Migration and Struggle in Greece

Archive for April, 2009

“We Need Help” – The direct testimony of the refugees in the Patras camp

Posted by clandestina on 28 April 2009

nologoBelow is research material in English about the Patras Refugee Camp (relevant clandestinenglish posts about recent developments there are here, here and here) from the Melting Pot Europe Project. We noticed the project through


Yasser ‘s voice seems to come from another planet: “Help us, we need someone fight for our rights”. Haji, the representative of the Afghan community in the Patras slum-camp, reports what happened during the rebellion.
Thousands of Afghan citizens, whose stories we have already reported, barricaded themselves inside the camp. Police doesn’t intervene, but keeps under surveillance the entire place. The refugees are afraid to walk outside the camp. They are terrorized by the policemen, but also by the Greek citizens. The 2nd March 2009 Greeks joined security forces to disperse with tear-gas the spontaneous demonstration of the Afghan refugees.
They were at the port, as they did each afternoon, trying to get on the ships directed to Italy, hoping to obtain the international protection which is completely denied in Greece against any national and European law. Even though the ports on the Adriatic sea reject them almost indiscriminately, they have no other choice except keep trying. This is the only way to get out this situation, risking their own lives in order to find any kind of dignity for being humans.
That afternoon, one of them had almost managed to hide himself inside one of the departing trucks, but something went wrong and he fell. The witnesses affirm that the truck behind him accelerated instead of stopping. His friends thought him dead, when they saw him laying unconscious in his own blood. They were mad with rage and began throwing stones against the truck. Then in just a second the strife began. The charitable associations supporting Patras refugees arrived, but also the organized groups which have always been against them. The strife stopped late into the night.
Greece, member of the European Union, is violating every day the rights of these people. The requests for asylum have been suspended since September 2008. Yet each of these young boys, many of them are under 18 years old and even children, have terrible stories behind them. Bombs and conscription for the Afghanistan war, violence of the Iranian police, Turkish prison, detention centers in Greece, mass rejection from Italy. The boy who has been knocked down by the truck is in coma in the hospital. Yet none of his friends could personally make sure if he is still alive. Twenty-five afghan citizens at the port on the 2nd of March have been arrested and nobody knows anything about them.

Uncut version of Yasser’s interview
- Listen in English ]
- Listen in Italian ]

Uncut version of Haji’s interview
- Listen in farsi ]
- Listen in Italian ]

- Watch the video on the strife at Patras Port
- Read the testimony of Marianne, who is working for Kinisi Association

Transcript of Yasser’s interview

My name is Yasser.
Hi Yasser, do you remember me? I was in Patras some weeks ago…
Yes of course I remember…

We would like that you tells us what happened those days. Could you tell me something about what happened at the Patras Port, but also about what is happening right now? Where are you now?
Now I am at the camp.

What can you tell me about the camp at this moment? Are you surrounded?
There is the police, not quite close but still here. The camp is surrounded by the police.

And they do not allow you to go outside?
It is difficult for us to go out.

Why are they behaving like this?
I don’t know but I think because of the incident happened few days ago. Since the incident the police have surrounded the camp and we are afraid of going out because the police is here.

Can you tell us something more about what happened at the port few days ago?
Yes, there was this boy who was trying to get on the truck, hide himself, then another truck arrived and knocked him down. His mouth was bleeding and he also badly hit his head. After few minutes we thought him dead, then he was taken to the hospital. The doctor says he isn’t dead, but he is in a coma. Yet none of us saw him, and we know nothing about what is happening to him.

Why did you get angry that day at the port anyway?
Because we are human beings as well, we have human rights too. Nobody must kill us in such manner, it wasn’t the first time however. Last year another driver killed a boy at the port. Police beats us every day at the port, but also on the streets. We are human beings and we have human rights.

Therefore this is quite normal, is police normally behaving like that? Is it always violent with you?
Yes it is. Anyway at the moment the Greek community represent another problem. Some Greek citizens joining the police attack us that night at the port too.

Why is this happening?
I don’t know why this is happening, I don’t know why they are angry with us. We don’t do anything bad, we didn’t harm they, we simply try to enter the port during evening. Yet lots of Greeks joined the police that night and attacked us, while the police was throwing tear-gases at us. There weren’t one or two persons. There were lots of them.

