Thursday, July 28, 2005


From the Devious Diva Another article in this series by Pikia Galati in Kathimerini. They say we are to blame for the rise in crime, and for the racism that exists in Greek society and their opinion of us is rather low BUT THEY LIKE US. Thanks a lot! Migrants bring crime, but we like them In recent survey of attitudes, judiciary and police reveal themselves to be wary of immigrants but don’t want to be labeled ‘racist’ “Is there racism in the judiciary and police?” This was the probing question that Evangelia Vagena-Palaiologou, a legal functionary and doctor in criminology, tried to answer in a seven-year study she conducted. A delicate question to respond to indeed. Who wants to be called racist, or to call themselves racist? The survey was conducted with personal interviews. The replies also are crucial, as those who have been nominated to positions in the judiciary and police are obliged to mete out justice and keep law and order, regardless of nationality and race. As Vagena-Palaiologou points out: “These ideologically loaded words ‘racism and xenophobia’ as the theme of the study often seemed to provoke a reaction in the respondents. Apparently they were afraid of being labeled as ‘racist.’” The survey findings confirm this, as both the judges and police officers questioned, whose opinion of immigrants was not very high, declared, however, that it did not influence their work. “There are many foreigners; they are to blame for the rise in crime; they are ofenders rather than victims; and racism exists or is latent in Greek society, for which the immigrants themselves are to blame,” the respondents declared. However, at the same time, they also confessed to liking foreigners and believed that their rights are protected by the Greek judiciary. Not surprisingly, one in four judges said that if the accused was a foreigner this adversely affected their judgment in the case. Foreigners are to blame for the rise in crime, according to the police, half of whom have a neutral or negative opinion of foreigners. What is particularly alarming is that 13.6 percent of the police respondents said they believed that foreigners should be treated with greater severity. For more articles in this series JUDGES POLICE WOMEN

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


A very interesting article about the history of the Jews in Thessalonki. I had no clue as to the extent of the Jewish influence in the city so this was an education.Read it here


The backlash against Muslims in Britain continues. Read the Guardian article here

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


As I don't blog about my life here in Greece I thought you might be interested in other blogs from people who do. One excellent weblog is Mels Diner Observations of an American Ex-Pat (and her Greek husband). It's a personal, funny and at times, controversial take on life in "the Cradle of Civilisation" I will add some more later. I am having serious problems with my internet connection.

Monday, July 25, 2005


In this article from Kathimerini, we have the point of view of the police and the judges on immigrants. Read here and here for a reaction to this article from Mel's Diner.


"I saw an Asian guy. He ran on to the train, he was hotly pursued by three plain clothes officers, one of them was wielding a black handgun." An eyewitness. An Asian guy who wasn't Asian but Brazilian. He was Jean Charles de Menezes. He was 27 years old. He was shot 5 times in the head by those plain clothes officers because they thought he looked like a terrorist. He is dead. There are so many things wrong with this "incident", I don't know how to respond, except to say, If you are not white do not do any of the following: Carry a rucksack Run anywhere Jump onto a train or bus Look at anyone Speak with an accent Speak another language

Friday, July 22, 2005


Kathimerini today A Thessaloniki court yesterday ruled that the owner of a local travel agency should stand trial, along with another 14 people, for allegedly conspiring to sell immigrants fake passports costing between 7,000 and 14,000 euros each, authorities said. The gang is alleged to have begun operating at the end of 2003, and the businessman is thought to have gained some 120,000 euros from the sale of 13 forged passports.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


A series of articles on immigration in Greece written in the Athens News by Kathy Tzilivakis. Be my guest Immigration reform and integration. Personal stories and the election of Yvette Jarvis to member of the Athens City Council. The first black person to enter mainstream politics in Greece Working Out An article dispelling the myth that foreigners come to Greece and take jobs from Greeks How unharmonious A progress report on the road towards a common European policy on asylum and immigration The truth about asylum The terrible plight of asylum seekers in Greece who are almost always rejected. The enterprising newcomer An article about foreign born entrepreneurs making their mark in the Greek small business sector.


