Under the shelter of each other people survive: Building a new world in the shell of the old.
What if? Being a Greek islander living in the UK, under a quasi stringent lockdown, I would have never envisaged participating in a pan European pro-refugee/pro-migrant rights hybrid protest (part on social media, part under social distancing measurements, dependent upon each EU states current quarantine situation) to deliberatively demand the evacuation of refugees from the five hotspot facilities on the Eastern Aegean Islands. Meeting other Greeks co-travelers and most unexpectedly co-protesting in the same virtual space with British comrades who are currently volunteering in Chios, Samos, Lesvos…Most importantly, for me and under the “raisingvoices” project, a virtual space of solidarity was created to give precedence to the protagonists and therefore the agents of change, the refugees of the five camps to provide us with their narratives and first-person experiences. Although I have been visiting Greece regularly, Moria for the first time became a physicality for me, concrete reality and not just a distant heterotopia in the Aegean Sea.
Being part of the broader left internationalist movement, I associated protests, demonstrations, and direct actions with the sharing of common spaces, with face to face meetings, with large gatherings with a physical presence. Despite my participation in various zoom meetings with various organizations, the idea of a protest, let alone of an international pan European protest was never spelled out. It felt like our ‘life of protests’ was suspended to the post-COVID19 era. The best we could do in the meantime was to participate in our neighborhoods COVID19 mutual aid groups and politically educate ourselves in preparation for the “future”. Joining the Europe Must Act and Co-forming the local Nottingham Must Act Chapter abruptly changed that. On the horizon was the 23rd of May Day of Action; and all the discussions, in all levels (local, UK, EU), were action-focused. All of a sudden protests, even under conditions of relative isolation were back on the agenda. The conditions of physical distancing and prohibition of protests, led us rediscovering different ways and mediums of reaching out; as well as tapping upon the potentiality of engaging the members of our family, pets included.
When the day arrived, we were all excited and interconnected in our pan-European virtual network, transcending borders, and sharing pictures of baking cakes, very skillful coloring ins, poetry, imaginative photography snapshots to amplify our message and long-distance running trails (juxtaposing the daily distances that the refugees have to travel on foot in order to access food, healthcare, shops etc). Communication overflew with lots of people engaged and a feeling of an ongoing expanded version of protesting, awaiting our future mass gathering to be completed.
With this day of action, Nottingham Must Act was introduced as a collective endeavour. Us, four members of the Nottingham Chapter cementing more firmly our collective identity as partakers of the unfolding Europe Must Act social movement.
Looking forward to the fusion of all our heterogeneous, diverse voices, experiences, politics having as compass solidarity and human empathy with our refugee brothers and sisters and opening up spaces for them to raise their voices and opening up public shared spaces for them to be hosted in our countries. The conclusions remain the same.
We are not consumers of politics. We are not a fragmented collection of individuals. We are an organized open-ended collective; with the whole exceeding and superseding the sum of its parts; crossing the boundaries between “Is” and “Not Is” and creating a collective “We” which enriches our “Is”
Democracy is a deliberative act.
About the author: Theodora is a Greek internationalist/intersectional Social Feminist. She moved to London in 1997 and obtained her PhD at Warwick University in Empirical Modelling. She was involved in the "Extradite Pinochet' movement, the "Reclaim the Streets", "Campaigns against the Arms Trade", " Globalise Resistance", " Nottingham Against Fascism" and cofounded the "Nottingham Greek Solidarity" campaign back in 2015. At Europe Must Act, the is the focal point for the Nottingham Chapter.