Islanders take stand on beach occupations

In absence of the state, local residents decide to take on all forms of arbitrariness at seaside

Islanders take stand on beach occupations

The examples of the islands of Rhodes and Paros, where citizens have risen up against unlawful beach occupation, are rapidly being replicated.

In many parts of Greece, citizens are organizing and seeking ways to get assistance from the central state, as they feel useless at the local level.

The most recent example is Naxos, where a first record of illegalities was created within a few days and a file is being prepared to be forwarded to the prosecution. In other words, citizens are taking the place of absent regulatory authorities.

Rhodes made a start in June with the formation of the Umbrella network by locals who sought to publicize the numerous illegalities on the island’s beaches. The network held a news conference and announced a campaign to increase awareness.


Paros came next, with the Paros Citizens’ Movement going even further, photographing the area occupied by umbrellas on the island’s beaches last summer in order to contrast the decisions to lease the seaside. The movement organized two consecutive Sunday demonstrations, urging people to swim at illegally occupied beaches.

“On the first Sunday, July 23, in the heat of the day, 250 people gathered on the small Santa Maria beach, an emblematic case as the beach has been occupied without permission,” says Damianos Gavalas, a member of the movement. “Last Sunday we went to Marcello and Krios beaches. We gathered 400 people of all ages. We handed out leaflets to the bathers, we informed them about the illegalities of the beach bars, that they don’t pay a single euro to the state. We have now asked for an extraordinary city council meeting to be called on the matter; we want the next protest to be held in the municipality,” he stressed.

On July 16, a resident of Naxos, Marcella Hensley, decided to create a Facebook group called the “Save Naxos Beaches” movement.

“I contacted her, as well as several others, we met and looked for a way to act, having the example of Paros in front of us,” says Eleni Andrianopoulou, a member of the movement. “Within a few days the group gathered more than 3,500 members. We drafted an open letter, signed by more than 1,500 people, which we will send to the prosecutor and the authorities,” she added. 

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