International outcry at Gypsy expulsions

GENEVA (AFP) – An international anti-torture group yesterday accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of standing by while Gypsy communities in Greece have been expelled from their homes to make way for Olympic facilities. The Geneva-based World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) said the evictions and threats carried out since July 2000 were flagrant violations of international human rights conventions as well as of Greek law. «The IOC has so far remained silent, despite the solicitation of non-government organizations for intervention. This silence is unacceptable,» the group said. It warned that Greek authorities had ignored pleas from human rights groups as well as the Greek Human Rights Commission and the state ombudsman. No inquiry had been carried out regarding a first incident involving the bulldozing and burning of a Gypsy settlement, while police and the mayor of Aspropyrgos looked on, according to OMCT. In another incident, six houses nearby were demolished last September before the owners even had a chance to remove most of their belongings.

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