In light of the increase in recent months of racially motivated violent attacks in Greece, The Racist Violence Recording Network presents figures on the violence and has examined some of the identifiable trends. Here are some of the key findings:
During the period January-September 2012, the Racist Violence Recording Network documented, after interviewing victims, 87 incidents of racist violence against refugees and migrants, of which 83 occurred in public spaces (squares, streets, public transport).
- The majority of these incidents concerns physical attacks against foreigners while the types of crimes are mainly severe bodily injury (in 50 cases) and assault (bodily injury, in 30 cases).
- 73 incidents occurred in Athens, and in particular in areas of the city centre such as Aghios Panteleimonas, Attica Square, America Square and other areas around Omonoia Square, while 5 incidents were recorded in Patras and 3 in the wider area of Piraeus.
- The victims who approached the members of the Network and were recorded consisted of 85 men and 2 women, in their majority 18 to 35 years of age, mainly from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, New Guinea, Pakistan and Somalia.
- In 84 out of 87 incidents the victims consider the fact of their being foreigners the reason for the attack; they believe they became targets either because of their colour or due to any other characteristic revealing the fact they were not natives (in the cases of attacks against women both victims believe they were targeted because they wore a hijab).
- As regards the perpetrators, and in accordance as always with the victims’ testimonies, they are believed to belong to extremist groups in 48 incidents. In many cases, the victims describe them as acting in an organised manner and in groups (in 85 out of 87 incidents there were more than one perpetrators involved), dressed in black and at times with military trousers, wearing helmets or having their faces covered, while the participation of minors is also recorded in some attacks. The majority of attacks occur after sunset.
- There is a distinct category of 15 incidents where police and racist violence are interlinked. These incidents concern duty officers who resort to illegal acts and violent practices while carrying out routine checks. There are also instances where people were brought to police stations, were detained and maltreated for a few hours, as well as cases where legal documents were destroyed during these operations.
The Racist Violence Recording Network found that whilst the results were alarming, worryingly they may represent only a fraction of the true sum of racist violence in Greece. It notes the fear and unwillingness amongst victims to come forward and the inability of organisations to provide effective protection for those affected as significant obstacles in ascertaining the true scale of racially motivated attacks.
Moreover, it is highly critical of the Greek state’s distinct lacking of an effectual response and points at how no perpetrator of a violent racist attack has been sentenced until today. Further problems arise from the apparent unwillingness of the Greek authorities to record and investigate cases thoroughly.