against Racism in Europe (YRE) is an anti-racist youth organisation
with a record of successful campaigns against fascism and racism in support
of the rights of national and communal minorities throughout Europe. The
YRE is appealing for your support in the campaign against the suppression
of the rights of the Gypsy community of Evosmos, northern Greece.
The Gypsies live in a settlement in the outskirts
of Thessaloniki, which belongs to the town of Evosmos, but is outside of
the inhabited area. The 3500 Gypsies have been there for the last thirty
years in conditions of a temporary settlement. Their huts consist mainly
of pieces of wood wrapped with nylon. The Gypsy settlement of Evosmos has
no electricity and water supplies of its own and the Gypsy residents have
been forced to beg for water from the houses in Evosmos or from construction
works, until July of this year. Photographs
of the Evosmos camp clearly show the terrible conditions in which the residents
Since 1995, the local council has allowed private
refuse dumping in and around the Gypsy settlement. Rats and diseases are
common, making it difficult to properly store food safely. During the night
children run the risk of losing an ear, finger or nose in their sleep to
large rats. A year ago, the mayor of Evosmos gave the Gypsies garbage bins,
but he did not provide garbage trucks to empty them.
Last July, local landowners managed to get a court decision for the
evacuation of the Gypsy settlement, but due to the campaign of several
anti-racist organisations, the YRE among them, police were prevented from
evacuating the Gypsy camp. The campaign also forced the local council to
open public water supplies to the camp. The local government then promised
to provide an area on the grounds of the Gonou army camp for temporary,
pre-fabricated housing for a period of two years. Nothing has been discussed
about a long-term solution, or why these houses cannot be made permanent.
In a similar case in the neighbouring town of Menemeni, the Gypsies
were moved to an industrial area with the promise of a similar housing
scheme, but found themselves in a barbed-wire secluded ghetto in barracks
with no electricity, running water, sewage, or the right to build anything.
Children have constant headaches from gases released by the surrounding
The implementation of a court decision to relocate
the Evosmos Gypsies has been indefinitely postponed, and the local authorities
threaten to implement the court decision by forcibly throwing the Gypsies
out of their settlement.. All local authorities present themselves as supporters
of the rights of the Gypsies, but only as long as this does not mean accommodating
them in their own area. The Gypsies themselves only ask for an area they
can consider permanently theirs, nothing more, so that they can start building
proper houses. Of course, this by itself is utopian, since most of them
do not have permanent jobs, but demonstrates their desire for basic rights.
The Gypsies are blamed for robberies and other common crimes in the area
by a reactionary layer of the local population.
The Greek YRE has launched a campaign with the
Water supply to the camp provided by the Evosmos council, with tabs or
daily delivery of water-tanks;
Collection of all the garbage that has accumulated in the area of the camp,
by the Evosmos local authorities;
Immediate public health measures in the area, by the Thessaloniki prefecture;
Distribution of garbage bins in the settlement and daily collection by
council garbage trucks;
Preparation of the Gonou area with full infrastructure, including water,
sewage, electricity, communications, roads, and schools, and proper housing
for permanent settlement of the Gypsies;
National planning with state funds for the support of the cultural, economic
and social life of all Gypsies in Greece.
Our plans include leaflet distributions, appeals to trade unions,
picket-lines, photography exhibitions, Gypsy music events, press conferences,
and collecting signatures for a petition to be sent to the local council.
The YRE is producing a protest card that can be mailed to the local mayor.
We are asking everyone to:
Send letters or resolutions of protest to:
Mayor Pan. Alexandrides
P. Mela 24
TK 562 24
Send letters of resolutions of support (preferably in Romani) to:
Thessaloniki Association of Gypsies "MAKEDONIA"
28th Octobriou 52
TK 561 23
Fax. 003 031 601518
Please send copies of letters and faxes to:
Theodoros Frankos - YRE
Post Restante Central Post Office
Fax. 003 031 949 479
Send us material that could help us in our work (ideas, a history of the
Gypsies in Europe, similar campaigns you may have conducted, etc.)