Centre Maurits Coppieters on a fact finding mission to Western Thrace

ABTTF mission Thumbnail

The European Free Alliance (EFA) and Centre Maurits Coppieters took part in an international delegation upon the invitation of the European Federation of West Thrace Turks (ABTTF) for a fact finding mission in W.Thrace, Greece. The main goal of the visit, which took place from the 21st to the 25th of September, was to assess the situation of the Turkish minority and highlight the severe human rights violations it is currently sustaining.

EFA Vice President and Coppieters Treasurer Miguel Martinez Tomey, together with MEPs Nils Torvalds and Pal Csaky and representatives of international NGOs, had the opportunity to meet with EFA member party DEB and various other organizations to get in-depth information about the problems Greek citizens of Turkish origin face:  To name a few, Greece still refuses to register organizations that bear the word “Turkish” in their name, unilaterally appoints the minority’s religious leaders (muftis) instead of encouraging their democratic election and intervenes enormously when it comes to issues related to language, minority education and property.

“It has been said many times in the past, but this is a situation unworthy of a civilized country, a member of the EU. Greece should finally listen to the demands of its Turkish minority in an open and constructive manner and stop avoiding any kind of dialogue. We are talking about peaceful Greek citizens who just wish to claim their human rights, nothing more and nothing less, and it is very sad to see them caught in the everlasting political saga between Athens and Ankara,” highlights Miguel Martinez Tomey.

He and the other members of the international delegation will draft a report that will be presented to the Greek authorities and the European Parliament in the spring of 2017.

Humanists call on Greece to ban incitement to hatred and abolish blasphemy

496278-greece-1358612472-596-640x480People protesting racism and fascism in Greece

At the UN a group of humanist NGOs have called on Greece to decriminalise blasphemy in the country and ensure that incitement to racial hatred is outlawed.

During the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, Cordelia Tucker O’Sullivan, on behalf of the Humanist Union of Greece (HUG),  the British Humanist Association (BHA), the European Humanist Federation (EHF) and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) made a statement supporting Brazil’s call to decriminalise blasphemy, to prohibit the dissemination of  ideas relating to racial superiority or hatred and declare illegal organisations who incite racial discrimination, as recommended by a number of  UN experts.

This follows an open letter sent to Greece’s Ministry of Justice in June, by dozens of humanist and secularist organizations, including the IHEU, the EHF and HUG, which called on the Greek government to follow through on its commitment to freedom of thought and expression, and finally abolish its “blasphemy” laws.

Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson of the Humanist Union of Greece, commented, “This statement marked the first time that non-governmental organisations raised before the Human Rights Council the need for Greece to bring its human rights legislation up to contemporary standards; i.e. by decriminalizing blasphemy and re-criminalizing racist hate speech. Until now, it has only been UN Treaty Bodies that have addressed these issues in Greece.

“We were pleased to have been able to have communicated this matter of concern to a such a wide and influential audience, which included scores of state delegations to the UN and NGOs from around the world. We hope that it is this sort of pressure on the Greek government that may will eventually succeed in encouraging it to amend its legislation.”

The group of humanist organisations also submitted a written statement on the issue.

The oral statement follows in full below:


British Humanist Association (BHA)
International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
European Humanist and Ethical Union (EHF)
Humanist Union of Greece (HUG)

UN Human Rights Council, 33rd Session (13 – 30 September 2016)
Item 6 – Greece UPR
Cordelia Tucker O’Sullivan
Suggested recommendations to Greece on combating racism and abolishing blasphemy laws

I give this statement on behalf of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the European Humanist Federation, the Humanist Union of Greece, and the British Humanist Association.

Our organisations welcome the UN CERD’s concluding observations on the periodic reports of Greece published on 29 August 2016, and request that the recommendations raised therein are accepted by Greece and integrated into their legal framework.

In particular, we urge Greece to:

  • Recognise that the fundamental right to freedom of expression should not undermine the principles of dignity, tolerance, equality, and non-discrimination, as the exercise of the right to free expression carries with it special responsibilities, among which is the obligation not to disseminate ideas relating to racial superiority or hatred, a principle reiterated by the UN CERD;
  • As a consequence of the above, bring its anti-racism legal framework into full compliance with the requirements of article 4 of the ICERD, by restoring the criminalisation of the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority, as recommended by the UN CERD, and also in February 2015 by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance;
  • Declare illegal, and prohibit, organisations which promote and incite racial discrimination, such as the Golden Dawn political party, as recommended by the UN CERD both in 2009 and again in 2016, and also by the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia related to intolerance, as well as by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and;
  • Ensure that they follow through with their commitment to ensure religious freedom and tolerance by decriminalising blasphemy, as recommended by the delegation of Brazil , and abolish articles 198 and 199 from its Criminal Code that are used in a discriminatory manner only in cases of blasphemy against the official Orthodox Christian religion, as recommended by the UN CERD.

