|Bishoy, a 25-year-old Egyptian asylum seeker, at an anti-racist demonstration in the southern Athens suburb of Kallithea, where he was a victim in one of two separate racist attacks in May 2012 that left four migrants injured.|
Forget just for a moment about austerity and left wing, anarchist, and labor marches in Greece for just a moment. Forget about the election results and new governments and all that for just a moment. Focus instead on the rising tide of racist and fascist violence (and the lack of any action against it from the State) overwhelming Greece today. Migrant workers are being targetted for attack, vicsous pogroms, and it has to be confronted head on.
Want to read something scary and disgusting. How about this from the NY Times:
A week after an extremist right-wing party gained an electoral foothold in Greece’s Parliament earlier this summer, 50 of its members riding motorbikes and armed with heavy wooden poles roared through Nikaia, a gritty suburb west of here, to telegraph their new power.
As townspeople watched, several of them said in interviews, the men careened around the main square, some brandishing shields emblazoned with stylized swastikas, and delivered an ultimatum to immigrants whose businesses have catered to Nikaia’s Greeks for nearly a decade.
“They said: ‘You’re the cause of Greece’s problems. You have seven days to close or we’ll burn your shop — and we’ll burn you,’ ” said Mohammed Irfan, a legal Pakistani immigrant who owns a hair salon and two other stores. When he called the police for help, he said, the officer who answered said they did not have time to come to the aid of immigrants like him.
Doctors and nurses in hospital emergency rooms confirm the seriousness of what is happening. “During every shift we treat six or more cases of beatings of foreigners,” an unnamed surgeon at Evangelismos Hospital told media representatives, adding that most victims were treated for bruises, abrasions and knife wounds.
The Greek police are doing nothing to oppose the wave of racist and downright fascist violence which is sweeping Greece.
Ekathimerini reports that last Thursday night immigrant shopkeepers demonstrators from the Pakistani community, leftists and anti-racists groups joined together to demonstrate against the rising attacks against immigrants . Following their really they marched to the local police precinct station and charged the police with cooperating with Golden Dawn's thugs by covering up their racist attacks.
Amazingly, perhaps,the former head of the police officers' union seems to agree. The former head of the Panhellenic Confederation of Police Officers (POASY), Dimitris Kyriazidis, is the first with experience of the force to make a clear accusation against the police with respect to its handling of cases involving Golden Dawn, writes Ekathinmerini.
“The police leadership has to take immediate measures against incidents of vigilantism, which are taking place across the country with immigrants as the target,.The heads of the police cannot turn a blind eye to far-right groups that are affiliated to Chrysi Avgi and which are rampaging through the country.”
“The crime of vigilantism, such as that carried out by groups who want to replace law enforcement, should be treated separately and carry tougher sentences.”
Good luck with that.
On Monday night a group of nazi thugs from Golden Dawn gathered in a cafe in the city of Agrinion in Westen Greece. What happened next has to happen every time these storm troopers come together. The blog From the Greek Streets tells us a group of anti-fascists found out about the meeting and stormed the cafe. The nazis fled in terror. Hooray!
The post below from Human Rights Watch is appearing today all over the net and all over the media. Usually, I avoid things that everyone else is reporting, but not this time. This news has to get around everywhere.
New Government Should Act to Prevent, Punish Xenophobic Attacks
The 99-page report, “Hate on the Streets: Xenophobic Violence in Greece,” documents the failure of the police and the judiciary to prevent and punish rising attacks on migrants. Despite clear patterns to the violence and evidence that it is increasing, the police have failed to respond effectively to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account, Human Rights Watch found. Authorities have yet to develop a preventive policing strategy, while victims are discouraged from filing official complaints. No one has been convicted under Greece ’s 2008 hate crime statute.
“People coming from war zones are scared to go out at night in Athens for fear of being attacked,” said Judith Sunderland , senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The economic crisis and migration cannot excuse Greece’s failure to tackle violence that is tearing at its social fabric.”
In a country suffering a deep economic crisis, and after years of mismanaged migration and asylum policies, gangs of Greeks attack migrants and asylum seekers in central Athens and elsewhere in the country with frightening regularity, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 59 people who experienced or escaped a xenophobic incident, including 51 serious attacks, between August 2009 and May 2012. Victims of serious attacks included migrants and asylum seekers of nine nationalities and two pregnant women.
