Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

Where is the beef? In tolerance..

April 13, 2017

Living in Greece where the big feast of Orthodox Easter is preceded by various fasting habits, especially in the last week, the issue of tolerance of other religions or customs came up. Especially when the Greek Atheists Association organizes a Meat Supper event on Good Friday, the day when Greek Orthodox are supposed to keep a very strict Lent avoiding to consume even oil. They call the event “The Disclosed Supper” in opposition to the Last Supper which in Greek is “Secret Supper.” Although church representatives and several news outlets commented negatively on the ‘counter celebration’, I am not aware of any official sanction or threat of violence.

Then I read that human rights activist Bondita Acharya in India said she has been threatened by some Bajrang Dal activists and individuals ‘propagating Hindutva’ for expressing her opinion about eating beef on the social media.
Acharya said she has already lodged a complaint with the CID and Jorhat Police. As a resident of Jorhat district, Acharya said Bajrang Dal has also demanded a public apology from her for hurting the sentiments of the Hindus through her comments on the recent arrest of three persons in Jorhat for carrying beef. “After the incident, I spoke to some people from the minority community who were shocked. Many of us were sharing our views on beef and I expressed my opinion. The arrests were made to target the Muslims only and so I wrote that I am from Jorhat and I eat beef. Then all of us should be put in jail,” added Acharya, the northeast coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA). She is also associated with rights organization Women in Governance (WinG)-India. WinG-India’s statement said, “She was criminally intimidated and defamed with threats of death, gang rape and acid attack.” Bajrang Dal, however, denied issuing such threats. But it said it strongly opposed Acharya’s comments on beef as cows are worshipped as ‘gau mata’ by the Hindus.  “…. Through her comments, she wanted to divide society and also hurt the sentiments of 130 crore Hindus. We will keep opposing comments which hurt the Hindu sentiments,” said Assam Bajrang Dal assistant convener Dhrubajyoti Kalita.

Happy Easter….

 

Greece: MPs of Golden Dawn far-right party attack minority rights defenders – no police action

January 10, 2017

On 6 January 2017 the International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requested urgent intervention in the following situation in Greece.

OMCT-LOGO Read the rest of this entry »

Greek Volunteers share UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2016

September 6, 2016

Today, 6 September, UNHCR announced that the Hellenic Rescue Team and Efi Latsoudi of “PIKPA village” on Lesvos are the joint winners of  the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award. Read why:.. Read the rest of this entry »

North-South Prize 2015 of the Council of Europe goes to Greek and Mozambique organizations

July 5, 2016

The North-South Prize is awarded to two candidates who have stood out for their exceptional commitment to promoting North-South solidarity. The 2015 Laureates are:

Lora Pappa

Ms Lora Pappa  is the founder of METAdrasi, Action for Migration and Development. Through the creation of METAdrasi, Ms. Pappa aimed to address long-standing gaps in the area of refugee protection and migration management in Greece. METAdrasi’s main focus has been primarily community interpretation and the care for unaccompanied minors. METAdrasi and Ms Pappa personally, have based their work on the highest standards of professionalism and ethics, developing specialist training methods, recruiting dedicated and committed staff, bringing pioneering methods and approaches benefitting refugees and vulnerable groups in multiple ways. Biography

Joaquim Chissano

Chairperson of the Joaquim Chissano Foundation, an organisation that promotes peace, social and economic development and culture in MozambiqueJoaquim Chissano has campaigned for peace in the African continent through his work as an envoy and peace negotiator for the United Nations. He has received the highest awards from many countries and has received several prizes, including the Chatham House in 2006 and the inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in 2007. He is the founding member of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and played a fundamental role in the 1974 negotiations on the independence of Mozambique, between FRELIMO and the Portuguese Government. Biography

Source: Centre Nord-Sud – Prix Nord-Sud

Is the EU still a World Leader in Human Rights?

