Home Greek news economy A Wave of Attacks Against Immigrants in Greece

A Wave of Attacks Against Immigrants in Greece

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Immigrants are taking a beating in Greece and no one’s stopping it, human rights groups say

ATHENS – A rise in anti-immigrant sentiment in Greece – including within a new coalition government – has led to an avalanche of assaults, at least 300 of which have been catalogued by human rights groups who called on the police to offer better protection. Nearly half of police officers, however, reportedly voted for the anti-immigrant neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn which won 18 seats in Parliament in the June 17 election, but has denied it participated in the violent attacks.

Greece is a gateway to the European Union and attracts immigrants, particularly from Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq, many of whom want to use the country for a jumping-off point. Prior to the elections, a coalition government rounded up scores of thousands of illegal immigrants and set up detention centers to hold them. New Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, overseeing another coalition government, also said he wants to force illegal immigrants out of the country, and Greece is asking for European Union help to handle the overflow on its shores and land borders.

In Athens, many immigrants live crammed in small apartments in squalid conditions in central neighborhoods that have seen a sharp rise in crime since the financial crisis began in late 2009. Associated Press reported that activists have linked the surge in attacks against immigrants to the political rise of Golden Dawn, which uses aggressive rhetoric against immigrants. Its members have been accused of being behind several of the attacks.

The anti-racism campaigners said five Indian and Pakistani immigrants were injured on July 16 when they were attacked by some 20 masked men in their homes in Menidi, six miles north of Athens. One alleged victim, Indian immigrant Vije Kumar, had extensive cuts and bruises and said he was beaten with clubs and metal bars. “It was 10 o’clock at night and I was sitting outside eating because it was really hot … suddenly about 20 men appeared, maybe more. They were all wearing hoods. They started hitting us,” Kumar, a 40-year-old frame maker who has lived in Greece for 12 years, told the AP. “We didn’t realize what was happening in the beginning. They really beat us badly. It was like they were trying to kill us.”

Javied Aslam, who heads a Pakistani immigrant group in Greece, said the attackers forced their way into seven homes, assaulting occupants and smashing property. “These are fascist gangs and someone has to stop them,” Aslam said. “They smashed everything – TV sets, refrigerators, doors and windows. Four of the homes were inhabited by Pakistanis and the other three by Indians.”

In a report issued last week, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said it had documented recent gang attacks on dozens of immigrants living in Greece, including children and pregnant women, and also warned of a surge in xenophobic violence. Greek police do not keep statistics on racially-motivated crimes, arguing that the motive for violent offenses is often unclear.

Aslam, whose organization is part of the Athens-based Campaign Against Racism, said anti-immigrant violence had surged before general elections were held on May 6 and June 17. Since early April, and during the time the election campaigns were in full swing, Aslam said his and other groups had received 300 reports of assaults on immigrants. “The number is probably higher,” he said, alleging that attackers often said they were from Golden Dawn. While denying any role in such attacks, the party has argued that the violence is far less significant than a surge in crime caused by illegal immigrants.

The Campaign Against Racism’s Petros Constantinou said the new government should give priority to stopping violent street gangs who pick their targets by skin color. He also accused the police of often turning a blind eye to crimes against immigrants – an accusation the police have denied in the past.

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  • GGG65

    All illegal immigrants should go back to their home land. We don’t need more, the country cant support them all. They don’t have place in Greece. I am not racist but if I cant live in their country legally or illegally then they should not be living here.

  • John

    I need far more neutral party to report on this then ‘human rights groups”. Anyone with an agenda can call themselves “human rights group” and claim whatever they want based on some “attacks”. 
    Two more points….The allegation that half the police force voted for Golden Dawn is simply a lie perpetrated by those with an agenda to discredit the police and portray themselves as victims.The vast majority of illegal immigrants are here for economic reasons. Greece can not afford to help them and they can’t find jobs so the obvious solution is for them to go back where they came from. 

    Needless to say, to some, any discussion other then “poor immigrants are victims” is racists. 