Thank you to Tim Wilson for the following Press Watch. Last Thursday (14/07) the Prime Minister Mr. K. Karamanlis and the Minister of Interior Mr. P. Pavlopoulos discussed among others the details of the new draft bill on migration and the first reactions to it, especially what Ms. Yvette Jarvis (Head of the Political Asylum and Migration Committee of the Human Rights' Section of PASOK) said for lack of dialogue between the government and representatives from migration organisations. Ms Jarvis had also criticized the fact that the new draft law equates asylum seekers with economic migrants. (Express, 15 July) A research conducted by KAPA RESEARCH and the magazine "Tahydromos" shows that Greeks lack tolerance vis-à-vis foreigners, especially when these are immigrants. The figures show that women are more afraid of foreigners than men and that the supporters of the "New Democracy" Party are less tolerant towards them. (Tahydromos Magazine, 16 July) According to a report by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), the refugee protection system in Greece faces many problems of malfunctioning and violation of human rights. Refugee recognition rates in Greece are among the lowest in the EU, asylum seekers are often deported back to countries, like Sudan and Iraq, where they often face the risk of serious human rights violations, positive recommendations by the Appeals Board are often ignored by the Greek authorities, detention conditions are highly inadequate, without any specific provisions for vulnerable cases, access is often denied to lawyers, NGOs, etc while there is a reluctance to renew residence permits granted for humanitarian reasons. In light of the above, the NCHR urges the Ministry of Public Order to review the refugee protection framework. (Ethnos, 18 July)

Monday, July 18, 2005


Another gem from the church as reported in Kathimerini Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki yesterday criticized «the impudence and shame» of gay partnerships following a call by Synaspismos Left Coalition leader Alekos Alavanos for the legalization of gay marriages. «Gay people warp human nature with unspeakable, unnatural acts,» the bishop told a service in Thessaloniki. Alavanos expressed his regret at Anthimos's reaction later yesterday. From Devious Diva What century are you living in? Separate church and state now.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Left wing groups and Jewish communities in Greece opposed to this Hatewave festival due to be held in September in Greece. Visit here for the Anarchists reaction. Here for the Jewish communities reactions. Here for the PASOK statement and The Guardian for an article on the fight to stop this fetival

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I am terrified. This is what will be coming to Greece in September. The Hatewave Festival (their own title, not mine) If anyone has any idea what we can do to stop this happening please let me know. The festival will be in town of Meligala in the southwestern Peloponnese,September 16-18. By the looks of the website they are intending to come to Athens too. That's where most of us foreigners live. The targets of their hate. Do not underestimate these people. Visit the Greek neo nazi band site (in english) of Iron Youth if you are in any doubt what they stand for. PLEASE HELP STOP THIS

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


From Devious Diva There is no attempt in the article to answer the burning question as to WHY these children are dropping out! When I read these facts and figures articles, I can't help but wonder what is the point of them? From Kathimerini Foreign pupils perform well but drop out early Children of immigrants attending secondary schools in Attica generally perform well in their studies, yet only a fraction of those in junior high school go on to senior high, according to data made public by the Immigration Policy Institute (IPI) yesterday. One of every 10 pupils in secondary education in Attica is the child of immigrants from a non-European Union country, with Albanians comprising 80 percent of all foreign students, according to IPI’s research, which was conducted over the last academic year. In schools in the City of Athens, some 18 percent of pupils are the children of immigrants, IPI President Alexandros Zavos told a press conference. There are currently 14,115 foreign students in Attica secondary schools, and this figure is steadily rising, Zavos said. But even though 36 percent of foreign students receive grades ranging from good to excellent and only 13 percent get bad grades, the numbers attending senior high school classes are a third lower than those at junior high, IPI says


