Announcement about the victims of racist violence

Announcement about the victims of racist violence, November 11, 2012
Source: Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees Athens

Last weekend was marked by a series of new incidents of racist violence which has by now taken on dramatic dimensions.

In one of these incidents, in the area of Agios Panteleimonas, where racist violence threatens to turn into a pogrom, organised groups indiscriminately attacked migrants, their stores and their houses.

In another incident in Palaio Faliro, an unidentified group stabbed a passerby migrant sending him to hospital.

In the third and most chilling incident, a bakery owner in Salamina, together with his son and two more accomplices, tortured a migrant working in their bakery and abandoned him after chaining him to a tree.

What was the reaction of the State to these incidents?

In the first case, 12 persons were brought before the authorities. However, the police did not announce any subsequent arrests or pressing of charges.

In the second case, no perpetrator has been found.

In the third case, the owner-torturer was brought before a prosecutor, but released under restrictive conditions.

What happened to the victims?

In the first case, it has come to our knowledge that at least one merchant whose store was destroyed, was placed in detention with a view to deportation. In the second case, we were informed that the stabbed and hospitalised migrant was also placed in detention with a view to deportation. In the third case, the impoverished and humiliated victim is also in detention with a view to deportation.

It is provocative to say the least, when the victims of an ever-escalating violence which has grown to dangerous dimensions, are placed in detention in order to be deported, humiliated and ill-treated at the hands of a police that according to common experience discriminates against our foreign co-citizens, under conditions of detention that have long ago been characterised as inhuman by the most authoritative international bodies and organisations.

The recent announcements of the responsible Ministry about the establishment of special Sub-Directorates for the investigation of crimes of racist violence in the Police Directorates of Athens and Thessaloniki, by and large fail to provide adequate and satisfactory solutions to address a phenomenon that threatens democracy itself. The primary reason is that they leave out the most important dimension, namely to protect the victim of racist violence, who is the crucial witness in such cases, from immediate deportation. In this way, racist violence continues to remain unpunished and even unregistered, because of the unwillingness of the victims to report such incidents for fear of deportation.

Citizens have got to ask themselves where this escalating violence against fellow human beings will lead us and to react.

The financial crisis must not lead us to abolish the basic principles of social co-existence. We must not allow the austerity measures to further poison the respect for our fundamental rights and freedoms. Our society, a society under a multifaceted crisis, cannot reconstruct itself unless based on humanity and solidarity.

We demand justice. Justice premised on the rehabilitation of victims, on finding and holding to account all those who commit crimes, organised or spontaneous, of racist and fascist violence.

Athens, 11 November 2012