BEIRUT (AP) —Rights activists visiting abandoned government prisons in the first Syrian city to come under rebel control have found torture devices and other evidence that detainees were abused there, Human Rights Watch said in a report Friday. Raqqa, in eastern Syria, was overrun in late February by rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. The rebels facilitated the New York-based group's access to facilities that had belonged to a government security agency and military intelligence in late April.
What is Gnosis' vision? How is it being implemented?
Gnosis in a not-for-profit network of people and organizations committed to improving education in Greece. The Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge", is a concept which goes beyond the process of just gathering information - gnosis also refers to concepts like wisdom, personal fulfilment and self-awareness.
ATHENS (AP)— The Greek government said Monday it will use emergency powers to prevent protesting teachers from disrupting university entrance exams this month. Civil servants' unions retaliated by calling a 24-hour strike for Tuesday. It is the third time this year that the conservative-led coalition government has used the emergency civil mobilization order— a measure normally reserved for natural disasters and other times of national crisis — to end a labor dispute in the crisis-hit country.
This is part of a series highlighting the social and citizen sector in Greece, in which The Greek Star and The Goddess of the Hunt are participating, and these publications have permission to reprint. New Diaspora is a platform that showcases the personal stories of Greeks who decided to move abroad. The Greek Star spoke to Nicolas Stamboulopoulos about New Diaspora and about the new wave of Greek immigrants.
What is the New Diaspora platform?
New Diaspora is an online trojan horse, attempting to break the dividing stereotypes of mainstream news, and bring light to the Greek crisis from a different perspective. By narrating the personal stories of Greek people scattered around the world during this historical conjuncture, we give a face to the “lazy Greeks”; who just happen to be hard-working and often successful professionals or students in every imaginable field. And they all have interesting experiences and thoughts to share, sparking discussions and uniting Greeks and non-Greeks alike into a worldwide community.
Right from the start, New Diaspora was intended to be a participatory project in every sense. That’s why we are crowdfunding our project, aiming to improve our interactive platform, and collaborate with filmmakers in Greece and abroad in order to produce a series of web documentaries that will record this complex phenomenon in its entirety. Retaining our independence during this ongoing and demanding process is crucial.
What, in your opinion, is the difference between the old Diaspora of yesteryear, and the new Diaspora?
We are only beginning to trace the similarities and differences between the current migration wave and the previous ones, and we’re often posting stories from the old diaspora. But we mainly focus on the recent Greek expats. They are a new breed of mostly educated and multi-lingual people, who travel a lot and can immediately communicate with their folks back home through the internet. That doesn’t mean they are better or worse than anybody who migrated in the past. Just different; but not too much if we come to think that all Greeks share some fundamental cultural values. It doesn’t need to be something as cliché as souvlaki or bouzouki, and it doesn’t have to relate to ancient Greece or Orthodoxy either. But it’s still there; The taste of real olive oil or the deep blue of the Aegean. Simple things that have shaped a collective identity we urgently need to redefine, if we want to find a way out of this mess.
Having documented many stories, have you seen any common ground in the reasoning behind the choice to immigrate? Was the economic crisis a reason or was it just a catalyst?
Some of the new arrivals left by choice, before there was even a sign of a crisis hitting their homeland. The most recent ones are leaving whether they want to or not, seeking career opportunities that range from business administration to waiting tables. No matter what, the crisis has affected all of them, directly or indirectly. Sending money back home is no longer a rare exception.
How important is the Diaspora vote and how will the new Diaspora remain politically active in the country they have chosen to leave behind?
There are two sides to the issue of the Diaspora vote: one is the delicate question of who should have the right to vote, since there are many Greek citizens who haven’t even visited Greece for years, and already vote in the elections of another country. The other side is an infuriating injustice, excluding Greeks from their constitutional right to vote in the parliamentary elections from abroad. With hundreds of thousands –if not millions- of us having to book a flight in order to reach a ballot box (and counting as abstention if we don’t), no Greek government is as democratically elected as it should have been.
About a year ago, together with a group of friends in Amsterdam we decided to set up the I cannot vote petition, lobbying to implement the constitution and be able to vote from wherever we are; like almost everybody else in the world does. New Diaspora endorses this effort, and will continue to do so more dynamically in the near future.
What are the needs of the New Diaspora platform? How can people support New Diaspora?
We have set a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, asking from people to contribute any amount they can afford, and receive some Odyssey-inspired perks in exchange for their generocity: Greek products like honey and wine, made in Greece t-shirts and posters, and luxury travel packages for the big donations.
With less than five days left until our Indiegogo campaign expires, we are looking for a miracle to reach our ambitious target. It’s not going to be the end of the world if we don’t. We still get to keep the money collected so far, minus commission fees, cost of our crowdfunding perks and a 5% donation to Greek Doctors of the World, who are having a tough challenge dealing with the growing humanitarian crisis in Greece.
How has the Diaspora received your initiative? Where do you hope to take this initiative in the future?
We’ve been lucky enough to have caught the attention of Greek and international media, but so far not that many Greeks abroad know of the New Diaspora web documentary movement. Knowing what Greeks are capable of at the last minute, we are addressing the community spirit of everybody who’d like to see this project continue its virtual Odyssey and share its stories with the rest of the world.
NICOSIA (AP)— Cyprus will keep capital controls in place until it is more confident that its ailing banks will not face a run, the Central Bank's chief said Thursday. Panicos Demetriades said the Central Bank wants to eliminate these controls as soon as possible, but it has to first make sure that trust in the banks has recovered sufficiently.
NEW YORK (AP)—A slump in global media freedom driven by Mali’s turmoil, Greece’s decline and tightening media control in Latin America pushed the percentage of the world’s population in countries with a completely free press to its lowest level in 16 years, the democracy watchdog group Freedom House said Wednesday in its annual survey.
As an ex-pat British man my first Easter on Symi, Greece was something of a surprise to say the least. I remembered the Easters of my youth as to do with chocolate eggs and holidays, time off school and peace and quiet. I had no idea what to expect from my first Greek Easter but people kept telling me about the noise. Assuming they meant the singing and celebrating from one of the 16 churches near to me in the small village where I lived, each with a bell tower, I went about my new life undaunted. The house was within 50 feet of one of the main parish churches, Agia Triatha, and so close that at night I could hear the mechanism of the bells as they clunked into action, ready to strike the hours. After six months on the island I was adjusting to the chimes, though when a wedding or baptism was celebrated and the peels range for half an hour, there was no point in trying to hold a conversation, or watch the television. So yes, I was ready for the noise of Greek Easter on Symi.
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute is appalled by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) two-tier upgrade of Turkey from a designation as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) in 2012 to a less harsh status of “other countries and regions monitored” in its 2013 Annual Report which the commission released April 30.
JOHANNESBURG (AP)—A granddaughter of Nelson Mandela has harshly criticized a longtime associate of the former president and anti-apartheid leader, in an escalation of a dispute over funds linked to one of the world's most revered figures. Tukwini Mandela accused lawyer George Bizos of insulting her mother, slandering the Mandela family name and spreading "blatant lies and innuendo'' in a bitter rift over control of two companies linked to 94-year-old Mandela. The main purpose of the companies is to channel funds from the sale of handprint artwork by Mandela for the benefit of his family.