What can we learn from the Greek experience of the refugee crisis?


[Speech at the Humanist Society Scotland’s 2016 Annual Conference – 24 September 2016]

Panayote Dimitras

“What can we learn from the Greek experience of the refugee crisis?” is the question I was asked to address today.

But who are the “we” in the title? Perhaps the Europeans (both in and outside the EU or outside it) in general? If so, I have the right to question whether in general Europeans do want to learn from the refugee crisis as the title suggests. If indeed, as I believe, Europeans in general do not want to learn from the refugee crisis, then they cannot learn anything and I would rest my case…

It would not be unfair and exaggerated to state that indeed probably most Europeans, or at least most European leaders, are demonstratively unwilling to learn anything. This is why they are pursuing, or supporting, or at least passively tolerating policies that are a mockery of European values and often bluntly hypocritical.

However, we who are gathered here, most if not all humanists, in fact passionate humanists, have a profound desire to learn from the refugee crisis and take action to help better manage it forcing the indifferent Europeans to change their practices and policies.

So, let us first correct the title of my speech, and the title of so many media stories. This is not a Greek refugee crisis! It is a European refugee crisis! Therefore, when reviewing the experience from that crisis we cannot limit it to a mere Greek experience but reflect on the indivisible European experience.

Indeed, Greece, which has a dismal overall human rights record, perhaps the worst in the EU, could for once legitimately claim that the “Greek refugee crisis” is in fact to a very large extent a European refugee crisis imposed upon Greece. For all practical purposes Greece was ordered by Brussels in March 2016 to warehouse refugees, preferably in island “hotspots,” with living conditions “unfit for animals” to quote Human Rights Watch.

Unabashedly the EU stated that their aim was, in the chilling words of its Spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud, to avoid “secondary movement to the rest of Europe, that means keeping asylum seekers on the islands for the most part.”

That statement was made on 20 September 2016, the day after a fire at Moria, Greece’s biggest refugee “hotspot,” situated on the island of Lesbos. The fire swept through the facility, destroying tents and shelters, and prompting the evacuation of some 4,400 residents, including dozens of unaccompanied children. Several people reportedly suffered light injuries from the fire.

The cause of the fire is still unknown and may remain forever unknown. It appears to have started during a refugee protest against conditions at the facility. The fire also occurred against a backdrop of far-right extremism and anti-immigrant rhetoric. On the day of the fire, some 500 local residents protested the migrants’ presence on Lesbos. At a similar protest last week in Chios, journalists covering the event were attacked. Well-known local members of the Nazi party Golden Dawn were seen to be among the leaders of these protests.

Several NGOs have documented severely overcrowded and filthy conditions in Moria and on other islands, where police fail to protect camp residents –including women and children– from violence (including sexual violence) and harassment.

The NGO community working on the refugee crisis had warned that the longer people are forced to live in such conditions, the more likely it is for tensions to build and violence to erupt. Indeed, several violent incidents have occurred in recent weeks in several such island stockpiles of desperate human beings who, in addition to the terrible living conditions, also have no idea what their future will be.

How did we reach this situation? Since the beginning of 2015 over one million refugees/migrants arrived by sea to Greece with the aim to continue to other European countries. Some 60,000 of them failed and were stranded in Greece following the closure of the Balkans route in March 2016. Today some 13,000 of these 60,000 are stranded, as per EU orders I repeat, in islands near Turkey.

Greek central government authorities functioned mainly as “monitors” of the phenomenon. They failed to provide almost all services and rights to those persons. These refugees benefitted mainly from the massive assistance offered by civil society -including Greek and international NGOs- and occasional local administration. This was a surprising but not unprecedented development in the country with EU’s most xenophobic public opinion (along with Hungary).

Greek authorities have gladly joined the EU-Turkey agreement aiming at stopping the refugee flows in ways that demonstratively violate the refugees’ fundamental rights in order to massively return refuges to Turkey. Refugees “responded” with the filing of asylum applications by the thousands, which prevented their immediate expulsion back to Turkey. Asylum services then started rejecting these applications claiming that Turkey is a “safe country,” in a blatant disregard of European-wide case law to the contrary.

