Federal Union of European Nationalities
Letter to Greek Prime Minister
Re: Ongoing Harrassment of Minorities in Greece
28 February 2002
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To the Prime Minister of Greece Mr Konstantinos Simitis:
We are writing to express our grave concern at the prosecution of Mr. Abdulhalim Dedes, a journalist from the minority population of Komotini and owner of the Turkish-language newspaper TRAKIANIN SESI and the radio station ISIK FM.
Mr. Dedes has been the victim of a false accusation made to the police and public prosecutor of Komotini by a fellow journalist, Mr. Karaiskos of Komotini's Greek-language newspaper ANTIFONITIS.
According to the accusation, the radio station owned by Mr. Dedes broadcast a musical dedication to the Turkish Grey Wolves (Boskurt) organisation. Boskurt is an extreme right-wing organisation in Turkey, which, ironically, shares the same extremist attitudes as those of Mr. Karaiskos' own paper, ANTIFONITIS, but from the other side of the Aegean Sea.
Both the police and the public prosecutor rejected the accusation after listening to a recording of the broadcast in question, which made it clear that the dedication was from a Mr. Boskurt to his girlfriend.
An indignant Mr. Dedes wrote to the newspaper of Mr. Karaiskos protesting at the latter's having behaved like a police informer. Specifically he employed the Greek word hafies, which is used to describe a person who denounces someone to the police, accusing him of a crime he has not committed, or accusing him of a crime he has committed but without any legal authority for lodging the charge.
Much to our surprise the Komotini appeal court convicted Mr. Dedes to three months imprisonment for his use of the word hafies, despite the fact that Mr. Dedes was able to show that the word in question provided an apt description of Mr. Karaiskos' actions.
It should be noted that both the prosecutor and the senior judge of the court recommended the acquittal of Mr. Dedes. However, the remaining two judges, making up the majority of the three-member panel, insisted on imposing the sentence.
A second hearing against Mr. Dedes has been scheduled for 22 May 2002, when the plaintiffs will seek huge damages from Mr. Dedes, hoping to force the closure of his minority Turkish-language newspaper and his radio station.
The plaintiffs are imitating the tactics of the extreme right-wing organisation Network 21, a group which seeks the social or financial ruin of those journalists who advocate a European future for Greece and support the country's ethnic or linguistic minorities. Similar attempts in the recent past have included:
a) The conviction in February 2002 of Mr. Bletsas
b) The destruction in 1995 of the offices of Rainbow (the political party of the ethnic Macedonian minority of Greece). The identity of those responsible for this crime is known, but no charge has been brought against them to date.
c) The rejection by the Greek courts of the action brought by Rainbow seeking damages for the destroyed furniture, computers and windows ? destruction which can still be seen today.
d) The prosecution of the journalist Mr. Vasilakis
e) The attempted suppression of a dictionary, etc.
Our organisation cannot help but wonder how it can be permissible for a full member of the European Union to tolerate the use of such tactics by extreme right-wing enemies of the EU, and at a time when as an EU member Greece is demanding respect for minorities from those countries in eastern Europe seeking EU membership.
We look forward to hearing from you.
President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN)