by Aggelos Skordas
Hate attacks carried out by organised extreme-right, xenophobic, racist and Nazi-inspired groups are on the rise in Greece, the Athens-based Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) revealed on Wednesday.
During a press conference presenting its annual report for 2017 RVRN members indicated that they recorded 102 incidents of racist violence between January and December, more than a third of which resulted in the injury of over 120 people. The corresponding number of such incidents in 2016 was 95. Specifically, most of the attacks targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender or intersex (LGBQTI) individuals, followed by those against refugees or migrants, which made up a third of all attacks.
While calling for zero tolerance towards racist violence, RVRN coordinator Tina Stavrianaki said adding that the living conditions of the refugees and the migrants in overcrowded camps inflamed the xenophobic rhetoric in local communities on Greek islands but also in Athens, where the violent assaults had increased too, while the perpetrators appeared to execute instructions based on pre-meditated plans masterminded by their organizations. “The RVRN alarmingly observes an increase in the number of assaults committed by groups employing ‘hit-and-run’ like practices”, the report reads.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the management of the refugee and migratory issue has largely determined the evolution of the climate. On the one hand, more and more municipalities participate in the program of hosting asylum seekers and refugees in apartments, thus cultivating the acceptance of diversity, which followed the spirit of solidarity shaped during the past two years between the local community and the refugees. On the other hand, refugees and migrants living conditions on the islands have contributed decisively to the strengthening of local xenophobic rhetoric, with extreme events in some cases”, Stavrianaki underlined.
Among the victims were asylum-seekers on the island of Lesvos that were attacked by a group of motorcyclists, a pregnant woman targeted because of her headscarf as well as a man verbally and physically attacked at a bus stop on downtown Athens, the report highlights.
The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) primarily focuses on monitoring and recording of racist attacks against refugees and migrants in Greece. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the network’s data is used to alert authorities to changing trends or escalations in hate crime. The network also raises awareness of hate crime and methods for combating it; supports victims to report incidents formally and search for legal aid; and organizes training programs for civil society and institutional bodies on how to identify, record and combat hate crime. In addition, every year since its creation in 2011, the network produces an annual report.