Another 20 immigrants from the group of 237 that have been on hunger strike in Athens since last month were taken to the hospital over the weekend after showing signs of extreme exhaustion.
Supporters of the hunger strike, which entered its 35th day on Sunday, said that some of the protesters had even stopped accepting fluids to drink. Four members of the group were taken to the hospital last week.
«They won’t even drink water and the doctors that are watching them fear that there will be more members of the group in a state that will require hospital treatment,» said Petros Yiotis, a member of the Solidarity Initiative, which has backed the protest since it began at Athens University’s Law School and then moved to a listed building in the city center.
The migrants had only been drinking water and sugar for the last 35 days in an effort to put pressure on the government to renew their residence permits. Most of the protesters had been working in Greece legally but were unable to renew their permits because of a shortage of social security credits as a result of work drying up.
The government has said it will reduce the number of social security credits needed for a residence permit in view of the rising unemployment rate, but has refused to agree to the demands of the protesting immigrants, who are mostly from North African countries.
Yiotis also claimed that the police had asked doctors at the various Athens hospitals where the ill migrants have been taken to supply details about their patients.
«The police have asked for information about the patients as well as reports about the state of their health,» said Yiotis. «The doctors have refused to pass on any details as this goes against medical confidentiality rules.»