“Roma means humans, not human garbage”


An open letter entitled “Roma means humans, not humangarbage – Fifteen years of Greek apartheid” is addressed to the Minister of the Interior G. Michelakis and the AlternateMinister of Interior L. Grigorakos by P. Dimitras, an authorized representativeof the “The Hope”, the Roma Association of Halandri and also representative of Greek Helsinki Monitor.

This letter responds to a statement by the Secretary General of DecentralizedAdministration D. Kalogeropoulos in the “Efimerida ton Syntakton” newspaper (30/12/2013) concerning two of his decisions: the temporary settlement of the Halandri Roma community to the old U.S. radar base in the border between the municipalities of Mandra and Megara and the demolition of their settlement in Halandri on 25 February 2014.

The letter:

1 January 2014

Messrs. Ministers,

The Secretary General of Decentralized Administration of Attica, Dimitris Kalogeropoulos (GSDAA) who reports directly to you, commented in the “Efimeridaton Syntakton” newspaper (30/12/2013) that the relocation of the Halandri Roma to the … top of the Mount Pateras in Megara area is decided.

“The relocation will take place before the demolition … For this decision,the consent of the city council is not required… We have been searching thoroughly fornine months. I have no land available, so I am asking the state for some. We could find any public land near the national road, near Megara. But that would cause panic. I would apply the law, so that Greece would not be condemned. The law allows me to decide without the consent of the local community. But then the people would be exposed. I do not feel in good conscience to do so and to say that I swept it under someone else’s carpet.”

Messrs. Ministers,

Roma in their language means “humans.” For the “Golden Dawn”, of course they are “human garbage.” If for you they are humans and not human garbage, you cannot decide as if it’s about landfill sites, ignoring those it’s actually about. The GSDAA said he insists on sending to the top of a mountain in Megara, 70 Roma families, most of them residents of Halandri for decades: he asked the Mayors of Megara and Mandra and they said no, also representing the feelings of the local communities.

“A two-party decision”

The law, the GSDAA says, does not require their consent, only the expression of their opinion. Roma,for whom the GSDAA decides – and so you also take a two-party decision Messrs. Ministers [1] – ,that will have to go there, have not been consulted as this is not required by the law, so their opinion is considered completely unimportant. The same way the garbage isn’t asked where landfill sites should be located. The same wayAfricans weren’t asked in South Africa for the apartheid imposed on them.Obviously, regardless of your political announcements, in the end you too Messrs. Ministers, just like the GSDAA, in effect agree with the Golden Dawn that theyare human garbage, not needing to be asked for the apartheid you plan for them.

Of course, the GSDAA, before concluding to send them to an exile at the top of Pateras Mountain, took the decision a year ago to relocate the Roma within the limits of Halandri municipality, wherethey belong. Then, the Roma were even asked and they had agreed. The GSDAA was also, alternatively, thinking to relocate them within the urban Lykovrisi area without asking the Roma. But, contrary to what he says today, he did not ignore the opinions of the local communities and of the two municipal councils in Halandri and Lykovrisi who were opposed and he thwarted these solutions.

As he sincerely says, he realized that without apartheid you can’t have a “final solution.” He could decide to relocate them (without their consent of course) on public land next to the national road near Megara. He did not because “that would cause panic.”

Police brutality

While all these were happening in Attica, in another place and outside the limelight, in early September 2013 and with a unanimous decision of the Lokri municipal council, the Roma community of Atalanti, with the use of police brutality and in an illegal way – according to the Ombudsman and the Decentralized Administration of Thessaly and Central Greece-, was transferred to the Fouflas remote area. A year before, it was the municipality of Lamia that relocated in the same illegal way its Roma community to the remote Kamilovrisi area.

Thirteen years before, in October 2000, was carried out the first “institutionalized apartheid” – that is how the representative of the Council of Europe called it – with another illegal relocation of the Spata Roma community in the Kiafa remote area,where they still live in squalor.

Messrs. Ministers,

Do all these actions of “institutionalized apartheid” for the Roma, at least,for the last fifteen years, actually show the respect of the state for the Roma humans or maybe their treatment as “human garbage” in accordance to the wishes of Ilias Kasidiaris[2]?

Panayote Dimitras

[1] Note: the Minister belongs to ND and the AlternateMinister to PASOK

[2] He is the Golden Dawn’s spokesperson and he used this term for Roma in a public anti-Roma meeting in Aspropyrgos in May 2011.

translated from the Greek original available at