Intimidation and Harassment of Lawyer Thanassis Tartis and Panayote Dimitras

Re: Intimidation and Harassment of Lawyer Thanassis Tartis and Panayote Dimitras for their participation in the Hellenic Coast Guard anti-racism trial

To: Prime Minister George Papandreou

From: Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC

Date: 2011-11-02

LWRC is deeply troubled and aggrieved by the threats and racist messages directed towards Mr. Thanassis Tartis, legal counsel for the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), and Mr. Panayote Dimitras, GHM’s spokesperson.

It appears that Mr. Tartis and Mr. Dimitras were targeted for their involvement in the September 20, 2011 Hellenic Coast Guard anti-racism trial. GHM was one of the organizations to have lodged a complaint against the 39 members of the Coast Guard in relation to the racist remarks made publicly by the coastguardsmen at the Greek Independence Day Parade on March 25, 2011. While marching in step in front of the parade spectators, the coastguardsmen are alleged to have shouted in unison the following phrases: ‘You’re born a Greek; you can never become one. We’ll spill your blood, Albanian pigs’; ‘They call them Skopjans, they call them Albanians. I’ll sew my clothing from their skins’; ‘There’ll be carnage and then I’ll get revenge, when you kneel before the flag and cross.’

During the hearing on September 20, 2011, a group outside the courthouse was shouting slogans in support of the defendants, including repeating the same racist slogans that led to the trial. After the hearing, Mr. Tartis was pursued and verbally assaulted by the supporters of the tried coastguardsmen; while the on-site police remained inactive and offered no protection to the victim.

Following that incident, abusive and racist content aimed at Mr. Tartis and Mr. Dimitras appeared on the internet. Many of the messages called for violence against Messrs. Tartis and Dimitras and contained threats of violence against their lives. The request for police protection submitted by Messrs. Tartis and Dimitras has been ignored by Greece’s Minister of Citizen Protection.

LRWC calls on the Greek authorities to take prompt action to remedy the occurrence of human rights violations and urges Greece to observe human rights standards established under international law. LRWC bases its request on the principles codified in the international conventions ratified by Greece:

1. UNDHR: Articles 3, 5, 8 and 19

2. ICCPR: Articles 2(3)(a), 6 (1), 7, 9 and 19

3. CERD-International Covenant on All Forms of Racial Discrimination: Articles 2 (1) (a)(b)(c)(d)(e), 4(a)(b)(c), 5(b) and 6

4. EU Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: Articles 1, 2, 3, 5 and 13.

Actions Required:

1. Guarantee of Messrs. Tartis and Dimitras physical and psychological integrity by affording them police protection.

2. Safeguard Messrs. Tartis and Dimitras’ freedom of speech and association

3. Implement measures which will result in the cessation of harassment and intimidation tactics aimed at Messrs. Tartis and Dimitras for their involvement in the human rights related activities.