The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) presented today its 2016 annual report, analyzing the quantitative and qualitative findings of racist violence and hate crime recordings by the 37 organizations participating in the Network.
Between January and December 2016, the RVRN documented, through interviews, 95 incidents of racist violence involving more than 130 victims. In 31 incidents, migrants or refugees were targeted due to their national or ethnic origin, religion or colour and in 1 incident the staff of humanitarian organizations and the building intended to host refugees were targeted. One incident was recorded of a journalist who covers the refugee crisis being targeted. In 57 incidents, LGBTQI+ people or those linked to them were targeted. In 5 incidents, sacred or symbolic places and the Jewish community were targeted. In 31 incidents, more than one victim was targeted, while in 54 cases the attack was committed by two or more people.
The RVRN recognized that positive steps had been taken in combatting racist violence and urged the State to intensify its efforts towards two goals. First, to put an end to impunity for racist attacks and to support victims. Second, the State must act preemptively by deepening targeted policies for promoting respect for diversity.
In opening remarks, General Secretary for Transparency and Human Rights Maria Yannakaki, stressed that combatting racism, racist violence and hate speech is high on the agenda of the Ministry of Justice. She emphasized the importance of establishing cooperation between civil society actors within the National Council against Racism and Intolerance and presented the ministry’s initiatives in this area.
The President of the National Commission for Human Rights, George Stavropoulos, referred to the root causes of racism and racist violence and praised the contribution of organisations and individuals who voluntarily record incidents of racist violence and support victims. He stressed the responsibility of police and prosecutors to combat racist crime and appealed for more information and education on the issue.
Associate Professor at Panteion University, Vassiliki Georgiadou, based on research by a Panteion team, analysed aggressive xenophobia, mainly by law enforcement officials and organisations. One of the main conclusions of this research is the persistence of aggressive behaviour against Albanians, the oldest migrants’ community in Greece.
Journalist Yannis Stevis (astraparis.gr – Chios News Online) pointed out that, despite the adverse conditions on the island, a real climate of solidarity had been developed before the EU-Turkey statement. He analysed the local authorities’ responsibilities for adopting extremist political language and the responsibilities of the police for inaction and indifference on delinquency, as well as the role of the media in «hiding» information, exaggeration, and disseminating false information that triggered racist reactions.
The Art Teacher and Coordinator of Refugees’ Education at the Accommodation Site of Schisto, Eleni Karagianni, analysed the situation that led to tensions at a school in Perama and the efforts to create a school as a core of acceptance of diversity and respect for human rights. She hoped that the state’s responsibility to integrate refugees in the Greek school system would be the occasion for supporting intercultural education, and she highlighted the need to map innovation by teachers in this direction. She however feared clusters developed against integration of refugee children in the ordinary school program in September.
The Psychologist of Colour Youth – LGBTQ Community of Athens, Eva Spinou, analysed the link between sexist and homophobic and transphobic opinions. She described the trauma of LGBTQI+ persons experienced throughout their life which results in accumulating their victimization following an attack. She also stressed the lack of support from family and schools and the importance of forming alliances to empower LGBTQI+ people.
The press conference was coordinated by Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, UNHCR, who analysed the interconnection between the RVRN findings and current challenges in a society «at the crossroads between solidarity and xenophobia.» He said that providing refugees with decent living conditions may prevent tension at local level and protect potential victims, while he expressed the wish to further study the climate in schools.
You may find the 2016 annual report here.