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Pledge of Allegiance

by deviousdiva Thu Mar 20th, 2008 at 02:12:03 PM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Sorry can't be bothered with html right now. It keeps giving me errors

Just interested in what you think ?

From the Athens News

MORE THAN 1,000 people became Greek citizens during a ceremony at Athens' Sporting stadium on February 29. Athens Prefect Yannis Sgouros and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos presided over the event, which was the first and the biggest naturalisation ceremony of the year. They led the 1,131 citizens through the oath of allegiance: "I swear to be true to my homeland, to obey the constitution and the laws of this country and to consciously fulfil my duties as a Greek citizen." The vast majority (1,106 of the 1,131 people naturalised) is ethnic Greek from Northern Epirus, Albania. One Filipino, one Ethiopian, three Egyptians, one French national, two Americans, four Poles and three Turks were also among those naturalised. The vast majority of those naturalised is also Christian Orthodox. Only five said they are Catholics and two are Muslims.

I find subject of the oath of allegiance very interesting. Some people here on my blog have told me that people should basically give up their own cultures if they want to become Greek. Of course, people can no sooner do that than give up their eye or skin colour. Their cultural backgrounds are as much a part of them as anything else. So when I read that part of the oath was  

I swear to be true to my homeland

I thought... yes of course ! (I told you!) Right. Well. Hmm. What does that mean ?

Read more... (10 comments, 783 words in story)

Breaking Down Roma Stereotypes

by deviousdiva Fri Jan 11th, 2008 at 12:15:37 PM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY (with photographs)

Yesterday I wrote about the false perceptions that we have of the Roma. Today, I had planned to post a series of pictures that contrasted with the usual stereotypical images we normally see. So I did a search for images and the very first website that came up was Dosta!

Dosta! is a Romani word meaning Enough! and the website is an awareness raising campaign which aims at bringing non-Roma closer to Roma citizens. It is partnered with the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

Dosta! means that we want to stop prejudices and stereotypes not by denouncing them but by breaking them, showing who the Roma really are. They are not perfect, of course, but "who is?". What is sure is that Roma are European citizens: they form a group of about 10 million people and can be found in almost all Council of Europe member states; in some Central and Eastern European countries, they represent over 5% of the population.

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Court rules against Greece in police brutality case

by deviousdiva Fri Jan 11th, 2008 at 11:54:39 AM EST

From the Greek Helsini Monitor.

European Court of Human Rights rules that Greece violated prohibition of torture and of discrimination in injury of pregnant Romni. Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) expresses great satisfaction on the 6 December 2007 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimous conviction of Greece in the case of Fani-Yannula Petropoulou-Tsakiris.

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Votanikos Today

by deviousdiva Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 04:22:46 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

I was at the Roma settlements in Votanikos again yesterday. Everyone living there is under imminent threat of illegal eviction. What does that mean? They have not been served eviction papers and no alternative housing has been found as required by European and International law. Some of the families have already been bribed by the building contractors (a 1000 euros per family) to leave. There is no way of proving that money changed hands but enough people were willing to speak on camera to the journalists present to convince us that this did happen.

From the diaries - afew

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Olympic Games

by deviousdiva Thu May 3rd, 2007 at 08:26:28 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Does any of this sound depressingly familiar to those of us who lived through the Athens Olympics 2004 ?

From the Guardian

Olympic site Gypsies fight removal

Families of Gypsies and Travellers launched a legal challenge today over plans to move them to make way for the Olympic village.


From the diaries with a bit of editing - afew

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Thank you

by deviousdiva Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 09:00:57 AM EST

to everyone at ET who emailed me and left comments during my recent troubles . I really appreciate it. I apologise for not being around here at all recently. My life is upside down and I don't seem to have the energy or time to be anywhere else. The most important thing that has come out of all this, is that the Roma series has gained a readership that would not have been possible without the uproar that people like yourselves have created. Thank you on behalf of myself and of the Roma here and around the world who are receiving some much needed positive attention in a world that has turned its back for so long.

Please feel free to post about this issue on your own blogs. The reponse has been incredible and the fascists have been well and truly beaten in this case. At least as far as blogging goes...

