Monday, October 31, 2005


I was sent an anonymous comment on this post updating the situation with violent attacks by extremists. There have apparently been about 20 stabbing incidents in the last year. The latest victim is still in a coma after being stabbed 23 times. I have asked for more details on this and other attacks. If anyone has more information please let me know.

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Cyprus is not doing enough about racism during football matches. That was the message from a member of FARE (Football against Racism in Europe), speaking to the Sunday Mail in Brussels this week. Full article from Cyprus Action Network

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Friday, October 28, 2005


We have lived on the same street here in Athens for close to 11 years now. It is an ordinary street. It has a periptero (kiosk), a bakery, a couple of souvlaki joints, a butcher, a pharmacy, a kafenion, a flower shop, a grocer and a couple of small shops that sell a bit of everything. These days we have many additions to those basics including a manicure/pedicurist (what are they called?), a video store, a well known supermarket chain, an electrician, a pizza joint and a clothing store. It's a typically working class neighborhood inhabited by people who have grown up together and are growing old together. Enter the foreigners. Two of us at that time. From all the foaming at the mouth, screaming and ranting we have heard over here and at SOVEREIGNTY OF THE SEAWITCH you would think that we would have been lynched at the very least. Executed in the plateia as a warning to others. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a few people on this street who still look at me like I'm a barbarian or a savage (to bring up those words that our rabid "friends" used to describe us). As I mentioned in a really early post on my blog, the man in the flower shop is one of them. However, the vast majority of our neighbors, although curious at first, have embraced us completely. It is almost impossible for me to pop out and buy a loaf of bread without encountering 4 or 5 people asking after me and my family, wishing us well, inquiring about our health, our work, how school is going, what do I think of this, that and the other. Our first landlady, a wonderful, warm woman, who spoke no english and had probably never known anyone foreign, treated us like we were her children. When she came to collect the rent, we would sit down and talk. My Greek was crap but she would chat away to me just like my mum would, asking about our lives, our problems, our successes and failures. When I first got pregnant she was more thrilled than I was! She worried about what I was eating, whether I was resting enough (I never did). I remember once I was sweeping the back porch, about to drop the sprogg, and she was horrified. She made me sit down and finished the job herself. Just like my mum would have. After the boy was born she bought something for him every-time she came round. She treated him like her own grandchild. She said once she was so proud that we had had our baby in the house where she had raised her own children. She once came to our defense against a "racist" remark directed at us by saying that she felt honored knowing us and that the person in question did not deserve that honor. The racist was a "friend" she had known since childhood. The woman on the balcony had lived in the same spot since the days when she had kept cows in a field that was now our house. She would wave at us whenever she saw us in garden and on the rare occasions we bumped into her on the street (she had difficulty with her legs), she always stop for a chat. The man in the "shop that sold everything", who was quite deaf, didn't understand a word I said and couldn't pronounce our kids name to save his life, always had time for us. He gave free sweets to our son who he insisted was Greek because he was born here. The woman down the road also insists that she is his Greek grandma. The men in the butchers who tease each other because our son supports the same football team as one and not the other. And so many more people. We know everyone on this street and everyone knows us. They know about our accidents and illnesses, our rather noisy parties, our myriad of foreign and greek friends who frequent our house. They know my parents and sisters and are pleased to see them when they visit. When the London bombings happened, several people spontaneously enquired after them. These are ordinary everyday stories. We have lived here and become part of this street. I am not naive. There are attitudes around here that are not so warm and cuddly. Attitudes towards certain groups of people, especially albanians and turks, are so ingrained that people don't think twice to blame everything on them. Our shop was robbed at gunpoint a few months ago. The immediate reaction was "ALBANIANS". People were rather quiet after they learned the truth that they were greeks. I believe anti-foreigner feelings are whipped up by the media, institutions and the few, but very vocal, racists and xenophobes. When ordinary people have the chance to get to know you, without those voices telling them to be afraid, they see that you are pretty much like them. That your children are like their children. That your lives are pretty much like theirs. When respect and warmth is shown, it is returned. There are more foreigners here now. I have seen and heard people chatting to them in the same way as they do with us. The same few, like our flower man, are probably still moaning about the "invasion" Is our street unique? Are we somehow in some parallel universe where this is the only street where Greeks don't hate foreigners? I don't think so. It is not perfect. It's noisy. It's dirty. People are worried about prices going up and whether their kids get a good education. What I don't see is people packing up and moving to "better" or more "racially pure" areas to avoid the "hordes of violent raping savages who are taking over".

