Refugees’ human rights violated in deportations to Turkey


This video says about itself:

Protesting deportation to Turkey at the VIAL detention Center on Chios, Greece, April 3, 2016

18 April 2016

A video given to Human Rights Watch shows Shila Ahmadi wailing as about 15 riot police with helmets and shields approach. A group of men nearby starts chanting: “This is Europe, it’s a shame on you!” and “It’s not human rights!”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Human rights violated by expulsions to Turkey

Today, 11:10

The first expulsion of migrants from Greece to Turkey was chaotic and violated human rights. So says Human Rights Watch after conversations with 12 friends of 19 Afghans who were returned on April 4 from the Greek island Chios to Turkey.

According to HRW, the migrants did not know they were deported, they had no idea where they were going and some were not allowed to bring personal belongings like backpacks and mobile phones.

A friend of three expelled Afghans told Human Rights Watch: “Ilias, Mohammad and Reza were told they had to register, they walked away happily and when they came out the police was waiting for them. If they had known that they would be deported, then they would have brought their bags, their papers and their money.”

Crying protest

According to HRW the group of 66 people was driven together in one building, where later that day a protest broke out. About 15 police officers with helmets and shields kept the group under control.

According to HRW policemen then tied the hands of the refugees behind their backs and they were then put into a police van. Jackets, bags, money and cell phones were not allowed to go along.

It seems that the Greek authorities were in a hurry to reach the number of deportees that had been agreed between the European Union and Turkey, HRW concludes.

According to numerous news sources, another disaster involving a refugee boat took place Monday in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian President Sergio Mattarella spoke of several hundred deaths, while German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier confirmed over 300. Somalia’s ambassador in Egypt told BBC Arabic that there were 400 deaths: here.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have now confirmed that a refugee boat went down earlier this week between the Libyan port of Tobruk and the Greek island of Crete. Both organisations, based on the testimony of 41 survivors, estimate that up to 500 refugees died in the disaster: here.

Hollande sheds crocodile tears over refugees in Lebanon visit: here.

Pope Francis I meets refugees on Lesvos


This video says about itself:

Greek minister slams conditions at Idomeni refugee camp

18 March 2016

Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis compared the Idomeni refugee site on the border between Greece and Macedonia to the infamous Dachau concentration camp while on a visit.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to say that this is a modern Dachau,” Kouroumplis said during his visit to the camp where thousands of people live in improvised tents, deprived of basic necessities, on Friday.

Idomeni “is a logical result of closed borders,” he said, adding that Greece “believes in Europe without borders.” Two improvised camps, hosting over 15,000 migrants, sprung up near the Idomeni crossing in late February after the Macedonian authorities closed its borders amid a massive refugee crisis in the EU.

Kouroumplis expressed regret over “the awakening of a kind of nationalism against the persecuted people” in Europe. He acknowledged that accepting 1.5 million migrants in no easy task, but said that the people stuck at Idomeni “didn’t leave their countries by choice, but were forced to flee by wars, in which Europe also participated.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Tears and drawings as pope meets refugees on Lesvos

Today, 10:07

Edited today, 11:57

Hundreds of selected migrants could greet Pope Francis this morning. He had traveled to Lesvos to see with his own eyes the consequences of the refugee crisis.

Some migrants were in tears when Francis passed. Others called out their countries of origin: Afghanistan, Syria. The pope took drawings received from children and praised a girl for her work. His entourage received the drawing and were told not to fold it because he wanted to have it on his desk.

Dozens of migrants who were not invited tried to to get a glimpse of the visit from behind the fences. This afternoon there will be a lunch with eight migrants who will tell their stories. Then they will lay a wreath into the sea in memory of migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in their attempts to reach Lesvos.

Talking to Tsipras

Francis was accompanied by the leader of the Orthodox Church and the archbishop of Athens. Together they will discuss the situation with the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras. Tsipras said upon receiving the Pope that it is a historic visit, and that he is proud to offer the migrants shelter. “Especially at a time when some of our partners, even dropping the name of a Christian Europe, build walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from finding a better life.”

Greece currently offers more than 50,000 refugees shelter. Most arrive on Lesvos, on boats from Turkey. For two weeks now the people who are coming are returned to Turkey as part of the agreement that the EU concluded with Turkey.

Humanitarian, not political

The Vatican stressed that the visit is of a humanitarian and religious nature and not a criticism of the EU agreement. But at the same time the cardinal who on behalf of the Vatican deals with migration indeed criticized the agreement. According to him, the agreement deals with migrants as goods that can be traded back and forth.

According to Greek media Francis will take ten refugees back with him, eight Syrians and two Afghans. The details thereof are not yet known. Especially the two Afghans are symbolic, because migrants from Afghanistan are no longer automatically recognized as refugees.

