Video taken after the attack:
Around 200 immigrants, most of them from Bangladesh and some from Pakistan, who were working at the fields, demanded from the foremen six months’ unpaid wages owed to them by the company. According to the police, the dispute was intense.
The foremen left, but they returned where the immigrants were gathered after a while holding shotguns.
According to the available information, at least two out of three Greek foremen of the unit open fire with their hunting rifles against the foreign land labourers, injuring of them seriously and another 20 lightly (according to local journalists the victims are as many as 34).
The injured were taken to the Health Centre of Varda and to regional hospitals, where the doctors described the situation as a war-like one with new victims arriving again and again.
The local Mayor of Andravida-Kyllini, Dimitris Arvanitis attempted to dispel the impressions by saying, while talking on VIMA 99.5 [radio station] and to Mega [TV station] on Thursday morning, that there is only one businessman that acts in this way. He also pointed out that the particular businessman is not even from the region, but from Athens, and that he is based at Lappa, Achaia, that is outside the borders of the municipality of Andravida-Kyllini.
This view was countered, also on VIMA 99.5, by the President of Amaliada’s Labour Centre, Natassa Panagiotara. Both in Old and New Manolada there are big strawberry field owners exploiting immigrants; the particular employer is not the only one doing business this way, she said.
Nobody ever checks the conditions under which the immigrants there work or live, Ms Panagiotara noted and she described the situation as a “labour slave market”. “We are asking for inspections but these never take place because – as we are told by the Labour Inspection – there is a lack of personnel”, Ms Panagiotara noted. She added that nobody can know what exactly is happening in these businesses, since access is not allowed.
According to the mayor’s version, the unpaid immigrants clashed with the young land labourers that had just been employed by the businessman and this was the reason that led the foremen to intervene and shoot.
[‘To Vima’ newspaper, 18/04/2013, found online at: http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=508390]
At the same time, international media paint a grim picture of the news regarding the injury of tenths of foreign workers from Manolada, Ileia by Greek foremen. The incident happened just a few days after the report of the Commissioner [of Human Rights], Muižnieks, demanding immediate measures against racism in Greece.
[‘Ethnos’ newspaper, 18/04/2013, found online at: http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63814821]
The situation remained unsettled till late in the evening in Nea Manolada, after the unprecedented attack with hunting rifles against foreign workers by foremen in an agricultural business. According to the available information, 200-250 individuals, mainly from Banglandesh, had gathered at the village’s square and the climate was tense. They were demanding justice and asking for the arrest of the perpetrators of the bloody attack.
Strawberries and blood in Ileia
Nightmares from the past were awakened by the new bloody incident in Nea Manolada, Ileia, where the biggest strawberry plantation units are located and that have been characterised as “strawberries of shame”.
In April 2008, the immigrant workers in Nea Manolada went on strike. During their protest the plantation owners organised a counter-demonstration and attacked the immigrants with wooden clubs and shotguns. Four workers ended up in the hospital then.
In May 2012 there was another incident. The immigrant workers had gathered at the village’s square vigorously demanding their unpaid wages. Violent clashes erupted between the owners and the workers, while in 2012 some locals were dragging with a car an Egyptian worker whose body was hanging as he was caught at the car’s door. Later they threw the man unconscious and full of blood on the street.
According to published reports, the Police Station of Varda during the last four years has files more than 150 briefs against those illegally hosting immigrants in their fields. 20% of the files involve moonlighting, something that has been booming in the region.
[‘Ethnos’ newspaper, 18/04/2013, found online at: http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63814635]
What the Immigrant Workers say
“We were told that we would get our money in the afternoon”, Litou (one of the foreign workers) says to ‘Patris’ newspaper showing the injuries on his body from the gunshots. He continued: “they told us to go there in the afternoon to get paid. We are 200 people and they owe us six months’ wages, 150,000 euros in total. They did not give us any money and demanded that we go back to our work. We refused to do so and then three individuals started shooting against us. More than 30 guys wereinjured! This is not the first time we are not paid. Last year they gave me a ‘bad’ cheque. It was completely useless; I never got paid!”
Another Banglandeshi worker, Tipou, told ‘Patris’ newspaper: “I have left my mother back in my country as well as my father who is ill and I do not even have enough money to call them on the phone. They owe me money, just like they owe everyone else, 6 months of wages. My wages alone should be up to 5,000”.
[‘Kathimerini’ newspaper, 18/04/2013, found online at: http://www.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_kathremote_1_18/04/2013_494367]