THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY was born on June 22nd 2005 at 6:15pm.
Posts to date: 941
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Today I am celebrating three years of blogging. Every year I have written a summary of the past year. I see no reason why I shouldn’t carry on the tradition. WARNING: This is a long post but hopefully worth reading in full. For new readers, my yearly summaries are a good place to start if you would like to get a quick picture of THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY.
A Year of Blogging
Two Years of Blogging
My greatest achievement this year was taking part in a photography exhibition with 15 of my pictures from the Roma settlements in Votanikos. The feedback was extremely positive and I am considering doing a larger exhibition if I can find the space, the money and the backing. Keep your fingers crossed.
I went to England for almost a month over June and July so my blogging was fairly light or non-existent. I enjoyed being offline so much that it was very hard to get going again once I returned home. We then began the process of moving house so my telephone/internet connection was cut. A very long and tedious process that didn’t really get sorted out until the end of August.
The main issue for me in July was whether to reveal my identity after being hounded and threatened again by people who had “found” me. After much thought and the help and support of friends, I decided against it.
The main subject of August were the devastating forest fires that took the lives of 63 people, destoyed whole villages and vast areas of forest. Surprise, surprise even writing about this tragedy sparked a controversy that reeked of racism and the “usual blame game”.
On a side note: Over this period, THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY was featured in several mainstream newspapers and the Roma Series received a great deal of attention as a result.
Even complaining about being without a phone for 6 weeks brought calls from people for me to get out of the country. It has got to the point where it doesn’t matter what I write, good or bad, there will always be some people who don’t want me here. It only makes me more determined these days.
I was shocked and saddened to find out that my friend Teacher Dude was beaten up by the police for taking pictures. He is an outstanding photographer and I always look forward to his latest postings. He (and he’s not the only one) did not know that it is illegal to take pictures of the police here in Greece. A simple request would have been sufficient to inform him, rather than this…
I have a dislocated left shoulder, painfully put back into place by three hefty guys, a fractured nose, and multiple bruising. all because some manic idiot couldn’t control himself
Teacher Dude was recently featured in a documentary on police brutality here in Greece. His complaint against the attack is still ongoing with little progress being made (in the comments). After writing about the incident, Teacher Dude was attacked with insults and nastiness on both his blog and here. There were strong responses against that nonsense (again, in the comments)
I had major problems with the template I was using so decided to change it for the current one. People seem to be happy with the funky orange style. As always, feel free to contact me if you spot any problems with viewing this blog.
There was yet another blow-up about immigrant integration in Greece. The comments are a fairly typical example of the arguments that happen here on a regular basis. While real and violent racist attacks were on the rise in Greece, people who became regulars here were also being attacked and insulted on a regular basis. So much so that I had to close comments on several threads.
I took part in NaBloPoMo which involved posting every day this month… and I won a prize. Little DD, my handmade baby yeti, arrived just after the new year 2008.
THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY was one of the blogs featured in this wonderful video by Sudy of A Woman’s Ecdysis
I wrote about an incident that occurred in my own local supermarket. The women in the story has since been promoted.
The most amount of comments received on a single post this year (77) was in this month on Life without Papers. Born in Greece to a Nigerian father and a Cameroonian mother, Catherine Ananois has waited 20 years for her adoptive country to even acknowledge her existence. The young dancer is one of thousands of second-generation immigrants who feel Greek, speak Greek and pursue a Greek education but are helpless against a state bureaucracy and laws that still deny them Greek citizenship.This is not a new story but it’s still heart-breaking to read personal experiences of living without papers. In her own words, Catherine explains her position here in Greece and how she is affected by its archaic laws.
When I was 16, I had to obtain a certificate to enroll in a school exam. That’s when I realised I’m a person without a country. I have no papers, not even a birth certificate.
She cannot travel outside the country. She cannot get a driver’s license. She cannot even open a bank account. I cannot begin to imagine how it feels to be living in such a precarious position in the country you were born in.
I managed to get a document, of sorts, that helps with police checks and is supposed to entitle me to a temporary residence permit. But even that’s not sure, and I’ve had enough of this business
It seemed that all my racist friends from past and present came out to play on that one ! The controversy continued here.
Yet another racist attack in Greece, this time leaving one man critically injured in hospital. I urged people to:
This is now.
This has to stop.
The authorities have to be forced to do something. This goes beyond starting a discussion about racism (which seems to be a non-starter here because denial is the first response). We are talking about people being violently attacked in their homes.
There is no racism in Greece ?
How about you go and talk to the victims ?
Can you imagine the fear that the immigrant population here feels knowing that they could be a target and that nothing is being done to protect them ?
That the police and authorities still refuse to take their allegations seriously ?
That there is no official data on hate crimes so it is easy to ignore that it happens ?
That there is no serious nationwide anti-racist programs in place ?
That there is no serious anti-racist education in schools and colleges ?
