REPORT ON COVERAGE OF THE ROMA IN THE GREEK PRESS
(Comments in italics are made by the Greek Helsinki Monitor).
4/4/98 Eleftherotypia [M. Dede], page 15.
The special educational project related to the various Roma communities
in Greece resulted in the compilation of an informal dictionary of useful words in Greek
and Roma. It is to be used by the residents of the town of Karditsa and will make it
easier to approach the Roma campers of the wider area of the town and to learn more about
A very positive report, which explicitly speaks in favor of the
initiative. The latter is seen as a very good way for the Greeks to get to know the people
who are in the social margin. Against xenophobia and racism.
8/4/98 Ethnos [D. Iatropoulos], page 20.
The initiative of the primary school in the Sofades neighborhood of
Karditsa to offer free breakfast to all Roma pupils who attend school classes is seen as a
shameful act. Just before the year 2,000 it is real shame to try to entice
"real" Greek citizens in order to make them attend basic education. Even though
so many years have passed, it seems that nothing has changed for the Roma yet. If it had
not been for Manoussakis’ TV series dealing with the Roma, we would have still ignored
the presence of this ethnic group in Greece. It is the state authorities’ responsibility
to deal with this matter. However, this should not be done by political exploitation of
the Roma community with a view to the forthcoming elections.
A very positive report, criticizing the official attitude towards
the Roma. It emphasizes the deep problems in the educational field that the Roma community
is faced with nowadays.
12/4/98 Eleftherotypia [D. Nanouris, Y. Stergiou], page 92 - 93
The Holy Thursday of the Roma "Sinners"
In the early hours of Holy Thursday Roma from all over Greece
gathered in the Ano Liossia camp. All of them dressed up, they went to a special shelter
where an old Roma woman keeps a picture of Virgin Mary, coming from the Western Aegean
coasts of Turkey. They prayed and offered various precious objects, so that their secret
wishes come true. Outside there were barbecues, wine-drinking and dances till late at
night. The women gathered together and helped dress up a young girl dedicated to Virgin
Mary (that is why it is required that the woman is young and a virgin). The woman received
many gifts, especially money, whose total must not be less than one million drachmas.
Every year the festival goes to a different area, in order to
accommodate all Roma nomads. It takes place in quiet places, away from the city centers.
Sociologist Y. Georgiou says Roma honor all saints, especially Saint George and Virgin
Mary. Events like this give the chance to all Roma to meet after a long time and, to some
of them, to choose their future husbands and wives.
A very positive report on Roma culture and tradition related to
religious matters. It tries to explain why the way Roma understand the Christian spirit is
different. The majority of Greeks think that there are no Roma Christians, and even if
there are, they seem to be lesser Christians than themselves. Roma are seen as sinners for
not respecting the Holy Week Fast before Easter. The article gives the numerous reasons
for the different Roma traditions, in an attempt to eliminate the stereotype of Roma
atheism and paganism and promote the spirit of tolerance and mutual cultural respect.
10/4/98 Eleftheros Typos [V. Moissis], page 31
Guns and Hashish in Roma Shelters
Some 200 policemen raided the Roma camp of Evosmos in search of
drugs and guns hidden by Albanian refugees and used for various criminal acts. Two
Kalashnikovs, 124 bullets, a carbine, a Russian bomb, a knife, and 76 pounds of hashish
were found during the police raid. Apart from that, some 1.35 million drachmas, 16 tape
recorders and a motorcycle were confiscated as products of drug smuggling, and 16
Albanians, four Roma and one Italian were arrested. Also, 99 illegal refugees from
Albania, who have been living the camp, are about to be deported from Greece. Police
director Dalamagikis says that the police did not use any violence during the operation.
The main reason for that was that the absolute majority of the Roma campers cooperated
with the policemen, in order to help them "clean" the area.