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Originally posted Sovereignty of SeaWitch My son took part in the school oxi day celebrations yesterday. I felt strange again to be standing for prayers (out of respect for others) but not "doing my cross" but that's another story. Lots of the other parents are non- religious like me. What was wonderful, was to see the kids doing their play. The content was a bit uninspired but they enjoyed performing especially the bit where they outwit the german soilders to get bread to the Greek army. As I scanned the crowd of proud parents and delighted kids, my mind wandered back to the venom and bile that has been spewed on this post. In the school there are a few black, mixed- race greek children (with greek GRANDPARENTS for those who care about those things), there are greek children of russian, albanian and turkish descent, greek-american and at least one dutch greek kid. All of them sang and performed with such pride and exitement while their parents took pictures and video of the performance. And afterwards we wished each other a happy three day holiday and went home. Now I am aware that underneath the smiles and waves there may be feelings of resentment and even hatred but it was the kids that got me feeling so happy. They really did charge into the playground happy. Together. They achieved something that kids care about. That they pleased their teacher, they pleased their parents, they did well and they had a great deal of fun doing it. Call me a sappy liberal lefty peabrained softy marxist all you like. It was a breath of fresh air after suffocating in here for such a long time. I know this was just a fleeting moment and kids grow up and make different choices and decisions BUT, just for now, they were kids having a good time

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I had seen this story on indymedia yesterday but was unable to find any other reference to it so I didn't post it. However, today in Kathimerini Police in Athens yesterday arrested a 23-year-old man believed to have stabbed two students last Wednesday in Monastiraki. The man, allegedly a member of a far-right group, is thought to have attacked the students, aged 19 and 23, because one of them had an anti-fascist symbol on his T-shirt. I haven't been able to find much information on this attack but apparently one of the victims is in critical condition.


Today is Blog Quake Day. Everyone who has a blog has been asked to make a short post about the devastating South Asian earthquake and direct readers to a suitable avenue for donating to the relief efforts. Here is a link to Humanity First for information on this earthquake and other humanitarian action. For more information, please go to DesiPundit bringing together the Best of the Indian Blogosphere

Monday, October 24, 2005


The Antinazi Initiative object to the visit to Greece by controversial and provocative writer David Irving. "Irving has already been condemned in Britain after a trial that lasted 5 years, for Holocaust denial, racism and antisemitism while his entrance is forbidden to several countries such as France, Germany and Canada" The Greek Editors' Association  announced that they would refuse to permit British historian David Irving to speak at their headquarters  on the grounds that he is a "denier". As far as I can find, out his speech will now go ahead one day later, October 26, at a new location.

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Friday, October 21, 2005


The Greek ombudsman has released a new report on the treatment of children arrested for illegally entering Greece. They are being kept in bare cells and other "prison-like facilities". Some are  sleeping in the floor. They are kept there without access to lawyers or anyone to protest them and their rights. Often these children are then dumped across the border and no-one knows what happens to them. This is in direct breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which Greece has signed. They are CHILDREN. They are not criminals.  Whatever your stance on immigration, you cannot ignore the fact that these kids are being treated in a disgusting and inhumane way. If we are unwilling to protect the children in our society, what does that say about us?

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A short article about Gypsy children being turned away from their school. As commented on by the comic Lakis Lazopoulos in his TV show Comedy with purpose:

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Article in Kathimerini as lawyers pick apart migrant law This is the bit that struck me. "Out of 53,000 applications submitted in 2005, some 700 have been turned down and 23 have been accepted while the rest remain outstanding".

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October 28th is the day Greece celebrates Όχι Day. In the past couple of years there has been a huge flap over whether non-Greeks can carry the flag at the parades. The student who gets the highest grades at school gets to perform this function. Several Albanian students have found themselves in the centre of a huge media debate. Over to the  Sovereignty of SeaWitch  for all the information and heated discussion. Also look over at Heck to Pay for another perspective

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005


From Kathimerini A child pornography ring involving around 20 businessmen and professionals from across the country has been traced following a tip-off in a provincial town in northern Greece, police sources in Attica said yesterday. According to officers, the ring is responsible for uploading photographs and video footage of “extremely hardcore” child pornography, much of which is believed to have been produced in this country. The extreme nature of the material and the size of the ring make it an unprecedented case, sources said. Details are expected to be made public this week. Also read this post at Cyprus Action Network on a legal loophole that allows child pornographers to upload illegal material onto the internet in Cyprus

