiday in Greece, residents of both islands, along with local authorities, rallied to block the gates of both ports throughout the day, shouting slogans and carrying signs with the dominant theme: “Not on Chios, Neither on Lesbos, nor anywhere. No more concentration camps on the Greek islands.”
There were also slogans expressing their support for the refugee populations.
The government’s reaction remains to be seen
It remains to be seen what the government’s reaction 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 force in Chios and Lesvos stands in stark contrast to scenes of ferries packed with riot police descending on the islands in February 2020, when there were clashes between locals and police over the same. problem.
According to local media, Thursday’s events may have been an indication that the government does not want to clash more with local communities, given the current political situation in Greece with the popularity of New Democracy declining.
Many media watchers also claim that it could have been an “experiment” or litmus test to gauge the reaction and mood of the local population.
At the time of writing (January 7), no official statement had been released by the Greek government regarding the incidents at the ports of Chios and Lesvos.