09/12/2012: Greece: Mainstream racism and discrimination

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9 December 2012

Greece: Mainstream racism and discrimination

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) highlights mostly recent incidents of racism and discrimination in Greece, which have triggered no reaction by almost any political party or civil society organization.

  1. Racist crime police units. On 7 December 2012, the government published the presidential decree for the creation of Hellenic Police offices for the “prevention and prosecution of crimes committed against persons or group of persons exclusively and only because of their racial or national origin or their religion.”[1] First, the terms “exclusively and only” may lead to characterize as non-racist crimes that have an additional motivation to the racist one. Secondly, it excludes sexual orientation as a motive for racist crimes. Yet, sexual orientation is listed in article 79 CC on racist motivation of crimes as aggravating circumstance. It is well-known recently several homophobic crimes have been committed.
  1. ECtHR judgments attacked. On 5 December 2012, Minister of Public Order Nikos Dendias stated that “in recent years the ECtHR undermines (“hypothycates” in Greek) rather than helps protect human rights” and challenged the competence of many ECtHR judges who are not legal professionals.[2] 
  1. Roma evictions. A) On 5 December 2012, all 16 Roma dwellings in the Karnagio/Karakonero (Rhodes) destitute settlement (in existence for more than 15 years) were demolished.[3] On 14 September 2012, a judge provisionally stopped regional government authorities from demolishing 42 Roma dwellings in the Halandri (Greater Athens) settlement (in existence for more than 30 years): the temporary injunction ended on 19 November 2012; since then, there is a risk of mass eviction.[4] B) In early September 2012, the Municipality of Lamia evicted all 20+ Roma families from the Xiria (Lamia) settlement (in existence for more than 20 years); when some of them resettled in Anthili (Lamia), there was a wide-scale racist attack against Roma by non-Roma.[5] C) On 1 August 2012, Minister of Public Order Nikos Dendias promised to the non-Roma neighbors that the large Albanian Roma destitute settlement (in existence for more than 10 years) in Votanikos (Athens) “cannot continue to exist and during the month of August a final solution [sic] will be given”; subsequently Roma were pressured to leave the settlement, but, as they did not, on 14 August there was an arson in the settlement, with the Fire Brigade being ordered only to make sure the fire does not spread outside the settlement and not to help save the dwellings; after an order of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, on 17 August the Hellenic Police and the Municipality of Athens demolished all remaining settlements;[6] the Commissioner for Human Rights had twice voiced his concerns for this community to Greek government ministers in 2007 and 2010.[7] D) On 30 March 2012, the large Roma settlement by the Attica Highway leading to the Athens Airport (in existence for over ten years) was also destroyed after an operation involving judicial, central and regional government authorities.[8] E) In none of these evictions was there provision of alternative, let alone adequate, housing.
  1. Segregation and exclusion of Roma in education. A) On 11 December 2012, the ECtHR will publish its judgment in the Case of Sampani v. Greece: “Thirty-eight Roma families hope that human rights judges will agree next week that their children were forced to attend segregated and inferior ‘ghetto’ schools in Greece. The applicants are 140 Greek nationals from 38 families, all of Roma origin, who were living at the material time on the Psari authorized residential site near Aspropyrgos. Some 98 of applicants were children aged from five and a half to 15, and 42 were their parents or guardians. Some of them were applicants in the case which gave rise to the judgment in Sampanis and Others v. Greece. This case concerns these children’s schooling. On 10 September 2008 Aspropyrgos primary school no. 12, which was supposed to accept both Roma and non-Roma children without distinction, opened its doors – the Roma children had previously been educated in a building annexed to school no. 10. From December 2008, however, the Ombudsman of the Republic described it as a “ghetto school”, since no non-Roma child from the region was enrolled in it. He applied unsuccessfully to the regional governor for the fusion of schools nos. 11 and 12. Relying on Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken together with Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education), the applicants complain that they were educated in school no. 12, installed in a prefabricated building, attended solely by children from their community and providing a level of education inferior to that in the other schools. Relying also on Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), they complain that they had no effective access to a court in Greece;”[9] it is obvious that the first Sampanis and Others v. Greece judgment[10] was not implemented by Greece. B) In 2013, the ECtHR is expected to issue its judgment in the Case of Lavida and Others v. Greece which concerns the segregation of all Roma pupils in one ghetto school in Sofades (Karditsa).[11] C) On 5 December 2012, a parliamentary question was tabled by Democratic Left MP Maria Yannakaki on the exclusion from school of all Roma pupils from the Spata (near the Athens Airport) community: children from that community first attended school after foreign MEP intervention in 2003 but were excluded in 2006; after two UN Independent Expert of Minority Issues and ECRI visits in September 2008, children from that community reintegrated school only to be excluded again in (and since) 2011.[12] C) As is mentioned in that question, based on GHM research, only one-third of mandatory-school age Roma children are registered in schools and only a quarter of them (i.e. 9% of the total population) attend classes until the end of the school year.
  1. Mosques and Muslim cemeteries outside Thrace. A) In Greater Athens, home of hundreds of thousand Muslims, there is still no mosque and no Muslim cemetery in operation. The 15th century Fethiye Mosque near Acropolis is a depot.[13] B) In Yannina, in late 2012, it was decided to close and eradicate the existing Muslim cemetery, thus denying the city’s (migrant) Muslim population a burial ground.[14]

[2] http://www.parapolitiki.com/2012/12/dendias-anthropina-dikaiomata-edda.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
[3] http://www.synigoros.gr/maps?i=maps.el.maps# (case 14), http://www.tvkosmos.gr/details.aspx?id=898388#.UMSD-6zF333, http://www.tvkosmos.gr/details.aspx?id=896694#.UMR_3KzF333, http://www.newsnow.gr/article/296314/rodos-katedafisi-katavlismou-sto-karakonero.html
[5] http://observers.france24.com/content/20120917-greek-village-influx-roma-causes-brawl-anthili-lamia-greece-camp-economic-crisis-fight-meeting and http://iteanet.blogspot.gr/2012/09/blog-post_13.html 
[6] http://www.moschatotavros.gr/news/den-ifistate-pleon-o-katavlismos-ton-roma-sto-votaniko-foto/, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrKNr-iajYw&list=HL1345300436&feature=mh_lolz, http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&lang=%27..%27&perform=view&id=18923&Itemid=951&lang=[7]https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1413785&Site=CommDH&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColorLogged=FFC679 and https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1607757&Site=CommDH&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColorLogged=FFC679
[8] http://www.newsnow.gr/article/37275/isopedothike-o-megalyteros-katavlismos-ton-roma-sta-mesogeia-video.html
[9] http://www.humanrightseurope.org/2012/12/human-rights-complaint-raises-concerns-about-ghetto-schools-for-greeces-roma-children/
[10] http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-86797
[12] http://www.dimokratikiaristera.gr/stin-vouli/erotiseis/katalogos-erotiseon/4317-erotisi-tis-vouleftoy-v-peiraia-marias-giannakaki-gia-tin-prosvasi-stin-ekpaideftiki-diadikasia-ton-paidion-roma-ston-katavlismo-spaton
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fethiye_Mosque_%28Athens%29
[14] http://www.agon.gr/news/117/ARTICLE/19563/2012-12-05.html