Greece: Roma block traffic to resist eviction
Press TV, Iran's English-language news agency, reported yesterday that Stelios Kalamiotis, the leader of an encampment of Romani people in the Greek capital of Athens, said his community had temporarily blocked an eviction and relocation order issued against them by the government. The community set up road blocks on Tuesday, 30 September for 12 hours, keeping police forces away from their dwellings.
Romani people including minors barricaded themselves from midnight to midday behind roadblocks, according to Press TV. Greece reportedly wants to evict them from land they have lived on for decades even though Greek law grants ownership rights to occupants who can prove 20 years or more of continual residency on a particular property.
Kathimerini English Edition reported that plans to evacuate and partially demolish the encampment in the northern Athenian suburb of Halandri, located behind the Nomismatokopio metro station, were called off amid protests by Romani residents and representatives of the local authority. A few dozen Romani residents blocked both the southbound and northbound lanes of Mesogeion Avenue, a central artery linking downtown Athens with the northern suburbs.
Romani residents also set plastic dumpsters and tires on fire outside the camp entrance to prevent the demolition crew from entering, Kathimerini English Edition reports. The decision to postpone the demolition of 12 of the 65 residences came after a meeting between Kalamiotis and representatives of the local and regional authorities.
Kathimerini English Edition reports that the original plan foresaw the residents of the camp being relocated to a mountain plot in Megara in western Attica. “After 43 years the government wants to knock down our camp. Fifty-four children go to school in this area. We all work nearby. They want to relocate us to a remote mountain outside Athens where the nearest road is 15 kilometers away; there are no schools… or jobs nearby,” Kalamiotis told Press TV.
"There needs to be discussion of a more viable solution," the deputy regional governor for northern Attica, Giorgos Karameros, was quoted by the Naftemboriki daily as saying. "We can't send 75 families into exile. We can't send residents of Halandri to Mount Patera, 27 kilometers from the last house and at an altitude of 850 meters."
The Roma community in the encampment lives far below the poverty line, as is clearly evident from their broken water pipes flooding the pathways, their piles of rubbish and their pirated electricity, according to Press TV. For several months local authorities have reportedly refused to collect their waste.
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