Monday, August 31, 2009

Protesters turn pirates in immigration centre demo

In a move, reminiscent of pirate movies from the past, demonstrators from Greece, Germany, Italy and France in a flotilla of small boats blockaded a port on the Greek island of Lesvos (Mytilini). Around 40 rubber dinghies were used to prevent ferries from entering the port in protest against conditions in the Pagani immigration detention centre on the island. According to human rights activists refugees, some as young as two years hold have been held in an overcrowded ex - warehouse in appalling conditions.

Greek blogger Afroditi Al Salech describes the appalling conditions in the centre, originally designed to hold 250, but now home to 900 inmates, 300 of them children who are often locked up for days on end as there is not enough room in the yard for people to exercise for more than a few minutes every day.

Inside refugees, 150 women and 50 babies are often forced to sleep on the floor due to lack of space for beds and hundreds have to share the facilities' handful of leaking bathrooms throughout summer when temperatures often top 40c.

The majority of those held are refugees fleeing poverty and war in Afghanistan and Somalia who were smuggled onto the island from the nearby Turkish coast. According to official figures 100 people arrive per week on the island often dumped at sea by people smugglers anxious to avoid detection by the Greek navy and coast guard.

After being processed by the authorities those arriving on Greek territory are kept for months on end in such detention centres and then either illegally deported to Turkey or sent on their way to Athens where if they are lucky they can move to another European Union country or work on the black market.

However, many find themselves stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare which keeps them in Greece. According to the Dublin II Accord refugees are obliged to apply for asylum in the first country they reach. However, Greece has been accused by the UNHCR, Amnesty International and other human rights organisations of systematically refusing to grant such requests. Last year just 0.04% of those seeking asylum were granted it.

Without papers immigrants in Greece cannot travel legally to other countries nor get work or health insurance. As a result ports such as Patra and Igoumnitsa on the west coast of Greece have attracted thousands desperate to smuggle themselves out of the country.

Despite repeated criticism by the UNHCR of conditions at the Pagani detention centre (see here for last week's critical report) Athens has so far done little to alleviate overcrowding or implement measures for the protection of underage refugees who often disappear into the system and are never heard from again.

Questions still remain about the fate of 12 under age refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq who disappeared from a shelter in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city in early August. According to reports in the Greek press the 12 were part of a group of 13 minors taken by ferry from a detention centre on the island of Mytiline on Tuesday to stay in shelters run by NGOs in the northern port town.

However, staff at the Arsis shelter for young people stated that 12 of the 13 had signed papers giving themselves permission to leave. The case came to light when Greek member of parliament, Giannis Zogias visited the shelter only to be told that most of the refugees had gone.

As the country gears up for national elections in the near future, the ruling conservative New Democracy government has sought to take a tough line on immigration in order to win back ground from the far right LAOS party who made substantial gains in the recent European parliamentary elections. In doing so prime minister Kostas Karamanlis hopes to shore up support from the right wing of the party and claw back votes.

In reply to the UN's recent condemnation of the Greece's handling of racism, leading LAOS party official, Adonis Georgiadis, MP for 2nd district of Athens said that he would seek the aid of wealthy Greek tycoons to round up all the refugees in the country and dump them in Sweden and New York if he were prime minister

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Photographs by Afroditi Al Salech

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Close Pagani now - No child belongs behind bars

"In an old warehouse in the outskirts of the city of Mytilini (Greece), in Pagani, the Special Center for the Detention of Foreigners has been established. It was built to accommodate 250 people.

Today there are 900 people held there. 300 of them are children aged 7, 9, 11, 12, 13 years old who are not accompanied by their parents.I have visited other detention centers.

Everyday I face the harsh reality of human shadows walking around the historic center of Athens. I thought I had seen it all. But what I witnessed today in Pagani is overwhelming.

Hundreds of children stand by the windows, begging you to take their photo in the hope that people, kind people, will learn of their sufferings, will feel compassion and perhaps even help them…Begging for help and handing us pieces of paper with the word FREEDOM written on them.

Many of these children have been held there for 2-3 months. They can’t go out in the courtyard, not because they are forbidden to but because there’s simply not enough room.

Several children aged 7, 9, 12, 14 started a hunger strike yesterday. One of them fainted and was taken to hospital today."

Afrodite Al Salech

"Σε μια παλιά αποθήκη έξω από τη πόλη της Μυτιλήνης, στη Παγανή, λειτουργεί το ΕΧΠΑ (Ειδικός Χώρος Κράτησης Αλλοδαπών) Μυτιλήνης, δηλαδή το κέντρο υποδοχής (δηλαδή 3μηνης ή 6μηνης κράτησης) μη νόμιμα εισερχόμενων αλλοδαπών- και καθώς οι πλειονότητα των ανθρώπων που κρατούνται εκεί είναι απο το Αφγανιστάν: πρόκειται για κέντρο παράνομης κράτησης οιονεί προσφύγων.

Η χωρητικότητα του είναι 250 ατόμων- μολονότι στην πραγματικότητα δεν υπάρχουν υποδομές εντός του κτηρίου αυτού για μια αξιοπρεπή (έτσω σε επίπεδα φυλακών) κράτηση έστω και για ένα άτομο. Πάραταύτα, σήμερα στη Παγανή κρατούνται 900 άτομα, εκ των οποίων τα 300 είναι ασυνόδευτα ανήλικα παιδιά 7, 9, 11, 12, 13 χρόνων.