Could you explain the reason why you try to reach Italy each night passing through the Patras port? What is for you the problem in Greece? Our condition in Greece is terrible difficult because we cannot obtain asylum and we cannot find a job. We can’t do anything, therefore we try to reach Italy in order to seek asylum and find a place where to live.

Did you ask for asylum in Greece?
Not me, but other persons in the camp did. Here if you ask for asylum they say you are a liar. What changes if you do ask for asylum? The lawyer explained us that they admit asylum for less than 1% of the requests. Actually it is impossible to obtain political asylum here.

Did they confined you or not in a detention center the first day you arrived to Greece?
No, I came directly to Patras, I have already known that I had to try to continue my journey.

Therefore you go to the port each night and try to hide inside the trucks departing for Italy?
Yes, each night.

Now after the incident what do you think will happen in Patras?
We don’t know yet. The police is here surrounding us, but none of us knows exactly what is about to happen.
We are afraid for our lives. Since days we have been barricaded inside the camp without doing out.

You do not only fear the police, but also the Greek citizens?
Each of us retard going out the camp because we don’t know what might happen. Now we are afraid of simply walking on the streets.

How old are you?
I am 19.

What is the average age in the camp?
Almost everybody is less than 20 years old.

How many persons are there in the camp at the moment?
More than one thousand.

What can you tell us about the life in the camp?
Life here is dreadful. We are living in hell.

Is there anything that you would like to ask the Greek and the Italian government?
I don’t ask for anything to the Greek government, as I already know that it would never help us. I would ask the Italian government instead to open its gates because here life is like living in war. I would say to the Italian government that we are refugees, that we didn’t come here to harm anybody, we came here only to live and have a better life, we came here to survive. I would say to the Italian government please open the gates. You know how we are living. During these days lots of journalists came down here and reported to us what is happening in Patras. We cannot live this way any longer.

Would you like to tell us something of your life? Explain us why are you a refugee?
I am a refugee because my country is in war, but as far as I am regarded the problem goes beyond this. My story is quite different from the other ones. One day as I came back home, I found my father that had just killed my mother. At that point I killed my father. My entire family is against me. I had no other choice but running away.

Do all of you inside the camp have such difficult story?
Yes, all of us have such stories.

Have you tried to tell your story to anybody from Greece?
No, I don’t even try. Only two friends of mine know the story, and nobody else.

Are you going to try to go inside the port again this night?
I don’t, and like me neither many others in the camp. We are afraid. If now after the incident the police arrests us, who knows what might happen to us.

What happens usually when the police arrests you at the port?
They take us to the police station and they leave us there for 24 hours with no water nor food.

Do they beat you?
Is normal that they beat us. They beat us, shout at us, insult us, abuse us.

Thank you very much Yasser. We promise you that we are going to make your voice heard. We join you in your battle for your rights.
Thank you, we need somebody to fight for our rights, we need help.

Last question: do you organize any demonstration for the next days?
Yes, I know that they are organizing some demonstrations, but I don’t know precisely what are you going to do.

Are there any Greek association supporting you?
Yes, they came down here and ask us to join them in a demonstration. I am not quite sure if we are going to join them, but maybe next week. There are some groups, not many actually. Hope that works.

What do you think, is it important to make a demonstration right now?
Yes, I think so. I don’t know what the other one thousand refugees might think, but I think it does.

Were you there that day during the strife?
I arrived five minutes later. I was there when there were throwing tear-gases at us. They arrested 25 persons and we know nothing about where they are, nobody knows anything.

Are there children among them?
Yes of course, there would be children too.

Transcript of Haji’s interview
It was 4 pm when a seventeen years boy named San tried to get out the port by hanging on behind a truck. Then another truck arrived and he got smashed between the both of them. At that point the boys who were there got angry with the truck drivers and the strife began.
The boys threw stones against the windows of the trucks. Then some Greek persons began arguing with the boys that were protesting and the strife extended. At that point the police intervened with tear-gases.
When I saw what was happening, I approached the boys together with a Greek friend of mine and we promised them that we would go and see how San in the hospital was doing. There were 4 of us going to the hospital and we found out that San was in a coma and that the doctors decided to operate him: therefore it was impossible for us to see him. We know nothing about him, not even his brother could see him. Doctors are still saying that he is in a coma and that they have to operate him because of the injures he has at his head and arms.
For almost 12 hours there was some sort of war between migrants and police. At this point a group of fascists tried to burn down the camp. All the people inside the camp had to go out because the situation was very dangerous.

