Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘“integration”’

Citizenship bill: one more bitter provision.

Posted by clandestina on 4 March 2010

On the new citizenship bill now discussed at the parliament we have already posted here and here.   The current version seems to be even worse than the ones that gave rise to so many reactions for their insufficieny and calculated segregation effects.

Many of the conditions for eligibility demanding political and social conformity have already been pointed out (click on the links above).

What is new in the now discussed version is a small addition providing that the rationale of the state for rejecting an application will not be made known to the applicant when involving  issues of the “general policy of the country”.

Which means that applications by whole categories of immigrants could be rejected in bulk and on no justification, should them immigrants, for instance, come from countries  Greece has disputes against or wants to put pressure on, etc.

Immigrants amidst the process of citizenship acquisitions are thus turned into leviers of foreign policy and tools for geopolitical pressures.  Citizenship rights get dependent not only to personal conduct but also to intrasnsparent “general policies”.

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On the much discussed bill on citizenship

Posted by clandestina on 26 January 2010

The proposed legislation to grant citizenship to some second generation immigrants puts partially an end to their chronic status of being hostages in the country where they were born and have lived so far their lives .   However, this bill, which is ostensibly  introduced to correct at least partially an injustice,  does hold many pitfalls:

1) Children’s “legalisation” depends on the “legality” of their parents. As has been repeatedly stressed, no sans papiers can benefit from the proposed naturalization process.

2) The proposed conditions for granting citizenship turn the latter into a “certificate of social conscience” [as the one issued by post-civil war police or army authorities certifying that its owner was not a communist – thereof employable in the public sector and entitled to various other rights]; those eligible and finally granted citizenship will be under the constant threat of having their citizenship removed; moreover, one to be eligible for the naturalisation process ”must have not been convicted to a prison sentence of at least one year for a period of ten years prior to the application, must have not been convicted of offences against the state, (…) of resistance to authority [for instance, resistance to arrest], of slander” as well as “of facilitating the transfer or the provision of shelter to illegal immigrants or of breaches of legislation concerning the settlement and movement of aliens in Greece.”

3) Proposed army recruitment of immigrants (a relief for the army ranks in view of the growing reluctance among Greek youth to draft) adds to the exploitative blackmail that makes legal residence dependent on work revenue stamps (immigrant active workforce’s contributions with no pension claims so far have been so far the Greek administrations preferred approach for dealing with the ailing public insurance funds); the unacceptably high fee (1,000 euros per person which means millions of euros for the state ) is maintained.

4) The much debated bill is merely an integration regulation for immigrants mostly from Albania, after two decades of overexploitation and in exchange for votes.  On April 28, 2009 Albania formally applied for EU membership. This prospect might seem remote, but wasn’t it the same with Romania and Bulgaria some years ago? Thus, although it now seems that the naturalization process applies and is of interest for the majority of immigrants in Greece, in a few years, when the Albanians will be EU citizens, the now proposed regulation will only aplly to a very small minotirty of immigrants. In fact, those in the worst position now will be then further devalued. The division into ‘goods’ and ‘bads’, ‘useful’ and ‘superfluous’, ‘legal’ and ‘clandestine’ immigrants is being petrified as the global system of exploitation deepens.

Alongside with the proposal of the “benefactory” bill the Greek state has been all the more stressing its commitment to “zero tolerance” policies, the “sealing” of the borders, deportation camps, the Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the Dublin II Regulation, the Schengen Treaty, the Outrageous Directive. Finally, we should remind that the law provision for deporting immigrants charged (not convicted) of minor misdeeds on “public order and security” grounds is still in effect.

Clandestina network, January 2010

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A call by Athens Elementary School teachers in support of colleagues prosecuted for providing immigrant pupils with lessons of their parents’ language

Posted by clandestina on 18 January 2010

SEE PREVIOUS POST: Teachers prosecuted for providing immigrant pupils with lessons of their parents’ language

A call by the teachers of the 132nd Athens Elementary School
At a time when achieving harmonious conviviality between the children of Greeks and immigrants poses a serious challenge for the Greek society, and has been commanded by the Greek state, Stella Protonotariou, former director of the 132nd Elementary School Athens will face on January 22, 2010 trial at the criminal court of Athens  on charges that she conceded premises of the school for the teaching of the mother tongue to pupils who speak that other languages.  Along with her will be faced with charges the teacher that taught  to schoolchildren their native language.   Mr Gioutlakis, the present director of the 132nd Primary School will be the witness for the prosecution.