Έχω επισκεφτεί κι άλλα κέντρα κράτησης. Καθημερινά αντιμετωπίζω την κατάσταση των ανθρώπων σκιές στο ιστορικό κέντρο της Αθήνας. Πίστευα ότι τα είχα δει όλα. Αυτό όμως που αντίκρισα σήμερα στη Παγανή Μυτιλήνης με ξεπερνά.

Εκατοντάδες παιδιά να κρεμιούνται από τα παράθυρα του ΕΧΠΑ και να σε εκλιπαρούν να τους τραβήξεις φωτογραφία με την ελπίδα ότι ο κόσμος, ο καλός ο κόσμος, θα δει το δράμα τους, και ίσως να τους συμπονέσει και ποιος ξέρει; μπορεί και να τους βοηθήσει. ….Να εκλιπαρούν βοήθεια και να μας δίνουν χαρτάκια με τη λέξη «Freedom».

Πολλά από τα παιδιά αυτά βρίσκονται έγκλειστα εκεί μέσα για δύο και τρείς μήνες. Δίχως δυνατότητα προαυλισμού όχι γιατί η αστυνομία δεν τους επιτρέπει αλλά γιατί δεν χωράνε στον προαύλιο χώρο.

Αρκετά παιδιά, 7, 9, 12, 14 ετών, ξεκίνησαν εχθές απεργία πείνας.Ένα από αυτά μεταφέρθηκε σήμερα στο νοσοκομείο, λιπόθυμο."

Afrodite Al Salech

Photographs by Afrodite Al Salech

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cost of beating by the police - 40 euros + VAT (ΦΠΑ)

Earlier in the week I got a phone call from my lawyer saying that my case against the police who assaulted me in 2007 had been thrown out of court due to lack of evidence. Yesterday I received the public prosecutor's (district attorney) decision, all 12 handwritten pages (the typewriter in one form or another has been round longer than the modern Greek state yet these guys still write everything by hand.).

It makes for fascinating reading as do all works of fiction. A mixture of half truths, spin and outright lies which makes a mockery of my attempts to get justice for an unprovoked attack during a peaceful demonstration which ended up with me in hospital with two hefty guys trying to shove my shoulder back into its socket (don't try that at home, kids).

I won't bore you with all the details, just some of the more ridiculous claims the DA made in their statement:

- Apparently I was trying to escape after being told repeatedly to stop and answer their questions (no one said anything prior to the attack). Strangely, while supposedly running away I managed to get several pictures on the officers who attacked me.

- My alleged injuries which were documented by a iatrodikastis (a doctor who specialises in police cases) were caused by me falling down and tripping over a police officer who was chasing me. Not a fully equipped riot cop who used his shield to slam me into a lamp post.

- I provided no proof that I had suffered anything more than a few scratches and bruises since I had not had any x-rays taken. Conveniently ignoring those I had from the Agios Pavlos hospital and testimony from the doctor on duty that night.

Reading the rest of the DA's report I seem to be a strange cross between Spiderman, "he (the plantiff) made quick suspicious moves, darting from one side of the street to another" and Che Guevara, "individuals from the anti-authoritarian groups counter attacked in order to free their comrade". Not that any of this is true but is does make for a fascinating insight into their mindset.

Nowhere in the 12 page scrawl is their any mention of the fact that several eyewitnesses testified on my behalf or the fact that I had photographs of the events leading up to the incident. However, it did give an excruciatingly detailed account of the police's side of the events.

Oh, I almost forgot I now have to pay the courts 40 euros in court fees for this piece of badly written fiction. Click for the story in the Guardian

At the White Tower

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Protest march in support of Thodoris Iliopoulos - Thessaloniki, Greece

"Thodoris Iliopoulos (Θοδωρής Ηλιόπουλος) is in his 45th day of continuing hunger strike. His health situation is getting more serious day after day and it begins to become clear that his life is in danger.

It is a pressing need to allow Thodoris Iliopoulos to be taken care of in a hospital. Thodoris Iliopoulos is currently monitored only by routine clinical examinations (sugar, pressure and weight measurements) while we are still in waiting to learn about his health from the still-unavailable results of his 3 August medical examinations!

His doctor, Specialist Pathologist Eleni Kakalou (Ελένη Κάκαλου) requests his transfer to a hospital. She says, after she examined Thodoris Iliopoulos today in Korydalos Prison:

“It is a very serious matter because he is not in a setting that his health can be monitored effectively, and at this moment his life is at risk. He has no strength, walking with difficulty to reach the doctor’s office or to use the telephone, and he is in pain and seized with cramps. In a few days his life will be in real danger, as with 18% weight loss there have been deaths in similar cases. Thodoris is very close to reaching this weight loss!”

The prison administration, not paying attention to the seriousness of the case, refuses to trasnfer him into a hospital, even though it’s only the prison administration that has the responsibility for maintaining Thodoris Iliopoulos' health, as his counsel N. Mavidis (Ν. Μαβίδης) says.