At least seven serious attacks in Athens and the island of Crete have been reported in the media since May alone. But untold numbers of attacks never make it into the news, Human Rights Watch found, including the case of Sahel Ibrahim, a 26-year-old Somali who served as a translator for Human Rights Watch.
Ibrahim was attacked on June 22 in Aghios Panteleimonas, a central Athens neighborhood where many assaults take place. He was chased down the street by five men he believes were in their early 20s and beaten with a heavy piece of wood. His hand was broken as he tried to protect his head during the attack.
Ibrahim says he would recognize his assailants, but he is fearful of going to the police because he is an undocumented migrant and does not believe it would do any good. “I don’t believe they [the police] can help me,” Ibrahim said. “They know the situation, they know all the problems. Why are they still sitting [around]? We need some rules. We need big steps. This country needs it, this country deserves it.”
Human Rights Watch called on the new government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to take immediate steps to counter xenophobic violence, including:
- Showing leadership by publicly condemning xenophobic violence and indicating that there will be zero tolerance for vigilante violence against migrants;
- Deploying adequate police officers to known hot spots to prevent attacks and to arrest attackers in the act;
- Improving the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes by police and prosecutors through training, better guidelines, and a centralized police database;
- Ensuring that undocumented migrants never face the threat of detention or deportation for reporting a hate crime.
The European Union has an important role to play, Human Rights Watch said. EU institutions should closely analyze the phenomenon of xenophobic violence in Greece, and offer concrete assistance to Greek authorities, including financial and technical assistance, to help them address the problem.
A number of arrests in connection with recent attacks, including of alleged members of the far-right-wing party Golden Dawn, are a positive exception to the general rule of police inaction, Human Rights Watch said. Although police were instructed in a 2006 ministerial circular to pay special attention to racist crimes, victims consistently told Human Rights Watch that the police discouraged them from filing complaints.
Human Rights Watch found that some undocumented migrants who tried to report attacks were told by police they would be detained if they persisted in trying to have a criminal investigation opened. Told that an investigation would be pointless if they could not positively identify the attackers, encouraged to accept a simple apology, or told to fight back themselves, many victims of xenophobic attacks simply give up on seeking justice, Human Rights Watch found.
Those who persist are told they must pay a €100 feeto file an official complaint. Greece introduced this fee in late 2010 to discourage frivolous complaints. This fee should never be levied on those who report hate crimes, Human Rights Watch said.
No one has been convicted of a racist attack under a 2008 provision defining racist motivation as an aggravating circumstance in the commission of a crime. A landmark trial of two men and one woman for the stabbing of an Afghan asylum seeker, Ali Rahimi, began in September 2011. It has been postponed six times, and it is still unclear whether, at its next hearing, scheduled for September 2012, the prosecutor will push for the highest possible sentence because of racist motivation. The woman defendant ran unsuccessfully for office in the recent national elections on the Golden Dawn ticket.
Since the early 2000s, Greece has become the major gateway into the European Union for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers from Asia and Africa. Years of mismanaged migration and asylum policies and, more recently, the deep economic crisis, have changed the demographics of the capital city. The center of Athens, in particular, has a large population of foreigners living in extreme poverty, occupying abandoned buildings, town squares, and parks. Concerns about rising crime and urban degradation have become a dominant feature of everyday conversations as well as political discourse.
Although no known police analysis or court ruling has linked the citizens’ groups or Golden Dawn with groups carrying out violent attacks on migrants and asylum seekers, there is some evidence to suggest that the attackers are members of or associated with these groups. This evidence includes the affiliation of the defendant in the Rahimi case and the arrest of Golden Dawn members on suspicion of involvement in several attacks.
Government statistics on hate crimes are wholly unreliable, Human Rights Watch said. In the entire country, the Greek government reported just two hate crimes in 2009, and only one in 2008. In May, however, Human Rights Watch was told by a Greek official that nine cases in Athens from 2011 were under investigation as possible hate crimes. Non-governmental organizations and media reports help to provide a fuller picture. A monitoring network of nongovernmental organizations coordinated by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the independent National Commission for Human Rights recorded 63 incidents between October and December 2011 in Athens and Patras.
“Attacks on migrants and asylum seekers are intended to send a message: you are not wanted here, go away,” Sunderland said. “To stop this violence, the state needs to send an equally powerful message: xenophobic violence has no place in a democratic society, and you will be punished.”