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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 26 March 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 26 MARCH 2016 23 OPINION OPINION ROYO LLOYD Don’t cry for me, Eleftheria In the narrow waters separating the Greek island of Lesvos from Turkey, the ferryboat skimmed through a tranquil sea which, this year alone, has consumed an estimated 200 souls, with their drowning hopes and dreams. Arriving into Mitylene harbour, the vessel passes under the gaze of the Statute of Liberty, Eleftheria, standing on the point, a beacon proudly beaming her hope of freedom eastwards. Throughout 2015, the town was submerged by a flood of refugees, in their thousands, inundating nearly three kilometres along the ferryboat quay, the promenade along the harbour front, and into the little parks set behind the central waterfront. That swarming mass of dark-shaded, odorous, and tragic humanity that had continuously engulfed the entire geography had now vanished. Optimistically I hoped LETTERS Nation of immigrants Last week in Australia we celebrated Harmony Week. Apart from the 250,000 indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the rest of us 24 million souls are either immigrants or from immigrant backgrounds from all over the world ... therefore our mother country is the world and we are a ‘Nation of Immigrants’. We have every reason to be happy and to celebrate this joyous occasion. Our own unique Australian multiculturalism has been a thriving success. It has taught us all to be tolerant, to live and to lead peaceful lives, to enjoy the freedom to be ourselves, to enjoy our own languages and cultures with dignity and pride. We have learned to respect each other and to love Australia and to respect its laws and we have all had the opportunity according to our own personal endeavours to achieve a better life and our own specific goals. I believe all this has been possible for a number of reasons: * We have a good and stable political and judicial system. * We are a huge country - a continent. * We are a country with enormous reserves of natural wealth. * We are an industrialised nation. * Therefore we are able to create millions of jobs for everyone - we have a very low unemployment rate. * We have and can afford a decent welfare system to assist the needy in our society. Since the beginning of Australia's immigration program, our governments have always been in control of who comes in to the country, how many people come, and which countries they come from, ensuring that manageable numbers from various ethnicities, different languages and many different religions that can integrate are allowed into the country. Australia has made sure that a sensible balance has always been maintained so that no one group could have unbridled political or cultural power to be a threat to the nation or to its Anglo-Saxon-Celtic structure, so that not one group could pose a threat to the lifestyle of its people. Savvas Grigoropoulos Victoria Wrong terminology I wish to make and really repeat a very significant point on terminology, that is the acronym CALD currently used and NESB earlier. They that now I might find a hotel or pension room. Previously all were fully occupied by those fortunate refugees with means. Instead, all rooms were taken by aid workers and their volunteer cadres. That night in the newly-opened café with the new Syrian menu, there were no Syrians, only a group of Europeans and Americans, partying until dawn. Gone was the desperation of victims in a daily struggle for existence, the travesty and humiliation displayed in huddles on every square metre of surface space. Replaced, it seems, by an aid workers’ jamboree. Boarding a ferryboat a few days later, I found the refugees again. There was the bus with darkened windows, reversing slowly onto the ferryboat, bordered by a perimeter of lightly armed police, donning surgical gloves. In the saloons and deckside were the families, with their children, bundles and blankets. Walking past one lounge I noticed policemen in the aisles, enclosing a section of darker young men. “We are taking them to Kavala, and there our duty ends …” The policeman from Mitylene's analysis continued: “Every day we have new orders.” The officer interrupted himself to address a 15 to 17-year-old youth, squirming to draw attention to his wrist, with some half-smiling and apologetic grimace of pain. The handcuff pressed a little deeply into his flesh, hoisted on the seat-rest between him and his fellow captive, to whom he was chained. On deck outside, four freely sitting Syrian youths were singing phrases of various popular Arabic songs, in celebration of departure to a land of better hopes. A northern American volunteer, laughing excitedly, began