Translator’s note: Translated from Greek to English; there may be some mistakes. Feel free to fix or improve the translation, as well as post it elsewhere. Note that there’s an online petition regarding Thodoris Iliopoulos at"

in Greek:

L’État c’est Moi

Just found out my case against the cops that beat me for taking pictures of them during a peaceful demo was thrown out of court due to insufficient evidence. Obviously, five eye witnesses, video, photographs and a 10 page medical report are not enough. Next time I'll make sure I ask the b@stards their names.

Well, this is no more than to be expected, these guys have carte blanche (get out of jail free card for those not familiar with French) as far as the courts are concerned. Actually, I owe these guys a debt of thanks since the are the ones who really helped crystallise my political world view and turned a hobby into something more meaningful.

For more details on the case click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Greek newspaper headlines - Anger over handling of the forest fires

IMG_3628, originally uploaded by Onyro_A_Kyriazis.

Many of today's newspaper headlines reflect the growing public sense of outrage over the government's handling of the forest fires in the Attiki region of southern Greece. Despite the fact that the fires broke out near the capital they were allowed to devour huge swathes of woods and farmland. Questions remain over why government promises made after the 2007 fires were not kept.

Here are some of the headlines from today's printed press.

ΑΠΟΓΕΥΜΑΤΙΝΗ: "Οι ζημιές καταγράφονται από σήμερα. 30 κλιμάκια του ΥΠΕΧΩΔΕ περιοδεύουν στις πληγείσες περιοχές".

Apogeymatini: "Damages to be recorded from today. 30 parties from the Ministry of Public Works to tour area.

ΤΟ ΒΗΜΑ: "Χωρίς άλλοθι...Γιατί και πώς κάηκε (ξανά) η Αττική".

Vima " Without Allibi": How and why Attiki burnt (again)

Η ΒΡΑΔΥΝΗ: "Έφταιξαν τα...πεύκα! Δεν έφταιξαν ούτε ο συντονισμός ούτε η ολιγωρία για την καταστροφή".

Bradyni "The pine trees were to blame" Not co-ordination or delays

ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΟΣ: "Δεν πάει άλλο, αλλαγές τώρα, κύριε Καραμανλή. Ξεχείλισε το "ποτήρι" της οργής των πολιτών λένε οι βουλευτές".

Eleytheros : "Enough is enough Mr Karamanlis. This is the straw that broke the camel's back say angry citizens and MPs."

ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΟΤΥΠΙΑ: "Το κράτος του εγκλήματος. Ιδού οι ευθύνες για την τελειωτική καταστροφή της Αττικής".

Eleytherotypia " State of crime:Behold those responsible for the total destruction of Attiki"

ΕΣΤΙΑ: "Αθωράκιστο το Λεκανοπέδιο. Γιατί είμαστε ευάλωτοι στις πυρκαϊές".

Estia "Lekanopedio unprotected . Why we are vulnerable to wildfires"

Η ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ: "Μοιραία λάθη και παραλείψεις. Κράτος και πολίτες εμφανίστηκαν και πάλι ανέτοιμοι".

Kathimerini" Fatal errors. State and citizens appeared unprepared once again.

Ο ΛΟΓΟΣ: "Κρανίου τόπος το Λεκανοπέδιο. Ανυπολόγιστη οικολογική καταστροφή".

O Logos: " Lekanopedio is a moonscape. Incalculable ecological destruction"

ΤΑ ΝΕΑ: "Αστείες δικαιολογίες Αντώναρου:Φταίνε τα πεύκα! "

Nea "Antonaris's ridiculous excises. The pine trees are to blame"

* Evangelios Antonaris is the official government spokesman

ΡΙΖΟΣΠΑΣΤΗΣ: "Να γίνει δημόσια περιουσία η γη. Καμιά αγοραπωλησία".

Rizospastis: "Make the land public property. No buying or selling."

Greek forest fires - update

Yesterday at this time virtually every channel in Greece was broadcasting live coverage and commentary on the country's forest fire disaster. The screen was full of dramatic scenes of people fleeing the flames, begging the authorities for help or desperately trying to protect their homes using whatever came to hand. Today: nothing. I have been trying to find out what has happened over night and I can't find a single channel that covering the event anymore. Not one. Instead the TV stations seem more interested in discussing the results of the country's university entrance requirements which were announced this morning.

Although the worst of the fires seems to be over the strong winds blowing in the area still means that there is a chance that the fires could burst back into life. In addition only now can the true extent of the destruction wrought can be assessed. According to the European Forest Fire Information Service 31,000 hectares of forests have been lost in the Attiki region around Athens, more than the last 28 years put together. Click here for pictures of the day after taken in the Dionysos area near Athens,

Prime minister Kostas Karamnlis showed his support for firefighters by visiting them at their airbase in Eleusina. This was very nice of him and it's good to see they hold no hard feeling over the beating and tear gassing their colleagues received in March this year when they demanded the government honour its promise to give them permanent contracts. Also the 1000 other fire fighters who got roughed up by the riot police for asking to be paid for last summer's work will cherish the PM's words of encouragement.

A protest rally is being organised for this Friday at 7pm in Syntagma Square in central Athens.

Memories of 2007

This was taken during the protests over the 2007 forest fires which cost the lives of 84 people. Lest we forget.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eleni and Orhan

Eleni and Orhan, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Athens fires from the air

Athens fires1, originally uploaded by mlazopoulou.

