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Athens: Roma set tires on fire to protest demolition of their settlement

Some two hundred Roma set tires on fire on one of main Athens roads on Tuesday in order to protest the forceful demolition of their settlement. The protest took place at Mesogeion Avenue around Nomismatokopeio metro station where the Roma have been occupying an area for the last 40 years.

Men, women, elderly and children moved to the street and set tires and plastic dumpsters on fire in order to hinder the demolition crew to proceed. 12 out of the 65 residencies are to be demolished in the first stage of the plan.

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An order by the Interior’s Ministry General Secretary for Decentralized Administration foresaw evacuation and demolition of the settlement by Tuesday and relocation of the Roma community to a forest area 50 km away.

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The new settlement is to take place at Pateras Mountain, 750m above the sea level and 18km away from the nearest town Megara.

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Some buildings and container houses have been already set up at Pateras Mountain for the Roma.

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The Roma community protests the relocation saying that they will be banned from any city and town in a remote area without any access to facilities like water or electricity.

Two deadlines set by the Ministry expired at noon and after negotiations authorities decided to postpone the implementation of demolition and relocation for 6 months.

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The Roma found support from the mayor of Chalandri, where their settlement is.

Speaking to Skai TV, Simos Roussos, argued against the demolition, saying that “the solution cannot be imposed in such an authoritarian manner and using these means.”

He accused the secretariat of running a “military operation” and voiced concerns that the demolition is “turning Halandri into a war zone.” (ekathimerini)

For the time being the relocation plan seems to have been abandoned by the authorities.

 

 

 

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