Wall in Athens. Photo: Gerasimos Domenikos / FOS PHOTOS

In 2018, The Recorded Racist Violence In Greece Was Increased

Refugees and migrants were targeted for one more year. The findings of the Racist Violence Recording Network are worrying.

During the period January-December 2018, the Racist Violence Recording Network documented, through interviews with victims, 117 incidents of racist violence, with more than 130 victims. In 74 incidents the victims were migrants or refugees on grounds of ethnic origin, religion, colour, associations of third country nationals, human rights defenders due to their connection with refugees and migrants, as well as a memorial to the victims of shipwrecks. In 6 incidents, Greek citizens were targeted due to their colour, foreign or ethnic origin (members of the Roma community).

During the period January-December 2017, 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 2018, the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) recorded an increase in incidents of racist violence, especially against refugees and migrants. This increase is linked to the political polarization at a global level regarding the reception of refugees and migrants, coupled with national and local factors shaping the situation in Greece. The reinforced presence of the far-right parties in Europe encourages the violent xenophobic groups that claim an increasing proportion of the public sphere. In view of the European elections, the more space is occupied by the far-right agenda and euro-scepticism, the more the far-right, neo-Nazi and extreme nationalist groups across Europe gain further strength and form alliances with each other or even compete in committing racist attacks.

Comic Strip by Dimitra Nikolaidi for ValtousX

Here are the key-findings, based on the RVRN recordings, for 2018:

1. The support base for violent acts against refugees and migrants is expanding. The RVRN recorded incidents showing signs of organized attacks, or committed by organized groups. These groups proudly state that they are infused with extreme xenophobic ideologies, they adopt the relevant vocabulary and practices and believe that they are on a mission against the non-Greeks. In addition, the RVRN has recorded aggressions against asylum-seekers in other aspects of everyday life within the city. There are two trends: incidents involving families of refugees and unaccompanied minors when using public transportation and incidents where the perpetrators are either neighbours or the landlords in whose properties the refugees reside.

2. The RVRN has recorded criminal offences against persons who have Greek citizenship and are not targeted as migrants or refugees, but as “less” Greeks, due to their national or ethnic origin or colour.

3. The recordings of attacks on LGBTQI+ people are decreased, raising concerns about the low number of complaints across Europe. Besides, the position expressed since 2016, that the recording and reporting are linked to the provision of support services to the victims, seems to be confirmed.

4. The number of anti-Semitic incidents remains stable. The RVRN is aware of the many faces of anti- Semitism in Greece, which, as in other countries, is not limited to desecrations and vandalisms by groups, but it also penetrates large parts of the population and is reflected in everyday talks. For that, RVRN remains vigilant, acknowledging the need to form more alliances with the community.

5. A significant increase is recorded in incidents where law enforcement officials are either the perpetrators or just involved. In the vast majority of these incidents, the victims reported that they sustained physical violence in public spaces or inside police stations in Athens. Incidents involving civil servants, bear witness of the lack of tolerance to diversity, as well as the development of a culture of harassment, especially against LGBTQI+ people. Additionally, it is noted that when it comes to transgender individuals, the process of legal recognition of gender identity entails risks, because the need for privacy and non-exposure to further targeting has not yet been well acknowledged in practice.

A significant number of the assaults resulted in personal injuries and other serious offences. Among the recorded incidents, there was 1 rape, 62 incidents of personal injuries or injuries along with verbal abuse and threats, thefts and other property damages, 1 arson, 1 theft, 35 incidents involving threats, verbal abuse, factual insult, 10 incidents of desecration, 6 incidents of verbal or other types of harassment, 1 incident of damage to third party property along with threats.

Cooperation between civil society and the police on the combat against racist crime has been viewed as successful, since, besides supporting the victim, it also allows some shortcomings on the part of the police to be rectified.

Pakistani immigrants prayed in Omonia Square, down town Athens, for Mohammed Nadim, the Pakistani immigrant who was found dead on Friday February 13 at the detention centre in the Amygdaleza suburb of Athens. On Monday February 16, 2015 Photo: Panagiotis Tzamaros / FOS PHOTOS

Recording of incidents and response by the Police and the authorities response.

According to the information communicated to the RVRN by the Hellenic Police, from 01.01.2018 until 31.12.2018 the competent agencies of the Hellenic Police Force recorded a total of 226 incidents, potentially involving racist motives, 63 of which were related to hate speech. Out of the 226 incidents, in 170 the police authorities took charge and conducted preliminary investigations either ex officio or following a complaint, whereas in the remaining 56 incidents the police authorities took charge on the basis of instructions by the prosecution authorities ordering a preliminary investigation.

It is therefore clear that more incidents against refugees and immigrants were reported to the police. However, the lack of trust in the authorities is recorded within the group of asylum-seekers as well.

Τhe cooperation between civil society and the police on the combat against racist crime has been viewed as successful, since, besides supporting the victim, it also allows some shortcomings on the part of the police to be rectified.

The Racist Violence Recording Network is an initiative of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Office in Greece (UNHCR). It is an umbrella network and its members are Non-Governmental Organisations as well as other entities offering legal, medical, social or any other support services that come into contact with victims of racist attacks. For any other information concerning the Racist Violence Recording Network you can contact 210 7233216 or racistviolence@nchr.gr

Read the full report. [Link]

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