Indigenous, ethnic groups inlcuding Greeks unite against law changes

Source: SMH

George Brandis

Intends to consult ‘stakeholders and interested parties’ over changes to sections of the Racial Discrimination Act: Attorney-General George Brandis. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Tony Abbott is facing a fight against Australia’s indigenous, Jewish, Arab, Chinese, Greek, Armenian, Lebanese and Muslim populations, who have united in urging the government not to proceed with announced plans to abolish or weaken race hate laws.

As his first legislative act, Attorney-General George Brandis wants to introduce a bill to change sections of the Racial Discrimination Act that protect ethnic groups against hate speech. He especially dislikes provisions that make it unlawful to offend or insult people on the basis of their race.

Declaring himself a champion of ”freedom”, Senator Brandis has disparaged the laws used against Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt over an article he wrote in which he accused ”white” Australians of identifying as Aborigines to advance their careers.

The head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, said he could not recall ”any other issue on which there has been such unity of purpose and strength of feeling across such a diverse group of communities”.

Jewish leaders have combined in a rare joint protest with prominent ethnic and indigenous leaders.

”We have read with growing concern that the federal government has plans to remove or water down the protections against racial vilification,” reads the statement signed by the heads of groups including the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Arab Council Australia, Chinese Australian Forum, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Australian Hellenic Council, Lebanese Muslim Association and the Armenian National Council of Australia.

”We oppose absolutely any such change. Paradoxically for free speech advocates, racial vilification can have a silencing effect on those who are vilified.”

Senator Brandis has indicated he appreciates the growing backlash against his ”free speech” reforms. He sent Fairfax Media a statement in which he promised to consult with ”stakeholders and interested parties … before introducing the legislation”. ”One of my key priorities as Attorney-General is to rebalance the human rights debate in Australia,” he said.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said weakening the race hate laws would send a dangerous signal. ”There must be strong and effective legal protections against racial vilification,” he said.

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Owners of some 300 hotels in Greece are seeking investors in Russia to sell their units

Source: Ekathimerini

Hoteliers look for investors from Russia

The owners of some 300 hotels in Greece are seeking investors in Russia to sell their units, Nikos Angelopoulos, the honorary president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), revealed on Thursday.

Angelopoulos added that the hotel owners have already sent the relevant information to the Russian Embassy in Athens.

He was speaking at a round-table discussion on tourism development that took place at a Thessaloniki hotel, organized by the German-Greek Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Given the major difficulties hoteliers are facing, SETE President Andreas Andreadis will meet with top officials of banks and the Hellenic Bank Association in the coming days in a bid to find a solution to the cash flow problem in the tourism sector.

Thousands detained in Greek jails


Thousands of Pakistani youngsters remain stranded at detention facilities in Athens city of Greece after illegal border-crossings, said an FIA officer, citing 42 Pakistani deportees who touched down in Lahore on Thursday.
The deportees arrived by Qatar Airlines flight QR-620 at around 7:50 in the morning. It was the third flight within a week brining deportees back from Athens in large numbers.  Forty-four Pakistanis were deported on Wednesday and 31 on November 14 from Greece. The deportees were transported under International Organization of Migrants programme.
A 60-member Greek intelligence squad handed the deportees over to FIA Immigration Additional Director Basharat Shehzad and other authorities deputed at the Lahore airport.
The deportees tell the sad story of their peers trapped in Athens. There is nobody who could listen to these youngsters, they say.  According to a senior FIA official, all the deportees were released against personal surety and none was sent to Agency’s Anti-Human Trafficking Cell for further action. Only one of them possessed the genuine travel documents, added Ali Imam Zaidi, FIA Immigration assistant director. Ninety-five per cent of these deportees belonged to upper Punjab districts of Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Mandi Bahauddin, Lala Musa, Kharian and Jhelum, senior FIA official Abu Zar Sibtain told The Nation.
Another FIA official who wished anonymity raised the alarm that human trafficking was on the rise in the country, notably in upper Punjab. But, he added, the Agency could not act accordingly because of many influential persons and parliamentarians having stakes in this big business.  The official further said only cosmetic measures had been taken to curb human trafficking and that was the reason the real accused were operating freely unmindful of the bad name they were brining to the country.
The economy of Greece is already in a shambles due to which Pakistanis crossing into Greece in search of better future got trapped there. As per the laws, after being arrested and deported, a person is not supposed to be arrested or sent to jail in his homeland.
Interestingly, a former FIA Punjab director Waqar Haider had chalked out a strategy about sending deportees from airport to FIA provincial headquarters just for fame. His blue-eyed inspector Chaudhry Hanif would then mint money from them by hook or by crook. Each deportee had to pay Rs25,000 to Rs30,000 to secure his release.
Nevertheless, everything has changed now. Incumbent FIA Punjab Director Qudratullah Marwat has ordered to release every deportee from the airport. It may be noted here that most of the deportees were between 22 and 30 years of age. They had paid a huge sum of money to get out but put their lives at risk instead.
Reports say each deportee would pay around Rs0.5 million to Rs0.7 million to human smugglers for his entry to Greece.
An FIA officer said human traffickers used illegal route of Iran via Balochistan, and then from Iran to Turkey and into Greece. They make their entry through illegal border-crossings where, sometimes, border police open fire on them and some of them lose their lives too.
Sometimes these deportees are kidnapped by their own Pakistani people after reaching Greece. As per reports, Pakistanis already present in Greece and those who are jobless have started abducting their own countrymen for ransom.
These criminals trap newcomers. They lure them with providing of good jobs but after transporting them to undisclosed locations they torture them. They make telephone calls to their families in Pakistan and demand ransom from them.

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