February 29, 2016

The Graduate Institute, Geneva

The Graduate Institute of Geneva is organizing a potentially interesting Lunch Briefing on Tuesday 1 March 2016, 12h30 – 13h00, in the Maison de la Paix.

Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights, will explore the role of human rights in EU foreign policy and major challenges in ensuring effective human rights promotion around the world, including the question of the universality of human rights, the shrinking space of civil society, and the issues of coherence and effectiveness that the EU faces today.

Stavros LambrinidisStavros Lambrinidis (former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece)

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/short-report-by-eeas-on-the-17th-eu-ngo-human-rights-forum-3-4-december-2015/

For more information and registration: Newsletter The Graduate Institute, Geneva

UN Committee on NGOs denies NGO the right to speak

February 8, 2016

In a post last year I referred already to the fears that the NGO Committee of the UN was becoming very NGO-unfriendly [ https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/uns-ngo-committee-seems-not-very-fond-of-ngos/]. Now the ISHR has reported on another case where this UN committee has shown its lack of fair play by refusing let a NGO apply without even wanting to hear the NGO in question. On 1 February 2016 the International Service for Human Rights informed us that the NGO Committee had voted to close the application of the Khmers Kampuchea Krom Foundation (KKF) denying the NGO the opportunity to apply for consultative status.  This came on the back of the Committee’s decision on Thursday to deny the NGO the opportunity to even speak in support of its own application. Only 3 Committee members voted against closure of the application  – Greece, Israel and the US- with Uruguay abstaining. All other Committee members voted in favour.  Vietnam – the State that has consistently objected to the application by the KKF – congratulated the Committee on its decision and its ability – as it described it – to distinguish between ‘genuine’ NGOs and others.

‘The NGO Committee is known for denying NGOs access to the UN through the practice of multiple deferrals of applications.  However, the Committee has hit a new low in denying an NGO the opportunity even to apply for access,’ said ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw.  ‘Furthermore, it allowed accusations to be made against the NGO during its own session, without allowing the NGO to respond. The NGO Committee has allowed an NGO to be stigmatised and then silenced.  ECOSOC must reverse the decision of its Committee on this case at its next session in April.’

 

The request by Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to close KKF’s new application was challenged by the US who called the move premature, as the NGO’s application had only been considered once by the Committee. It was agreed the NGO Committee would vote on the application on Friday morning. The members of the Committee then voted on the Chair’s proposal to allow the NGO to speak at the regular Q&A held at the end of each day the NGO Committee sits. Greece, Israel, US and Uruguay voted in favour of allowing the organisation the right to speak. Russia abstained. All other members of the Committee – Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, Guinea, India, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela – all voted against, except Guinea who was absent.

The US noted that it was essential that the KKF be allowed to speak as this had to date been a one-sided discussion based on Vietnam’s original protest against the NGO. The US noted that ‘a serious allegation of misconduct’ was made against the NGO and the Committee was denying the NGO a chance to respond. They characterised the vote as one between freedom of speech and silencing debate. Committee member Greece rightly noted that one thing is to object to an NGO and another is to silence them’.

Not only has the reputation of the organisation been seriously questioned, but a dangerous precedent set where an UN Committee silences an NGO seeking to engage with the UN. This is plainly incompatible with the rights to freedom of expression and association,’ Ms Openshaw said. ISHR’s view in this regard is strongly supported by the UN’s own expert on freedom of association and assembly, Maina Kiai, who in a report in 2014 said that multilateral institutions have a legal obligation to ensure that people ‘can exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in multilateral arena’. In that same report, the Special Rapporteur was particularly critical of the conduct of States on the UN’s Committee on NGOs, resulting in the systematic exclusion of NGOs working on human rights issues. ‘States sitting on the Committee should champion the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,’ said Mr Kiai in his report.ISHR-logo-colour-high

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/jean-daniel-vigny-hopes-to-improve-ngo-participation-at-the-un/

Source: UN Committee on NGOs: Don’t deny NGO the right to speak | ISHR

Today was OXI Day in Greece: worth an award or two

October 29, 2015

The short video tells why Greece celebrates every 28 October “Oxi Day“. At 3:00 am on October 28, 1940, a representative of the Axis Forces arrived at the Greek Prime Minister’s residence and demanded Greece’s surrender. The Prime Minister replied with a single word: Oxi [No].