Asylum appeals committee subsequently started overturning these decisions, correctly arguing that Turkey cannot be considered safe. The government’s response, again under EU pressure, was to change the law so as to introduce new asylum appeals committees dominated by judges from Greek courts. Those courts though have a cumulative negative record on upholding the human rights of refugees, as reflected in scores of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights finding Greece in violation of such rights.

By end-summer, those appeals, in the thousands, and soon to exceed ten thousand, remained pending. However, the largest number of refugees has become the object of pre-registration that gives them a temporary residence permit for up to twelve months, time considered necessary for the asylum services to process their applications.

With the prospect that they will spend most of the new school year in Greece, and with the encouragement of Greek authorities, refugee families registered their children in regular schools. They will attend separate classes tailored for them, similar to the special classes for Roma when they first attend Greek schools.

In most localities around Greece, this integration of refugee children in the mainstream education was welcomed. But in a dozen cities, local societies often under the leadership of the mayors and/or the city councils, and lacking any preparation to adapt themselves to the new developments and quell any fears, are opposed to this integration threatening inter alia to close the schools. The central authorities’ reaction through October 2016 will show if there is a determination to eradicate such racist reactions. In any case, the leading anti-racism litigation-oriented NGO, Greek Helsinki Monitor (that I also represent) is reporting these public reactions to the Special Prosecutor for Racist Crimes.

In the meantime, after March 2016, the flow of refugees to Greece from Turkey was marginalized, as a result of the closing of the Greek-Macedonian border to them, as new routes to EU countries mainly through Libya to Italy started being used by the refugees. Then came the coup in Turkey, followed by the crackdown by the Erdogan regime. Soon after, the number of refugees crossing to Greece from Turkey started to slowly but steadily grow, reaching a daily average of 100. It is feared that it may become more substantial again. That will overburden the asylum services. It will also as much as double the number of refugees stranded in Greece, while waiting for ways to join relatives of fellow refugees in other European countries. Hardly any of those refugees want to settle as refugee in Greece, as the state has no facilities and no assistance for them.

The EU’s response to that crisis was an act of utter hypocrisy. Two major commitments that would have helped alleviate Greece’s burden appear to day to be a smokescreen. The member countries pledged to send some 400 persons to increase the capacity of Greece’s asylum service. Today, six months later, there are only 35!

Worse, exactly a year ago, in late September 2015, EU member states agreed on a temporary scheme to distribute responsibility for receiving asylum-seekers more evenly between European countries. They announced the establishment of a two-year emergency relocation mechanism to relieve the pressure on frontline states hosting large numbers of people in need of international protection. In the case of Greece, the final commitment by other EU member states was to take in 66,400 asylum-seekers, divided between them according to pre-set quotas.

However, the promised effort to relocate asylum-seekers from temporary shelters in Greece to more permanent homes in other European countries has so far largely failed to materialize. The numbers speak for themselves. As of 14 September 2016, only 3,734 asylum-seekers have left Greece for other European countries, that is 5% of the number pledged by the EU a year ago. Worse, the total number of concrete places pledged by individual member-countries as of 30 August 2016 was a mere 7,106. What is the credibility of heads of state who are seen on television signing a pledge to relocate 66,000 refugees and, when the cameras are no longer there, provide concrete pledges for a mere 7,000 refugees? And it is not just the Central European member-countries that have failed to honor their signatures.

Consequently, as Amnesty International (AI) recently stated “although the Greek Asylum Service could do with more resources [including the missing 365 persons from other EU countries], it is the receiving European states that are largely responsible for delays in responding to relocation requests.” AI’s research indicates that “as of 31 July 2016, the Greek Asylum Service had received around 10,000 applications. The EU Commission has repeatedly called on states to respond to relocation requests within two weeks. However, this is still not happening and applicants can wait up to four months between the relocation request and the actual transfer. This inevitably results in frustration and undermines confidence in the program, contributing significantly to the relatively low numbers that have applied to date. Only asylum-seekers fleeing countries from where asylum applications achieve an EU-wide average recognition rate of at least 75% are eligible for relocation. This is reviewed every three months and eligible nationalities can change. At present the threshold covers mainly Syrian asylum-seekers, who are the majority of those stranded in Greece. Iraqis have been excluded since July 2016 and Afghan nationals, who make up the second largest group in Greece, have never been part of the relocation scheme. This has fostered a feeling of unfairness among groups excluded from the program.”

