Should the Greek islands be nominated for a Nobel?

Never in the history of the prize, it has been given to a geographical location

Yorva Tsiakara
Yorva Tsiakara - Special to Al Arabiya News
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The online campaigning group Avaaz, recently launched a petition inviting its members to vote that the Greek Islands receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their contributions aiding the refugee crisis.

As mentioned in the campaign, “the native populations of the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea (and many other external, worldwide, non-profit organizations and diaspora Greeks) have done and are doing anything possible to help the displaced Syrian refugees and make them as comfortable as possible, although they themselves have very little to offer, despite being subjected to a severe economic crisis for many years. They have shown their Christ-like behavior with acts of “filotimo”, love, respect and “filoxenia” to those who are total strangers to them! Their acts and sacrifices shall not go un-noticed, because they are significant contributors to World Peace and Stability, and are clear examples of love for others in the world to use and to learn from”!

Greece is currently in a humanitarian crisis within the economic crisis. The people of Greece are facing further years of economic hardship following a Eurozone agreement over the terms multiple bailouts. However, its people never lost their sense of “filotimo”, as it appears. Filotimo involves personal pride, dignity, courage, duty, sacrifice – even one’s life – and above all demands respect and deep personal freedom. “Filotimo to the Greek is like breathing. A Greek is not a Greek without it. He might as well not be alive”, as defined by Thales.

The Greek people are of course very familiar themselves with how upsetting the experience of a refugee can be. Back in 1922, the Greek refugees swarmed into Greece from Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), raising the population of the destitute nation by 25 percent to nearly five million people. There was little food and medicine. Men, women and children died of disease and starvation by the thousands. Homeless refugees slept in the streets of Piraeus, Athens and Thessaloniki. The country faced another similar crisis with the refugees from the Greek civil war back in 1940s.

Since the peak of the refugee crisis, back in the summer of 2015, local people of the islands of Lesvos, Chios, and others, exposed themselves to threads and possible legal action by helping newly arrived refugees. They were doing their best in tough circumstances to provide as warm a welcome as possible for the less fortunate new-comers. In most cases, disappointed by the local and international authorities and their inexistent contribution, they have taken things into their own hands, turning old scout camps into makeshift, volunteer-run migrant reception centers. Themselves, they would help with their transportation and provide them with food and clothes. Thousands of donations have been made for the refugees, until now.

The candidates eligible for the Nobel Peace prize are those nominated by qualified individuals. 75,000 signatures need to be gathered so that the peer pressure group, Avaaz, can act in a way to influence the Nobel Selection committee in order so that it can include Greek Island to the list of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. Until this moment, 55,900 people have signed in favor of the petition. The deadlines for submission are in February.

As of 2015, the Peace Prize has been awarded to 103 individuals and 23 organizations. Never in the history of the prize, it has been given to a geographical location. This nomination would be an exception among the big names of famous people and fancy organizations. This nomination is more about the automatic creation of a community, in times of need; more about the people of this specific group of islands, is more about recognizing and rewarding their compassion towards others.

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