22 January 2008


An anti-racism activist has become the target of a hate campaign after giving evidence in the trial of a Greek author who denies the Holocaust, reports the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

Panayote Dimitras, spokesperson of the IFEX member group Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), testified in the December 2007 trial of author Kostas Plevris as a prosecution witness.

Plevris, a lawyer and author of the book "Jews: The Whole Truth", which denies the Holocaust, was convicted of inciting racial hatred and given a 14-month suspended sentence.

During and after the trial, Dimitras and other GHM staff, along with Jewish activists who testified against Plevris, were subjected to insults, threats and racist attacks on the Internet and in the extreme-right wing press.

After Dimitras gave his testimony on 4 December, for example, a journalist from the Greek state TV Channel NET called Dimitras "scum" and attempted to assault him in front of the bench. According to GHM, the presiding judge took no action.

An extreme right-wing youth group posted a video clip of the attack on the video-sharing site YouTube. Underneath the video, insults and death threats were posted, as well as anti-Semitic messages.

"The aim of attacks and threats against human rights defenders is to dissuade us from working to end discrimination in Greece. These crimes must not go unpunished," says Dimitras.

Plevris has launched a series of legal actions against representatives of GHM and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), claiming he was defamed by their complaints, and seeking compensation. Trial dates are set for later this year.

According to GHM, the Greek government has not officially recognised non-Greek minorities, apart from Muslims, within its borders since World War II. GHM says an estimated 60,000 Greek Jews were killed during the Holocaust; and that the Jewish community in Greece is believed to number approximately 5,000.

Visit these links:
- The Observatory: http://tinyurl.com/2dvx5x- GHM: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/89957/(22 January 2008)

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