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article imageOp-Ed: Amnesty calls on Greece to end racist attacks

By Katerina Nikolas     Aug 16, 2012 in World
Amnesty International has called for Greece to do more to end racist and xenophobic attacks. However, the human rights organization fails to point out many of the "racist" attacks are committed by foreign criminal gangs settling scores amongst themselves.
There are daily reports of attacks against migrants in Greece, reports that assume those attacked are the victims of racist and xenophobic attacks by Greeks. The murder of a Tunisian immigrant at the weekend was referred to in the press as an example of racist violence. However, according to police, the offenders are two Tunisian compatriots.
On Wednesday the bodies of two Polish immigrants were discovered, one left in the garbage. Once again the murders were cited as an example of Greek hatred of foreigners. Ekathimerini now reports that police have arrested a fellow Pole in connection with the double murders.
The murder of an Iraqi immigrant at the weekend is reported as racist crime. In this case there is nothing to link the murder with fellow immigrants thus it 'must be racist' as the perpetrators are still at large.
Amnesty International says"Greek authorities must prioritize and build up the confidence of minorities and foreign nationals" whilst failing to report on the attacks against Greek citizens by foreign migrants.
Amnesty failed to include in their report the cold-blooded murder of Dimitris Mihas, 53, a Greek taxi driver who tried to intervene in a bank robbery in Paros on Aug. 10. Police are now hunting for a gang of Albanian criminals they have connected to other bank robberies, one in which bank employees were taken as hostages.
The murder of Dimitris Mihas followed the brutal attack on a 15-year-old Greek tourist on the island of Paros, for which an illegal from Pakistan has now confessed. The Pakistani national, who was due to be deported from Greece the week he was arrested, has been charged with attempted murder. His victim remains in a critical condition.
There has been an increase in attacks against foreigners in Greece, often linked to the rise of the far-right party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn). There appears to be an assumption taken by the political left, and repeated by human rights groups, that xenophobia is the root. In reality, often the cause of the increase in attacks is down to violence committed by migrants against migrants, many times between compatriots. It serves the purpose of the Greek Communists and SYRIZA to link attacks (without evidence) to the far-right, whilst the far-left is known to be behind the violence that resulted in the arson attack during riots that left four Greek bank employees dead.
The recent sweep by Greek police to arrest illegal immigrants has been criticized by human rights groups, even though they acknowledge the action to be legal. They fail to acknowledge that the issue of illegal immigration is overwhelming in the almost bankrupt country which is forced to commit scarce resources to fighting foreign crime (67 percent of all solved crime is attributed to foreign nationals). To understand the explosion of crime in Greece this report by Balkan Analysis on the rise of organized crime provides a fascinating insight.
As Digital Journal reported the intensification of border controls to prevent mass illegal immigration was initiated following evidence obtained from German Intelligence that the Turkish authorities deliberately planned a mass influx of Syrian refugees into Europe via the Turkish-Greek border. German authorities were concerned by the evident inclusion of Islamic extremists within the planned influx. The swoop in Athens to arrest illegal immigrants, which Amnesty objects to, was with the tacit approval of the EU as they provide the funds to repatriate those to be deported in the swoop. To Vima reports the Mayor of Athens, George Kaminis, has called for an end to racist violence, stressing compliance with the law is the necessary course to deal with the issue.
Concerns over increased congregation of illegal immigrants in the Messinian city of Kalamata led Mayor Panayiotis Nikas to ask "police to remove illegal immigrants from the area for being a risk to security and public health" Ekathimerini reported. This in turn resulted in the Communist Party criticizing Nikas over his real concerns that the problems which illegal immigration has brought to Athens and Patras could spread to the tourist city in the Peloponnese.
Both violence and crime is on the increase in Greece but for Greeks to be continually tarred with the xenophobic brush does little to address the real issue that immigration is an issue that needs tackling and to do so is not racist. Groups such as Amnesty begin to lose credibilty when their reports of racist violence so categorically exclude the facts that much of the racist crime in Greece is committed within in the same ethnic groups.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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