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Monday, October 17, 2005


On the occasion of White Cane Day, blind and visually impaired students staged a protest rally asking improvements by the state in providing services for them. 1:  Vocal announcements at trolley bus and blue bus stops 2:  Sound signals at traffic lights 3:  More frequent patrolling of ramps and special parking spaces 4:  An office, servicing people with special needs in the Athens  Airport, KTEL Bus Stations and the Suburban Railway in Larissa Station 5:  The Greek Parliament to recognise Braille Being a pedestrian in Athens is difficult at best (and life-threatening most of the time). I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for the blind or visually impaired. As I walked  to pick up the kid today (who cannot walk alone to school for the same reasons I list below even though he's nine) I kept a little mental note of the obstacles I came across. Three major road junctions with no traffic lights of any kind. No pedestrian crossing even at the school! A zebra crossing with no signage that everyone ignores. Major road-works (natural gas) with no provision or barriers for pedestrians . At least four places where the pavement is completely blocked by trees, rubbish bins and parked cars (and one bit that doesn't actually have a pavement.) Countless bushes, trees etc with branches hanging in the pavement usually at face level. Piles of dog shit, debris, rotting food, unidentifiable fluids and even dead animals every three or four steps. I take the same route everyday. Not because I like the routine but because I find this one the safest. I wouldn't dream of letting him do it alone.

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Friday, October 14, 2005


Are you fed up of hearing all the negative stories about refugees,immigration and " all the problems they cause" ? Well, I am. So I searched around for some  positive stories and here they are to end the week. (WARNING: These are not necessarily recent stories) An Iraqi of Kurdish origin opens pediatrics clinic on Ios island. Greek island welcomes refugee doctor from Iraq: Marie Claire article on refugee women Refugee women turn cover girls in Greece Four women find new lives in Greece What is forbidden to some women Refugee teenagers at Olympic summer camp Olympic spirit for Refugee Teenagers Fundraising campaign through music Special CD pricks up Greek ears to refugee issues

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Thursday, October 13, 2005


Modern day slavery over at EllasDevil

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A snippet from Athens News Some 683 Iraqis have applied for asylum in Greece so far this year, according to UNHCR. Not a single Iraqi's application was approved last year because the public order ministry, which handles asylum applications, believes the political conditions in Iraq have improved since the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Greece has the lowest refugee recognition rate in the European Union.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


It seems a little crass to be blogging about anything other than the tragedy unfolding in Pakistan/India. The numbers are staggering. We lost 26,0000 people in Iran in 2003. 20,000 people in India in 2001. 17,000 people in Turkey in 1999. Again, 40,000 people in Iran in 1990. 25,000 people in Armenia in 1998. 10,000 people in Mexico City in 1985. 250,000 people in China in 1976. This is just the last 30 years and these are only the huge earthquakes. Countless thousands of people have died in other places. I didn't remember, or know about, even half of these tragedies. Go here for more We don't know what the death toll will be in this latest earthquake. I don't know what else to say.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I have added a forum to the site as the "off-topics" are difficult to manage from within the blog. My aim is to keep THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY focused specifically on Human Rights abuses, Racism and Xenophobia in Greece. Please feel free to use the forum as a discussion for issues outside the scope of this blog. However, I will be moderating and I will delete posts I believe, are not in keeping with the spirit of THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005


The annual report on Greece from Amnesty International is published today. It seems that the situation has remained pretty much the same here for migrants and refugees. Read Human Rights violated on the margins of society and Out of the Spotlight. To see a slideshow showing the appalling detention containers used here in Greece go here Take action against the detention centres. They are overcrowded. There is limited hot water. Children are being detained with adults and show signs of stress. There are allegations of sexual and physical abuse. Write to the Greek authorities drawing attention to the violations of the rights of migrants in detention and the failure of Greece to meet its obligations under international human rights and refugee law. A draft letter can be found here Also read the BBC article  relating to this latest Amnesty report.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Lots of people have asked me about this post "SICKENED" which still has an active discussion. Look no further. It is HERE

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Athens News: ATHENS Mayor Dora Bakoyannis launched a new free walk-in medical clinic for Greek and immigrant residents, with or without health insurance. The Kalfopouloio Municipal Health Clinic in central Athens (78 Solonos St) provides basic health services. "We aim for the new Kalfopoulio Municipal Health Clinic to operate as a model urban primary health care centre in terms of aesthetics, functionality and service provision," said Bakoyannis on September 18. The clinic was opened with a generous one million euro contribution from the health ministry. "At this clinic, citizens have access to pathologists, paediatricians, gynaecologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, orthopaedists, dentists, surgeons, eye doctors, microbiologists and nursing care," said Bakoyannis. The clinic is open weekdays 8am-6pm. No appointment necessary. Ring 210-362-6478 to find out about doctors' schedules.

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