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    Copyright: All those wishing to use or publish the following text are welcome to do so, provided that they indicate the source and inform the AIM office in Paris which is interested to receive comments and reactions on the information it provides. AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    TUE, 07 NOV 2000 11:16:48 GMT

    An Albanian Family's Ordeal With Greek Authorities

    AIM Athens, November 7, 2000

    As a Greek Helsinki Monitor advocate for migrants' human rights in Greece, I have encountered a plethora of cases that show the arbitrary treatment of migrants by Greek authorities. One of this cases, where I helped an Albanian family draft a complaint to the Greek Ombudsman, the only state institution in Greece that consistently defends human rights when violated by state agencies, sounds almost like the "history of Albanian migration to Greece." The complaint reprinted below is eloquent and self-explanatory.

    To the Ombudsman Hatziyanni Mexi 5, 11528 Athens

    Athens 30 October 2000

    Complaint of Nevruzete Gjoni

    Gentlemen,

    I am an Albanian citizen. I hold a green card, number 101206/8624, which was issued by the Manpower Employment Organization on 01-10-2000. I have been living in Greece with my family since 1997 at the following address: Agisilaou 35-37, Koumoudouros Square, Athens (tel. 093-7684525).

    On 14-05-2000 I went to Albania, to the city of Vlora, in order to fetch my older son (who had gone to see his grandmother) and return with him to Greece. At that time I had my green card certification on which my husband and two children, age 17 and 15, were also registered.

    On 16-05-2000 my son and I arrived at the customs control at Kakavia in order to return to Greece. An employee, who boarded the bus to make an inspection (subsequent to the electronic inspection), told me that I had to get off the bus because the photograph in my passport, number 0155712, was not the original one (I had crossed the border many times with the same passport). My son and I got off the bus, and we were taken to an office where I was given a document to sign. Under the pressure of their threats ("We'll tear up your papers") and without understanding what the document said, I signed it (afterwards I realized that it was a statement of admission of my "guilt"). They retained my green card certification, telling me that I was persona non grata in Greece. I kept emphatically denying my guilt.

    I absolutely had to return to Greece because I would have lost my job (I work for the newspaper "Ethnos"). Furthermore, my husband is disabled and my younger son is a minor, so neither can work.

    I returned to Vlora and obtained a new passport. Again I tried to cross the border, but this time my green card certification did not correspond to my passport. I was told that I could now only enter Greece on a visa.

    Meanwhile, I sent my old passport to my husband in Greece. Through a lawyer, he submitted it to the proper authority, which (after 2 months) certified in writing that it was indeed legitimate.

    Armed with the new passport and the necessary supporting documents, I went to the Greek Embassy in Tirana to get a visa. I entered the embassy three times for a visa (after many weeks of sleeping on the sidewalk outside the embassy in +40-degree temperatures), but it was impossible for me to get one. The reason: "…it's impossible to give all Albanians visas." The fourth time, after paying 400,000 drachmas I managed to enter the embassy, obtain a visa on 17-07-2000, and on 19-07-2000 I crossed the border into Greece with my older son.

    The ordeal I went through resulted in my emergency admittance to hospital on 07-08-2000, where I was treated for 7 days. On 01-09-2000 my lawyer returned my green card certification to me, with a notation on it from the Manpower Employment Organization recognizing that an error had been made at my expense.

    On 04-09-2000 my family and I went to the Manpower Employment Organization to pick up our green card. However, the clerk delayed us (bureaucratically), causing the date of receipt to be postponed to 01-10-2000.

    On 05-09-2000 at 7:00 a.m. my younger son, Ervis Gjoni, 15 years old, set out for work. At the first stop in Holargos the police took him off the bus to inspect his papers. He had on him a photocopy of the green card certification (without the notation) and his birth certificate.

    At 5:00 p.m. his father and I became worried and started looking everywhere for him (he'd been picked up 3 times before but was released after being inspected). First we went to the police station on Socratous Street, then to Alexandras Ave. There they told us: "since you sent your kid out to wash windshields what do you expect… the boy's disappeared and you'll never find him." But Ervis was working on a construction site. At 21:30 we arrived at the Aghia Paraskevi police station. When we questioned the officer on duty, he told us there was no boy from Albania here. After a lot of pressuring, the officer opened the police blotter and found the name Ervis Gjoni written there. He told us that the boy had been deported at 3:00 p.m., because his papers were not in order. I then showed them the certification with the notation, which I had with me. I explained to them that they were in error since, apart from everything else, the boy is a minor and they were obliged to at least have notified us. We pleaded with them to bring him back, since the bus hadn't yet crossed the border, and also because they had made an error. The officer in charge responded, "it's not my concern…let all the Albanians go back to Albania."

    On the morning of 06-09-2000 we telephoned the border at Kakavia. The response we received was: "6 buses have passed through but there isn't anyone with that name." We were desperate. We didn't know what had happened to our child. Ervis didn't have any money on him…we don't have a home or family in Albania… Four days later our son called us to tell us that he was fine and was staying at the home of a female journalist from the newspaper "Koha Jone".

    On 1-10-2000 we went to the Manpower Employment Organization in Amaroussion to receive our green card - but without Ervis. Therefore, his name does not appear on his mother's green card.

    Thus, even though Ervis Gjoni is registered on his mother's passport, and even though the police admit their error, Ervis is unable to return to Greece, to live with his family, because none of the authorities will take the responsibility to correct the wrong done to him.

    I request that Ervis be allowed to return immediately and that those responsible for my illegal deportation in May and that of my son's in September be held accountable.

    The above complaint is submitted through the Greek Helsinki Monitor.

    Sincerely,

    Nevruzete Gjoni

    Eda Gemi