“The general lack of political will on the part of many states to relocate asylum-seekers is perhaps most starkly illustrated by their response to one of the most vulnerable groups: unaccompanied minors. Between June and July 2016 the Greek authorities identified 1,225 unaccompanied children on mainland Greece. Not all are eligible for relocation due to their nationality or because they have pending family reunification claims. However, the number of unaccompanied minors relocated under the emergency scheme is extremely low; only 42 children have been relocated in Europe, most of them to Finland.”

Europe’s responsibility is that they forced Greece to warehouse 13,000 refugees in islands and house an additional 47,000 refugees in the mainland. Greece’s responsibility is that, despite the EU funds available, it has failed, or probably has deliberately decided not, to provide adequate human living conditions to the vast majority of those refugees.

The consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of children and heads of households, waiting forever for relocation or asylum, are immense. Amnesty International found individuals experiencing prolonged family separation who were suffering not only from the trauma of the war in their war-torn countries, but also from acute stress, anxiety and depression acquired in the EU country of Greece.

So, what can we learn from the European experience of the refugee crisis? Certainly that, once faced with the problem, Europe failed to agree on a strategy and then implement it. With the exception of Germany, which effectively opened the borders and now hosts over one million refugees, the other EU countries, “honoring their Christian tradition,” prayed to their God that he “let this cup pass from us.”

Their God did not listen and the European countries are forced to integrate, even if only temporarily, the millions of refugees that have arrived since 2015. They must adopt a sincere strategy on how to do this and educate their people why such action will be beneficial given the demographic decline of their populations, so as to counter the populist and extreme right exploitation of the refugee crisis across the continent. After all, the Greek –and just Greek- experience here may be helpful. The Nazi party Golden Dawn did not gain any strength since the beginning of the crisis, as opinion polls show that it just holds on its January and September 2015 percentages.

Yet, I cannot conclude on an optimistic note. I cannot anticipate that the EU leaders will make soon that necessary U-turn. What I hope is that all those who hold dear to their hearts the humanist values, and more generally the democratic and human rights principles on which both the European civilizations and the EU itself are based, will go on struggling. Struggling to promote those values and to defend human rights aiming at, to the extent possible, derailing the current disastrous EU practices if not policies. Then the hope is that the derailed European train will be sidetracked towards a better direction.

UNPO Concludes Fact-Finding Mission to Western Thrace: Situation of Turkish Minority in Greece Increasingly Worrying

September 23, 2016

On 22 September 2016 UNPO concluded a 4-day fact-finding mission to Western Thrace, during which first-hand evidence of the conditions and treatment of the Turkish minority in Greece was collected. The mission was organised by the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) and included delegates from UNPO, Centre Maurits Coppieters (CMC), Greek Helsinki Monitor and Members of the European Parliament Nils Torvalds (ALDE, Finland) and Pál Csáky (EPP, Slovakia). A comprehensive report on the findings and recommendations of the mission will be presented to Greek and EU institutions in early 2017.

From 19 to 22 September 2016, a 4-day fact-finding mission was conducted to Western Thrace, the Greek region that is most densely populated by ethnic Turks. The conclusions to be drawn from this mission were deeply worrying, especially with regards to the issues of freedom of association and freedom of belief. Despite various calls from the community for recognition and fair treatment, backed by rulings by the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) in their favour, the situation remains stagnant, with the Greek authorities refusing to officially recognise any minority other than a Muslim one, provided for in the almost one century old Treaty of Lausanne (1923).

The mission delegates had the opportunity to meet a wide range of influential activist groups, including civil society organisations and the Friendship, Equality and Peace political party. The discussions focussed primarily on educational and religious autonomy and the struggle for legal recognition. A discussion with elected mufti of Komotini highlighted the problem of religious autonomy as he pointed to how muftis are selected by the Greek authorities and how Imams lack official recognition. Visits to both Komotini and Xanthi further highlighted the issue of the lack of freedom of belief as some of the mosques in these areas had been attacked or construction had been stopped. This is but one example of the harassment ethnic Turks are victims of the by police and Greek nationalists.

The mission delegates also engaged in a discussion with the Komotini Turkish Youth Union, whereby the evergreen issue of legal recognition for ethnic Turks in Greece was raised. Greece has no official recognition of any indigenous group, and in doing so the state is denying them vital forms of minority protection. Greece only allows an individual’s right to self-identification, in doing so attempting to deny the existence of the ethnic Turkish community. In addition to this, Greek authorities only recognise a Muslim minority as stated in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which is problematic in that not all members of the Turkish minority are Muslim, leaving many individuals in a legal limbo seeking state recognition and protection.