For full report EUROPEAN ROMA RIGHTS CENTER Greece Systematically Frustrates Fundamental Rights of Roma to Adequate Housing European Committee of Social Rights Rules Greece in Violation of Three Separate Aspects of the European Social Charter Athens, Strasbourg, Budapest, 8 June 2005. In a decision made public today in the matter of European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Greece, the European Committee of Social Rights held that the Greek policies with respect to housing and accommodation of Roma infringe Article 16 of the European Social Charter due to: # The insufficient number of dwellings of an acceptable quality to meet the needs of settled Roma; # The insufficient number of stopping places for Roma who choose to follow an itinerant lifestyle or who are forced to do so; # The systemic eviction of Roma from sites or dwellings unlawfully occupied by them. "This decision is among the first in Roma rights to find an entire field of policy and practice by a European government illegal," said Claude Cahn, Acting Executive Director of the ERRC, "It therefore marks a key turning point in our efforts to challenge the systemic human rights abuse of Roma in Europe." The decision comes as a result of a Collective Complaint lodged under the European Social Charter mechanism. The Collective Complaint, submitted in April 2003, alleged violations of the Charter by the Greek government, as a result of: # Extremely substandard housing prevailing among significant segments of the Greek Romani community; # Patterns and practices of forced eviction, unchecked by any of the safeguards specified by international law; # Enforced nomadism; # The near complete failure to implement housing policies in existence since 1996; # The criminal prosecution of Roma for "violating" a 1983 decree requiring local authorities to provide halting sites for nomads. In finding Greece in breach of the Charter, the Committee held, "The Committee finds that Greece has failed to take sufficient measures to improve the living conditions of the Roma and that the measures taken have not yet achieved what is required by the Charter, notably by reason of the insufficient means for constraining local authorities or sanctioning them. It finds on the evidence submitted that a significant number of Roma are living in conditions that fail to meet the minimum standards and therefore that the situation is in breach of the obligation to promote the right of families to adequate housing laid down in Article 16." Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson for the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), ERRC partner in documenting Roma rights issues in Greece, also welcomed the ruling: "This ruling finally vindicates our efforts -- repeatedly frustrated -- to bring the Greek government to act on its own policies on Romani housing. We look forward to seeing the decision implemented in full by Greek authorities." Commenting on the implications for housing rights matters in Europe, Senior Legal Officer of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) said, "This is truly a landmark decision for establishing housing rights in Europe. It will be a key precedent for future action."

Friday, July 08, 2005


From Kathimerini Immigrants took part in an anti-racism protest outside Parliament in central Athens yesterday, against the immigration bill the government has submitted to the house. Protesters complained that the draft law does not do enough to help some 500,000 illegal immigrants thought to be living in Greece to obtain their legal permits."


I was glued to CNN yesterday following the news of the attacks in London. In a state of shock. At about 9pm, our time, Tony Blair appeared on the screen and said "This was an attack against the British people and the British way of life". It was the first time I cried. And I was angry. The vicious cycle of lies and mis-information goes on, relentlessly. THIS WAS NOT AN ATTACK AGAINST US AND OUR WAY OF LIFE. It was an attack against Tony Blair and his cronies who took the country to war against the wishes of his people. He is personally responsible for the deaths and injuries and for the backlash that will follow. He and the rest of the warmongers are also responsible for the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians I see no hope. I see no end. This is madness.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


The view of todays attacks from Fluxistan: "As the news of todays bombing in London come thorugh, I am once more dumbfounded by the sheer stupidity of terror campaigns, of any kind. This one is particularly old school in thinking in that it takes the old view that by hurting civilians you can deter nations from the pursuit of their economic interests. Iraqis, Americans, Afghans, Africans of all nations and so on, are being murdered daily by the great powers in order to gain more power and a stronger hold on the world's resources. What makes a bunch pissy idiots, with a warped veiw of their religion think that this kind of stone throwing is going to do anything but make them more resolute in following through or help them in their deranged propaganda to gain support from their electorate?"


Todays attacks on the tube in London has eclipsed everything else for today. I just want to say that having lived there for 12 years, my heart is there. I just managed to speak to my sister and family who live there and they are all fine but in shock like everyone else. Impossible to know how many friends were caught up in the chaos. Phone lines into London are dodgy at best and the mobile phone network is down. I am just hoping none of them are among the injured. There are really no words to describe how I feel right now. I am just sorry that Londoners are suffering now from the decisions of their leaders and, as always, ordinary people are bearing the burden of this illegal and tragic war in Iraq. Shame on you Tony Blair.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Greeks fight to stop ultra-right festival Helena Smith in Athens Monday July 4, 2005 The Guardian Ultra-right parties from across Europe have caused uproar in Greece after announcing plans to stage a festival in a Peloponnesian town in the autumn. The three-day event, organised by some of the continent's leading neo-Nazi groups and billed officially as a camping trip to "Hellas, land of the heroes", is intended to become a recruiting ground for young people. "This unique gathering will combine comradeship with sport activities by the sea and, most importantly, an open congress with speeches on the descent of our national identity," the extremists say on their website. Article continues "Turkey, out of Europe" is expected to be the main slogan of the September 16-18 meeting. Germany's National Democratic party (NDP), Italy's Forza Nuova, Spain's La Falange, Romania's Noua Dreapta (the New Right) and Greece's Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) have all pooled resources for the youth gathering. Old-guard fascists, including Udo Voigt, who heads the NDP, and Roberto Fiore of Forza Nuova plan to address the crowd. Outraged local authorities and leftwing groups in Greece yesterday pledged to fight back. In Meligala, the site of the proposed gathering, the town council vowed "to do everything possible" to stop the extremists descending on the hamlet, 150 miles south-west of Athens. "If indeed, it does take place here, the council will decide what to do to prevent it," the mayor, Eleni Aliferi, said. "We don't want them here." Opposition has also come from Greece's tiny Jewish community, one of the most badly hit in Europe by the Holocaust. Fewer than 8,000 of an estimated 80,000 Greek Jews survived the Nazi death camps after German forces marched into Greece in 1942. "We want the government to ban the gathering," said Moses Constantinides, president of the community. "We believe its reaction should be strong. The neo-Nazi meeting should not be allowed to take place." Anti-racist groups will this week meet political parties to discuss how best to confront the ultra-rightwingers. But there are fears that by banning the event outright, the neo-Nazis could be turned into martyrs. "Like all EU member states, constitutionally we cannot stop a gathering taking place if it is peaceful and unarmed," Lefteris Economou, the public order ministry spokesman, said. But human rights activists believe the "menace" can be stopped. "It's very provocative what they are doing," said Takis Yiannopoulos of Youth Against Racism in Greece. "The Peloponnese is steeped in the history and blood of the Greek civil war [between communists and nationalists in the 1940s], so it's no coincidence that they've chosen to hold the meeting there. We are absolutely determined to stop them."