A neutral report, transmitting information without making any
10/4/98 Nea, page 16
200 Policemen "Sweep Off" Roma Camp
Regarding the incident mentioned above. This report also stresses
the fact that the Roma campers have contributed to the success of the operation. They were
the first to inform the police that many Albanian criminals had been using their camp as
an undercover for their acts.
10/4/98 Ethnos [M. Ritzaleou], page 18.
Evosmos: 200 Policemen Raid Roma Camp
Again treating the above mentioned incident, as well as the
Roma’s contribution to the operation.
Both of these are neutral reports, without making any comments.
Photos of well-dressed Roma, who are dancing and singing all night
during the Muslim Fete of Bairam.
A very positive report, transmitting the atmosphere of tolerance and
mutual respect. Another important point is that the article refers to people who are a
minority in two respects. They are the Muslim Roma who live in Western Thrace.
13/4/98 Eleftheros Typos, page 22
Roma Against Albanians in the Evosmos Camp
The Roma campers of Evosmos decided to "clean up" their
camp from all Albanian refugees who had been living in the camp for the last few months.
They destroyed the Albanians’ shelters and called the TV reporters in order to make
public their willingness to get rid of the Albanian presence in the area, as well as their
position on the recent rise of criminality in Greece.
A neutral report, without any comments.
13/4/98 Eleftherotypia, page 58
Roma - Albanians: Yesterday’s Victims, Today’s Victimizers
Regarding the incident mentioned above. The expulsion of all
Albanians who have found refuge in the Evosmos Roma camp.
The report comments negatively on the decision of the Roma to expel
the Albanians living in their camp. The reporter tries to find the reasons for racism and
the roles of the victims and victimizers, "Is it the world or the actors that have
14/4/98 Ethnos [M. Ritzaleou], pages 1 and 17
The Real "Whispers of the Heart"
The passionate love of a non-Roma man for a beautiful Roma woman
resulted in a kidnapping and a subsequent successful marriage. This is not another
possible happy end of the famous serial "Whispers of the Heart." It is a true
life story. Twenty-seven years ago Mr. Santorinaios, a member of the local board of the
town of Serres, fell in love with an attractive Roma woman and married her against all
social prejudices. He confesses that with this act he endangered his family relations (he
has not spoken to his father for five years). However, he has gained a new, big and
adorable family. He has his two kids and all the Roma community on his side. He also
admits that if it had not been for his love, he would have never come so close to the
Roma, facing their problems and their everyday life. His wife, Antonia, says that she was
convinced that he was truly in love with her only when he proved in practice that he was
willing to share his life with her and the other Roma. Mr. Santorinaios claims that Greeks
are still very suspicious of Roma and tend to see the latter as inferior to them.
Commenting on the TV series "Whispers of the Heart," Mr. Santorinaios admits
that he is a fan and expresses his desire to see the two protagonists living together.
Such an outcome would be a new message for Greek TV standards.
A very positive report. The spirit which is conveyed is free of any
stereotypes and prejudices against Roma.
14/4/98 Nea, page 26
From the very first moment of his career (1956) up to his death
(1988), the Roma origin singer Manolis Angelopoulos was faced with the racist behavior of
some Greek media and artists. Many of them referred to his identity in a rather
humiliating way, calling him "Gypsy" and "populist." Against the
background of this attitude, he seemed to deal with all this with remarkable patience and
dignity. He was lucky enough to see that the ordinary people, the massive audiences,
adored him and put him on the list of the most popular singers. Neither his success, nor
this acceptance on the part of the audience were enough to eliminate the racist feelings
which some people had for him. Ten years later, on the occasion of the anniversary of his
death, a whole issue of the Nitro magazine is dedicated to him, and a TV program in
honor of his contribution to Greek music is also going to be produced. This initiative is
better than nothing at all, even more so nowadays when racism is knocking on our doors
more than ever.
A very positive report, criticizing the racist attitude of some
Greeks towards the Roma.
