The bodies of two men, both foreign nationals, were found dead in downtown Athens on Wednesday. The grisly discovery follows the murder of a 19-year old Iraqi on Sunday morning.
The man was ambushed by a group of five dark-clad figures mounted on four motorbikes as he walked through the central Athens neighbourhood of Omonia Square. The group are thought to be members of the sinister Golden Dawn a neo-fascist political group that has been linked with over five hundred attacks on foreigners. When the gang came across the man they beat him with their fists and stones and stabbed him numerous times with a knife in what police described as a savage attack. In retaliation to the murder a local office of the Golden Dawn party was firebombed.
The two men found on Wednesday were thought to have been murdered after one body was found in a ground floor apartment and the other in a dumpster across the street. A police investigation is ongoing but the suspicion is that the two men’s deaths are linked to the rise in anti-foreign violence that has become rife across Greece since the beginning of the economic crisis.
On Saturday a vicious attack was launched against a group of Pakistanis in Crete. Migrant owned shops in the port city of Piraeus have been repeatedly attacked and others across the country have been vandalised. Flares were reportedly thrown into a prayer room for Muslim worshippers by some 15 members of Golden Dawn riding motorcycles as 10 migrants were praying inside. A month earlier Greek media reported that an Albanian standing on the street was stabbed with a sword by a masked motorcycle rider. In the past three weeks more than 20 foreign nationals were stabbed and hospitalised.
“It started with verbal attacks, then came rods and brass-knuckles and now the knives are coming out,” Javied Aslam, head of the Pakistani Community organization and the president of the migrant workers’ association.
Since the beginning of 2012 over five hundred immigrants have been admitted to hospitals as a result of racist attacks. According to reports in the newspaper Ta Nea, based on various non-governmental organizations, this is nearly double the total of victims of similar attacks over the same period last year. Disturbingly there has been increasing reports that the Greek police have stood idly by during assaults and some immigrants claim that the Police have simply ignored their complaints.
During the last elections it is believed that up to 50% of the police force voted for the Golden Dawn party with some politicians claiming that for years, rightwing extremists had done the police force’s “dirty work”, mopping up migrants from the ghettoes of inner Athens in exchange for protection.
Others have claimed that even some members of the government have links to the party or are anti-foreigner themselves. Just last week the government launched a campaign (which was backed by the EU) to hunt down migrants in the country, the operation saw 4,500 police officers arrest some 1,650 foreigners.
Amnesty International are calling for the Greek authorities to do more to prevent racist and xenophobic attacks and fully investigate those that occur. “Such attacks are unacceptable and the authorities must do all within their power to stem their rise,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
We can be certain that as long as the Euro crisis continues to devastate the Greek economy then these types of attacks will continue to rise. So far Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has proven to be a weak leader and his government has made very little headway in easing the situation. The worries for Greece seem to have no end in sight and calls for the country to leave the Euro are growing ever louder from Economists and politicians.