The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Asylum in Greece Campaign

I was inspired by a comment from merhan who called for some action from me on asylum in Greece. I have decided to start a blog/website/facebook campaign for proper asylum procedures here. I am currently designing the logo for it and here is what I have come up with:


The “LESS THAN 1%” comes from the ACTUAL number of successful asylum applications here. All design suggestions are very welcome. Please note: I will not be using this particular photograph because I don’t have copyright. Suggestions for images are also very welcome.

My aim is to publicise the issues affecting asylum seekers here in Greece and to provide the logo and links for people to display on their pages. The logo (which will be available in different sizes) will be linked to a special page on this blog dedicated to fighting for correct and proper asylum processes in this country. I hope to have a petition on that page that will be available for signatures. That petition (if I can generate enough interest) will be sent to all the relevant authorities here in Greece and the rest of the world.

If anyone has any ideas for launching this campaign, I’d love to hear from you.

If anyone has any relevant photographs (of asylum seekers etc) that I can use for the logo, please let me know.

If anyone has any advice or can offer any help, please let me know.

Any thoughts, ideas, information (specific to asylum practices in Greece) would all be very much appreciated.

Should there be a Greek version of the logo and text? Can anyone help me with that ?

Please read the article below which gives an overview of the current asylum issues. I have covered many of them but I would like to use this as the basis of the campaign (especially the demands in bold)

Thank you in advance for your continuing support of this blog and of human rights in Greece. I look forward to your contributions.


Spotlight on Greece – EU asylum lottery under fire

In an open letter sent to the European Commission and the 27 Member States ECRE, an alliance of refugee groups across Europe, calls for measures to be taken to safeguard the rights of asylum seekers entering the EU via Greece. Greece has the lowest rate of asylum-seeker application approval in the European Union. It gave the green light to only 0.04% of requests last year, 0.05% in 2006 and recognised only 39 and 11 refugees in 2005 and 2004 respectively. Afghans and Iraqis fleeing war make up the bulk of those who seek asylum in Greece, fearing political persecution in their countries.

Under the so-called Dublin system, the first EU Member State that an asylum seeker enters should be the one to examine the application. “By requiring that those fleeing persecution must claim asylum in the first EU country they reach, the Dublin system fails to take account of the fact that a person’s chance of being recognised as a refugee varies hugely from one EU country to another. Greece is not a safe place for those in need of protection” said Bjarte Vandvik Secretary General of ECRE.

On 7 February 2008, Norway took the decision to suspend the Dublin system and examine the applications of all asylum seekers who had passed through Greece on their way to Norway. The Norwegian authorities’ decision followed new information about the violation of asylum seekers’
rights in Greece. Germany has stopped transferring separated children back to Greece and other states are also reviewing their policies on whether it is safe to return asylum seekers there. ECRE calls on all Member States to follow the example of Norway by immediately suspending Dublin transfers to Greece.

The rights of asylum seekers in Greece are routinely violated. Ahmed is an asylum seeker from Iraq. He told us that he first fled to Syria, then Turkey before finally reaching Greece, where he was arrested, beaten by police and detained for one month on a remote island. Before being released from prison, Ahmed agreed to have his fingerprints taken on the understanding that it would not prevent him from lodging an asylum request in another EU country. Since Ahmed was homeless and harassed by the police he decided to contact a smuggler to help him travel to Sweden, where he was told that he would have to be returned to Greece because his fingerprints had been taken there. To avoid being deported, Ahmed fled to Norway. “I ask for your mercy because of all the obstacles that I have experienced”.

The current situation in Greece is just one symptom of more fundamental and far-reaching flaws
inherent in the Dublin system as highlighted in a new ECRE report. ECRE’s findings reveal the
injustices of the Dublin system, which fails to protect the rights of asylum seekers because it is based on the false assumption that there is a level playing field of protection across the EU.

ECRE calls on the European Commission to take account of the recommendations in its report
when proposing amendments to the Dublin Regulation later this year. These include measures to:

Suspend transfers to states that cannot guarantee a full and fair examination of asylum claims
or proper reception standards.

Better ensure the reunification of family members.

Improve solidarity and the sharing of resources between states, including a financial solidarity fund and the use of expert support teams.

Introduce a special responsibility determination procedure for cases involving children and other vulnerable groups, focusing on their best interests and special needs.

As well as being unfair, the Dublin rules are also inefficient, resource-intensive and an obstacle to
genuine sharing of responsibility between members states. ECRE has long advocated replacing the
Dublin regime with a system that safeguards the rights of refugees and ensures responsibility sharing in processing applications between Member States.  “Ten years on, the Dublin system still isn’t achieving its aim – thus failing refugees and Member States. The EU can surely find a better system than the current one which bounces vulnerable refugees around Europe like ping pong balls, with devastating consequences for those unlucky enough to land in countries which lack proper asylum systems” added Bjarte Vandvik.

