April 2020
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Month April 2020

To the Living: Brief report on the Greek pandemic crisis and the social struggles against it

This letter aims to inform comrades around the world about the situation in Greece during the coronavirus pandemic.

The first case of coronavirus in Greece was identified on February 26, 2020. On February 27, all public carnival festivals were cancelled; on the March 10 all schools were closed and on March 13 all restaurants, bars, etc. On March 16, all shops were closed except for only a few categories related to the provision of food. On March 18 they banned all assemblies of more than 10 people; on March 20 they closed all public parks. Since March 23 a total lockdown was forced, meaning that you can only go out for certain purposes by sending an sms text or completing a hand-written and signed paper, maximum 2 people at a time. Or else you get a 150 euro fine.

There are multiple scandals in the ways that the government has chosen to deal with the pandemic:

  • The health system had already been in a very grim situation with fewer and fewer doctors over the years and a severe lack of funding even for its basic operation.
  • Multiple denunciations from doctors have been published—saying that the hospitals don’t even have the basic masks and gloves for the staff during the pandemic. The government even published official guidelines for doctors on how to treat patients without having the basic means of protection.
  • A lot of hospitals’ administration offices have forbidden doctors to talk to the press or publish details about the situation in hospitals.
  • They put out a public call for volunteers to join the healthcare system while at the same time they did not even complete the process of hiring new doctors.
  • After the first week, no tests were allowed for the general population because of a lack of test kits. The tests cost 300 euros at private health institutions. A 41-year-old woman died in her home due to respiratory implications without having been allowed to have the test.
  • The government announced that it will offer 30 million euros to private health organizations, and decided to pay double the cost to all those private clinics that provide emergency beds at the same time that it refused to take free tests from the universities. The government also gave 11 million to a toll company because of low road traffic and 11 million euros to the TV channels in order to broadcast the “stay at home” commercials, etc.
  • At the same time, a series of fake news reports that aim to spread fear about “irresponsible citizens” ignoring the regulations have been spread across popular media. They used fake videos, photos, etc.
  • A lot of heads of the Greek Orthodox church were publicly claiming during the first weeks that you cannot catch the virus during an Orthodox church service (despite the practice of serving communion wine from the same spoon). The government did not say anything while at the same time it chose to enter a mosque and arrest people.

The businesses:

  • 40,000 dismissals from work were announced during the first week of the lockdown which are now expected to be more than 150,000.
  • Denunciations have come from workers that companies did not provide any health and safety measures to protect their employees.
  • A working from home pandemic has put a lot of stress on teachers and other professions.


A few weeks before the quarantine, the government decided to create three new closed detention centers on three Greek islands against the will of local people who were organized and clashed with the police. Nationalists and fascists had the time to organize themselves during those days. Then Turkey opened the border for refugees to move towards Greece. The Greek government decided to completely close the border, denying any asylum seekers their right to apply for asylum (and the process of asylum seeking has been suspended for a month) and killed at least three people on the border with Turkey although it never admitted it publicly. Hundreds of people were imprisoned under completely inhumane conditions. At the same time, there was a silent support for the fascists organizing and beating up ngo workers, banning immigrants to move back and forth to the centers and burning at least 3 ngo infrastructures (one even on March 30, despite the quarantine).

Because of the coronavirus they have now closed all detention centers, basically sentencing those people to fight the pandemic alone with no health service provision. On March 31, the first coronavirus case was identified in the detention center of Ritsona where 2,600 people have been kept under total lockdown. Hunger strikes have started in the centers of Paranesti (April 3) and Moria (April 8) against the inhuman conditions of their imprisonment.

The movement:

Until the very last days, before the first ban of 10 people gathering, there were still public demonstrations mostly against the racist attacks of the Greek government and fascists against migrants on the border with Turkey. Generally, a lot less people were on the streets compared to just two weeks before, showing that there was a social consensus on the need to stay at home even from the first days.

We recognized the need to protect ourselves and each other but still tried to go outside for the basics: to support each other and struggle against repression, to try to maintain and strengthen our networks. There is also a wide social public criticism against those who want to be outside of their homes and the media and government are supporting this criticism with fake news and rhetoric about individual responsibility. A widespread ageism against old people who are walking outside is also rising. We are also exploring digital ways that can support our communication and spread the information about those who are in need.

Despite this dystopian situation, a series of brave struggles are already taking place:

  • Students who stay in public university dormitories were asked to leave their rooms and go back to their homes without any health provision strategy—in an attempt to empty the universities. The students have organized themselves and have in most cases already won their right to stay, their right to school restaurants, etc.
  • 300 people working at the airport in Athens were fired through an sms message and have already organized a public demonstration against their dismissal.
  • The union of doctors working at hospitals organized demonstrations on April 7 against their tragic working conditions and the lack of funding in hospitals; the police tried to disrupt the demonstration in a hospital in Athens for “safety” reasons.
  • Local networks for support are being set up in a lot of places.
  • A difficult struggle to support the immigrants is also on its way, through the organization in local neighborhoods and the creation of networks of communication with people in the camps.