We, the teachers of the school, who decided together with the former director the educational interventions implemented in the 132nd Elementary School, we invite all of you and all who fight every day for a better education, to attend the trial court at that day, to confirm with our presence not only that  Stella Protonotariou has our full support, but also our willingness to fight for a fairer world and a school that includes  all our pupils on equal terms.

It is worth noting that on the basis of a second report filed by the same witness, a preliminary examination by the police has been conducted on Stella Protonotariou for alleged misconduct, because along with the teaching of the Albanian mother tongue she also ran along with us Greek lessons to immigrant parents.

Teachers who work or have worked at the 132nd Athens Elementary School


Read the rest of this entry »

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Survey propaganda confirms mass media propaganda…

Posted by clandestina on 6 July 2009

There is a watershed of similar surveys in Greece since some weeks.   These surveys rectify the shift not of  “the society” as they claim but of the terms of discussion towards anti-refugee opinions.   Questionnaires have since years been including the “should there be a limit in the numbers…” question…


No more immigrants say 93 pct of Greeks in survey

An overwhelming majority of people in Greece believe that the country cannot accept any more immigrants, according to a survey carried out by the firm Public Issue and printed in the Sunday issue of the newspaper “Kathimerini”.

Asked if Greece had reached the limit of immigrants that it can accept, 93 percent of people answered ‘yes’ and only 4 percent said ‘no’. Another 3 percent replied ‘don’t know, won’t answer’.

The newspaper noted the conservative swing in attitudes toward migration and pointed out that 72 percent of those asked consider that immigration policy is “less strict than it ought to be”. In response to the same question the previous year, fewer than 65 percent agreed with that view.

Asked to evaluate the impact of migration on Greece, 62 percent of those asked in 2009 consider it “probably harmful”, up from 54 percent in the previous year.

Immigration concerns hit peak

Three in four voters believe that there is a direct correlation between immigration and rising crime in Greece, while 39 percent believes that migrants are taking jobs from Greeks. Almost half of the respondents feel that migrants are employed in positions in which Greeks would not be interested. Overall, 62 percent believe that immigration is “probably” doing harm to Greece. This is up from 54 percent last year. In contrast, 19 percent believe that it is “probably” doing good, down from 23 percent in 2008.

Nine in 10 Greeks believe that the country has reached saturation as concerns the number of immigrants it can accept, according to a new opinion poll carried out for Sunday’s Kathimerini.

The Public Issue survey found that 93 percent of the public questioned believes that Greece cannot accept any more migrants, while only 4 percent believes that there is still room for more.

Immigration has come to the forefront as an issue on the political landscape over the last few months, particularly after the government’s defeat in the European Parliament elections last month, and it appears that an increasing proportion of voters are concerned about the influx of migrants.

Seven in 10 (72 percent) believe that immigration laws in Greece are too lax – up from 65 percent last year – while half believe that the regulations in the European Union are not tough enough to deter illegal immigration. This is up from 33 percent of those questioned in 2008.

In recent weeks, the government has proposed several measures to tackle illegal immigration, one of which is to create detention centers at former army camps. Just over a third of the 622 people questioned disagreed with this measure but 56 percent thought that it was a good idea. Just over half of respondents also believe that immigration harms the economy, as opposed to 32 percent, who believe that immigrants are a boon to economic growth.

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The asylum crisis and the rise of racist violence in Greece – by Hellenic League for Human Rights & European Association for the Defense of Human Rights

Posted by clandestina on 5 July 2009

Statement asylum and racist violence in Greece EN – pdf

The asylum crisis and the rise of racist violence in Greece

Open letter to the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Karamanlis

and to the Minister of Interior, Mr. Pavlopoulos

HLHR – AEDH joint statement

Brussels-Athens 3rd June 2009

The Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) and the European League for Human Rights (AEDH) express their deep concern about the emergency of the asylum system and the rise of xenophobia and racist violence in Greece. HLHR and AEDH propose policy solutions and immediate remedy action in order to avoid escalation of phenomena of violation of human rights with a highly negative impact on victims and society.