  • Truelitistnot

    Wish this would happen in the US.  The US are a bunch of pussies who let illegal aliens walk all over them.  Go Greeks.

  • http://twitter.com/Sanoiro Have a seat

    It’s a disgrace in my opinion. As a Greek I’m appalled by these incidences yet I know that the country cannot sustain the Greek people anymore who procrisis had something so how you will care for 1.5 million immigrants that live in the shadows? Extreme poverty brings crimes and practices unheard to a European country… It’s not easy after all for Greeks to accept that the country in less than twenty years has reached that numbers and that’s dangerous cause a quick swift of that kind of population obviously ends up to violence. 

  • Jan

    I am a greek living in Canada: there are too many illigal immigrants draining jobs.. Social funding..and killing stealing and injuring Greeks back home and im happy some greeks have finally put their foot down and are doing something anout this!

  • Abongo

    I’m a aborigine from Australia! Please desperate Greeks don’t let Greece become another Australia ‘My country is flooded with racist Greeks’ and they keep on coming!

  • Not Greek but a Cypriot

    @Jan beating immigrants in Greece is justified while Greeks like you live in Canada is OK! One day I hope someone will give you a good beating because they feel that you don’t belong in Canada because you are a Greek! HYPOCRIT!

  • John

    Let us know if you can tell the difference between a legal immigrant, which 99.999999% of the Greek (AND CYPRIOTS) immigrants to Canada are and illegal ones flooding through the Greek borders.  

  • GGG65

    You are welcome to take them all in Cyprus after all we don’t kill innocent people for 10 euro or so. So as I said you are welcome to take them all in Cyprus.  

  • GGG65

    @9ac8f2af844579460c4010e8174c0593:disqus  Take them all to your country, we don’t have place, space nor jobs for them here. We have enough problems of our own. They are criminal robbing elderly people for just few euros and killing as well and before you comment, please do some search about the crimes committed by them 1st and then comment you scumbag cypriot.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t support attacks by street thugs but I don’t agree with those that reference the illegals as “immigrants”. Immigrants are people that first apply to immigrate, are reviewed by the state for suitability, not people that illegally sneak across borders than act is if the government is morally obligated to accept them. Every nation has a legal and moral right to its own sovereign borders. Most of the illegals in Greece should be kicked out. (unless any that can show they legimately fear for their life back in their homelands)

    As for alleged “human rigthts” groups… I no longer trust them given now that FYROM have suddenly become “ancient Macedonians” and constantly insinuate our homeland is “Greek occupied Macedonia”…. they’ve chosen to hide their shame in referencing the former Yugoslavians as “Macedonians”. Frankly, I think anyone in Greece that references FYROM as “Macedonians” should alos be kicked out of Greece.

  • Anonymous

    Any Street thugs beating non-Greeks is not ok…. but Greeks that immigrated abroad did so by applying LEGALLY…. not by ILLEGALLY sneaking over borders like a burger at night. Illegals that violated Greek law, also work illegally in Greece (typically evading taxes), should be all deported as quickly as possible for violating Greek borders.

  • Anonymous

     Exactly. I used to be fooled by these so-called “human rights” groups word games too. “Human rights” is just code words for personal politics (and sometimes even nationalist agenda). I wised up when I noticed these so called “human rights” groups started to play stupid around FYROM’s sudden change into “ancient Macedonians” and irredentism. (to hide their shame and protect their image for patronizingly mocking us for arguing against recognition in good faith). Someone actually principled would have apologized to Greeks after FYROM’s identity quick change and irrredentist rhetoric.

  • Anonymous

     I bet those “racist Greeks” applied legally you patronzing Greek-hating bigot.

  • I am Greek

    If you feel sorry for them than you are welcome to take them all to your country and give them all the benefits of your choice but in Greece they don’t have place and by the way, Canadian are racists towards foreigners and Cypriots are hypocrites and racists towards Greeks. My stated comment is from real life experience…..

  • Cantsilenceme

    If only the rest of these dumb brainwashed Europeans would follow we could make Europe a better place! instead of living in fear from those savage niggers.