Stories from Quick Reads and Greece
The growing migration crisis has recently also affected countries in southeastern Europe, with new issues arising almost daily. Reacting to the inhumane treatment of migrants who pass through Republic of Macedonia, renowned human rights activist Suad Missini started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament building in Skopje. He began the strike immediately after publishing his three demands in a Facebook post on Sunday, June 14, which garnered almost 300 likes and over 90 shares in just the first day.
I am just starting a hunger strike.
In front of the Parliament.
I demand urgently and immediately:
- Urgent adoption of the changes of the Asylum law, that would enable safe transit or temporary stay of refugees passing through the Macedonian territory, as well as free use of all publicly available means of transport.
- Concrete and publicly announced measures by the Ministry of Interior in view to safeguard the life, security and possessions of refugees passing through Macedonia.
- Immediate liberation of all refugees and migrants detained in the Gazi Baba center and its immediate closure.
The strike will not end unless these demands are fulfilled.
Thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other war zones pass through Macedonia, traveling from Greece towards Serbia on a path to try to reach Germany or other well-off EU countries. The migrants used to follow the railway tracks on foot, suffering horrific “accidents.” Lately the migrants buy bicycles, reportedly at inflated prices, in southern Macedonian towns and cycle on the main highway. Many of them fall victim to human trafficking rings and gangs of robbers. Some of the refugees are held as “witnesses” in the Reception Center for Foreigners “Gazi Baba” in Skopje in what Macedonian Ombudsman Idzhet Memeti has called “inhuman, unhealthy, and undignified” conditions.
The Government is supposed to discuss the amendments to the Asylum Law on June 16.
French economist and Associate Chair at the Paris School of Economics, Thomas Piketty recently published a book called “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” that has generated quite a buzz among fellow economists and political leaders. Piketty's central thesis is that inequality is not an accident, but one of the consequences of the excess of capitalism. Piketty also opines that inequality could threaten the democratic process as recently seen in Greece. Critics of his thesis on inequality also abound.
“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.
The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative – a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:
Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.
A short video presents the campaign:
“We made this video to tell you we are with us. We had nothing more in mind.”
A moving video with testimonials of anti-fascist solidarity from Turkish activists in the memory of Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, slain by neonazis in Athens last month, was uploaded on YouTube, subtitled in Greek. The video was set to a dirge written by Turkish composer Zülfü Livaneli and Greek lyricist Lefteris Papadopoulos, and performed by famous Greek singer and political Maria Farandouri, an icon of the struggle against the Greek military junta in the late 60's.
The French blog Rue89 analyzes the results [fr] of the Pew Center Survey on attitudes toward immigrants and minority groups in the European Union. Rue89 highlights that Roma population are the most ostracized minority group, especially in Italy and France :
It also highlights that negative opinions about Roma, Muslims and Jews are “consistently more common among people on the ideological right.” It is to be noted that it is forbidden for a french public institution to collect population data based on ethnicity [fr] or race.
Les gouvernements, dans toute l’Europe, manquent à leur devoir envers les Roms de multiples façons. Les discriminations, les expulsions forcées et l'accès à une éducation de moindre qualité sont la norme dans de nombreux pays.
Governments across Europe are failing in their duties towards the Roma community in many ways. Discrimination, forced evictions and limited access to quality education are the norm in many countries.
An exhibition called Dignity in Strasbourg [fr] can be found on Facebook that displays photos of the community that links dignity, human rights and poverty.
In November 2013, Croatia and Greece joined the growing list of national football teams that FIFA has fined for racist behavior of their fans or team members. In Maqy of 2013, FIFA began implementing stricter sanctions aganist racismand discrimination. FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated recentky that this global governing organization must introduce harsher punishments to battle these issues, adding that FIFA was now even willing to “eliminate teams from a competition or deduct points” to that effect. Al Jazeera reports more details regarding the fines issued to the Croatian and Greek national football associations:
FIFA fined the Croatia Football Federation 35,000 Swiss francs ($38,000) for incidents during its 2-1 loss against Belgium in Zagreb on October 11.
“Croatian supporters made far-right salutes which were used during World War II by the fascist Ustase movement,” fan monitoring group Fare reported to FIFA.
FIFA fined the Greek federation 30,000 Swiss francs ($32,500) following reports of far-right banners displayed when Greece beat Slovakia 1-0 in Athens on October 11.
Blogger alepouda remixed footage from a 2007 Greek tourism campaign promoting the “true Greek experience” with a video of police aggression against protesters at a rally on 10 July, 2013 in Thisseio in support of anarchist Kostas Sakkas, accused of terrorism and detained without trial since December 2010, who is in the terminal stages of a hunger strike.
Journalist and author Christoforos Kasdaglis started The Diary of an Unemployed [el], a project to collect stories [el] and data [el] on Greek unemployment, consistently driven to record figures for years on end by the debt and austerity crisis. 27% of Greeks were jobless in January, a rate that has tripled since the crisis began in 2009, while youth unemployment is reaching 60%. More than 120,000 Greeks are estimated to have left the country since the crisis began.