"Just can't describe this with words..."


Greek forest fires 2009

Since the government has decided to let the country burn to the ground, it's time to change the tourist board's advertising campaign.

Wildfires engulf Greek towns and villages

Forest fires are continuing to rage out of control in the Attica region of southern Greece, threatening towns and villages in the area. Agios Stephanos, Dionysios and Palia Pendeli have all reported that the fire has reached the outer suburbs and authorities are asking inhabitants to evacuate the area.

The wildfires which started on Friday evening have now spread with a front covering 42km with smoke and ash reaching as far as the capital, Athens. As a result hospitals, old people’s homes and army bases have all been evacuated.

With the fires covering such a wide area local fire fighting forces are unable to deal with the scale of the event. Italy and France has already sent specially equipped aircraft to help in the fire fighting effort. Ground based efforts have been hampered by the difficult terrain leaving the only effective alternative airborne fire fighting helicopters and planes.

Greek TV channels have been filled with pictures of homes and farms being devoured by flames bringing back memories of the 2007 fires which claimed 84 victims in the Peloponnese region.

The authorities have not announced whether there have been any casualties so far, however, the news services have reported that many local inhabitants have refused to leave their properties, despite repeated calls by the police.

Although Greece regularly has wildfires a study carried out by the Athens University of Economics suggested that there was a direct link between their destructiveness and national elections. According to Spyros Skouras and Nikos Christodoulakis half of the forest lost through fires in the last 54 years took place in the 16 years in which elections were held.

The last serious fires to hit the country in 2007 took place just weeks before parliamentary elections and most political analysts consider the announcement of new elections within the next few months a certainty.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Forest fires ravaging Greece again

Fire Morning, originally uploaded by orestis f.

I am watching the terrible images of the forests in the Attica region around Athens being devoured by fires which seem to be raging out of control. As well as hundreds of acres of woods many homes, farms are villages are also threatened with destruction.

Once more the country's natural beauty is being destroyed through a mixture of government indifference and state sponsored idiocy. Today's Kathimerini newspaper (the Greek equivalent of the Independent) ran an article noting the connection between the destructiveness of forest fires and general elections. According to Spyros Skouras and Nikos Christodoulakis, professors at the Athens University of Economics in the period from 1954 to 2008 half the forests burnt were lost in the 16 years in which the country held elections (click here to see the study in English).

The current round of wildfires bring back bad memories of the 2007 debacle (another election year) in which 84 people lost their lives in Southern Greece.

To find out the latest news check out the #grfires hash tag on Twitter.

Street portrait

Street portrait, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Friday, August 21, 2009

City and Guilds - Show me the money

I have decided to go public with this complaint as I seem to be getting nowhere with this. At the beginning of June I did some work as an interviewer for the City and Guilds ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) exams here in Thessaloniki. A tough weekend in which I did up to 37 interviews in one day.

As anyone who has done similar work will understand you have to follow their guidelines to the letter. This means being absolutely focused on what you are doing for hours on end with no room for error as everything is recorded. Things were not helped by the fact that at the first school I worked in we were not provided with so much as a class of water despite the fact that temperatures were 35C. Nor was there any place to get something to eat or drink in the vicinity.

To add insult to injury I still haven't been paid. I checked my bank account and they have no record of any deposit from City and Guilds and although I have sent many emails I have had no reply so far. I have worked for many other examining bodies and this is the first time I have had such problems.

Has anyone else had a similar experience either here in Greece or in other countries? I would welcome ideas about what to do next.

Latest update.

Yet more emails and still no reply let alone payment. The good news is that if you are looking for City and Guilds Greece on Google this blog entry is the first thing you will find. I think they are about to get a crash course in the power of social media. They enough money to pay for endless TV ads but not enough to pay staff?


I finally did get paid by City and Guilds in September, just four months late and frankly I am not working with them ever again. I just got a measly sum in my bank account and absolutely no paperwork on how my pay was worked out and what deductions were made. Tax? Health insurance? I have no idea. The amount in no way comes close to being considered a fair wage for working such long hours over a weekend in a difficult, mentally taxing job.

So, do yourself a favour avoid them if at all possible.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

French film crew in Thessaloniki

While taking pictures on the seafront I came across a group of French media students who were making a documentary about the Greek uprising last December. We started chatting and they asked me if they could interview me about what I had seen then.

For more about what I said, wrote and photographed check out these sites


My blog



In the streets

In the streets, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

More pictures from the streets of Thessaloniki.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The people I meet

The people I meet, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Before he moved to Greece this man was a camera operator in Tiblisi, Georgia.

The people I meet

Street vendor in the centre of Thessaloniki.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Untold stories

Untold stories, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Ragian store/ Ραγιαν

I happened to pass by the Ragian store in the centre of the city, just off Aristotelous Square. It has a great range of traditional Greek food and the cheeses and sweets are to die for. So if you are looking for a different kind of souvenir or just something to nibble check them out at Balanou 13, Plateia Athonos. Tel No. 2310 279459

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thessaloniki Biennale 2009

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…”

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thessaloniki photographers photographed

E_vra, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Petrou Ralli police station - Athens Guantánamo Bay

On Sunday 9th August, 30 foreigners, the majority of them asylum seekers were forced to board a ferry and taken in secret from the island of Chios to an unknown destination. This happened as part of a series of “curious” transfers that have taken place lately, as August offers the perfect conditions for such moves(1).

