Greek municipalities evict Roma

11 July 2000

On May 20, 2000, following a dispute over an illegally parked vehicle owned by a local Romani man, the municipal council of Nea Kios, in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece, adopted a resolution to evict all Roma from the land they own and live on in the region. The municipality also condemned those residents of Nea Kios who had sold land to the Roma, and asked the police to assist in implementing their decision to evict Roma within 48 hours. The municipality further established "surveillance groups" and organised a series of demonstrations by local residents against Romani presence in the village. Roma were reportedly prevented from entering the village, shopkeepers were instructed not to sell anything to Roma, and Romani children were afraid to go to school. The non-governmental organisation Greek Helsinki Monitor has written to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Minister of Justice Michalis Stathopoulos, protesting the decision. On May 31, 2000, following the declaration in Nea Kios, the neighbouring municipality of Nea Tiryntha issued a similar ban on Romani presence, requiring that Roma leave the region by August 30, 2000.

These municipal decisions have sparked off a series of violent incidents in the region of Nea Kios. On June 9, 2000, in Nea Kios, a shack owned by a Romani man named Panayote Demetropoulos was burned to the ground during the night by unknown perpetrators. On June 15, a seventeen-year-old Romani youth, Christos Demetropoulos, was shot and wounded by two non-Romani youth in Nea Kios. The two unknown attackers lay in wait for the Romani youth, verbally abused him, and shot him in the arm. Mr Demetropoulos was taken to the hospital in nearby Argos, where he was admitted in stable condition. During the week of June 12-16, the Greek Ombudsman's Office issued a report on the events in Nea Kios which calls the municipal council's action "illegal". On June 16, 2000, Minister of Justice Stathopoulos requested that the public prosecutor of the misdemenours court of Návplion open investigation into the case. As of July 21, 2000, no legal action had been taken by the prosecutor's office. On June 30, 15 advocates and politicians submitted a signed complaint to the public prosecutor's office in Návplion. Evictions of Roma in Greece are the subject of an article in the "Notebook" section of this issue of Roma Rights.

(Greek Helsinki Monitor, Agence France-Press, Associated Press)

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