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Human rights defender refused entry into country

(GHM/IFEX) - On 2 May 2009, at the Greek-Albanian Kristallopigi (Florina) border crossing, 86-year old French citizen Jean (Iancu) Perifan was refused entry into Greece. He was given a refusal of entry note in Greek and Albanian (he speaks neither language) explaining that he was being refused entry because he was an "individual dangerous for national security".

Iancu Perifan is the Romania-born president of the Association of French Aromanians ( http://www.armanami.org/sutsati.php#F ). He has written on and advocated for Aromanians' rights in Greece and in other Balkan countries, without ever promoting violence, and has visited Greece in the past to participate in seminars on Greece's Vlachs (Aromanians). Perifan has done his advocacy through public statements, articles and lobbying in Strasbourg, and through the work of various Aromanian NGOs, including the association of which he is president.

The fact that he was now denied entry - at the age of 86 - because he is considered a danger to national security is another indication of the hardening of the Greek authorities' intolerant and often irrational stance towards minority rights and minority activists. The Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) is concerned that while Perifan was denied entry into Greece under the veil of "national security", the denial stems from the authorities' disapproval of his views and writings on minority rights and is therefore a violation of his right to free expression.

In the past, Macedonian and Turkish minority activists, originating from Greece but also citizens of other countries, have also been denied entry.

In a separate case, the GHM spokesperson continues to be the object of a criminal investigation for alleged treason because of his advocacy for Macedonian minority rights, and GHM the object of another investigation for the possible withdrawal of its legal rights. GHM's former president was fired from his role as communications advisor to the socialist leader for his views on the Macedonian minority.

In addition, an academic was recently defamed three weeks in a row by the country's largest selling weekly newspaper. Greek and the Greek-Cypriot judges were also the object of defamatory attacks by the same newspaper in the past.

Macedonian journalists have also repeatedly been harassed at the Greek-Macedonian border or inside Greece.

GHM calls on international free expression groups and human rights defenders to condemn the actions of a country that holds the current presidency of the OSCE.

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