The NGO LATHRA ( has informed us that 16 of those who sailed from Chios are being held in the Petrou Ralli police station (2), Athens. Other have been sent to Lamia, while some have gone missing.

Those recently brought to Petrou Ralli have been kept on the rooftop of the building which is open to the elements. They have been kept out in the open without any form of protection from the August sun or the sudden downpours. They have only a minimal amount of food, no beds and no proper toilet facilities.

We have been informed that the tensions which have understandably built up given the conditions were “neutralised” in the usual manner when two police officers armed with batons beat people protesting. The reason for the complaints was the request that the people on the rooftop be allowed to use the building’s toilets instead of having to relieve themselves in front of everyone else.

On thing is definite that those being held on the roof will not remain there for long. The question however, remains where they will be taken next and to which country?

August, especially on the eve of the day of the Madonna(3) offers the ideal cover for every kind of barbarity and the swift “solution” to many problems. I call upon everyone who hasn’t decided to go on holiday to spread the news of these events.

If you wish to join us we will be outside Petrou Ralli police station tomorrow.

Thank you.

1 - Traditionally, August is the time when most Greek employees take their summer vacations. This means that many state organisations remain closed.

2 - The police station houses the Athens Aliens Bureau.

3 - A public holiday.

Το Γκουαντάναμο της Πέτρου Ράλλη και το δικαίωμα στο κατουρείν.

Την Κυριακή 9 Αυγούστου, 30 αλλοδαποί , στην πλειονότητά τους αιτούντες και εν δυνάμει αιτούντες άσυλο, επιβιβάστηκαν παρά τη θέλησή τους και εν κρυπτώ από την τοπική κοινωνία της Χίου, σε καράβι στο λιμάνι της Χίου, προς άγνωστο προορισμό, στο πλαίσιο των «περίεργων» μεταγωγών που λαμβάνουν χώρα το τελευταίο διάστημα- ο Αύγουστος προσφέρει τις ιδανικές συνθήκες.

Από την ΜΚΟ ΛΑΘΡΑ ( πληροφορούμαστε ότι 16 από τους εν πλω αλλοδαπούς διακομίστηκαν στα κρατητήρια της Πέτρου Ράλλη, στην Υποδιεύθυνση Αλλοδαπών. Κάποιοι συνέχισαν με προορισμό την Λαμία και κάποιοι άλλοι αγνοούνται.

Οι νεοφερμένοι της Πέτρου Ράλλη όλες αυτές τις ημέρες κρατούνται στην ταράτσα του κτηρίου καθώς δεν υπάρχει καμία δυνατότητα στέγασης αυτών. Μοιράζονται δε την ταράτσα μαζί με άλλους 13. Αυτονοήτως αλλά και σύμφωνα με τις πηγές μας, η ταράτσα δεν αποτελεί κατάλυμα. Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί στέκουν τις τελευταίες έξη ημέρες εκεί στην ταράτσα, απροστάτευτοι, αντιμετωπίζοντας τον αυγουστιατικό ήλιο αλλά και τις άξαφνες βροχές. Το φαγητό είναι λιγοστό, κρεβάτια δεν υπάρχουν, αλλά ούτε και αποχωρητήρια.

Πληροφορούμαστε ότι εχθές το βράδυ, η απολύτως κατανοητή ένταση που υπάρχει σε αυτούς τους ανθρώπους της ταράτσας «εκτονώθηκε» με το συνήθη τρόπο: δυο άντρες της αστυνομίας χτύπησαν με γκλόμπ τους διαμαρτυρόμενους. Ο λόγος της διαμαρτυρίας; Ζητούσαν οι άνθρωποι να τους δίνεται η άδεια να κάνουν την ανάγκη τους στην τουαλέτα του κτηρίου, κι όχι εκεί μπροστά σε όλους εν τω μέσω της ταράτσα.

Είναι σίγουρο ότι η ομάδα αυτή των αλλοδαπών της ταράτσας, δεν θα παραμείνει για πολύ καιρό εκεί. Το ζήτημα όμως είναι, που θα τους πάνε από εκεί; Και σε ποια χώρα. …

Ο Αύγουστος, και δη παραμονές της Παναγιάς, προσφέρει τις ιδανικές συνθήκες για κάθε είδους βαρβαρότητα και επίλυση προβλημάτων με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες, και δεν αναφέρομαι μόνο στο συμβάν της Πέτρου Ράλλη.

Κάνω έκκληση σε όσους δεν έχουν ενδώσει ψυχή τε και σώματι στα αυγουστιατικά μπάνια του λαού, να μεταφέρουν με κάθε τρόπο τα γεγονότα αυτά.

Κι όποιος έχει διάθεση ας κάνει μια βόλτα από την Πέτρου Ράλλη- αύριο θα βρισκόμαστε κι εμείς εκεί.

Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ

Αφημένες Κάποιες Σκέψεις

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Greek summer treats

Greek summer treats, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

One of the treats of a Greek summer is eating corn on the cob on the seafront while watching the sun go down.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art

Yesterday I took advantage of the fact that I have no money and am stuck in the city to visit more of the second Thessaloniki's Biennale sites. Actually, I visited four of them in the port and pleasantly spent most the morning taking in the exhibitions. I can't say that I liked or even understood a lot of what I saw (the video installations leave me cold) but it was worth the effort to see kinds of art that I would not usually be exposed to.

