Our immigrant students left Greece for Canada and paid for fake passports

Burned out mosque with golden dawn graffiti Attiki
Photo: Burned-out mosque daubed with Golden Dawn insignia, Attiki. By Abi Ramanan, October 2012

These are more transcripts from the recorded interviews that Abi Ramanan and I made in Athens several weeks ago. We interviewed people there about the economic crisis, service cuts and the rise of fascism. We’re publishing transcripts from the recorded interviews we made on this site.

In t his interview, Amalia Vasilakaki, a language teacher who teaches free Greek language classes for immigrants in Athens, talks about the problems her students, who are all immigrants, are dealing with in Greece as they are targeted by fascists and the Golden Dawn. There’s a transcript and recorded interview with three of her students here.

“The language school operates everyday, I deliver Greek language courses to immigrants. Following austerity and the financial crisis, and the rise of racism in the last year, most of the students have left. They have left Greece.

There is a video which one student of mine videoed. Most of the students in this video are already outside Greece – they have already left. Four have emigrated to Canada [among those in the video], one married a Spanish girl and he was working in Spain, and then moved to Algeria and he is now working for a Spanish multinational. He has Spanish citizenship.

To cut a long story short, those remaining in Greece are those who are trapped. They cannot leave. They are undocumented, they don’t have money, they don’t have the contacts.

Apart from my former student who married the Spanish girl and became an EU citizen, the rest, who went to Canada, have done it in an illegal way.

They deposited [money] and used fake Bulgarian passports. So, as far as I’m concerned, I think the major issue at this point of time, is the immigration ring. These people are earning lots of money – they are bribing the police and other people. They have links with the mafia. The police are collaborating with foreigners to promote these immigration rings.

We have been operating for around 15 years delivering Greek language classes to immigrants because we believe that we should show our solidarity with them and this is all we can do.

We are like “cheeky” students who learn from each other, we exchange knowledge about our cultures but we are not an NGO [non-government organisation].

We are contributing to this from our own budget for materials, like photocopies etc. My other job is teaching Spanish and Greek.”

Alexandros is a dentist and also teachers Greek at the language school. In this interview, he speaks about his students and the rise of fascism in Greece.

“I teach Greek here. I also speak German and English, and I want to start teaching German. I used to come here for many years before and I have been teaching here for seven years, and I can tell you that most people don’t come here to stay. They are in transit.

There are big problems with Golden Dawn in Greece. We are now the only Parliament in Europe with such a far-right presence and people are very afraid, especially dark skinned people. [Fascism is] rising fast and I am very concerned regarding this.

“What can be done? This is a hard question. Massive demonstrations of all the parties and people against Golden Dawn is necessary. I am very sad to see this happening, especially for elderly people who lived through the German occupation in Greece, like my father.

In my opinion, 50 or 60 percent of the police support Golden Dawn. When reforms happened in the army following the military junta, the same did not
happen with the police.

Austerity, the IMF, the Government, the Troika, the strong nations of the EU – they are all bullshitting the public. It is new loans for old interest.

Let me ask you something – in Greece, the Troika make us implement these cuts, but in the UK your own government does it – why?

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