14/4/98 Nea, [V. Loubrinis], page 39
Three more episodes of "Whispers of the Heart" are planned to
be shot till the end of June ’98. Mr. Manoussakis, director of the serial, confessed
that from the mere beginning he was convinced that this work was going to be a success.
Still, he never expected it to break all rating records. Apart from the serial, a book,
with the same title and the same story, written by the scrip writers S. Abdoulos and M.
Ritsoni, has been published recently. Mr. Manoussakis explains that the end of the story
in the book is much different from the end he has planned for the serial. He admits that
he had to alter the script many times, due to the unexpected success and the unpredictable
attitude of the Roma. The last example of this was the "open air" union of the
Roma protagonists. In the TV series they were going to have a sort of referendum in order
to decide whether to abandon their homes and move to another area. According to the
scenario half of them had to vote in favor, while the rest had to vote against the
proposition. However, the Roma protagonists were unable to "synchronize"
themselves. Consequently, they were all shouting against the resettling of their camp…
obviously influenced by everyday reality!
A very positive report, offering alternative views on the Roma
living in Greece.
16/4/98 Eleftherotypia [M. Dede], page 51
Dimitris Doussas’ book on the Roma communities in Greece is a
scientific study of the problems that these people encounter on an everyday basis, of
their culture, traditions and believes. The acceptance or rejection of the Roma community
on the part of society at large are based on a number of different factors. Some teachers
who deal with Roma pupils share a lot of prejudicial concepts. From 1810 until 1978 the
Roma in Greece were deprived of Greek citizenship. They did not have any human, political,
social and economic rights. Consequently, they were also deprived of the right to
education. The educational problems of the Roma community have not gone into history yet.
Statistics speak for themselves. In Crete (in the town of Hania) more than 750 Roma pupils
do not go to school, simply because there is no school for them. In Kato Ahaia 93% of the
men and a 100% of the women have not finished primary school, and no single Roma has ever
gone to high school, let alone the university. In Ano Liossia out of 1,067 people only 194
have been to school. Only one man has finished high school, and 82% of the population are
totally illiterate. In Votanicos 95% of the Roma kids do not attend school.
A very positive report, putting an emphasis on the deep problems of
the Roma in Greece.
17/4/98 Eleftheros Typos, page 6
21/4/98 Ethnos, page 68
Mr. Manoussakis, director of the TV serial "Whispers of the
Heart," and the actors in the series are about to be honored by the Thessaloniki Roma
Cultural Association for their battle against racism and social exclusion.
Both reports are positive.
18/4/98 Eleftherotypia, [V. Sioutis], page 70
The Prime Minister’s office dealing with "Quality of Life"
is about to launch a project for the creation of a nation-wide system for social care. The
Roma communities will get a great part of the budget for this project. The Ministry of the
Environment gave 20 mill drachmas to the administration boards of Menemeni, Thiva and
Messini, so that new Roma camps are built. Another 20 mill have gone to Didimotiho, 30
mill - to Messologi, 35 mill - to Zevgolati and 35 mill - to Examilia in Korinthos and 40
mill - to Serres. As regards the Roma educational problems, there is a project for
introducing a special card for all children of the Roma campers, as well as some other
projects for their professional orientation.
A neutral report, without any comments.
24/4/98 Kathimerini, [M. Katsounaki], page 15
On the occasion of the showing of the film "Gadjo Dilo" in
the Greek cinemas, the director Tony Gatlif speaks about his latest movie. It is dedicated
to the Roma of the world. "Roma are beyond borders. No matter what kind of borders:
political, national, cultural. This may be one reason for their rejection." (…)
"Roma are expelled from every single European country, where the sense of owning
something is rather deep. They have no land; they are constantly moving; they face all
kinds of landlords and owners. Still, they have history. They are Europeans. They have
been living in Europe for more than five centuries. Whenever Europe needs them, they are
on her side. They participate in wars. They have given victims in every war but all this
remains unnoticed. Roma are always the victims."
A very positive report, supporting the position of the director and
presenting the "non-folklore" dimension of Roma.