Don’t send us back to Turkey, refugees say


Children hold placards at a makeshift camp for refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni on March 23, 2016. AFP PHOTO

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“We do not want to go back to Turkey also and not to Pakistan

Today, 18:54

Two dozen Pakistanis lean against the high fence that separates them from us and the outside world. They have been for several weeks stuck on the Greek island of Lesbos.

One of them says that inside things are difficult. “There are too many people here,” says the young refugee. “There is not enough food and space.”

It is not clear whether all of them have requested asylum. The Pakistan says it takes a long time before they get an answer. He adds: “Pakistanis don’t get asylum. Only Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis.”

Snack bar

Then a Greek guard comes running to the fence. “Please go,” he says. “You can not film, that’s forbidden.”

Since March 20, shortly after the agreement between the European Union and Turkey had come about refoulement of migrants, journalists are no longer allowed in the former hotspots. These places where refugees are collected have become prisons. Also Moriah, where the Pakistanis are imprisoned, turned into a camp where no one can go in and out.

Several aid organizations have withdrawn in protest against the detention. Occasionally, volunteers from the organizations that still are inside go to the main entrance to get coffee and sandwiches at a snack bar.

Some Spanish aid workers say they are not allowed to talk to the press. But Steven of Christian organization EuroRelief has no qualms. “It’s been so overcrowded and there are more people every day. Today again more than 300.”

And there are not enough social workers, says Steven. “There is frustration among the refugees. They are afraid and insecure and do not know what will happen. Also they are not told much, so as not to increase the tensions.”

Because there is tension inside, surely. Last week there were demonstrations of volunteers and activists who oppose the deal between the EU and Turkey. Also tomorrow morning they want to demonstrate as the first migrants will be returned to Turkey. This will be done with two Turkish ferries which already are in the port of Mytilini.

“We do not want to return to Turkey and not to Pakistan,” cries the Pakistani behind the fence. “But some say that we should go back.”

Calais ‘Jungle’: 129 unaccompanied children missing since refugee camp demolition. ‘This is simply not acceptable,’ said the charity Help Refugees UK: here.

Harsh truths behind child refugees fleeing war – alone: here.

Monday saw the first mass deportations of refugees from Greece to Turkey, beginning the implementation of the so-called EU-Turkey deal. At the beginning of March, the 28 European Union heads of government concluded a dirty pact with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to put an end to the influx of refugees into Europe once and for all. Now the ugly content of this deal has become visible. According to press reports, in the morning grey, police units collected 120 refugees from their beds in an internment camp on Lesbos, taking them to two small ferries, which then brought them to the Turkish port city of Dikili. The boats were “accompanied” by German, French, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian officers from the European border force Frontex: here.

With the sailing Monday of ferries packed with hundreds of refugees and migrants expelled from the Greek Aegean islands of Lesbos and Chios to the Turkish coastal town of Dikili, an international crime of historic dimensions has begun to unfold: here.

Greek art exhibition in Chicago, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

THE GREEKS – Agamemnon To Alexander The Great, Field Museum Highlights

24 March 2016

The Greeks is co-presented in Chicago by the Field Museum and the National Hellenic Museum (NHM). Contributions from John P. Calamos, Chairman of the Board NHM, and his Foundation made this possible.

By Leah Jeresova in the USA:

An exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago

The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great

2 April 2016

The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great, at the Field Museum in Chicago, November 25, 2015–April 10, 2016. The exhibition catalog is edited by Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki and Anastasia Balaska. Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture and Sports. Athens, Kapon Editions, 2014.

The most comprehensive exhibition of Greek art and artifacts ever to tour outside Greece opened at the Field Museum of Chicago on November 25. This highly recommended show will be on view until April 10. From Chicago, it will move to the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. and be on display from May 26 through October 9.

The Greeks were a diverse group of peoples inhabiting mainland Greece and the Greek islands, and, in ancient times, the coast of what is now Turkey. They shared a common language and religion, and many of the same political institutions.

Over the course of the several millennia of their ascendancy, the Greeks passed through a variety of social formations: from early class societies on the basis of the “Neolithic Revolution” in agriculture that began some 10,000 years ago in western Asia to the societies, based to a large degree on slave labor, which provided the material basis for a flowering of Greek culture and politics.

“Classical beauty,” wrote Hegel in his Aesthetics, “with its infinite range of content, material, and form is the gift vouchsafed to the Greek people, and we must honour this people for having produced art in its supreme vitality”.

Greek achievements include Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey; the classical Greek drama of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides; the sculpture of Phidias; the foundations of Western philosophy; the political achievement of Athenian democracy; as well as the conquests of Alexander the Great. Hellenic culture had an impact on world history unlike few other civilizations, and to fully understand the development of modern society, it is necessary to study the impressive culture established by the Greeks.

