Date: Mon, 6 Apr 98 10:43:27 CDT
From: Panayote Elias Dimitras <email@example.com>
Subject: Albanophobia reigns supreme in Greece
The cooperating organizations Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority Rights Group—Greece denounce the increasing wave of Albanophobia that has been reigning, in recent days, in the Greek mass media and culminated with the racist front page of the newspaper “Avriani” (12/3), which asks from the government in a provocative way to start deporting Albanians. The specific report tries to feed the lowest instincts of the citizens, since it emphasizes that “the psychosis of Greeks is totally justified”.
This unacceptable generalization that presents Albanians as persons who “steal”, “murder”, and “spread terror all over Greece” is an ingredient element of the News on TV, especially in private stations. Our organizations point out that this propaganda against Albanians, led by TV channels and newspapers, not only brings up an undisguised racism, but also does not correspond to the reality, since, just a few days ago, a reliable research of the Criminology Section of the Panteion University (”Eleftherotypia on Sunday,” 8/3) leads to the conclusion that, for instance, 70% of robberies concerning taxi drivers (which are, in an irresponsible way, attributed to Albanians by mass media) are committed by Greeks.
Whenever such a campaign of disinformation arises, the Greek government does not inform fully the citizens for the real situation, nor the exaltations of Albanophobia or, in general, xenophobia are denounced with the required vitality. On the contrary, unfortunately, the denouncements of the Prime Minister of Albanophobia of mass media (and, also, of the antisemitism of the N.D. deputy G. Karatzaferis, and of the unacceptable use of violence by police against Roma) were removed from the officially published text of the Prime Minister's speech, one year ago, during the opening of the European Year against Racism.
Consequently, it seems that this year's “Paneuropean Week of Action against Racism”, which starts today, finds the political leadership unwilling to help prevent citizens from being influence by this new, outrageous and poisonous climate of hysteria. Therefore, the official ceremony of 12/3 in Athens, with the participation of top state officials, on the presentation of the first, large modern Albanian—Greek Dictionary are an obvious hypocrisy.
The cooperating organizations Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority Rights Group—Greece denounce the unconstitutional and extremely racist act of the president of the village “Palio Keramidi” of Pieria Vassilis Kourkontas to forbid the circulation of all Albanian residents after sunset. The arbitrary substitution of a democratic state of law by local authorities consists a very serious blow against Democracy itself. Such deviations from the democratic system of government should result in an immediate intervention of the competent authorities.
There is no doubt that the responsibility of, mostly, private mass media is huge, since, recently, they have persistently and methodically cultivated a climate of panic and hysteria, which incites many persons to unacceptable activities. Furthermore, one could inductively refer to the action of a Ku-Klux-Klan styled group against innocent Albanians in Ikaria, which is really a shame, and to the creation of a xenophobic “Committee of Robbed Victims”, consisting of people with a very clear extreme right-wing mentality. All the above incidents show that cruel racism has already become a slow bomb in the foundations of the unprepared Greek society.
In this context, our organizations think that the beginning of a preliminary examination, by the District Attorney, concerning the incident of Pieria, is a positive step, and they hope that this process will be continued without any obstacles, since it is obvious that the president of the commune committed the crime of “abuse of power”. Moreover, the verbal condemnation of this act by the government spokesperson, by the General Secretary of Public Order and by the competent Prefect is considered to be encouraging. However, a continuous vigilance of the government is required, so that these phenomena that amount to undisguised fascist terrorism could be fought off.
Consequently, we remind everyone that Article 5, par. 2, of the Greek Constitution, guaranteeing, in a clear way, complete protection of the freedom of “all those who live in the Greek territory, regardless of race, sex, color or religion”. Finally, our organizations address an appeal for a mobilization of the whole society, because the cases of racism have already started to be a real danger and to threaten fundamental human rights.