That there will be a expression of “shock” that will be forgotten tomorrow because Greece doesn’t really have a problem with racism ?
What else can I say ?
The usual and obvious response followed in the comments.
Far-right “historian” Mr Plevris went on trial over his anti-semitic book, Jews: The Whole Truth. The verdict came in on the 13th December.
Plevris was found guilty of inciting hatred and sentenced to 14 month (suspended pending appeal) prison sentence.
Much gnashing of teeth and foot-stamping over freedom of speech followed. Many of my regular readers and myself tried to be as clear as we possibly could over and over again…
Again, I repeat… the trial was not an issue of freedom of speech but about the issue of incitement to violence. We have freedom of speech laws that protect people who want to say (to me) totally unacceptable things but we must have laws that protect us from people that would do us harm
Sometimes, having trolls and stupid comments on your blog are really worth it. Thanks again to the wonderful Sudy for giving us a laugh at their expense.
The kid broke his leg just before Christmas. Poor baby. He’s all better now. No lasting problems and is back playing basketball as before. His team have played outstandingly well this year. He’ll be going for medals and awards very soon. Well done, kid.
Arguments raged on in the Plevris Trial posts and in a post about Women on Mount Athos. I personally did not have the energy or inclination to wade into much of the debate. 2008 had been unkind to my family so far. The messages of love and support that followed that post were genuinely heartwarming and I believe they helped lead to this. Update on my mum: She recently tripped down some steps and broke her foot. She’s in plaster but that hasn’t stopped her and my dad taking a trip in their mobile home around Europe for three weeks. She’s an amazing woman, my mum.
I got worn-out and angry by the horrible comments left here…
I am not going to either answer the insults or justify this blog.
Some of you just filled up one sand-pit with rubbish and when I closed it, you found another one to play in. Very silly. You are not addressing the issues or discussing anything actually. Just seeing who can shout the loudest.
I don’t have the time or the inclination to babysit this constant bickering.
I AM CLOSING ALL COMMENTS ON ALL POSTS UNTIL EVERYONE CALMS DOWN.
This is the first time in two and a half years that I have ever had to do this. Those who think that you are going to derail this blog, think again. I will still be posting as regularly as always and my readers will still be following. You just won’t have the opportunity to attack people here. You are not as clever as you think you are.
Please email me if you have any valid comments or any links/articles that I might be interested in. There is a contact form at the top of the page. Thank you.
and changed my comment policy. I have less comments here now but also less headaches.
Asylum issues in Greece came to the forefront after Norway followed by several other countries refused to send asylum seekers back to Greece (as defined under the Dublin agreement).
Same sex marriage became another important issue here. This marriage was blocked but the mayor of Tinos took up the torch and married two couples in early June.
An argument over who can call themselves lesbians also broke out. That case is in court at the present time and I will update you on the outcome as soon as I hear.
This was not a good month for women of colour bloggers. Two of our favorites blackamazon and brownfemipower closed down their blogs. It was a long time in coming and a complicated history that led to them deciding to shut up shop. I am extremely happy to report that both of them have re-opened. Both of them are as strong and as inspiring as they always were. Both of them are actively working to make the world a better place both on and offline.
Another heated discussion started on the Hijab/Mandila post. I wrote i am human in response to the “fights” that happen here on this blog and elsewhere.
May was a busy month for me outside my blog. As I said at the beginning of this post (way way back there!), I showed some of my Roma photographs at an exhibition here in Athens. You can veiw all the pictures on the Images page at the top of the blog.
So that’s my summary of three years of blogging. It’s been a difficult year at times personally. The good news is that my family are all doing well (despite the broken foot) and things are looking up for all of them. I recently celebrated 14 years with the love of my life. What could be better ?
Thank you to all the friends of THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY. You helped me through a very difficult period in my life. I hope you will keep on dropping by and leaving your words of wisdom. I’m looking forward to another year with you all.
Thank you to everyone who supports me from behind the scenes too. Not everyone feels comfortable commenting publicly and I completely understand that, so thank you for taking the time to contact me via email. Your words and support mean so much to me.
I’ll leave you with this post that I wrote for Bloggers for Human Rights
i am just one person.
i am just one small voice
i am just one mum
i am just one daughter
i am just one sister
i am just one blogger
i am just one woman
i am just one human being
but i speak to another single person
i join a chorus of other small voices
i speak with hundreds of other mums
i stand with every daughter
i support and respect all my sisters
i write alongside thousands of other bloggers
i move with millions of other women
i am with every other human being
Today is Bloggers Unite for Human Rights.
THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY is almost three years old and I am more convinced than ever of the power of this medium. My blog IS my commitment to Human Rights. I will continue to speak out even when I feel it is pointless or I feel vulnerable or I feel threatened or I feel alone.
Because if we don’t keep alert and we don’t speak out, we will lose our hard-won rights and others will never have them. My commitment continues…