Migrants refuse to leave Law School

More than 230 migrants on hunger strike at Athens University?s Law School since Monday have refused the institution?s offer to be moved to another building in central Athens.

The undocumented immigrants and their supporters, including leftist and student groups, met on Thursday afternoon to discuss the offer but decided that they would remain at the Law School.

The university said earlier on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with four nongovernmental organizations for the protesters to be transferred to an undisclosed location. However, campaigners said the migrants felt it was not in their interests to leave the university, where they are out of the authorities? reach due to Greece?s asylum law.

?They have decided not to move to another place because they do not feel they are bothering anyone, given that there are no classes taking place in the Law School building,? said Nikos Giannopoulos, a representative of Solidarity Initiative, which is supporting the protesters. ?They also believe that the other building being proposed does not fulfill the criteria they had agreed on [before the protest began].?

The government, which has refused to meet the migrants? demands for residence permits, repeated its calls for the protest to end.

?This is an abuse of university asylum by a group of migrants that has been led there and is being manipulated by specific organizations and political forces,? said Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou. ?Prolonging this situation is not good for the country or anyone.?

The government has so far been reluctant to remove the migrants by force as it fears this could lead to clashes with protesters.