Last week I did get the chance to see "Rodchenk and Popova: Defining Constructivism" at Greece’s State Museum of Contemporary Art (SMCA) which is part of the Moni Lazariston complex in Stavroupoli. The exhibition is excellent and tickets cost just three euros.

"The exhibition presents the work of two of the most important artists of the Russian avant-garde, Aleskandr Rodchenko (1891-1956) and Liubov Popova (1889-1924). This is a major project, with around 350 paintings, designs, structures, reconstructions, photographs and archives, intended to focus on and present the progress of Constructivism through the movement’s two greatest representatives.

Observing the birth, the formation of the principles and the extensions of Constructivism, the exhibition also includes designs for stage sets, magazine covers, patterns for textiles and clothing, indications of the inclusion of art in production and daily life, as well as of the contribution the two artists made to the promotion of their era’s artistic creation to the avant-garde."

In the streets

In the streets, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

ΠΡΑΞΙΣ: Τέχνη σε αβέβαιους καιρούς

"Στο καταλυτικής επιρροής μυθιστόρημα Ιστορία δύο πόλεων (1859) για τη ζωή στο Παρίσι και το Λονδίνο, ο Άγγλος συγγραφέας Κάρολος Ντίκενς έγραφε «Ήταν η καλύτερη εποχή, ήταν η χειρότερη εποχή, ήταν καιροί σοφίας, ήταν καιροί ανοησίας… είχαμε τα πάντα μπροστά μας, δεν είχαμε τίποτα μπροστά μας», αποτυπώνοντας εύστοχα το πνεύμα της εποχής. Σχεδόν εκατόν πενήντα χρόνια αργότερα, το αίσθημα της αφύπνισης από τον λήθαργο, η αποτυχία της πολιτικής να δώσει λύση στα «μεγάλα» προβλήματα, η πρόσφατη οικονομική κρίση, η επίθεση στο περιβάλλον και το γενικό αίσθημα της ατομικής και συλλογικής αποξένωσης το οποίο η παγκόσμια κοινωνία δεν μπόρεσε να αντιμετωπίσει φαίνονται όλα πολύ απτά. Είμαστε μάρτυρες μιας οικουμενικής απαξίωσης του συστήματος σκέψης, μιας μη αναστρέψιμης ιδεολογικής κατάρρευσης; "

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Georgian high school students protest against Russia in Thessaloniki

I came across these students as they were headed towards to the Russian consulate here in Thessaloniki. The local authorities were taking no chances and about three platoons of riot police were on hand to make sure the 30 odd kids got nowhere near the building.

For more on the background on last year's dispute between Georgia and Russia check out these sites

2008 South Ossetia war (Wiki)

Georgia licks wounds one year on (BBC)

Russia, Georgia commemorate war (Al Jazeera)

Excitement over

Well, it seems that yesterday's excitement is over and the sites such as Indymedia that went down are now back online. However, I still can't post anything on Twitter. I can read other's tweets and search but it still refuses to let me add stuff except on a couple of occasions.

I think that it's all part of a plot to silence me and so I am not taking off my kitchen foil headset until the CIA stops beaming messages from their secret low orbit satellites. And people call me crazy! Just kidding folks, I'm never taking off my headset.

Friday, August 07, 2009

What exactly is going on?

I seem to be having a hard time accessing my blog. I keep on getting a message from Google saying that either my computer or network is sending out automated messages. I'm not sure what that means but it seems that other blogs in Greece are suffering the same difficulties. Also using Twitter is proving problematic, sometimes I can tweet but after a couple of posts it refuses to let me write any more.

It's interesting to note that so many sites have experienced problems in such a short period of time. Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and Indymedia have all had difficulties over the last 48 hours. If nothing else it shows how vulnerable our supposedly open internet networks are to the possibility of interference.

As far as Indymedia is concerned the issue of the domain name seems not to have been simply a matter of human error according to

"If you are reading this page, then you probably know that Indymedia is down due to the primary nameservers being changed from NS2.RISEUP.NET and NS.LACKOF.ORG to NS1.BADWHOISSHUTDOWN.COM and NS2.BADWHOISSHUTDOWN.COM. People are presently investigating this change, however it is probably related to an ICANN whois data "inaccuracy" report (which, unfortunately, is a known tool that trolls have successfully used in the past to get sites they don't like taken down)."

Indymedia Athens and Indymedia Patras as still not accessible.

I'm not paranoid but......

Dude on Dude

It's enough to bring out the conspiracy theorist in you, I tell you. Yesterday the controversial Greek language blog, was taken offline since it had, according to Blogger violated its terms of service (TOS) agreement. This immediately provoked a furious response from the Greek language blogosphere who accused the company of censorship. On the same day Twitter, Facebook and Blogspot were subject to DOS (denial of service) attack which brought the sites down.

Today the Indymedia Athens and Indymedia Patras sites have gone down, though apparently they can be accessed from outside Greece according to some bloggers. In addition I can't put anything on Twitter, I can read what others write but the site will not let me tweet. Anyone else have this problem?