Furthermore, the fact-finding mission included a joint meeting with the Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority and the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers Union, who pointed to the urgency of the issue of educational autonomy. The number of bilingual schools and kindergartens for minority children is dwindling, and for the few that remain the quality of education falls far below a satisfactory level. Unfortunately, this places severe limitations on the youth of Western Thrace: despite a 0.5% quota in universities in Greece, most Turkish speakers still do not manage to gain access to higher education.

Overall, the four-day fact-finding mission to Western Thrace confirmed that the situation of ethnic Turks in Greece is increasingly worrying and requires urgent attention.  A comprehensive report on the findings and recommendations will be compiled in the coming months, and then be presented to Greek and EU Institutions, in the hopes of bringing the issue of ethnic Turks of Western Thrace into the spotlight.

In March 2016, UNPO in cooperation with ABTTF convened a conference at the European Parliament addressing the issue of freedom of association in Greece. For a summary of the event, click here.

A comprehensive conference report was published in June 2016. To download the full report, click here.

Photos Courtesy of ABTTF

Members of the European Parliament and delegates from international non-governmental organizations on a fact-finding mission in Western Thrace


During the fact-finding mission organized by ABTTF, the members of the European Parliament and representatives of the international non-governmental organizations examined on the ground the problems of the Turkish Minority of Western-Thrace in Greece and collected first-hand evidence.

The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) organized from 19 to 22 September 2016 a fact finding mission to Western Thrace which included the two members of the European Parliament (MEP) and representatives of the international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). During the mission, the delegation observed on the spot the basic and current problems of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace.

The mission delegation was headed by the ABTTF President Halit Habip Oğlu and composed of Nils Torvalds MEP (ALDE) who belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, Pal Csaky MEP (EPP) who belongs to the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, Marino Busdachin, Secretary General of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), Miguel Martinez Tomey, Member of the Board of Centre Maurits Coppieters (CMC) and Vice-President of the European Free Alliance (EFA) and Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson of the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) which is one of the leading NGOs dealing with human and minority rights in Greece.

On the first day of the fact-finding mission attended also by Mehmet Hüseyin, ABTTF Vice-President, K. Engin Soyyılmaz, ABTTF Head Office Manager and Ali Ali Çavuş, Member of the ABTTF International Affairs and Lobbying Group, the delegation first visited the Elected Mufti of Komotini İbrahim Şerif in his office. Afterwards, the delegation had a joint meeting with the Culture and Education Foundation of Western Thrace Minority, the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers Union to hear the problems in the field of education. Later on, the delegation visited the Komotini Turkish Youth Union and obtained information on the historical and legal struggle of the association which was closed down by the Greek authorities on the grounds that its title contained the word “Turkish”. After visiting the Turkish and Greek villages in Komotini, the delegation met with the Xanthi Turkish Union and listened to the legal struggle of the association which was also closed down due to the word “Turkish” in its title and won the case before the European Court of Human Rights after more than twenty years. In the evening, the delegation also came together with the representatives of the Turkish minority media in the premises of the Western Thrace Turkish Teachers Union.

The fact-finding mission continued on 21 September with the delegates from the international NGOs as the MEPs had to leave due to their heavy agenda. On the second day of the mission, the representatives of UNPO, CMC and GHM first visited the headquarters of the single political party of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace, the Friendship, Equality and Peace (FEP) Party in Komotini, which is also a member of EFA. During the meeting, the FEP Party provided the delegation with detailed information on the official state policy of Greece towards the Turkish minority and underlined this policy containing many problematic issues in itself should be changed urgently. Afterwards, the delegation visited the Turkish minority association, the Sports, Culture and Education Association of Didymoteicho Muslims and the Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Mosque (Beyazıt Mosque), and obtained information on the situation of the persons belonging to the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace who live in the city of Didymoteicho and its neighbourhood.

