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ATHENS — The police in the southern Peloponnese region of Greece on Thursday were seeking three supervisors of a strawberry farm accused of firing on a large group of Bangladeshi workers who had demanded unpaid wages, wounding 28.
The episode occurred near the small town of Nea Manolada on Wednesday. The police said that an argument erupted between the supervisors and about 200 migrant fruit pickers over six months’ pay. Witnesses said the foremen drew guns and began firing at the crowd.
It was not the first such violence in Nea Manolada. Situated in the midst of a vast rural plain, the town has been the scene in recent years of several attacks on migrant workers, thousands of whom work for low wages picking fruit in the region’s farms, often living in cramped, dirty shacks.
Politicians across the political spectrum condemned the latest attack.
Of the 28 migrants wounded Wednesday, seven were still in the hospital on Thursday, one with serious injuries.
“None of the injuries sustained were life-threatening, but we are still treating this as a very, very serious incident,” said Haralambos Sfetsos, a spokesman for the regional police.
The three foremen, all Greeks, are 21, 27 and 39, the police said. They remained at large on Thursday. A 38-year-old man accused of giving refuge to two of the foremen at his home overnight was arrested on a charge of harboring suspected criminals.
The owner of the farm, a 57-year-old man who was not present at the time of the shooting, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of being a moral accomplice to attempted manslaughter, the police said.
Ethnic overtones are common in the labor strife that has troubled Nea Manolada. In 2008, migrant fruit pickers in the village went on strike to protest their treatment by employers.
Last summer, a 30-year-old Egyptian sustained multiple injuries when two Greek men were said to have jammed his head in a car window before dragging him along a country road. The 39-year-old foreman being sought in the shootings of the Bangladeshi workers was charged in that attack and is awaiting trial.
The latest episode was condemned by all Greek political parties.
“Greece cannot accept the economic exploitation of hundreds or even thousands of our fellow human beings and the wretched conditions in which they are made to live, let alone their attempted murder,” the minister of public order, Nikos Dendias, said in a statement. He was to visit the site on Friday.
The main leftist opposition party, Syriza, spoke of a “barbaric, racist attack.”
The assault was denounced even by the right-wing Golden Dawn party, whose members and supporters have been frequently linked to an increase in violence against immigrants. But the party condemned Greeks who illegally employ foreign workers, “depriving thousands of Greek families of their daily bread.”
The development prompted outrage on Twitter, with many people calling for a boycott of strawberries from Nea Manolada and from the broader region known for its use of cheap migrant labor.
Greece, gun firing on migrant workers
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