This interview was made by Basir ad Haji in the Patras camp.

Alessandra Sciurba, progetto Melting Pot Europa

Translated by Oprea Mihaela

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Solidarity with the Kurd Political Refugee Haydar Bozkurt’s hunger strike!

Posted by clandestina on 28 April 2009

10427_0904271216Info and photo from this TVXS article and this YRE-Greece announcement.


The Kurd refugee Haydar Bozkurt, who expects a negative decision of his 3rd appeal for for political asylum, is in the 14th day of his hunger strike. Haydars health is already in a very bad condition after his imprisonment, the tortures he was subjected to , and his attempt to set himself on fire and the long hunger strike in Turkey, yet he started again hunger strike until death on April 13.

Hayndar has already received 2 negative responses to his application for political asylum and he is awaiting the third one. The Greek authorities do not accept the findings of the Medical Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (ΙΚΑΘΒ), which confirms that he has been tortured and does not consider that there is a threat to his life if deported to Turkey.

Hayndar was arrested in Istanbul by the Turkish security authorities in December 1995 because he was a member of DHKP / C. He was tortured for 11 days (a medical report certifies that). Then he was transferred to security prisons at Bayram Pasha until April 2001.

Then he was left temporarily released due to serious health problems; he had participated in the long hunger strike for better conditions of imprisonement of political prisoners in Turkey. The Turkish government trying to appease spirits within in the international community released some moribund strikers. One of them was Hayndar.

On November 2002 the Turkish authorities made many arrests and exercised violent repression on protests.  To avoid a new arrest and the degrading tortures he set himself on fire. He suffered burns on more than 65% of his body surface.

He came to Greece in December 2002. He forwarded an application for political asylum, which was rejected on 14/2/2004. He lodged an appeal against the negative decision on 23/4/2004.

Given that the Greek state does not take into account anything (documents, medical certificates), not even in the case of someone so obviously tortured, he decides to go and seek asylum in Germany.

The German authorities return him to Greece on 16 December 2004, because the decision of the appeal which had been lodged was pending. In Greece his special legal status expires and he is detained and faced with deportation to Turkey. Later in the year he lodges an appeal against his deportation and he is released again on a provisional legal status. On 18 August 2007 he is handed a document stating that his asylum procedure suspension is again on track. Still, until now he has not been granted political asylum despite the fact that the Turkish authorities have issued an arrest warrant since 2003



He demands:

– that political asylum is granted to all refugees risking their lives from possible deportation

– a better treatment to refugees by the Greek state. That the humiliation and torture of refugees by the Greek authorities cease.

– that the Kurd Arslan Taifoun Ozkiok is released from Koridalos prison, since his life is in immediate danger if the Greek government expels him in Turkey.

– that all refugees who suffer health problems are allowed to go to countries where they can receive proper care.

It is worth noting that the Greek state has been refusing to grant political asylum to Kurdish refugees since 2000.

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“Counting the Uncountable” – Research on “Undocumented Immigration” numbers across the EU and some data on the Greek case

Posted by clandestina on 28 April 2009

The EU needs, in its own projects’* wording, to “count the uncountable”, the number, that is, of the immigrants it forces into clandestine status.  This is obviously needed by the various EU and foreign policy “think tanks” which are expected to propose ways for further consolidating the Fortress Europe Appartheid and the management of the “invisible” ones.   According to a “Kathimerini article” (in Greek) , referring to a piece of research on “undocumented migration” in Greece (click here for the paper’s English version – pdf)  from the project linked above, the number of undocumented immigrants in Greece  is roughly 200.000. This counting, of course, is deemed to be  always a substantial underestimate, given that legal status in Greece is a provisional status – people are time and again made illegal until re-documented otherwise, so to speak , and the general sentiment is that of high or extreme legal precarity.  The country report paper to which we link above offers much quantitative data and also speaks of the following shift in Greek state discourses (the “politics” of those numbers):