Η ανακοίνωση στα ελληνικά και στα τουρκικά

Συστάσεις τριών Επιτροπών Εμπειρογνωμόνων του ΟΗΕ στην Ελλάδα για τα δικαιώματα των μειονοτήτων 2015-2016

Συστάσεις τριών Επιτροπών Εμπειρογνωμόνων του ΟΗΕ στην Ελλάδα για τα δικαιώματα των μειονοτήτων[1]


Ι. Επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ για τα Οικονομικά, Κοινωνικά και Πολιτιστικά Δικαιώματα[2]

Καταληκτικές παρατηρήσεις για τη δεύτερη περιοδική έκθεση της Ελλάδας

9 Οκτωβρίου 2015

  1. Η Επιτροπή για τα Οικονομικά, Κοινωνικά και Πολιτιστικά Δικαιώματα έλαβε υπόψη της τη δεύτερη έκθεση της Ελλάδας σχετικά με την εφαρμογή του Διεθνούς Συμφώνου για τα Οικονομικά, Κοινωνικά και Πολιτιστικά Δικαιώματα (E/C.12/GRC/Q/2/Add.1) κατά την 70η έως και 71η συνάντησή της (E/C.12/2015/SR.70 και 71) που πραγματοποιήθηκε στις 5 και 6 Οκτωβρίου του 2015, και ενέκρινε, κατά την 78η συνεδρίασή της, που πραγματοποιήθηκε στις 9 Οκτωβρίου 2015 τις ακόλουθες συμπερασματικές παρατηρήσεις. (…)Γ. Κύρια θέματα που προκαλούν ανησυχία και συστάσεις (…)Μη-Διάκριση
  1. Η Επιτροπή διατυπώνει την ανησυχία της καθώς το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος αναγνωρίζει ως μοναδική μειονότητα τη Μουσουλμανική Θρησκευτική Μειονότητα της Δυτικής Θράκης. Η Επιτροπή σημειώνει επιπλέον την απουσία στατιστικών που να αφορούν τη σύνθεση του πληθυσμού του συμβαλλόμενου Κράτους. Η Επιτροπή ανησυχεί επίσης για τις συνεχιζόμενες διακρίσεις που λαμβάνουν χώρα στο συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος εις βάρος των μεταναστών αλλά και των Ρομά, ιδίως στους τομείς της απασχόλησης, της εκπαίδευσης, της υγειονομικής περίθαλψης και της στέγασης (άρθρο 2, παρ. 2).
  1. Η Επιτροπή συστήνει στο συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος τη συλλογή στατιστικών δεδομένων όσον αφορά την πληθυσμιακή σύνθεση, στη βάση εκούσιου αυτοπροσδιορισμού, με προοπτική τη διαμόρφωση, εφαρμογή και παρακολούθηση στοχευόμενων και συντονισμένων προγραμμάτων και πολιτικών σε εθνικό και τοπικό επίπεδο, με σκοπό την ικανοποίηση των οικονομικών, κοινωνικών και πολιτιστικών δικαιωμάτων. Υπό αυτήν την άποψη, η Επιτροπή, παραπέμποντας στην γενική της σύσταση Νο. 20 (2009) για τη μη-διάκριση όσον αφορά τα οικονομικά, κοινωνικά και πολιτιστικά δικαιώματα, ενθαρρύνει το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος να αναθεωρήσει τη στενή ερμηνεία του όρου «μειονότητες» και συστήνει στο συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος τη λήψη αποφασιστικών μέτρων για την αναγνώριση όλων των μειονοτήτων προκειμένου να προστατέψει πλήρως τα δικαιώματά τους, περιλαμβανομένων εκείνων της γλώσσας, της θρησκείας, της κουλτούρας και της ταυτότητάς τους.

Επιτροπή Ανθρώπινων Δικαιωμάτων

Καταληκτικές παρατηρήσεις για τη δεύτερη περιοδική έκθεσης της Ελλάδας[3]

