1. Abduction of a Kurdish refugee in Athens
An urgent press release issued on 31 May by services, collectives and NGOs working for refugee rights denounced that Kurdish asylum seeker Bulut Yayla was abducted in Exarchia. The press release states that Yayla was walking out of a Kurdish restaurant when he was confronted by five men who immobilized and beat him. They then gagged him and shoved him in a car before disappearing from the scene.
Lawyers and activists contacted relevant government services. The police denied it had any knowledge of the incident, depsite the fact that eyewitnesses had contacted them as early as 10:30pm.
A detailed description of the abduction, including the car’s license plate, was published by an eyewitness on the Indymedia Athens website. It was then proved that the licence plate belongs to a police vehicle. The police is still denying any implication in the incident, and the head of the police has ordered an investigation into the matter.
On 01 June, the “Expel Racism” organization revealed that Yayla was in police custody in Turkey. In a newspaper interview, lawyer Ioanna Kourtovik stated that the Turkish authorities were likely to seek to present the town of Edirne as the place where the arrest took place.
A member of the Solidarity committee for political prisonners in Turkey and Kurdistan reported that 6 Turkish nationals were abducted in a similar way in Greece since February 2013.
2. Naomi Klein in Greece
Canadian journalist and writer Naomi Klein spent a few days in Greece while conducting research for her new book. She participated in the B-fest autonomous festival during her trip and visited Skouries in Halkidiki, as well as the VioMe self-managed plant in Thessaloniki.
Following her visit, Naomi Klein stated that “Greeks are living through the Shock Doctrine”. She hailed the struggle of local residents of the Skouries area against a gold mining project lead by Canadian company Eldorado Gold and the VioMe experiment in self-management. She specifically said that, after a week in Skouries, she feels ashamed of being Canadian. She also said that her trip to Greece was amazing, “the most extraordinary people are resisting against the most barbaric policies.” She also promoted support for alternative media such as radiobubble, emphasizing that corporate media are complicit in government policies.
3. Ban on public rallies depending on their size
Minister of Public Order Nikos Dendias issued this week an unexpected presidential decree (rather than a law, which would require a majority of votes in parliament) to essentially ban demonstrations. The decree gives to the head of the police authority to decide if the size of a demonstration “perturbates” social and economic life or if it has a general negative impact on commercial and economic activities in a given town. The Minister signed the proposed decree on Thursday to amend the existing 1991 law on demonstration, and if, as expected, it is signed by the president of the Republic, small demonstrations will de facto be banned.
Accoring to the decree, demonstrations and rallies must be organized in such a way as not to block traffic, unless absolutely necessary. Furthermore, in cities with a population larger than 100,000, there will be special rules for “exceedingly small demonstrations.”
The Minister rushed to sign the amendment after a meeting with the mayor of Athens and representatives of the business and trade sectors, despite contrary advice from large labour unions and political parties on 28 May, to which he had said at the time that negotiations would continue.
4. Golden Dawn proposes a bill “to fight racism against Greeks.”
Greek politicians continue discussions about the need to reinforce laws against racism in a hot debate that has led to 4 bills against racism, no less, being submitted to parliament by different political parties.
On its side, neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn proposed on Tuesday its own version of the bill, which proposes harsher sanctions against undocumented migrants who commit crimes against Greeks. Golden Dawn thus intends to criminalize what they call “genocide against Greeks”.
This proposed bill “to fight racism against Greeks” is an answer to the bill proposed by Minister of Justice Antonis Roupakiotis, which, according to Golden dawn, would “make Greeks a minority in their own country.”
5. An exhibition by Greek photojournalists censored in the European Parliament
On Monday 03 June, the exhibition titled “News under persecution”, which is organized by the Greek Photojournalists’ Union, was due to be inaugurated in the European Parliament. The exhibition deals with police brutality during demonstrations in Greece, especially against photojournalists and cameramen who are there to cover the news. According to the Union’s press release, the exhibition was cancelled a few hours before the inauguration under the pretext that there was a bureaucratic problem.
The Union emphasized that the exhibition was under preparation for more than 6 months following an invitation by Euro MP Marilena Koppa from the Social-Democratic Party. The Union also appealed for support from journalists’ associations from around the world and from the International Federation of Journalists against this act of censorship by the European Parliament; they also noted that the exhibition will be presented in Brussels at the end of the month in the framework of another public event.
6. Discrimination against the LGBT community in Thessaloniki
Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki engaged in a discourse of hatred and obscurantism against the LGBT community ahead of the city’s second Gay Pride march. He qualified the event as “shameful, a provocation and a symptom of corruption.” He further indirectly threatened organizers by referring to violent clashes that took place in Georgia, where priests and a christian crowd attacked the Gay Pride
Meanwhile, the Transgender Support Association denounces the fact that, since 30 May, there are daily detentions of transgender people in Thessaloniki. The detentions are totally arbitrary and, according to the association, are conducted under the pretext of identity verification or control for prostitution. Detainees are usually held for 3 to 4 hours and report that police behaviour towards them is humiliating.
7. The Public Power Corporation’s Director of Communications threatens a social clinic
An incident that was revealed this week is revealing of the priorities of high-level officials in services that are still public.
A social clinic was founded in an Athens suburb a year and a half ago to support the unemployed and people living in poverty. A patient of this clinic, who has been unemployed for five years, had his power supply cut at home because he could not afford to pay his bills.
The clinic’s volunteers intervened with the PPC and campaigned on social media, succeeding to have power reconnected. However, the PPC’s Communications Director sent a threatening email to the clinic’s management, warning them that “if they continue using social media to force theur demands, which go beyond laws and ethical values, he would ask relevant authorities to investigate the activities of their organization.”