OPINION

Yet another barrier

The wall has always been there – a high wall. An invisible wall, but no less real than the 12.5-kilometer fence that our Socialist government plans to set up along a section of the border between Greece and Turkey in the Evros area – with thermal cameras, but not electrified (at least for the time being). There is already a wall in Evros, a wall of mines, in spite of Greece signing an international agreement to clear the area. There’s another wall too, a wall of bullets, that tend to ricochet off rocks or trees after flying from the guns of border guards and policemen and into the skulls and backs of migrants. And there is the wall in the cities, and not just Athens. That particular wall takes a variety of forms. The wall of bureaucracy, to take one example, kept up with state regulations, has made sure that refugee recognition rates are maintained at near-zero levels (as Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis was the first to admit). Oblivious to the problems facing asylum seekers who have fled faraway places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations beset by war, hunger and suppression, and insensitive to any evidence of persecution, the state has failed to cater to the needs of these human beings. Then there is the wall of cynicism and cruelty that blocks those migrants who do possess official documents, like residence permits, but who have been forced to give them up during searches or investigations. There are ample stories about those sadistic guardians of the law who show no compunction about destroying their papers, even inside police stations, their malignity accompanied by laughter that provokes the frustration of those who have been pushed into the zone of lawlessness. So these people have had to rush, with any money left in their pockets, to the opportunistic middlemen who have raised their own wall, a wall of profiteering at the expense of the destitute masses. But the wall of crude profiteering runs across the country; and it is getting higher. Migrants work without social security on the islands and in the mountains, often as shepherds or builders, and when the time comes to collect their scant reward, their employer calls the police to snitch on them. They are then arrested and repatriated, as the wall turns into a police van. All these walls have in the past been defended as reasonable. The latest one has been portrayed as a «reasonable and necessary» means of protection. There’s little to be surprised at.