PS I have just tried other Indymedia sites from around the world but can't access them either. One exception being Indymedia London.

Still, this could all be a coincidence and I'm just being paranoid. Cue X-Files music..........


Just did some research on the internet and it seems that my conspiracy theories were misplaced, at least as far as Greece is concerned. The DOS attacks on Twitter, Facebook and Blogger yesterday seems to have been directed at a pro - Georgian blogger, at least according to executives at Facebook. In addition Indymedia is down across the globe though, according to the Entropic Memes blog this appears to be the result of an oversight by concerning domain names rather than a devious plot to silence dissent and opposition. Also the Trotiko blog is once again back on the internet.

For more details on the Indymedia story check out the article I wrote for

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Happy birthday Lydia

Happy birthday Lydia, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Greece's disappearing child refugees raise concern

Questions still remain about the fate of 12 under age refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq who disappeared from a shelter in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city. According to reports in the Greek press the 12 were part of a group of 13 minors taken by ferry from a detention centre on the island of Mytiline on Tuesday to stay in shelters run by NGOs in the northern port town.

However, staff at the Arsis shelter for young people stated that 12 of the 13 had signed papers giving themselves permission to leave. The case came to light when Greek member of parliament, Giannis Zogias visited the shelter only to be told that most of the refugees had gone.

According to employees of the Arsis foundation, which is funded in part by the Greek ministry of the interior the document in question is a declaration that the minors have no parents and so are their own legal guardian. Otherwise they have the right to stay in the shelters until they come of age

The fate of the group remains unknown, though probably they have made their way to Athens in order to make their way to Italy according to source quoted in Greek national daily, Rizospastis. The same source also said that over the last month more than 40 young refugees had signed similar documents and had left the Koinoniki Alleleleggi (Social Solidarity) Shelter which is run by the Thessaloniki city council.

The Greek government’s treatment of refugees has repeatedly come under fire by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, Amnesty International and the European Union for failing to abide by international agreements on the treatment of immigrants and refugees. Currently, less than 1% of those who apply for asylum are granted it.In addition European human rights groups such as Pro - Asyl and the European Commission for the Prevention of Torture have documented numerous cases of mistreatment by members of Greece’s police force and Coast Guard.

In July Arivan Osman Abdulach, a 29 year Afghan refugee died of injuries sustained after allegedly being beaten by members of the Greek port police in the northern port of Igoumenitsa in April.

The issue of immigration as become a political hot potato for the ruling New Democracy party following its recent poor showing during this year’s European parliamentary elections. Stung by loss of votes to the far right LAOS party, Greek prime minister, Kostas Karamanlis has announced a new “get tough” policy on illegal immigrants. Actions have included clean sweep operations in the centre of Athens and swifter procedures for the deportation of immigrants without papers. In addition the government has ordered that deportees be not given the right to appeal.

However, critics of the government’s new policies have pointed out that the country is violating both European Union law and international accords on human rights.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Lydia is on holiday

Lydia, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

We're not a racist but......

Yesterday the UK government announced that it was introducing new rules concerning who is entitled to citizenship. Previously, in order to get a British passport you needed to prove that you had been living in the country for at at least three years, knew English and did not have a criminal record.

Now the new regulations (taken from the Guardian), which come into force in 2011 state that;

Minimum requirements: English language, knowledge of British life, can support themselves without benefits, no prison record.

Extra points for: earning potential, special artistic or scientific talent, qualifications, shortage skills, better English, living in area of population decline, eg Scotland.

Points deducted for: failure to integrate, active disregard for UK values.

Voluntary work, including canvassing for political parties, could accelerate citizenship application.

New pre-entry language test for foreign partners coming to marry.

New two-stage knowledge of the UK citizenship test.

Of course, none of this applies to half a billion (mainly white) citizens of the Europe Union, who can happily stay in Britain without the faintest idea which party runs the country, 1066 and who is who in Eastenders. Like the Brits abroad in Costa Del Sol or Provence they are not penalised for "a failure to integrate" or showing an "active disregard for UK values". Nor are they required to bother with learning any more of the language than is needed to order another round.

No, these requirements are for rest of the mainly non-white world whose values or common sense cannot be trusted. These rules are for "blacks" and "coloureds" as they were termed under South African Apartheid. "Europeans" (i.e whites) need not bother with such matters as their skin colour is proof enough of the fact that they are "civilised" and so can be trusted to behave properly in polite company.

I wonder if anyone has noticed the irony at the heart of this particular clause?

"Voluntary work, including canvassing for political parties, could accelerate citizenship application."

So you will be allowed to take part in getting a party elected but you won't be allowed to vote since voting rights are dependent on citizenship. Isn't this like inviting somebody to dinner but then refusing to serve them? On the other hand, as the Observer points out other forms of political participation such as taking part in anti-war demonstration means a possible loss of points.

Of course people seeking citizenship don't go on demos, their presence in their new country is so precarious they rarely take part in such actions, knowing that they risk far more than others there. No, this little clause is a sop to the Daily Mail reading lumpen middle class, outraged that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan faced protests from British muslims.