Thank you again and I will be back here again very soon.

Comments >> (11 comments)

Heart

by deviousdiva Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 03:55:24 PM EST

Originally posted at This is not my country

Some things are really hard to explain to someone who has not experienced them. Take racism. How do you really explain what racism FEELS like as opposed to what it is ?

Yesterday, I went with the love of my life to look at a potential new house for us. We had been to a housing agency to see what was on offer and to register with them so they could do the looking for us. The only suitable house they had on their books was one where the owners had said that they didn't want foreigners. My heart thumped. A loud single violent thump.

Read more... (24 comments, 622 words in story)

Votanikos Again

by deviousdiva Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 09:12:37 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

I had meant to write about my latest visit to Votanikos ages ago. Apologies to those who have been waiting for it. I mean that. So why has it been so hard to write about this time round ? To be completely honest with you, I don't know what to say. I had wanted to be able to at least bring some positive news or some small change in the situation for the people living in this camp. But nothing has changed. It's still filthy, disgusting, appalling and unthinkable. There is still no water. Eviction still looms. No alternatives have been found or offered by the state. Nothing has changed.

From the diaries. And if you haven't read DD's earlier diaries on this Roma settlement outside Athens, do. -- the stormy present

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Segregated Roma School

by deviousdiva Thu Jan 4th, 2007 at 07:12:00 AM EST

Cross-posted from THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

The new year has begun and the holidays will be over far to quickly and our thoughts will be turning towards the new school term starting on Monday. I want to tell you about one particular school that I visited a few weeks ago. It is in Aspropyrgos, about 20 km from the centre of Athens. We were greeted at the gate by a well co-ordinated and enthusiastic welcoming committee of smiling children and teachers. On the surface this was no different to any other primary school. A playground, (unusual only in that it was spotless!) and three small prefab buildings.

But this school IS different. It is a segregated school for Roma children. After the furious protests from parents and teachers at the main school in town against Roma children enrolling at the school, the local municipality, in all its infinite wisdom, built this place exclusively for them. Now the mayor and his henchmen can sit back and say that they have done something positive for the Roma community in the area and everyone is happy. Right ? (More below)

From the diaries -- whataboutbob

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Roma Links

by deviousdiva Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 09:20:45 AM EST

Thank you to DoDo and the stormy present for posting the following links to Roma websites and resources.

European Roma Rights Centre

Links from European Roma Rights Centre

Roma in the Czech Republic

Rádió C

Discrimination against Roma, Gypsies and Travellers

Roma Health Focus

And some more links I found today:

Roma Rights Forums

Links to many Roma websites

Decade of Roma Inclusion

Comments >> (1 comment)

Dubious Award for Greece

by deviousdiva Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 03:43:50 AM EST

Originally posted at my personal blog, THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

I was accused recently of

trying to slander Greece here on the internet

Sadly, it seems the authorities in Greece do not need my help. They are doing a great job all by themselves.

Each year, Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) bestows its Housing Rights Violator Awards on three governments or public institutions guilty of particularly serious housing rights violations in the preceding year. This year the awards go to Nigeria, the Philippines and Greece.

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The persecution of Roma in Europe

by deviousdiva Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 12:16:31 PM EST

I had intended to post this when it came out but somehow got sidetracked by real life!

Miha Strojan was tending to his sick mother when the mob arrived. Wielding clubs, guns and chainsaws, several hundred villagers converged on the cottage in a clearing in the beech forest with a simple demand. "Zig raus [Gyppos out]," they called in German, deliberately echoing Nazi racist chants. "Bomb the Gypsies."

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The Roma Series 6

by deviousdiva Tue Nov 28th, 2006 at 04:05:05 PM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Part Six of Six from the Roma Series

VOTANIKOS:RACISM

This is the hardest post that I have had to write so far. Yes. HAD to write. I could not contemplate writing any of the other posts without having had this one in mind first. I know why it's hard. I am having to face some realities that I would rather not look at right now. This whole series has stirred up feelings that I would rather not deal with right now. But ...

Racism is ugly.

Poverty is ugly

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The Roma Series 5

by deviousdiva Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 09:32:47 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Part Five of Six from the Roma series

VOTANIKOS:CHILDREN

Look at these two little girls. Look in their eyes.