to ply them playfully with 'hellos', and 'what is your name' in rudimentary Arabic. Returning to the side of her Spanish and Scandinavian travel companions, she proclaimed valiantly how virtuously defiant she had been in resisting the Syrians' supposed propositions, saying “I won't be sleeping with a bunch of savages”. “What is the difference be- tween those handcuffed in here, and those gallivanting about on deck?” I asked the unarmed policeman inside. “These are the ones under our control,” came the answer, with a forgivenessseeking shrug, as if to say, the key to that Pandora's box had been thrown away. With aid budgets had come organisation, health checks, sanitation, free accommodation in camps, new orders daily, aid workers and volunteers, and … handcuffs. What crime did they commit? The armed policeman's answer: “They entered the country illegally.” Six months ago they were freely sheltered around the Statute of Liberty, and today in handcuffs? But you are a Greek ... “There are politicians in Europe that vote for certain laws ...” I stopped him and his growing discomfort there - no need to press on. Outside again, I heard one of the young volunteers enthusiastically explaining with imperfect English that they were being transferred from Mitylene to a northern town, bordering FYROM. “We are going to push down the fences and over the border.” For many months during 2015, Eleftheria proudly stood tall, sheltering the neglected and muddled mass of Middle-Eastern humanity encamped haphazardly everywhere around her. Today I saw her barren, and them once again, but with some in handcuffs. Eleftheria symbolically faces eastward at an ever-present threat since the times of Xerxes and Xanthos, but one begins to wonder if her back is covered from the threat emerging once again, from the opposite direction. A statue of stone, devoid of tears, which perhaps, when she was alive, filled the sea sloshing around today beneath her. are misnomers, bureaucratically created to hide ethnicity and perpetuates the ‘us’ and ‘them’ dichotomy and the ‘them’ not being in the mainstream, and therefore subject to all sorts of discrimination and occasionally taking some remedial measures. Email your letter to: email@example.com In the meantime, while Australia as a whole is diverse, multicultural and multilingual. Our ethnic backgrounds are different. In a generic sense the nonEnglish post-invasion/settlement background Aus- Have Your Say LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: Do you think Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos should resign over his ‘Macedonia’ blunder? 68% YES 32% NO THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Do you think that Orthodox and Catholic Easter should be celebrated on the same day? Yes/No Vote online now. Go to neoskosmos.com Published by Ethnic Publications Pty Ltd (ABN: 13005 255 087) of 169 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122. Printed by Rural Press Printing, Ballarat. 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Editor-in-chief: Sotiris Hatzimanolis Journalists: Christopher Gogos Nelly Skoufatoglou, Anastasia Tsirtsakis, Panos Apostolou, Nikos Fotakis, George Stogiannou Contributors: Dean Kalimniou, Michael Sweet, Theodora Maios, Billy Cotsis, Royo Lloyd Sub-editor: Angela Costanzo Graphic design: Peter Kelidis tralians are ethnic minorities of more than 100 ethnic backgrounds, recognised and known by their specific ethnic origin name, i.e. Greek Australians, Italo-Australians, Chinese Australians etc., not as CALDS. I know this matter needs a wider conversation and ultimately formal official policy change. we in the thick of things in this area, we should call ourselves by our real names, not artificial concoctions such as the basically assimilationist CALD. George Zangalis secretary - 3ZZZ- Ethnic Communities Radio Foundation member ECCV and FECCA Please note that the submission of a letter does not guarantee that it will be published. We reserve the right to edit your letter for clarity, grammar, spelling and style. Letters that use inappropriate language will not be published. All letters published will include the author’s name and location. Comments posted on Neos Kosmos’website, facebook and twitter pages can also be included for submission at the editors’ discretion and will be edited accordingly. With the ferry's departing wake, the surf's small breaking waves crashed frantically on boulders at her base, desperately splashing up, as if to revive her spirit, with the hopes and dreams of the drowned. * Royo Lloyd has written extensively on economics, politics and travel during a 35-year career in investment banking and economic development, in a lifetime spanning five continents, having spoken four languages.
19 March 2016
2 April 2016