Monday, July 04, 2005


Another for the list of shame. This time it's the conscientious objectors turn. See this article from May this year.


From me: Please note that Patras will be Cultural Capital of Europe next year! FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Greece: Albanian Roma targeted for evictions and attacks. Roma have been evicted, their homes demolished by the Greek authorities and attacks against Romani communities have not been investigated in Patras, Western Greece. Roma who have migrated from Albania have been particularly targeted. Amnesty International is seeking assurances from the Greek authorities that no further evictions or demolitions will be carried out until the organization's concerns are resolved, and procedures to safeguard the human rights of Roma of Greek and other nationalities are put in place. In a letter to the Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation of Greece, Amnesty International voices its concern at the way the evictions were carried out as well as at the failure of the Greek authorities to investigate, thoroughly, promptly and impartially, the alleged attacks on the Romani communities. "The Greek authorities are legally obliged to respect the right to adequate housing of all those residing in Greece, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. Only in exceptional circumstances may they evict people. This must be done only after consultation with the people to be evicted and only after they are guaranteed suitable alternative accommodation," Nicola Duckworth, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme, said. On 23 and 24 June 2005, 11 sheds belonging to Albanian Roma legally residing in Patras were demolished while their owners were away looking for temporary work. The so-called “cleaning operation” was carried out by teams from the Municipality and the Prefecture working in tandem, allegedly to address the problem of rats and mice. On several occasions in 2004, tens of Albanian Romani families were forcibly evicted from their homes in the Patras region without being relocated or compensated. "A pattern of targeting Albanian Romani homes for demolition is emerging. The Greek authorities must extend the measures for relocating Romani families to those who are not of Greek nationality, particularly to Albanian Roma legally residing in the country. Failure to do so will contravene the country's obligations to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination," Nicola Duckworth said. Attempted arson attacks against the community -- on three consecutive dates, starting from 22 June -- have not been investigated, although two were officially confirmed by the authorities. According to local Roma, no police officer has taken their statements about the attacks or investigated the crime scenes. "By failing to investigate the attacks, Greek police are encouraging the attackers in their discrimination against Romani people, particularly against Albanian Roma. The Greek authorities are further perpetuating the discrimination by failing in their obligations to investigate the allegations against the police." Greece is at risk of failing to fulfil its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.


Go to the Independent Media Center for the a statement from Zulkuf Murat Bora (widely known as Bahoz) on the ending of his hunger strike and his plea for political assylum in Greece.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I just found this today. I will be following up when I can find out more | In Brief: Left Coalition Synaspismos MP Thanassis Leventis yesterday alleged in Parliament that Patras Municipality had evicted hundreds of Gypsies from their settlements in the area to prettify its image before taking over as the Cultural Capital of Europe next year."

Friday, July 01, 2005


DON'T MISS Ist July to 3rd July 2005 10th Anti-Racist Festival Plateia Protomagias, Pedion Areos, Athens. Music, dance, film, food and information. Go get educated and have fun doing it.