Do you think that they are less than any other child? That they deserve less than anyone else? That they somehow deserve to be living on a rubbish dump? That they they do not deserve a better future?

Read more... (3 comments, 412 words in story)

Precious

by deviousdiva Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 10:31:53 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Despite the despair and desolation in Votanikos, this young lad and I shared a laugh. A simple moment.

But precious...

Comments >> (1 comment)

The Roma Series 4

by deviousdiva Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 10:24:16 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Part Four of Six from the Roma series

VOTANIKOS:HEALTH

There are hardly any studies that have been done to document health issues in the Roma communities in Greece. The Greek Helsinki monitor provided me with one from taken between March 2003 and February 2004, which is shocking to say the least.

Out of a total of 3,664 children (this constitutes half of all children registered as living in settlements), only 4 (0.12%) had the following basic amenities or observed these basic health practices:

Read more... (7 comments, 750 words in story)

The Roma Series 3

by deviousdiva Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 02:49:27 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Part Three of Six from the Roma Series

VOTANIKOS:EDUCATION

Before I launch into this next post, I want to make some things clear so as to avoid some of the knee-jerk responses. I am not naive or ignorant about the difficulties of working in education with children who are marginalised on the fringes of society. I have stated before that I worked for many years with children and teenagers who had been, or were about to be, excluded from school . I have a deep understanding of the complex factors that make it difficult for children to be in school, to stay in school or to complete their schooling. For the education process to meet the needs of ALL children there has to be involvement on every level with the authorities, the educators, the social services and the parents/ guardians. In the Roma community, as with all impoverished, marginalised communities, there are specific problems that lead to the children never attending or dropping out of school. Poverty, lack of parental education, racism, mistrust of the system, to name but a few.

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The Roma Series

by deviousdiva Sun Nov 19th, 2006 at 11:09:55 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Part One of Six from the Roma Series

VOTANIKOS: WATER

I have a fair amount to say about my second visit to the Roma settlement in Votanikos so I've decided to make it into a series of posts rather than one long one.

Part One: Water

On this occasion we were greeted by a large number of sad looking dogs, barking rather half-heartedly but enough to make me stop and wait. One of the men shouted at them and they backed off, slinking into the corners they had appeared from. "Don't worry, they're friendly" he called out and waved us towards him with a big smile. I think the look on my face gave away my total lack of experience of this type of living situation. The arrival there was just as overwhelming as the first time.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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The Roma Series 2

by deviousdiva Sun Nov 19th, 2006 at 09:36:03 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

Part Two of Six from the Roma series

VOTANIKOS: EVICTION

Another extremely distressing issue for this community in Votanikos is the continuing threat of eviction. In April 2005 the City of Athens announced  plans to build a new football stadium in the area. It is to be the main attraction for the bid to host the 2012 European Football Championship. Bear in mind that Athens hosted the 2004 Olympic Games and currently has several almost brand new stadiums unused and rotting away.

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The Visit

by deviousdiva Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 11:17:37 AM EST

Originally posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

THE VISIT

A short walk from the spectacularly wasted complex at Gazi, a hop skip and a jump from the trendy bars down those back streets, is a place I can guarantee you have never been to and probably do not know it exists. It is a Roma settlement in the centre of Athens. After the trendy bars, you cross the train tracks (the wrong side of the tracks sprang to mind) Suddenly the road becomes dusty. There are no pavements. Dogs jump suddenly out of alleyways and bark at you until you make friends (which I did a couple of times and they became my faithful companion for about ten feet). Hidden behind a warehouse is a dirt track that leads to hell. This is the entrance to the settlement. I visited Soweto township in South Africa, many years ago and I can honestly say, this place is worse. I am ashamed and appalled that this Europe I live in allows this hell to exist within the shadow of the sparkling Olympic developments. At some point, in the near future, this wasteland is set to become a new sports complex and park but for now it is a rubbish dump that people are trying to live on. Once the evictions happen, they will be forced to move on. Probably to an equally disgusting place, somewhere as hidden and forgotten about as this one.

Read more... (7 comments, 1259 words in story)
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