“The Greeks” was organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs in Athens, in cooperation with curators from the four participating museums. It has already toured in Canada to wide acclaim, appearing at the Montreal Archaeology and History Complex and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

“The Greeks” comes at a time when harsh austerity measures have been imposed on the Greek people and the tourism industry has suffered. The Greek government has been driven by the ongoing economic crisis to sponsor a blockbuster exhibition it hopes will attract tourists from North America.

Greece today is a country being bled white by the big European banks. Unemployment stands at over 25 percent, pensions have been slashed, the health care system devastated and homelessness and hunger have increased to levels unheard of since the Second World War. …

In 2012 museums laid off of 30-50 percent of their staffs, with further cuts in the years following. Greek police have estimated that since austerity measures began in 2009, the theft of antiquities has increased by 30 percent.

In October last year, the Syriza government raised the price of admission to hundreds of museums and historical sites by between 66 and 150 percent.

The exhibition at the Field Museum brings ancient Greek history to life, through some 500 artifacts in all, loaned from 21 museums throughout the country. The curators have organized the contents chronologically and thematically into a “meet the people” experience encompassing six diverse and lively zones.

The Bronze Age (3500-1050 B.C.) is the star attraction of the first half of the exhibition. Civilization advanced rapidly from its Stone Age beginnings, when bronze—an alloy of copper and tin—became the principal material for making tools and weapons. …

The Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean cultures benefited from their positions on important sea and land routes that allowed them to develop extensive trading networks.

Cycladic civilization flourished at the end of the third millennium B.C. Its sculpture is characterized by an abstract treatment of the human form. Marble statuettes with folded arms and oval, flat heads are typical.

The Minoans developed a sophisticated culture on the island of Crete. Precious metals and other materials were abundant (e.g., tin, copper, silver, gold, ivory). A wealthy ruling class supported the arts. Examples of Kemares ware (pottery) are impressive, with dramatic geometric motifs. A goddess figurine with upraised arms and cylindrical skirt has a bird atop her head, symbolizing divinity.

Mycenaean society developed in southern regions of mainland Greece, with the emergence of large towns anchored by great palaces. Mycenae became a powerful government and cultural center, dominated by a military aristocracy.

'Mask of Agamemnon' (Replica) © Archaeological Museum of Mycenae

The “Mask of Agamemnon,” the mythical king of Mycenae—a victor in the Trojan War—is the stunning centerpiece of the exhibition, towering over the other displays. This breathtaking gold funerary mask, 3,000 years old, was discovered in a royal grave by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who exclaimed: “I have gazed upon the eyes of Agamemnon!” However, the burial had taken place three centuries too early to be that of Agamemnon. A replica is presented here.

Mycenaean metalwork is opulent and exotic. Lions and eagles were favorite decorative motifs in this warrior culture, symbols of power and valor. A dagger on view featuring a gold inlaid spiral decoration is a masterpiece of Mycenaean craftsmanship.

The first writing systems were syllabary (a set of written characters representing syllables and serving the purpose of an alphabet) scripts on clay tablets. The visitor should not miss a display of tablets with a script known as “Linear B,” an early version of Greek, developed around 1300 B.C., found in Minoan and Mycenaean contexts on Crete and mainland Greece. “Linear B” was deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris, an English linguist, thereby demonstrating that the Mycenaeans were one of the first Greek-speaking cultures. A short film illustrates how pictograms—symbolizing wine, olive oil, armor, animals, men or women—were burned into the wet clay.

With the collapse of Mycenaean civilization, the Greeks lost their writing system and it was not until the Eighth Century B.C. that they borrowed an alphabet from the Phoenicians—another great seafaring people—and adapted it to the Greek language. A prime requirement in choosing an alphabet was its ability to transcribe complex epic poetry from the oral tradition.

Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, epics written in the Eighth century B.C., depict events occurring at the dawn of the turbulent Iron Age, in tribal kingdoms along the periphery of mainland Greece. These epic poems, one of the foundations of Western literature, have a universal theme: the struggles of human beings with nature (which appear in the ancient world as fate) and with each other. Most scholars believe that the tales existed within an oral tradition, some 500 to 700 years before Homer wrote them down.

In the Iliad, Homer tells the story of the Trojan War. A famous scene from the Iliad painted on a clay vase of the late sixth century B.C. depicts the Greek warrior Achilles avenging the death of his close friend Patroclus, who had been killed by Hector—a prince of Troy. Achilles kills Hector in revenge and drags his body along the ground, tied to a chariot.

A chilling reconstruction of a Homeric funeral pyre is on view from Eleutherna in Crete. The warrior hero has been cremated, but his enemy captive has been decapitated, trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead. These funerary rituals were described in the Iliad.

A helmet made from the tusks of wild boars, of the type worn by Odysseus in the Iliad, is displayed, with an inlay made from hippopotamus ivory.

