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MINORITY RIGHTS DEFENDERS HARASSED AND PROSECUTED

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) released on 17 August 2008 a report on harassment, defamation and prosecution of minority rights defenders - including GHM - in Greece.

Though Greece is formally a democratic European country, its political forces, most media and even civil society organisations deny the existence of the Macedonian and Turkish minorities, GHM says. Roma are subjected to widespread racism and discrimination, including by the courts and independent authorities.

Persecution of defenders of minority rights includes a charge of defamation against former GHM legal counsel Theo Alexandridis, in retaliation for his advocacy against school segregation of Romani children. GHM has faced politically initiated tax audits, and along with a pro-Macedonian political party has been criminally investigated under a law prohibiting forcible secession from Greece. Defamatory statements in the media and on the Internet by right-wing politicians and activists have targeted GHM and other activists.

Moreover, GHM says anti-Semitism even among judicial officials is widespread and GHM-initiated prosecution of neo-Nazis faces opposition from all political parties, independent authorities and most media.

However, GHM praises some prosecutors and judges "who, against all odds and ignoring the prevailing anti-minority, anti-Roma and anti-Semitic attitudes, have taken decisions that have vindicated, in a few cases, the work of minority rights activists." GHM has also won victories and the European Court of Human Rights.

See an eight-page press release at: http://tinyurl.com/69ldmf
An abridged version with case links: http://tinyurl.com/6cvrfr
(20 August 2008)

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