Friday, May 12, 2006


Another article on the difficulties facing people who come to Greece legally, with contracts or scholarships, when trying to wade through the enormous bureaucratic mess that is so evident here. When I read these stories I thank my lucky stars that I was born in England. When I had to go and let people know I was here, I waited in a long queue for alien registration. At some point, I checked that I had my passport with me. As soon as I had got the thing in my hand, I was plucked out of the queue, led to an office, and dealt with by a very polite and efficient woman. I was out of the place in ten minutes flat. I was elated that I had succeeded to achieve the one task I had set for myself that day (this is one of my survival strategies for living in Greece: never set out to do more than one thing per day). I cannot imagine how I would have reacted if I had been treated in the way that non-EU citizens are. I grew up confident of my rights and expecting to be treated with respect by everyone. For the most part I am treated well here but I have a sneaky suspicion that this has a great deal to do with my passport.


Another blow to those trying to make a living for themselves here in Greece. Immigrants who have licences to sell their goods at outdoor venues will no longer be able to renew them. The new legislation will only allow EU and Greek citizens to have these licences. The immigrants who are affected by this law are legal, they pay taxes and national insurance. In the Athens News, two of the street vendors speak out: "There are only two application requirements that we cannot fulfil - a Greek identity card and proof that we have served in the Greek military," says Hammed Adekola. "I have been legal selling my goods [handbags and electrical items] at open-air markets in Athens since 1998. I do not understand why the government now wants to ban us from the markets. If the law is not changed, it will be bad for me and for my family." Elvis Ekhaguosa, vice-president of a local Nigerian community organisation,  says he has had a licence to sell his wares at the market since 1996, accuses the government of discriminating against immigrants. "I am urging the government to reconsider," he says. "We have children and families and are upright citizens. We don't understand why we should be deprived of the right to work... I have been living in Greece for 18 years with proof. I should not be barred from the markets because I do not have citizenship." They are joined in their protest by Athens city council member Yvette Jarvis, who said, "What this new law means is that they will no longer be allowed to continue working, which means they will not be able to fulfil their social insurance requirement," explains Jarvis. "This means that when the time comes for them to renew their residence permit, they will be deemed illegal because they will not meet the mandatory social insurance requirement. And also the [immigration] law does not allow immigrants to change the type of employment easily... so there are lots of conflicting issues." The government stance is that the municipalities had no legal right to issue the permits in the first place but they are looking into it. That's comforting isn't it? If these permits were not supposed to be handed out to non-EU immigrants, why not look into changing the law in favour of doing so. After all, there is an anti-discrimination clause in the Greek constitution. It seems we take one step forward and two steps back when it comes to minority rights. What on earth do they expect immigrants to do now they seem to be losing another means of making a living? It seems to me that this is just another step in making life so difficult for them in Europe that they will be forced to leave. I would like to add my thanks and support to Kathy Tzilivakis at the Athens News for making a determined and sustained effort to keep minority rights in the spotlight. Full article below.


From Kathimerini A probe has been launched into claims by Afghan migrants that a 15-year-old fellow national was beaten by coast guards at the port of Patras and that a 21-year-old Afghan subsequently died of shock, authorities said yesterday. The two young men were part of a group of Afghans who tried to sneak into a truck due to board a ferry to Italy on Sunday evening but were spotted by coast guards who then chased them and beat the younger man, members of the group testified. According to the migrants, who have been living in a camp near the port, the 21-year-old died of shock upon seeing the alleged beating of the youngster. The Port Authority refuted the beating charges and said the boy had sustained his injuries after jumping off some railings during the chase. A coroner said the 21-year-old died of natural causes and the boy’s injuries were the result of “impact upon a hard surface.” There have been many stories of police and coast guard brutality towards immigrants over the years. An investigation has been launched but I doubt anything will be discovered. Who are the authorities going to believe in this case? A group of illegal immigrants or the men in uniform? Whatever the truth is, another young man is dead. While we continue to treat immigrants like criminals and worse, like animals, more people will be beaten, killed, rounded up, imprisoned in containers, stripped of their basic human rights and forgotten. And we call ourselves civilised?


We only get one day out of 365 and it's on March the 8th. International Women's Day and Global Women's Strike Day. I will be on strike that day and I hope all you women will be too. Men... for one day you get to do it all. So go over to vegankid and add your committment to Blog against Sexism.

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Although nominated for the 2nd European Weblog Awards, along with Mel and SeaWitch, we didn't make the finalists list. I'm trying not to blubber. As far as I can see, there are no Greek blogs in the lists. Shame. Voting is underway here.

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THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY is now here. I will not be updating the old place from now on. I would appreciate it if you could update your blogrolls or links with the new url as soon as you get a moment. Thank you so much. DD

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From ert The Bulgarian authorities broke up a five-member ring that was bringing pregnant women to Greece to give birth, while the babies were being put up for adoption illegally. Each baby was sold for 15,000 euros, while on many occasions the gang forced the women to deliver prematurely by having a c-section, so as to avoid arrest as their leave had expired. The Bulgarian police discovered 13 cases of illegal adoption just in 2004. Poor gypsy women from Bulgaria were being tempted to sell their newborns in exchange for 500-5,000 euros. In fact, in some cases, the masterminds of the ring would grant loans to their perspective victims charging exorbitant interest rates, thus forcing them to sell their babies in Greece to repay their debt. Most of the babies were sold in Athens, Volos, Katerini and Larissa over the last six years. The members of the gang are facing up to eight-year prison sentences. There are so many things wrong with this, where do you start? Who are the doctors performing these early c-sections? Who is buying these babies? How? Surely it is not enough just to arrest the ringleaders. There are many others involved in this situation. Excuse me while I bang my head on my desk... eight years for forcing women to undergo surgery and to sell their babies? Are the lives of these women and children worth so little? UPDATE: Tanner over at The News from Kisbacs links to this post and brings up another side of this story. A view from someone wishing to adopt a child. My point in the article was that these women are being forced to give up their children for money. Tanner brings up the issue of legal adoption for cash versus the current system that, as he puts it, is "adoption-in-exchange-for-bureaucratic-nightmare alongside a thriving (and criminal) black market".

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I posted a while back about the proposed segregated schools for Romani children at a school in Aspropyrgos. That post here. Below is an open letter to the Ministry of Education from the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and the European Roma Rights Center. It gives the background details to the case and calls on the government to do something (for a change) about this situation, These children have been unable to go to school since 2004. Three parts stood out for me in the letter: A twelve year old girl said in an interview "I go to school and they turn me away; they tell me ‘you are poor, go away." Remind you of anything? When Alpha filmed the protests non-romani parents were heard shouting  “No child of yours will enter our school […]. You are not going to enter the school. I will bring 500,000 people; you will not enter here, and that’s that.” Remind you of anything? On October 12, a sign was posted stating, “The school will remain closed for the problem of the Gypsies; Wednesday 12/10/05; Parents and Guardians Association.” Fancy that. Those uppity Roma causing problems by wanting their children to go to school! Remind you of anything?

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As well as moving to a new place, this blog reached 1000 comments yesterday! And guess what? SeaWitch, you wrote comment number 1000. A special shoutout to you. And here is your prize (virtual only, sadly) 47090867_F_store.jpg A dot com Diva tshirt (available for real here)

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