The whole system stinks as it is a blatantly racist attempt by the Labour government to "get tough" on immigration. In the short term it achieves little other than headlines but the real damage comes from the way it legitimises other forms of racism, subtly endorsing prejudice, reinforcing ideas that far right groups like the BNP thrive on.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Manos or Hassim. Number 481352 - Born in Greece

Manos was born in Greece in 1977, his parents immigrants from Iraq. He studied in the 17th primary school, Peiria and the 2nd junior high school, Renti. Everything went smoothly until 1992 when his father died. Manos was just 15 years old when his mother, unable to deal with the loss of her husband alone in Greece made the fateful decision to take her children to visit her home country, Iraq. It took just a few days for her to realise that this was a mistake, however, there was no going back.

The regime of Saddam Hussein welcomed them then slammed the door shut. Despite the fact that Manos was a stranger in his country of origin and didn’t even know the language he found himself doing his military service in the Devil’s Triangle, on the border between Iraq, Iran and Kuwait. He lasted just six months before deserting. However, luck was not on his side and he was arrested by the Iraqi authorities and subsequently spent 3 years 8 months in jail.

We asked him what it was like there. He falters, words are not enough,

“A fellow prisoner couldn’t take it anymore and killed himself in the the only why he could by banging his head against the wall until he passed away. Right there, in front of our eyes”. he explains.

And his own experiences? He shows us the scars on his face and body a from cigarettes burns. “They would put us in a crate 1.5 by 1.5m and keep us there for 2 months”. And for the rest of the time? “15 of us lived in a cell, 5m by 3 with cameras everywhere. They would make us beat fellow prisoners, If we refused they would kill us.”

When he was released in 2000 he couldn’t remember his name for many hours. “In prison, you see they call us by a number, mine was 481352.”

“When did you return to Greece, we ask?” “A few months later I applied for a visa from the embassy in Greece but they never gave me one”.

So he decided to come to Greece, his own country, illegally. During his first attempt he only reached as far as northern Turkey before being arrested by the Turkish authorities. After spending 17 days in jail in Kurdistan he managed to escape.

During his second attempt the same thing happened again, however, his third attempt was more successful when he managed to cross into Greece via the Evros river. Unable to pay smugglers he used a dinghy to cross the river, however he was picked up by border guards in Mandri, near Soufli. He explained his story at the local police station but the police accused him of smuggling and sent him back to Turkey illegally.

There he claimed that he was from Palestine and after spending five days in jail managed to re-enter Greece, this time getting all the way to Athens via Alexandroupoli in 2005.

We asked him about the gangs that smuggle people into the country. “I didn’t have any money so I came on my own. However, when I was in Turkey I made sure I found out everything so as to follow the same routes and tactics they used. Google maps helped me a lot.

A good spot in Turkey is in Istanbul, in Kourtoulous (Tatavla) 2km from Taxim square. From there people smugglers drive 20-30 immigrants to Evros. They take them across the river in dinghies and with the help of Greeks send them to Athens. There they are kept hostage in some home until they pay the smugglers. If the border patrols catch them they are secretly sent back to Turkey with the help Turkish authorities and Greek hunters. Otherwise they are imprisoned for three months and sent to Athens where they are served a deportation order.

A second route is from Turkey to Greece is via Bulgaria and then through Pomak villages. The third route is by boat from the Turkish coast to Greek islands such as Mytilini, Samos and Chios. These journeys cost between 2000 and 5000 euros.”

“How exactly did you you enter Greece the last time?”

“I found somebody to take me as far as the border, on the Turkish side of the Evros river. I gave him 200 euros. I had got myself a dinghy and clean clothes which I put inside a waterproof bag. This bag, along with another inflatable one served as a life belt. I crossed the river then changed into my clothes. I knew about the police road blocks in Mandra and so I avoided them. Another serious danger are the minefields but they’re further north in Didimoteixo. If you know that you’re not in danger.”

“Once I was in Athens I looked for a lawyer in order to become legal”. The lawyers, as he explains to us, are not so different to the smugglers, they ask for money for everything. From 2000 euros for a residence permit to 10,000 for full Greek citizenship. I started to work on the black market and 2 years later I met my girlfriend, Christina who persuaded me to apply for political asylum.”

“I went to the aliens bureau in Petrou Rally street. when I got there at the crack of dawn one Saturday a fewe months ago the only thing I could see were thousands of heads. It was raining and the police kept on hitting us with clubs and shouting at us to sit down. One cop started to threaten me but changed his attitude when he saw that I could speak Greek. I told him that I was Greek and so he took me to an office where I explained my story and got an appointment to claim a pink asylum seekers card immediately.”

“What will you do now?”

“I don’t know, he answers. The card runs out in one month and I hope that they will re-new it. However, I’m not sure at all about that”.

Manos is one of the hundreds of thousands of who were born in Greece who studied in Greek schools, who think, dream and fall in love in Greek. But Greece, their de facto homeland does not recognise their right to be Greek.

If Manos had Greek citizenship he probably wouldn’t have gone to Iraq and would have avoided what happened to him there. He would have been dealt as a ward of the state and a special case and not be just an asylum seeker with a pink card. A card that will probably run out. And so having no other choice he will remain an outlaw in his own country. A Greek illegal immigrant in Greece.

The text and all images belong to Afrodite Al Salech. (translation by Teacher Dude). The original article can be found on the Αφημένες κάποιες Σκέψεις blog.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Summer in the city IV - Security