In the Odyssey Homer tells the story of the return voyage of Odysseus, a leading Greek general, from the Trojan War. Artifacts on display include a clay vase fragment showing the blinding of Polyphemus, a man-eating Cyclops, and a vase painting showing Odysseus enchanted by the music and voices of the seductive Sirens—both referring to episodes in the Odyssey.

A selection of bronze and gold helmets (10 in all) buried with Bottiaean tribal ruler-warriors shows us the face of war in the Archaic period (seventh to sixth century B.C.). The viewer should note the decorative gold mouthpieces, gilded swords, javelins and other weaponry. The Bottiaeans inhabited Central Macedonia.

By the eighth century B.C., the polis (autonomous city-state) had become the basic political unit of Greek civilization. These societies evolved through various forms of government—ruled by aristocracies, oligarchies, tyrannies and, finally, democracies. In the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., Athens was the most powerful polis in Greece. All of these societies had an economic basis in agriculture, especially the cultivation of wheat, wine and olive oil, farmed by a mixture of free peasant and slave labor.

In 480 B.C. at the Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans under King Leonidas staged a heroic resistance and experienced a bitter defeat at the hands of the Persian Empire, which had attempted to bring the Greek city-states under its sway. Athenian victories over the Persians soon paved the way for Athenian dominance in the Classical Period. A marble statue of Leonidas from the Acropolis of Sparta is prominently displayed.

The Classical Period in Athens represents what archaeologists refer to as an authoritative cultural standard, characterized by developments in philosophy, literature, the arts and sciences and democracy.

Athens was one of the world’s first democracies. Citizens (most free adult men, including both rich and poor) were expected to serve on juries and participate in civic life. A number of small objects used by the courts are displayed, including a pinakion (juror’s identification ticket); ballots (round bronze disks), for acquittal or conviction of the accused; court tokens used for paying juror’s fees; and wage tokens used to pay salaries of citizens who were chosen by lot to serve a public function.

The spirit of civic competition was evident in the inter-city Olympic Games held every four years. The graphic identification of this in the exhibition is a relief in marble, showing an athlete crowning himself from 460 B.C., considered a metaphor for democracy.

A copy of the famous Stele of Democracy (Law Against Tyranny) is on view—a decree from 337/336 B.C., which depicts the figure of Democracy crowning the enthroned Demos (the people).

With the victory of King Philip II over the Athenians in 338 B.C., Greek power shifted north to Macedonia. Philip was a patron of the arts and culture, and the portion of the show treating this period contains several of the most dramatic artifacts in the exhibition.

A marble statuette of Alexander the Great, achieving immortality as the woodland god Pan with horns, from the early Hellenistic Period (the period associated with the Greeks after Alexander’s conquests), is the finest piece of sculpture in the exhibition. Pan is usually depicted as a grotesque creature, part goat. But here, Alexander is the ideal of male beauty.

A spectacular gold enamel myrtle wreath, worn by Queen Meda, wife of Philip II, is described in the catalog as “one of the most remarkable gold objects of the ancient world.” The myrtle plant is associated with the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite.

The exhibition concludes with the death of Alexander the Great and the spread of Hellenism throughout Asia Minor, the Near East, Egypt and India. Hellenistic civilization thrived in the third and second centuries B.C., until it was overwhelmed by Roman power.

After its loss of political dominance, Athens remained an important cultural center. Its schools of philosophy attracted students from throughout the Mediterranean region. Finally, the Byzantine (East Roman) Emperor Justinian, deeming the pagan teaching of philosophy too threatening to Christianity, forbade the teaching of philosophy in Athens in 529 A.D.

The ancient Greek myth of Prometheus, the titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind, a revolutionary act, was Karl Marx’s favorite. In Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, the father of dramatic tragedy, fire is the key to wisdom, ensuring humanity’s survival and the development of arts and industry. The brilliant craftsmanship and imaginative genius of the artifacts on display at the Field Museum bring out the reality the myth speaks to.

From the introductory film to the closing wall texts, the exhibition comments eloquently on the legacy of “eternal Greece,” which lives on within human culture as a whole.

Greece Demands IMF Explain ‘Disaster’ Remarks In Explosive Leak. A letter from Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras questions whether the country “can trust” the lender: here.

Lesbos Greeks, refugees demonstrate against Europe-Turkey anti-refugee deal


This video says about itself:

Greece: Protesters rally against EU-Turkey refugee deal in Lesbos

26 March 2016

Protesters rallied in Mytilene port on the island of Lesbos on Saturday against the agreement between the EU and Turkey for the return of refugees.

Refugees, local residents and volunteers from NGOs marched in solidarity with refugees and to denounce the EU’s refugee policies and NATO’s involvement in tackling the refugee crisis.

Starting from the port, protesters marched through the city to stop by a Greek Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy building, where police were deployed to prevent any violent incidents. The protesters then marched back to the port.