Yanis Varoufakis’s Diary: The Brexit saga, and defending refugees in Greece

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I am saddened and angered by the cacophony that followed the fire at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos. 

Reading the newspapers last Monday, I was reminded that negotiations with Brussels are always an occasion for second-rate theatre. Ultimatums are usually issued by EU negotiators facing UK governments that talk enthusiastically of red lines and sovereignty. But now, if the Telegraph is to be believed, it is Boris Johnson who has given the EU 38 days to propose a post-Brexit deal – or else. While history is not on Johnson’s side, there is a difference between him and other premiers who buckled: he is not bluffing. It seems he would like a deal, but is not desperate for one. Let’s see how the EU deals with this in October, when trade talks are supposed to conclude.

Setting aside this latest episode of the Brexit saga, I began preparing for a leaders’ debate in Greece’s parliament over our government’s handling of Covid-19. Our party, MeRA25, was not the only one to chastise the government for failing to hire extra doctors and nurses, leaving our national health service in a dilapidated state after a decade of austerity. However, I was the only parliamentary leader to absolve the government of incompetence and instead claim that it was its explicit policy to drive public health into the ground for a parasitic oligarchy seeking to privatise it.

Saddened and angered

Two days later, I awoke to the news that the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos had burned down overnight. Assembled in 2015, when nearly a million people passed through the island, it eventually became an EU-sanctioned prison camp, with 13,000 people packed in a space designed for 1,800. While at first they were free to move in and out of the camp, more recently the gates were locked shut.

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In response to reports that refugees had started the fires intentionally to burn down the hideous camp, xenophobic yells filled the airwaves. Politicians, bureaucrats and commentators competed to find ways to condemn the “ungrateful” migrants. One minister said the state must not be blackmailed into providing better conditions, and that the refugees should be taught a lesson by being left to suffer in makeshift tents for months. 

Saddened and angered by this cacophony, I posted the following in my blog:

What would you do if you, your family and another 13,000 people were incarcerated in a prison camp built for 1,800 people, without running water, without heating, without knowing when you will be given a hearing to decide between deportation and asylum (some people have been in there for four years) and, to cap it all, you heard that 35 positive Covid-19 tests were returned in an environment where it is impossible to self isolate and where there are zero doctors to look after you? Would you not try to find a way to break down the gates so that you can escape the living hell? Would it be wrong to start thinking that maybe starting a fire is the answer? …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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