SYRIZA MP Yiannis Michelogiannakis camped with protesting Syrian refugees outside the Greek Parliament and went on hunger strike in support of their petition to move to other countries and reunite with their relatives.
Michelogiannakis said he decided to take action after he heard that two Syrian protesters had died, one of a heart attack and the other while attempting to cross the Greek-Albanian border.
Some 300 Syrian refugees have camped across the parliament in Syntagma Square since November 19. They want to be granted the right to travel to other European countries. However, they refuse to register because if they do, they would have to stay in Greece as the first European Union country in which they entered as refugees, according to EU law. Some of them went on hunger strike.
The leftist party MP said that his hunger strike is also in support of 21-year-old hunger striker Nikos Romanos, who was denied educational prison furlough by a Greek court, and in protest against the 2015 state budget and the newly proposed amendments.
Michelogiannakis spoke to Greek television while inside a sleeping bag, next to the Syrian refugees. He said that it is his conscience that gives him great courage for his act. “An MP’s duty is to be here in the streets, on the side of the weak, not inside the luxurious parliament,” the MP told Reuters. “I am determined to stay until the Syrians’ ordeal ends.”
Speaking about Romanos and his deteriorating health due to the hunger strike, Michelogiannakis said, “this is the brutal murder of a young man of leftist culture.”