HLHR and AEDH are concerned about a proposed Greek Presidential Decree which will further deteriorate Greece’s asylum system crisis. The proposed amendments to Presidential Decree 90/2008, which incorporates into Greek law the provisions of the EU Procedures Directive include:

– The abolition of the Appeals’ Board as second stage instance for the substantial examination of an asylum application. This leaves asylum-seekers without the right of appeal for a substantial examination of their application at a second instance. In case of a rejection, which is the outcome of the overwhelming majority of asylum applications in Greece (98,62% in 2008), asylum seekers may only apply for a review by the Council of State which only examines the legality of the procedure but does not exercise a full control of all the legal and factual aspects of the cases.

– Decision authority on asylum applications is left to the regional and local Police Directors throughout Greece, without an effective role of non-police bodies and NGOs. Existing Appeals’ Boards, maintained for the pending appeals, will become an advisory body with no decision making power.

In the past years the Greek authorities have abstained from protecting promptly and efficiently the rights of asylum seekers, women, children and elderly. The percentage of granting asylum status have been among the lowest in Europe (1,38% in 2008 for asylum and humanitarian status grants) and admittedly Greek state has been reluctant in providing effective protection of unaccompanied minors against detention and expulsion despite urgent recommendations by national and international bodies [1].

In the same time, large numbers of asylum seekers seek every weekend to submit an asylum application in the Athens police headquarters. During such process and after clashes with the police, 3 asylum seekers have died under undetermined conditions in the last 6 months.

Areas of the historic centre of Athens are inhabited, rented or occupied, by undocumented migrants and asylum seekers under precarious or inhumane conditions, while xenophobic public discourse about ‘ghettos’ and criminality of migrants is on the rise [2].

Day-by-day racist Islamophobic incidents and violence by organised far-right groups against asylum seekers occur in the centre and suburbs of Athens, without effective intervention by the Police in protection of the victims, while official statistics have not ever recorded any racist crime in Greece.  Boat-prisons and military detention camps in the outskirts of Athens are discussed or announced as policy for sweeping asylum seekers and undocumented migrants out of the city centre.

HLHR and AEDH urge the Greek authorities:

  • To refrain from any action or legislative initiative that would entail further violation of human rights of undocumented migrants, therefore to preserve second instance substantial examination of asylum applications, to refrain from mass rejections and guarantee effective and transparent first instance decisions for granting asylum status to those entitled to international and humanitarian protection.
  • To design policies, which would be guided by a human rights-based approach and would guarantee efficient results for both the undocumented migrants and Greek society.
  • To involve fully and as soon as possible civil society, competent NGOs and academic centres and most of all, migrant associations and organisations in migration policy planning and implementation.
  • To proceed with full integration and granting rights to migrants, who live for many years in Greece, in order to achieve political participation through public representation, and counterbalance xenophobia in local communities and at a national level.
  • To provide effective protection of vulnerable groups, such as women, children and elderly by protecting from expulsion where needed and by providing to unaccompanied minors effective representation, tutorship and social care and protection specific to their needs.
  • To reform and to implement an efficient asylum system by endorsing recommendations by the competent international, intergovernmental and national civil society bodies and organisations.
  • To proceed as an EU-border member State to the necessary steps for the activation of the European Directive 55/2001 about mass influx of displaced persons for those ethnic and vulnerable groups needing humanitarian protection for fleeing their countries under war and turmoil. This could cover those persons that according the Greek state are not entitled to asylum status but yet they need provisional protection.
  • To provide a reasonable path to regularisation of status for those migrants already employed into the widespread Greek informal economy.
  • To provide effective protection and assistance to racism, discrimination and hate crime victims by activating and efficiently implementing existing anti-racist and anti-discrimination law provisions.
  • To refrain from any comments, political action or discourse that could further boost and provide fertile ground for dangerous, rapidly escalating and social cohesion threatening xenophobic trends and violence.

[1] According to the comments of Greek authorities to the report by Thomas Hammarberg Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, CommDH(2009)6 (4.2.2009) ‘the Aliens Law has not included an individual provision for the exclusion from arrest and detention for deportation of unaccompanied minors who violate the migration legislation. Besides, the prospect of an opposite provision would increase the problem of the “children of traffic lights” and child labour in general.’ (Appendix, p.23). The Greek Ombudsman has proposed the abolition of detention and expulsion of unaccompanied minors since October 2005.

