Greece: Locals help Athens police beat up an immigrant
A controversial video revealing apparent police brutality is causing a stir on Greek social networking sites. It shows uniformed police officers, assisted by passers-by wearing tracksuits, beating up an immigrant of Asian origin.
The incident took place on the night of January 3, in Amerikis Square in the centre of Athens, but the video was only recently posted on the Internet. The police officers continue to hit the man as they walk him to their patrol car. Several onlookers stand and watch the scene.
Incidents involving immigrants are now becoming increasingly politicised in Greece. The country is one of the main gateways into the European Union for Asian and African migrants. Organisations defending human rights have announced an increase in the number of assaults on immigrants, particularly Afghans and Pakistanis, which they attribute to the economic crisis and a rise in unemployment. Immigrants are targeted by small far-right groups who accuse them of stealing Greek jobs.
The openly xenophobic Golden Dawn party, which has said it would like to kick all foreigners out of the country, won 21 seats in the parliamentary elections that took place on May 6.
After this video was posted online, Athens police announced they would carry out an enquiry.
"J’ai reçu des messages d’insultes de la part de sympathisants d'Aube dorée"
Nikos Soulis, a filmmaker, filmed this video in January but only posted it on the Internet in April.
I was at home when I heard people shouting outside. Over the past three years I have witnessed many incidents in my neighbourhood, so this time I decided to take my camera.
I saw an Asian man being stopped by the police. Some of my neighbours were helping them. The man had been trying to set fire to a rubbish bin. They hit him repeatedly, even after he had been handcuffed. And when I say “they”, I mean both the police and my neighbours.
I went to the police station to report what I had seen. The police officers told me that their colleagues would be identified and reprimanded [The inquiry is currently underway].
After I posted the video online, many insulting comments were written on my blog. Most of them were from Golden Dawn sympathisers. To intimidate me, a couple of people even tried to get into my home by posing as police officers. I went back to the police station to ask for police protection. But as I suspect that 50% of the police force voted for Golden Dawn, I’m not sure how much good it will do. I’m keeping a low profile in my neighbourhood at the moment and I make sure that I never go home alone.