5 Νοεμβρίου 2015

  1. Η Επιτροπή έλαβε υπόψη της τη δεύτερη έκθεση που υπέβαλε η Ελλάδα (CCPR/C/GRC/2) κατά τη 3202η και τη 3204η συνεδρίαση (CCPR/C/SR.3202 και 3204), που έλαβαν χώρα τη 19η και 20ή Οκτωβρίου 2015. Κατά τη 3225η συνεδρίαση (CCPR/C/SR.3225), που έλαβε χώρα τη 3η Νοεμβρίου 2015, υιοθέτησε τις ακόλουθες καταληκτικές παρατηρήσεις. (…)Γ. Κύρια θέματα που προκαλούν ανησυχία και συστάσεις (…)Αναγνώριση των μειονοτήτων και στατιστικές
  1. Ενώ καλωσορίζει τη δήλωση του συμβαλλόμενου κράτους πως η έλλειψη επίσημης αναγνώρισης άλλων μειονοτήτων, εκτός από τη μουσουλμανική μειονότητα της Θράκης, στην επικράτειά του δεν εμποδίζει την υιοθέτηση κατάλληλων πολιτικών που να αποσκοπούν στη διατήρηση και προώθηση της πολιτισμικής ποικιλομορφίας και δεν παρεμποδίζει το δικαίωμα των ατόμων στον ελεύθερο αυτοπροσδιορισμό, η Επιτροπή ανησυχεί για τις ανεπαρκείς εγγυήσεις για την ισότιμη και ουσιαστική απόλαυση της κουλτούρας, της έκφρασης και πρακτικής του θρησκεύματος και της χρήσης της γλώσσας από όλα τα πρόσωπα, συμπεριλαμβανομένων και εκείνων που διεκδικούν να ανήκουν σε εθνοτικές, θρησκευτικές ή γλωσσικές μειονότητες. Η Επιτροπή εκφράζει επίσης την ανησυχία της για την έλλειψη στατιστικών δεδομένων που να καταδεικνύουν την εθνοτική και πολιτισμική σύνθεση του συμβαλλόμενου κράτους, τη χρήση των μητρικών γλωσσών και των καθομιλούμενων γλωσσών (αρθ. 26 και 27).
  1. Το συμβαλλόμενο κράτος πρέπει να διασφαλίσει ότι όλα τα πρόσωπα προστατεύονται αποτελεσματικά ενάντια σε κάθε μορφή διάκρισης και μπορούν να απολαμβάνουν πλήρως τα δικαιώματά τους που απορρέουν από το Σύμφωνο, συμπεριλαμβανομένου του άρθρου 27.[4]

ΙΙΙ. Επιτροπή για την Εξάλειψη των Φυλετικών Διακρίσεων

Καταληκτικές παρατηρήσεις επί της εικοστής ως εικοστής δεύτερης περιοδικής έκθεσης της Ελλάδας[5]

26 Αυγούστου 2016

  1. Η Επιτροπή εξέτασε τις συνδυασμένες (εικοστή ως εικοστή δεύτερη – CERD/C/GRC/20-22) περιοδικές εκθέσεις της Ελλάδας, που υποβλήθηκαν σε ένα έγγραφο, στη 2452η και 2453η συνεδρίαση της (CERD/C/SR. 2452, CERD/C/SR. 53), που πραγματοποιήθηκε στις 3 και 4 Αυγούστου 2016. Στη 2472η και 2473η συνεδρίαση της, που πραγματοποιήθηκαν στις 17 και 18 Αυγούστου 2016, ενέκρινε τις ακόλουθες καταληκτικές παρατηρήσεις. (…)

 Γ. Ανησυχίες και συστάσεις (…)

 Στατιστικά στοιχεία

  1. Η Επιτροπή ανησυχεί για την έλλειψη στατιστικών στοιχείων σχετικά με την απόλαυση των δικαιωμάτων της Σύμβασης από όλες τις εθνοτικές ομάδες και τις θρησκευτικές μειονότητες στο Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος (αρθ. 1). 
  1. Υπενθυμίζοντας τη γενική της σύσταση Αρ. 8 (1990), σχετικά με την ερμηνεία και εφαρμογή του άρθρου 1 (1) και (4) της Σύμβασης, και τις αναθεωρημένες κατευθυντήριες γραμμές αναφοράς (CERD/C/2007/1, παρ. 10 και 12), η Επιτροπή συνιστά στο Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος να διαφοροποιήσει τις δραστηριότητες συλλογής δεδομένων, με βάση την ανωνυμία και τον αυτοπροσδιορισμό των ατόμων και των ομάδων, για την παροχή επαρκούς εμπειρικής βάσης για τις πολιτικές για την ενίσχυση της ίσης απόλαυσης όλων των δικαιωμάτων που κατοχυρώνονται στη Σύμβαση. Υπενθυμίζει ότι αξιόπιστες, λεπτομερείς κοινωνικοοικονομικές πληροφορίες είναι απαραίτητες για την παρακολούθηση και την αξιολόγηση των πολιτικών υπέρ των μειονοτήτων και για την αξιολόγηση της εφαρμογής της Σύμβασης, και ζητεί από το Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος να παράσχει αυτά τα αναλυτικά στοιχεία στην επόμενη έκθεσή του. 