In the 1990s, the depiction of a Greece suffering from large numbers of illegal migrants was instantly translated into the need for ‘skoupa’ (sweep) operations aimed to ‘clean’ the country of ‘potential criminals’ and ethnically different groups and thus acquiesce the Greek voters’ fears of immigration whilst showing to its Balkan neighbours who is the leading power in the region ** […]. Nowadays representing Greece as the receiver of massive waves of illegal migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa has a different target audience: the EU and Turkey. The accumulated effect of regularization, EU accession of Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, the improved relations with a developing Albania have shifted the focus away from a strategy of fending off its border from within and towards cooperation with neigbouring countries (sending or transit). EU dedicating more funds towards blocking irregular migration from reaching its shores (the creation of FRONTEX for example), and the issue of Turkey’s EU accession have further changed the irregular migration debate within Greece. Attracting the attention and the funds of the European Commission has been the main strategy of Greek politics with regard to the phenomenon of irregular migration. The message Greek politicians want to pass across is that Greece cannot afford to pay for the growing needs of its own, and simultaneously EU, border management costs […]

… , a point which is of course later in the text counter-balanced in the language of research pseudo-neutrality.  Of course, we do not endorse this kind of attitude towards the calculative murdering of immigrants by the Greek state.

This also applies to some other data from the project’s research (info from the “Kathimerini” article) which suggest that  the main problem of immigrants in Greece is the issue of residence permit and the cost of renewing it. In a case study, a researcher described the average situation as follows: with an average age of 38 years, immigrants are mostly secondary education graduates and live in Greece 15 years on average. They have no knowledge of the Greek language classes available (which anyway can receive only a very low number of people) and have learned in the street to speak Greek adequately.  They do not know how to write in Greek and have to resort to intermediaries each time they have to deal with the administration.

Other researchers point our that a risk legal immigrants face is the relapse into illegality. More than half of the immigrant population is employed in construction and tourist industries which are mostly affected by the economic crisis. The construction sector activity has fallen by 40%, while the respective rates for tourism are expected to decrease by 20% to 30%. The falling rates of employment are expected to fuel tensions between unskilled Greeks and foreigners. At the same time, they are expected to reinforce the phenomenon of xenophobia, discrimination and deportations without reactions from the public, not only in Greece but also in other states.

A piece of research on the case of immigrant women working in care services in Greece is this one: “Deae ex Machina”: gender, migration and care in contemporary Greece – pdf.

*There is a “workshop” taking place  in Athens these days…. The project’s name of course abuses OUR domain name and is intended to parasitize on its prestige and popularity 😉

** “Sweep” or “Broom” operations is a practice that the Greek state does enforce from time to time even now.  See this  entry about the recent events in Athens.

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Text at the “back-end” of Salaminias Street – by the Initiative of refugees, immigrants and solidarios

Posted by clandestina on 27 April 2009

_mg_8461ghHere is the text in Greek and English at the Initiative’s blog.  Background info here, here and here.




Text at the “back-end” of Salaminias street

While they were waiting here in Petrou Ralli boulevard for the asylum application, like you do right now, three people got killed by the police. Mohamed -aged 24- from Pakistan in October, Mazir -aged 24- from Pakistan in December and Hussein –aged 26- from Bangladesh in January. The police claim that these were accidental incidences but all of you who experience here this situation every Friday know the truth. The police beat the people who wait in the line during the night to put them in order or during the dawn in order to break them up since only few of them will manage to make the asylum application. Many times people get injured from the police night-sticks or get trampled during the chase. This situation is not accidental though.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Assault against Coptic church in Ambelokipoi, Athens

Posted by clandestina on 27 April 2009

Info from this athens indymedia article.


The door of the Coptic Church in Ambelokipoi, Athens was burned down completely  probably due to some inflammatory assault by racists.  The location of the door, away from any inflammable material, and the fact that it was completely burned externally points to the direction of the parastate attacks of the past. The Coptic church’s exterior space  each Sunday is filled by African immigrants, Ethiopians and Egyptians, with the appropriate costumes and hymns.

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Organised racist assaults against Pakistanis in Athens neighborhoods

Posted by clandestina on 27 April 2009


Info and photo from this enet article.