[2] According the Greek National Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia – RAXEN NFP (HLHR-KEMO) The increasing trend of racist violence and Islamophobic incidents have been alarming since the election of a far-right political party in the Parliament in autumn 2007. The Greek RAXEN NFP is leaded by HLHR

Pierre Barge, President AEDH

Miltos PavlouDirector, HLHR-KEMO RAXEN NFP

Dimitris Christopoulos, President HLHR

Fax : 0030-210-6990258,,

Pierre BARGE, président
AEDH, Association Européenne pour la
défense des Droits de l’Homme,
Membre associé de la FIDH
33, rue de la Caserne
B- 1000 Bruxelles
Tél : +32(0)25112100
Fax : +32(0)25113200 ;

Miltos Pavlou, Director HLHR-KEMO RAXEN NFP
Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)
HLHR-KEMO-National Focal Point on Racism and Xenophobia
Bohali 63, Athens 11524
Tel : 0030-210-6990258

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Teachers prosecuted for providing immigrant pupils with lessons of their parents’ language

Posted by clandestina on 15 June 2009

The ex – head – teacher and a teacher of albanian language of the 132nd primary school of Athens will be brought to court tomorrow for providing the immigrant pupils with the opportunity to learn Albanian – their parents’ and at cases firts language language – in the afternoon, when the shcool is not officially operating.   At this school immigrant children had the opportunity to learn Arabic and Albanian, while in the afternoon their parents were offered lessons of Greek. At the same school “an experiment took place of replacing the Morning Prayer by a poem written by Yiannis Ritsos”.

source: Network of Social Support to Immigrants and Refugees article at Athens Indymedia. Read there about calls to action, tomorrow at Athens Courts (at the second building of Evelpidon courts).

Read below about this case’s past (source:

We requested a review from Stella Protonotariou, Headteacher to November 2007 of the 132 Athens Elementary School where an experiment took place of replacing the Morning Prayer by a poem written by Yiannis Ritsos.

“Many pupils of other non Orthodox faiths attend today’s Greek modern schools which are now multicultural.

According to the presidential Decree 200/98 the pupils who enter the school prior to the Morning Prayer are obliged to attend the assembly area with their Year Group even if they do not pray, respecting their peers who are praying.

Often this is not adhered to as the children when in school at the time of the prayer they want to be part of the team and participate in the first collective activity of the school day.

The children do not wish to feel excluded, odd looking and talked about.

Many a time Muslim pupils took to the microphone and recited “Our Father in Heaven…”

“Why should I not say myself a prayer? Am I not like all the other children? “asked once a pupil of Year 3 and at another time a pupil of Year 5, a Catholic girl, told her teacher that she felt that the other pupils stared at her strangely and made comments on the way she does the sign of the cross.

Parents of children of the non orthodox faith have often requested for their children to participate in the Morning Prayer but without making the sign of the cross.

They themselves were aware that their children were participating anyway.

If discussions were taking place at home the children would react strongly.

Some of the parents opposed as they felt that we as teachers had no respect for their religious beliefs.

It is therefore necessary to find a way such as not to deprive our children from participating in the morning prayer and of course in any other school activity.

I consider their exclusion from the prayer to be an error as well as a violation of their right and is in conflict with the Convention Rights of children a subject taught in school and an official part of the Curriculum.

132nd School after a lot of thought and discussion replaced ” Our Father in Haven….” With the following poem-prayer ”The Morning Star” by Yiannis Ritsos:

“Oh Dear God, we are wellMake, oh Dear god, that the children have a Creek of milk, Plenty of Stars, Plenty of SongsMake oh Dear God all to be well”

The lyrics have been chosen as not to be in conflict with the “original elements of orthodoxy” as required by law , do not offend any other faith, they are simple to understand and make allowances for the other faiths children to pray.

However the local parish objected.

When the Headmistress of the specific school asked them for a common solution, they refused to discuss.

Cont ..: Mrs Protonotariou failed the selection process and her replacement reinstated the “Our Father in Heaven..”.

In the uproar that followed(E has always taken an interest with several reports of “IOU” Mr A Lykourentzos Deputy Minister of Education intervened stating along other comments in NET that he is in the position that he is in, in order  to protect ” The Laws of the country” and the ” Greek tradition”.

The Defending Council for Children requested further explanation but they received no reply.

This is what 3 of our commentators in the experiment of 132nd School say:

H Frangopoulos: “The free mixing of different religious beliefs and the comparison of those leads to one distancing himself from Any Religion.

Especially when we are talking about Yiannis Ritsos who was a Marxist and he had no Belief in any religion.”

A Kariotoglou: “It was wonderful to see what they did and bravo to those who took the initiative”.

