External resources relating to Greece

In the early hours of 25 February 2020 hundreds of seaborne riot police arrived at the sleepy port of Mesta on the west side of the Greek island of Chios, on the EU-Turkey border. Their disembarkation was like an invading army, the police columns emerging in full riot gear out of specially chartered boats. There was a grotesque hint of a Star Wars scene in this otherwise forgotten corner of Europe’s war against refugees.

Clashes have broken out on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios, where residents tried to prevent the arrival of riot police and excavating machines to be used to build new migrant detention camps. Police fired teargas to disperse the crowds that gathered early on Tuesday to try to prevent officers from disembarking from government-chartered ferries.

On Lesbos, protesters set fire to bins and used municipal rubbish trucks to try to block the port area. Police on Chios also used teargas and flash grenades. At least three people were treated in hospital for breathing difficulties caused by the extensive use of teargas, local officials said.

This briefing updates the July 2016 report ‘Border Wars: the arms dealers profiting from Europe’s refugee tragedy’ . It shows that the European policy response to the refugee tragedy continues to provide a booming border security market for Europe’s arms and security firms, some of whom are involved in selling arms to the Middle East and North Africa and all of whom encourage European policies focused on keeping refugees out. It’s a win-win for the security corporations, but the cost is a deadly toll for migrants forced into ever more dangerous routes as they flee wars, conflict and oppression.

The refugee crisis facing Europe has caused consternation in the corridors of power, and heated debate on Europe’s streets. It has exposed fundamental faultlines in the whole European project, as governments fail to agree on even limited sharing of refugees and instead blame each other. Far-right parties have surged in popularity exploiting austerity-impacted communities in putting the blame for economic recession on a convenient scapegoat as opposed to the powerful banking sector. This has been most potently seen in the UK, where leaders of the ‘Leave EU’ campaign unscrupulously amplified fears of mass migration to successfully mobilise support for Brexit.   Refugees fleeing terrible violence and hardship have been caught in the crossfire; forced to take ever more dangerous routes to get to Europe and facing racist attacks in host nations when they finally arrive.

However there is one group of interests that have only benefited from the refugee crisis, and in particular from the European Union’s investment in ‘securing’ its borders. They are the military and security companies that provide the equipment to border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements.

This report turns a spotlight on those border security profiteers, examining who they are and the services they provide, how they both influence and benefit from European policies and what funding they receive from taxpayers. The report shows that far from being passive beneficiaries of EU largesse, these corporations are actively encouraging a growing securitisation of Europe’s borders, with some willing to provide ever more draconian technologies to do this.

Idomeni: Macedonian police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at refugees trying to break through Greek border (video).

The refugee crisis has illuminated how “Fortress Europe” acts as the complementary side of a neoliberal, deeply antidemocratic, and authoritarian “European integration.” It has killed the hopes of a left which believed it was possible to break from neoliberalism within the framework of the EU, as “European values” became an alibi for the display of imperialist violence and hypocrisy.

The Mediterranean’s role as the graveyard of Fortress Europe — and southern Europe’s role as its guards — is not new. The “externalization” of the EU border started in the early 1990s and acts as the indispensable supplement to the “free movement of capital, goods, and people” inside the EU — with the movement of “people” always posing the most problems.

Concretely, externalization means the militarization of the border, with the support of increasingly sophisticated electronic surveillance; and the transformation of the external and the internal periphery of the EU into a vast “buffer zone” which acts as a lethal barrier, a filter, and a prison for all those lives excluded from the full humanity of the white, European, Western citizenry...

Police in Hungary used tear gas on refugees trying to cross into the country from Serbia on Wednesday — the latest in several recent incidents in which member states of the European Union used force against asylum seekers, in what experts say may be a violation of international law.

Hungarian politicians resolved to send mounted police, dogs and even helicopters to the area in order to stem the tide of refugees pouring in each day, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said the lawmakers would debate a possible military deployment next week.

Hungary is not the only European country to turn its refugee crisis into a law-enforcement issue...

Fights broke out Tuesday among migrants on the Greek island of Kos, where overwhelmed authorities are struggling to contain increasing numbers of people arriving on rubber dinghies from the nearby Turkish shore.

Hundreds of protesting migrants demanding quick registration began blocking the main coastal road in the island's main town, staging a sit-in.

"We want papers! We want to eat!" they chanted...

The following report highlights three local and international companies that manufacture “non-lethal” crowd control weapons. These weapons are currently used by Israeli authorities and security forces, mainly to suppress non-violent demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, in violation of the right to freedom of expression and association. Despite the fact that they are often labeled as “nonlethal” weapons, they have already been proven as potentially lethal in different incidents around the world, when the use of these weapons led to the death of demonstrators.

The report focuses on three types of weapons as case studies: tear gas canisters, which are produces and marketed by Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI) and M.R. Hunter; “the Scream”, manufactured by Electro-Optics Research & Development (EORD) and LRAD; and “the Skunk”, which is manufactured by Odortec, with the supporting companies: Man and BeitAlfa Technologies. The report will highlight the harmful consequences of these weapons, including their potentially lethal effects. The occupied Palestinian territories are being used as a lab for testing new civil oppression weapons on humans, in order to label them as “proven effective” for marketing abroad.