Κατάσταση των μειονοτήτων

  1. Η Επιτροπή ανησυχεί γιατί οι Μουσουλμάνοι που ζουν στην περιοχή της Θράκης που καλύπτονται από το διατάξεις της Συνθήκης της Λωζάννης του 1923 και οι οποίοι ανήκουν σε διάφορες εθνότητες αναγνωρίζονται μόνο ως θρησκευτική μειονότητα από το Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος. Η Επιτροπή ανησυχεί επίσης ότι και για άλλους Μουσουλμάνους, συμπεριλαμβανομένων εκείνων που ζουν στα νησιά της Ρόδου και της Κω, που δεν καλύπτονται από τη Συνθήκη της Λωζάννης, μπορεί να αμφισβητείται το δικαίωμα στον αυτοπροσδιορισμό και ως εκ τούτου δεν μπορούν να απολαύσουν πλήρως τα δικαιώματά τους που απορρέουν από τη Σύμβαση. Ως αποτέλεσμα, η αποτελεσματική απόλαυση, από άτομα που ανήκουν σε εθνοτικές μειονότητες, των δικαιωμάτων τους στη διατήρηση της γλώσσας τους, του πολιτισμού τους και της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι είναι περιορισμένη (αρθ. 1, 2 και 5). 
  1. Παρά την εξήγηση που παρέχεται από το Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος ότι οι εθνοτικές ομάδες δεν θεωρούνται μειονότητες, η Επιτροπή θεωρεί ότι σε μια πολυεθνοτική κοινωνία η αναγνώριση εθνοτικών ομάδων μικρότερου μεγέθους μπορεί να τις βοηθήσει να προστατεύσουν την ύπαρξή τους και την ταυτότητά τους. Η Επιτροπή σημειώνει επίσης ότι η Συνθήκη της Λωζάννης δεν απαγορεύει την αναγνώριση άλλων ομάδων ως μειονοτήτων ούτε εμποδίζει τα πρόσωπα που ανήκουν σε διάφορες εθνοτικές ομάδες να ασκούν το δικαίωμά τους στον αυτοπροσδιορισμό. Ως εκ τούτου, η Επιτροπή συνιστά στο Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος να αναθεωρήσει τη θέση του και να εξετάσει την αναγνώριση άλλων ομάδων που μπορούν να χαρακτηριστούν ως εθνοτικές, ή θρησκευτικές μειονότητες, καθώς και ενθαρρύνει το Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος να εφαρμόσει τις σχετικές αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου. (…) 

Διαβούλευση με την κοινωνία των πολιτών 

  1. Η Επιτροπή συνιστά στο Συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος να συνεχίσει τη διαβούλευση και την εντατικοποίηση του διαλόγου με οργανώσεις της κοινωνίας των πολιτών που δραστηριοποιούνται στον τομέα της προστασίας των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων, ιδίως εκείνων που εργάζονται για την καταπολέμηση των φυλετικών διακρίσεων, σε συνάρτηση με τη σύνταξη της επόμενης περιοδικής έκθεσης και με την παρακολούθηση της εφαρμογής των τυρινών καταληκτικών παρατηρήσεων.

[1] Οι συστάσεις των Επιτροπών του ΟΗΕ βασίστηκαν σε σημαντικό βαθμό σε εκθέσεις που υποβλήθηκαν και προφορικές παρουσιάσεις που έγιναν σε αυτές από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) και την Ελληνική Ομάδα για τα Δικαιώματα των Μειονοτήτων (ΕΟΔΜ) διαθέσιμες στην ιστοσελίδα https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com/category/οηε-un/ .

[2] Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από τους Χρήστο Τσαμπρούνη και Βασίλη Τσαρνά σε επιμέλεια Παναγιώτη Δημητρά από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CESCR/Shared%20Documents/GRC/E_C-12_GRC_CO_2_21942_E.doc

[3] Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από τους Χρήστο Τσαμπρούνη και Βασίλη Τσαρνά σε επιμέλεια Παναγιώτη Δημητρά από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/GRC/CCPR_C_GRC_CO_2_22220_E.docx

[4] Αρθρo 27 ΔΣΑΠΔ: «Στα Κράτη όπου υπάρχουν εθνoτικές, θρησκευτικές ή γλωσσικές μειονότητες, τα πρόσωπα που ανήκουν σε αυτές δεν μπορούν να στερηθούν του δικαιώματος να έχουν, από κοινού με τα άλλα μέρη της ομάδας τους, τη δική τους πολιτιστική ζωή, να εκδηλώνουν και να ασκούν τη δική τους θρησκεία ή να χρησιμοποιούν τη δική τους γλώσσα.»

[5] Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από τη Μάγια Φουριώτη και το Βασίλη Τσαρνά σε επιμέλεια Παναγιώτη Δημητρά από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CERD/Shared%20Documents/GRC/CERD_C_GRC_CO_20-22_24986_E.pdf