Within hours, the Axis forces descended on Greece, expecting it to quickly fall. But the Greek resistance forced Hitler to change his plans. News of Greece’s victory flooded the radio airwaves and covered the front pages of newspapers and magazines around the globe – no one expected such a small nation to derail the seemingly unstoppable Axis forces. Greece forced Hitler to change his timeline and delaying the attack on Russia. Greece’s actions inspired Winston Churchill to say “If there had not been the virtue and courage of the Greeks, we do not know which the outcome of World War II would have been.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Greek justice minister shows clear signs of homophobia

December 3, 2014

The Guardian of 2 December 2014 reports that Greece’s justice minister, Haralambos Athanasiou, has been accused of homophobia after unequivocally denouncing gay marriage and opposing even same-sex unions, saying they pose dangers to society, especially a society that “respected traditions”.  Complying with EU demands to legalise partnerships for homosexual couples was also problematic, he said, because it was not without potentially adverse consequences for society.

[Athens was fined by the European court of human rights last year for failing to extend protective rights, including domestic partnerships, to gays and lesbians, a move the tribunal described as discriminating to same-sex couples. Following the judgment, the prime minister Antonis Samaras’s conservative-dominated coalition signalled that it would redress the wrong but got cold feet when rightwingers and clerics reacted in fury. Greece and Lithuania stand alone in refusing to grant such rights.]

[This year the Greek Orthodox bishop of Thessaloniki, Anthimos, called homosexuality “a perversion of human existence”.]

Andrea Gilbert, a LGBT activist, said: “Greece wants to present itself to Europe and the rest of the world as a modern democratic country that respects the rights of all its citizens. These are really very shocking statements when the man making them is the minister of justice, the person who is meant to protect citizens, not a crackpot member of Golden Dawn.” [In April, Ilias Panagiotaros of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, denounced same-sex relationships as a “sickness”]

Greek justice minister denounces gay marriage | World news | The Guardian.

Konstantina Kuneva – 5 years after acid attack – elected MEP for Greece

June 3, 2014

Konstantina Kuneva MEP

Konstantina (or Kostadinka) Kuneva – originating from Bulgaria – was severely wounded in December 2008 after a man threw sulphuric acid in her face as she was returning home from work. Kuneva, a history graduate, took up work in the cleaning sector in 2003, two years after moving to Greece with her child. The attack was linked to her union activities in representing cleaning personnel. As a result of the attack she lost her sight in one eye and has limited vision in the other. Her vocal chords and trachea were also seriously damaged. Kuneva received almost 165,000 preferences in the European Parliament election, and is now a Member. In a website statement she said that she is “deeply moved” at being elected and vowed to use her time in the European Parliament to continue her “struggle at another level, from which I will be able to help more people”. There is certainly racism in Greece, but there are also marvelous examples of the contrary.

via Konstantina Kuneva MEP thanks her supporters.

International Service for Human Rights rings alarm bell over composition of UN Committee on Civil society

May 1, 2014

Civil society loses as repressive States win election to regulate NGO access to UN” is the headline of a rightly alarming report on 23 April 2014 by the New York desk of the International Service for Human Rights [ISHR]. It calls on States that value and respect a vibrant civil society should do more to support non-governmental organisations to have their voices heard at the United Nations. The call comes after very few such States stood for election to an important UN committee that regulates civil society access to the UN, leaving the field to repressive States whose intolerance for civil society at home looks set to further restrict NGO access to the UN.ISHR-logo-colour-high Read the rest of this entry »