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  1. Papa Duck
    August 28, 2008    

    Campaigning in Greece is one thing and, while I have no special knowledge to offer, I would have thought a Greek language counterpart was essential. Putting pressure outside Greece, especially in the EU, ssems sensible but I must ask whether an emphasis on getting governments not to send people back to Greece is the right one. Firstly, there are probably some governments who would never in a million years agree to such a policy. And even if they did, would this not suit those Greeks who want rid of all asylum seekers? Really looking for guidance and anxious to support your campaign in the most effective way.

  2. Xenos
    August 28, 2008    

    PapaDuck: Greek governments usually respond only to humiliation and potential loss of domestic or international prestige. They did nothing in response to calls for decades from UNHCR and Greek human rights lawyers about the disgraceful lack of asylum procedures in Greece. The only hope for reform lies in the humiliation of Greece in the eyes of other European governments…

  3. August 28, 2008    

    Thank you for your reply, Papa Duck. I would definitely seek help in a Greek version. My emphasis for the campaign would not be to call on other countries to avoid sending people back (The article refers to a “suspension”) but on the Greek government to stand up to its obligations towards asylum seekers. Other European countries must be getting pretty impatient with Greece and that is the only way I see for the situation to change here. For other European countries to put more pressure on Greece to act responsibly and humanely towards asylum seekers.


    I am probably being completely over-optimistic that a blogger can do anything at all, given that the Greek government has ignored every other call for change. But I have to try you know ?

  4. August 28, 2008    

    Whether there should be a Greek version or not depends on who’s your audience. I think Greeks should be your audience, so, there you go. (I only deal with Greek issues on my Greek-language blog, so I would only post it there if it is in Greek. My English-language blog is below the radar, so who cares about it.)

    I could help you with a Greek version in the following way: you can give me the completed final English version of the poster in a format which suits me, (worst case scenario as an image,) and I can give it back to you in Greek, (all else being as close as possible to the original,) again in a format which suits me (that would be a paintshop pro 9 file, or, worst case scenario, an image.)

    I do not have any ideas to give you, but I will pass it on to some who may.

    Diagoras of Meloss last blog post..One of the nicest TEDtalks I’ve seen

  5. August 29, 2008    

    Continued via email.

    ???????? (Diagoras)s last blog post..One of the nicest TEDtalks I’ve seen

  6. August 29, 2008    

    @ Diagoras of Melos

    Thank you for your reply too. I think it is very clear to me now that I must do a Greek version of the whole campaign even though my readers are mainly English speakers. I really want to reach out to Greek bloggers because it is they who can really make the difference here.

    And thank you for your offer of help. I can send you a photoshop file with the English text that can be replaced by the Greek text. I don’t have paintshop (mac user!) but I assume you would have photoshop so I don’t think there would be any problem with that ?

    Once I get the right image I will put together the logo and send it to you. I am aiming to launch this sometime towards the end of September (giving people a chance to get back from holidays, back into the swing and back to blogging!) so there is no really rush for now.

    At the moment I am looking for ideas and suggestions so thank you very much for yours.

    deviousdivas last blog post..Asylum in Greece Campaign

  7. Papa Duck
    August 29, 2008    

    I would like to take this matter up in the UK. It would seem suspension is the best objective given the European Court action by the European Commission. For the benefit of people like me across the EU it might be useful if we knew what, if any, response there had been from the Permanent Representatives to which the ECRE letter was addressed. Should I contact ECRE in that regard or is it better you gather such info?

  8. August 31, 2008    

    If you see any of my pictures which could be used in this, please let me know.

    Craigs last blog post..Zoriah – Stories from behind the headlines

  9. August 31, 2008    

    @ Craig,
    Wouldn’t this make a great poster shot for this campaign ?

  10. George
    September 3, 2008    


    I know we generally take Greece to task on issues of mistreatment concerning immigrants and their treatment when requesting asylum etc.

    As an American, I do believe that overall the US system protects immigrants more than the Greek system.

    However, with that in mind, I also find myself obliged to report on similar treatment (apparently) received by immigrants in Los Angeles in similar circumstances. I recently read an article in a Los Angeles magazine about the story of Victoria (formerly Victor) Arrellano and his mistreatment at the hands of Immigration officials in Los Angeles.

    The good news is that the US Congress is looking into the matter and plight of immigrants in the USA.

    For those who wish to read a quick study on Victoria’s case, here’s the brief Wikipedia article about her treatment and subsequent death while in US Custody.

  11. September 4, 2008    

    @ George,
    Yes, absolutely, human rights abuses all over the world. I have often (very often) written as much within my posts. As you know, some people are still hooked on the idea that this is a “Greek bashing” blog. I have tried to explain that the focus is on human rights issues in Greece as this is where I find myself at the moment and something that I care about deeply. It is also (hopefully) providing a one-stop resource for these issues written in English. There are many good Greek blogs covering them in Greek.

    Thank you very much for your comment and link. Keep them coming in the comments. I will have frequent open threads where we can bring them up and discuss them.

  12. Xenos
    September 4, 2008    

    The situation with asylum applications in the UK and elsewhere is terrible; the Greek case is slightly different, in that the authorities don’t even make a pretence of following law or correct procedure. Of course, the outcome for asylum-seekers is similar, whatever the mechanism by which rights are denied.

  13. September 18, 2008    

    thank u papa duck i wish u to leave in pradice