They set up blocades and injured  at least 19 Pakistani immigrants during the last 15 days [note: the article appeared on Friday the 24th of April].  The gangs commited more than 30 attacks in the Athens neighborhoods where the Pakistanis live almost three decades now [note: the Pakistanis’ arrival precedes the main influx of immigrants to Greece of the early ’90s]: Nea Ionia, Kalogreza,  Galatsi, Perissos, Heraklion.  The report by representatives of the Pakistani community add that  the whole thing was organized by two groups using cars and motorbikes, at the time of day they know the Pakistanis set off from their homes to the fleas markets they work.

An antiracist demonstration was called by the Pakistani community in Nea Ionia last Sunday afternoon.

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Greek authorities detained 146,000 migrants in 2008

Posted by clandestina on 27 April 2009

"detention" in Samos

"detention" in Samos

Article retrieved from, originally appeared here.


Athens – Authorities in Greece detained 146,000 illegal immigrants, most of whome came from Turkey, altogether in 2008, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday. In addition, 2,211 people traffickers were arrested and brought before the courts.

The issue of illegal immigration is a priority for Greece, according to the Foreign Ministry in Athens. 

Foreign Minister Dora Bakogianni earlier announced that the government wanted to see the issue of illegal migration on the agenda at the next European Union summit. 

One out of every ten people living in Greece is a non-EU national. The overall number of immigrants is estimated at around 1.2 million, including 800,000 – mainly Albanians – with residence permits. 

Greece’s immigrant problem centres around some 400,000 unregistered migrants, the majority being from Asia and North African-born refugees who wait at the western Greek ports of Patras, Corfu and Igoumenitsa to travel to Italy and then on to Western Europe. 

According to aid agencies, such migrants remain without legal protection and are left to “vegetate.”

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Hands off the political refugee Aslan Tayfun Özkök!

Posted by clandestina on 23 April 2009


solidarity poster

solidarity poster

The turkish leftist fighter Aslan Tayfun Özkök is threatened directly with deportation to turkey by the greek state. We call everyone to support him in order to stop his deportation.

Aslan Tayfun Özkök has fought for many years against the oppressive regime of Turkey. During the 1980s junta he was imprisoned for many years and tortured due to his political beliefs. And also he was adjudicated for a law life sentence by the government of 1980s junta. He had been living outside Turkey for some time now until he was imporisoned again for about 8 months in Cyprus. Immediately after his detention he applied for political asylum which was however rejected by the cypriot state resulting in his deportation to greece. on march 25th he was arrested at the airport by the greek officials and after waiting for 5 days to go through trial he was imprisoned.

In recent years an “antiterrorist hysteria” has prevailed in the countries of the E.U. which targets political fighters and which seems to have worsened with the recent economic crisis. Because for this refugees are slandered as terrorists so as to easily have their rights hurt. This series of attacks has climaxed with the most recent example of the attempt of the greek state -and of the dominant class- to deport ozkok. This hostile act can be faced only with a common fight on the side of the anti imperialist, antifascist, antimilitary powers to prevent his deportation and any other hostile prctice of this sort.

Reality in the modern turkish regime is that every fight for democracy is condemned as a crime. Objectors are murdered in the streets and in police departments. Tortures continue consistently while fighters, intellectuals and writers are imprisoned in type F prisons. Despite all this, a fake image of democratization is given outside as well as within the country. This image is demolished by the reality that people live as the real face of the fascist state is more and more obvious with the daily murders.

By highlighting the pretext of the supposed democratization of the country, the deportations of kurdish and turkish political refuges continue and act as a political partnership for the crimes of dominant class. For this reason, in the case of a deportation of ozkok- who no longer has any safety in turkey, even for his own life- the greek government is responsible. It must resign from this reactionary position and offer him political asylum.

We ask:
For political asylum to be given to Aslan Tayfun Özkök and to all the political refugees.
For Aslan Tayfun Özkök to be freed immediately!

Bridge of People of Anatolia Culture Center
Devrimci Demokrasi (Office in Greece)
Atilim (Athens)
Kurdistan Culture Center
Turkiye Gercegi Newspaper
The Other Periodical
Group of Immigrants and Refugees (Thesaloniki)
The Road Culture Center
Albanian Forum of Immigrants

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Group of Immigrants and Refugees / Clandestina Network Texts & Announcements, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Recent racist assaults in Rethymno, Crete and Skala, Laconia.

