By Romil Patel, and agencies 7:58PM BST 18 Apr 2013
At least 27 migrant workers have been shot and wounded at a strawberry farm in Greece after demanding unpaid wages from their employers, according to police.
Bangladeshi worker Mohamed (C), 25, is helped by colleagues into a tent in the southwestern Greek town of Manolada, following a shooting incident on Wednesday evening. Photo: REUTERS
The labourers had been working in the village of Manolada – 160 miles west of Athens – and some had not received their salary for six months, according to police.
The incident occurred yesterday when three foremen opened fire on a group of about 200 mostly Bangladeshi immigrants who “moved threateningly” towards them and demanded that they be paid.
The injured workers were hospitalised with gunshot wounds and two men have been arrested. One is believed to be in critical condition.
Among them was a 57-year-old landowner who apprehended for being a “moral instigator” of the shootings. Another man was detained for providing refuge overnight for two of the alleged perpetrators.
One unidentified worker said: “They keep telling us that we will get paid in a month, and this has been going on for more than a year.
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“We don't talk about it because we are afraid that we will be killed or kicked out.”
The attack has been condemned by the Greek government, with spokesman Simon Kedikoglou calling it “inhuman” and “outside Greek morality” and promised a swift response from the authorities.
Greece is an entry route for Asian and African migrants trying to enter the European Union, but the PAME union said the episode was only the latest in a country with a long history of abusing migrant workers.
“Growers and landowners have operated with cover from the government and justice for years, creating a hell-hole with slavery labour conditions,” the union said.
“Modern slaves in Manolada work in stifling conditions, pay rent to their exploiters and are lodged in sheds without water and electricity, piled upon each other”.