© UNHCR/Vasileios Ntanovasilis
Athens, 28.3.2018- Racist violence and hate crime continue to plague Greece, with more than 100 incidents reported last year by 42 organisations in the country, according to the 2017 annual report of the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN).
From January-December, the RVRN documented, through interviews with victims, 102 incidents of racist violence, with more than 120 victims. In 34 incidents, the victims were migrants or refugees who were allegedly targeted on grounds of ethnic origin, religion, colour and/or gender identity. In 7 incidents, the victims were human rights defenders and employees of organisations offering refugee support services.
In 47 incidents, the victims were LGBTQI people. In 11 incidents, sacred or symbolic places and the Jewish community were targeted, whereas in two incidents, the victims were Greek citizens, targeted on grounds of their religious beliefs. In one incident, the victim was a male member of the Roma community. In 37 incidents, more than one victim was targeted, whereas in 55 incidents the assault was committed by two or more people.
The RVRN analysed the coexistence of opposing trends in Greek society. On the one hand, the presence of groups with xenophobic ideologies and acts of organized violence against organizations of refugees, immigrants, LGBTQI and their defenders was strengthened. On the other hand, the authorities have developed clearer and faster responses. The Network called on the government to intensify its efforts to protect people against racist, homophobic and transphobic violence. The findings were presented by the RVRN Assistant Coordinator, Tina Stavrinaki.
Μotivation of the attack for the 102 incidents of racist violence that were recorded in 2017 by RVRN through interviews with victims.
Dimitris Melidis, representing the Minister of Justice, praised the reliability of the RVRN data, while noting that the State is vigilant about instances of racism.
General Secretary for Transparency and Human Rights Maria Yannakaki stressed that combatting racism, racist violence and hate speech is a priority of the General Secretariat. She emphasized the importance of establishing cooperation between civil society actors within the National Council against Racism and Intolerance and she presented the ministry’s initiatives in this area.
The president of the National Commission for Human Rights, George Stavropoulos, praised the achievements of the RVRN. He welcomed the faster government response against racist crime and stressed the need to widen the training of police and judicial authorities to combat stereotypes. He stressed the importance of the experiences shared by members of vulnerable groups so that every person is informed about the real situation in Greek society.
Police Officer Dimosthenis Katsiavaras, representing the State Security Division, Department of Social Issues and Counter Racism, presented police data on 184 incidents of hate speech allegedly involving racist motives, in which the police conducted preliminary investigations either ex officio or following a complaint, or on the basis of instructions by the prosecution authorities ordering a preliminary investigation.
Stella Nanou, UNHCR’s Assistant Comm/Public Information Officer, highlighted the institutional improvements to which the Network has contributed through the documentation of racist violence. She stressed the importance that UNHCR attaches to actions and alliances that promote tolerance, sensitize and inform public opinion and mobilize the state authorities against any form of racism. She presented UNHCR actions to promote an inclusive school and she analyzed the role and initiatives of media in curbing expressions of racism and false news.
Taher Alizadeh, president of the Community of Afghan Migrants and Refugees in Greece, spoke about the attacks against their offices since 2011 and reported incidents of racist attitudes. However, he stressed the community’s commitment to being integrated in Greek society by presenting the actions of information and support of the members of the community in this direction. He finally called for a peaceful protest next Friday, at their offices.
Nikoleta Kyrana, representative of Arsis, outlined the difficulties faced by humanitarian staff in their work, as well as the difficulties of reporting incidents against them due to the supplementary pressure they cause. She called on the authorities to adopt legislative measures on the protection of people working in humanitarian organizations.
Thanasis Theofilopoulos, representative of the Colour Youth – LGBTQ Youth Community of Athens, spoke about incidents whose “revelation” put the safety of victim and their families at risk He urged measures to be taken by the authorities and trade unions to help LGBTQI persons speak out more easily and get the support they need.
Interventions were also made by Giannis Ioannidis, representative of the Hellenic League for Human Rights and Dina Vardaramatou, representative of PRAKSIS.