K Bey: “It was so good….as for the result of this experiment, it can only happen in Greece where there is darkness and intolerance”.

On the light of the position of Mr. Kariotoglou we asked him to pass on the relevant questions to Archbishop Ieronymos. However we received no response.

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Mini revolt by refugee minors in Lesvos detention center

Posted by clandestina on 3 June 2009

This is a translation of an article by the local newspaper “Empros”.

Here you may read the complaints madeby the social workers of Samos.  And here is a view on the Situation in Samos a year ago.


Black out with refugee minors

by Pelli Yakoumi

A mini uprising occurred yesterday morning when more than 150 refugee children who have been detained in Pagani Center for nearly a month, after the Minors’ Center at Aghiasos was crammed in early May and since then has been unable to receive any more refugees. Around 10 yesterday morning minors in Pagani began to shout, to break windows and drum on the doors, asking – what else – their freedom.

Although the law provides that minors immigrants should be released almost immediately after arriving from the Turkish coast, provided that there has been taken care for them in terms of housing and care, young boys aged 15 to 17 years remain under detention at the Pagani center for time which exceeds the time adults stay – three – at most – days, that is.

Aghiasos is full

The Agiasos Minors’Center, which was built to solve the issue of the reception of juvenile migrants, is chock full, as there has been no provision for the period the minors would be allowed to stay there until they are moved to other organized centers in Athens.  Aghiassos has been operating for about a year, and it succeeded in “keeping” a significant number of minors, who choose the Center as a temporary home until they find another solution. The fact that they are provided there with shelter, food, education, entertainment for free means the conditions there are better from seek their fortunes in blind, in Athens or in some other country.  But the hosting possibilities at Aghiasos are since early May they have been exchausted.
«Our capability was to host up to 100 people and currently there are 120 people at the Center.  There is no space, we can not receive any more people. We say that the Health Ministry should take measures », said to “Empros” the manager of the«Theomitor» [the managing institution] Apostolos Athenaios.

Tied hands

Local authorities have their hands tied over where children constantly arriving from the opposite coast should go, while at the same time the Ministry of Health seeks funds to provide the social workers to escort the minors to Athens with ferry tickets.  We actually expect that the “ball” will be next thrown to the prefecture.  But even if money are ensured for the tickets, finsing hosting spaces is not easy in Athens as the centers are chock full of minors there as well.

«In the summer the problem will be even greater.  The Aghiasos Center can stay full like now for months, sinse no one can take minors out from there.  We have proposed that those who reach asulthood may be released, still this is not easy to know, as the minors do not have any documents and we only know their age by their own statements», says Mr. Athinaios.
Although yesterday’s incident in the Pagani Center lasted only a short time, the management of the Center expects more episodes as they days go by and the problem remains unsolved.

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Afghan adolescents hunger-strike for better conditions at Konitsa, Epirus care center

Posted by clandestina on 15 May 2009

This is a rough translation of a  Rizospastis article.



Αround 30 teenagers from Afghanistan, aged 15 to 18 years, who have been residing for approximately 6 months at the « Childhood Care Center » in Konitsa, Prefecture of Ioannina, have began since two days a hunger strike, demanding better living conditions.  The Afghan adolescents, who are victims of imperialist wars and the stealing of the national wealth of their country met Members of the Greek Communist Party and in “broken” Greek and English described their problems with food and sleep.

Moreover, for 6 months now, they do not know what to do, how to creatively and constructively spend their time, where to channel their energy. «We do not even have a football », they said. The only enjoyment available is television, while it is not uncommon 6 and 7 people to be squeezed in one single room. Their prime request is to learn English, the teaching of which is only one hour per week, causing them serious problems in their communication with their social environment.

The hunger-strikers also want to be assisted financially , since they are not given even this modest allowance of 1.3 euros per day foresenn. The concern and uncertainty about their fate is also evident, since the overwhelming majority of applications for political asylum are rejected. Together with the fact that the economic resources of the children and their families have been wiped out because of the war in their homeland, all these factors call for substantial public attention and concern.

Their thirst for knowledge, their right to comprehensive education and a better life cannot be met with a few hours of woodwork and silver-jewelry workshops . This is the reality, despite the fact that, as the president of the Institution said, there is a total of 16 employees and 3 “STAGE”[EU funded employment program] working there, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, which through the European Refugee Fund has been channeling funds for the operation of such structures with the participation of Non-Governmental Organizations as well.



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