GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)
Address: P.O. Box 60820, GR-15304 Glyka Nera
Telephone: (+30) 2103472259 Fax: (+30) 2106018760
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5 March 2009
Greece: Armed groups silencing critics
Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) disseminates three recent texts on armed attacks and threats of
attacks in Greece against journalists, NGOs, academics, union activists, media, and bookstores of
all ideological persuasions. One is a feature prepared by the International Freedom of Expression
Exchange (IFEX) whose only Greek member is GHM and includes a GHM statement. The second
one is an International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) statement distributed by IFEX on an
armed attack against the daily “Apogevmatini.” The third one is a South East Europe Media
Organisation (SEEMO) statement on the attacks against “Apogevmatini” and “Alter TV.”
The attacks “are presumably carried out by persons or groups who in this way express their
'’disagreement’ with the views expressed by the victims of their attacks and obviously aim at
intimidating them hoping that they may be silenced,” said GHM. “The failure of police to arrest
even one perpetrator, as well as the lukewarm condemnation of such acts, encourages those who
carry out such attacks as they believe that they can act with impunity. It is feared that the alarming
escalation, if unchecked, may soon produce injuries or loss of lives,” GHM added.
One particularly vicious attack that fortunately did not cause any casualties and had not been
previously denounced internationally was carried out on 24 February 2009. A hand grenade was
thrown at a facility of an immigrant support network in Athens, causing material damage and no
injuries to the building. A bar and a nearby building also suffered damage. The assailants fled and
no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Eye witnesses managed to take down the
number plate of the attackers’ car. The police say that the number plate is unlisted.
The Social and Political Rights Network, headed by leftist activists, is a well-known meeting
place for various immigrant groups in Athens. The immigrants’ community center, Steki
Metanaston (Immigrant Hangout) was crowded at the time of the attack as there was a meeting of
The victims of the attack believe that it was carried out by neo-Nazis “celebrating” on that day the
anniversary of the foundation of Germany's Nazi party NSDAP on 24 February 1920, as they had
previously “announced” in various blogs attacks against leftists (see related story at
http://www.tvxs.gr/v6177 with a reprint of the neo-Nazis' related banner for the day).
GREECE: ARMED GROUPS SILENCING CRITICS
4 March 2009
Armed groups in Greece are resorting to attacking media houses, non-governmental organisations
and reporters themselves to silence them, report the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), the South East
Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) - an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), and the
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The latest victim was the media house of the historical daily "Apogevmatini" in Athens, which was
stormed by masked men carrying iron bars and throwing stones on 26 February, reports IFJ. The
building was extensively damaged.
"Journalism is coming under sustained violent attack," said IFJ. "It is time for the authorities to act
to provide protection for media and their staff and to crackdown on those who are trying to
intimidate media by acts of wanton violence."
A couple of days earlier on 24 February, a hand grenade was thrown at a facility of an immigrant
support network in Athens, causing material damage but no injuries, says GHM. The Social and
Political Rights Network, headed by leftist activists, is a well-known meeting place for various
immigrant groups in Athens. The victims of the attack believe that it was carried out by neo-Nazis
celebrating the anniversary of the founding of Germany's Nazi party NSDAP on 24 February 1920.
On 17 February, Alter TV, a private television station in Athens, was targeted by armed men who
forced their way into the station and fired shots and exploded devices shortly before the main news
broadcast, report SEEMO and IFJ. They were thought to be members of Sekta Epanastaton, a
recently established extremist group in Greece.
A week prior to the attack, a letter sent to the daily newspaper Ta Nea threatened to kill well-known
journalists working for the country's largest TV stations, such as Alter TV. Police have yet to
release an official statement about the identity of those believed to be behind the shooting.
Not only are media houses being targeted, so are the journalists themselves. According to SEEMO,
Abdulhalim Dede was assaulted by an unknown man on 19 February while he was on-air in
Komotini, Greece, during the morning programme "Kalimera Ellada", broadcast by Athens-based
Dede, publisher and director of the newspaper "Trakyanin Sesi" and owner of the radio station ISIK
FM in Komotini, is known for his promotion of the rights of the Turkish-speaking population in the
region, and has been targeted for it over the years. The assault left him hospitalised for several days.
The IFEX members condemned the attacks and are urging the authorities to take active steps to
protect journalists and the right to free expression.
The attacks "are presumably carried out by persons or groups who in this way express their
'disagreement' with the views expressed by the victims of their attacks and obviously aim at
intimidating them hoping that they may be silenced," said GHM.
"The failure of police to arrest even one perpetrator, as well as the lukewarm condemnation of such
acts, encourages those who carry out such attacks as they believe that they can act with impunity. It
is feared that the alarming escalation, if unchecked, may soon produce injuries or loss of lives,"
Visit this link:
- IFEX Greece page: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/199/
Greece: Offices of "Apogevmatini" newspaper attacked by gang of masked men
Date: 02 March 2009
Source: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Type(s) of violation(s): raided
(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 27 February 2009 IFJ media release:
IFJ Calls For Action After New Armed Raid on Greek Media
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Greek authorities to take urgent
action to protect media houses after a new violent attack in Athens, this time targeting the historical
daily Apogevmatini. A gang of masked men carrying iron bars and throwing stones caused havoc
after storming the editorial offices last night.
Extensive damage was caused in the building where journalists were working and the Journalists'
Union of Athens Daily Newspapers condemned the raid, the second on a media house in a matter of
days, as a new attack on press freedom.
"Journalism is coming under sustained violent attack," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It
is time for the authorities to act to provide protection for media and their staff and to crackdown on
those who are trying to intimidate media by acts of wanton violence."
Last week the IFJ and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemned
a similar attack on Alter TV, a private television station in Athens involving armed men who used
force to gain entry into the station. In that case, the intruders fired shots and exploded devices
shortly before the main news broadcast. They were thought to be members of Sekta Epanastaton, an
extremist group in Greece.
"Unless firm action is taken, this form of intimidation will be taken up by others," said White.
"Greek journalists have a right to demand that the authorities come to their assistance and we
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.
For Further Information on the Alter TV case, see:
For further information, contact the IFJ, International Press Centre, Residence Palace, Block C, 155
Rue de la Loi, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium, tel: +322 235 2200 / 2207, fax: +322 235 2219, e-mail:
email@example.com, Internet: http://www.ifj.org/
SEEMO/IPI PRESS RELEASE GREECE
Vienna, 5 March 2009
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors,
media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the
International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned about the continuous attacks on the media in
According to information received by SEEMO, during the evening of 26 February 2009 the offices
of the Athens-based newspaper Apogevmatini were attacked by a group of masked men throwing
rocks and wielding iron. Damage was caused to the premises of the newspaper and to several cars
parked outside the building.
Less than two weeks ago, four armed men fired shots and threw a suspected explosive device
outside the central offices of TV Alter in Athens.
SEEMO notes with concern this trend of attacks against journalists in Greece. It calls on the
authorities to demonstrate their commitment to the protection of journalists, and press freedom in
general, by taking all steps possible to counter these disturbing developments.
“The media functions as an important pillar of democracy in society by providing information in
the interest of the public, said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General, SEEMO calls for the
maintenance of a safe working environment for journalists and media outlets in Greece. Any attacks
against journalists must be fully investigated and carry consequences.”