Posted by clandestina on 23 April 2009

Between 12 and 14 of April in Rethymno, Crete, some racist scum attacked high school pupils both of Greek and Albanian origin who were hanging out together in the street. The racist “gang” consisted of young Greeks who first attempted to terrorize and beat a Greek boy; when his Albanian friend intervened non-violently to stop them, the “gang’s” “leader” turned to him, asked “where do you come from?” and when the boy answered “Albania” he started beating him. One day after that, the “gang” assaulted again the Albanian boy. The incident in Rethymno comes approximately one month after the beating of leftists students by ultra-nationalist neo-nazi scum in the same city.

As the announcement of the Forum of Immigrants in Crete reads:

“[…] These attacks target not only immigrants but also Greek pupils, students or citizens who defend their fellow people of immigrant origin. This is absolutely not a conflict between some two extremes or some local gangs and immigrants, as some argue.
These attacks is a continuation of all that happened the prior years. It starts with slogans and graffities full of hatred against immigrants and those who defend democratic values and expands in attacks as the one two weeks ago against two students. It is the continuation of attacks that immigrants fall victims of by right-wing groups with their allies in various media (for example, in Agios Nikolaos, at Petrou Ralli, around Agios Panteleimon in Athens, etc.). No crisis legitimizes violence and fascism against immigrants![…]”.

Some days later and some kilometers norther in the Country the diffuse racism of the Greek provinces took a more organized form. What is very encouraging is that there as well, a place with remarkable tolerance for ultra-conservative scum, there also one meets people fighting against the ideologies of hatred ( Their announcement of April 22 reads as follows:

“In Skala, Lakonia, a small rural town in southern Peloponnese, in the last 2 days something very disturbing happened, which should not be left unanswered.

The Day before yesterday in the evening at around 12 a group of about 10 young people vituperated a Romanian man. Me and two comrades happened to be passing by around there and asked them why they do it. They responded aggressively and started argument. At that time a police patrol arrived, but they did not say a word about the incident, they simply decided to carry the comrades to the Police station for the procedure of identity verification . The next day (April 21), around 12, the story got bigger and more dangerous. A group of about 20 young people (16 to 20 years old) from two cafes in the town took it to the miserable settlement some Pakistani orange-field workers use to dwell in. The workers are living under appalling conditions and with extremely low wages. The group of juveniles began to throw stones at sleeping people. Indeed one of the Pakistani was injured when one from the group hit him with a broomstick. The Pakistanis tried to react, and went armed looking for the perpetrators who of course had already disappeared, as much as the Greek police had done so that to leave fascistic action take place unobstructed […]”

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An interview with Elena Decheva, mother of Konstantina Kuneva

Posted by clandestina on 16 April 2009

This is an interview with Εlena Decheva,  mother of Konstandina Kuneva, taken on 28th of March 2009 at the Evangelismos Hospital by our Bulgarian comrade Ivo  from the Anarchist Federation of Bulgaria (a partner organisation in IFA”  .  We thank him very much for this.

What do you think, personally about everything that followed the attack against Kostadina ?

I can say that we got almost no help at all from Bulgaria. From Bulgaria came Hristo Zelqzkov [this is the current leader of the biggest Bulgarian trade-union], he wanted to enter the room and to visit Kostadina, I didn’t let him to do that, because at that time nobody was allowed to enter her room, he felt not very comfortable, because of that, but I was not to  let anyone in the room of Kostadina, because doctors told me so. We spoke with Zelqzkov, he said that the case with Kostadina will be researched and asked me if we wanted anything from Bulgaria. I said that we want a flat in Bulgaria, where it would be possible for Kostadina and her child to live some day, although probably she will stay and  live in Greece. Zelqzkov talked also with GSEE [ΓΣΕΕ – General Confederation of Workers] in Greece, but until now there are no results. Nor from Bulgaria, nor from the GSEE, nobody called me after that.

To me, it seems that all the help to Kuneva comes from the solidarity movement of the common people in Greece…… Read the rest of this entry »

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