February 1, 2016
Tutu joins 230 Academics to nominate Greek islanders for Nobel Peace Prize
As nominations close for the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined over 628,000* citizens and over 230 academics from 111 universities in supporting the call for Greek islanders to be considered for this prestigious award.
Among the signers of this nomination, which global citizens movement Avaaz helped coordinate, was Nobel Laureate Economist Sir Christopher Pisaridis, Professor Margaret MacMillan from Oxford University as well as Professor Anthony Giddens from the London School of Economics.
The nominated “Aegean Solidarity Movement” includes over 16 groups* and individuals from 9 islands was submitted to the Nobel Prize committee on Sunday. The letter in support of their nomination, says “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II has been dealt with so far through the unprecedented, spontaneous mobilizations of ordinary, largely-anonymous people.” The Greek government has also announced a second Nobel nomination today including individuals such as Susan Sarandon.
In support of the campaign, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said:
“The manner in which ordinary residents of the Greek Islands rallied to provide for an estimated 900,000 refugees last year was quite extraordinary. Just imagine 900 000 visitors in desperate need arriving at the door of your reasonably modest establishment. Hungry, exhausted and in a state of acute emotional distress... They don't speak the same language as you or ascribe to the same cultural or religious beliefs. What do you do? You open the door. Incredible!”
The campaign (which can be seen here) was started by Alkmini Minadaki, an architect and Avaaz member from Crete which has since gone viral across the country making it the biggest ever online petition in Greek history. She said; “Across the islands everyone from fishermen, housewives, pensioners and teachers have opened their arms and homes for the refugees who have landed with nothing. Their actions have drowned out the fear and racism and reminded us that we’re one and united in our humanity.”
Of the 900,000 refugees who have arrived in Europe last year, over eighty per cent of refugees arriving in Europe come via boats to Greece and since last year, Avaaz members in Greece have been delivering aid to the islands and campaigning for Europe to open its borders.
Matina Katsiveli, Volunteer of the Leros Solidarity Network said: “The action of the islanders is proof that humanity is very much alive and there are healthy values in our societies. For us, the biggest prize is the smiles of the people that we help every day.”
The humane actions of the Greek islanders come in stark contrast to many EU leaders who have failed to adequately respond to the crisis and more recently the legislation in Denmark to collect personal items from refugees.
For the last 18 months, Avaaz members have played a significant role in helping refugees on the islands. A mission of Greek Avaaz volunteers delivered thousands of sleeping bags and hygiene kits to recently arrived refugees as well as helped rescue over 200 unaccompanied children arriving on the islands. This winter, hundreds of Avaaz members paid for refugee accommodation to be completed on Leros island which offered shelter to hundreds of people a day.
Sir Christopher Antoniou Pissarides, Nobel Laureate said:
"Innocent people are desperately seeking a way out of the hell of Syria to restart their lives, children are drowning in our seas and our political leaders are watching and still arguing about numbers, about fences, about registration documents and passports, about Dublin and Schengen."
*The groups that have been proposed in this nomination including:
Agia Ermioni Solidarity Network - Chios
Agkalia - Lesvos
Chorio Oloi Mazi - Lesvos
Community Kitchen “O Allos Anthropos” - Lesvos
Eidomeni Solidarity Group - Eidomeni
Kos Solidarity Network - Kos
Lathra - Chios
Leros Solidarity Network - Leros
Platanos Refugee Solidarity - Lesvos
Proodos Refugee Support Group - Kalymnos
Rhodes Solidarity Network - Rhodes
Solidarity Network of Crete - Crete
Samos Solidarity Network