Racist Violence Recording Network

From Hate Speech to Racist Attacks: Patterns of Racist Violence in Greece, 2023

A wide geographical dispersion of racist violence incidents, attacks displaying signs of orchestration, unfolding amidst a concerning backdrop of escalating hate speech in the public sphere, intense and continuous racist violence at the country’s borders, notably targeting refugees and migrants, systematic racist behaviour by representatives of the State, as well as targeting of victims in the context of intra-school and intra-family racist violence are some of the key qualitative findings of the Racist Violence Recording Network for 2023.

Presented during a Press Conference in Athens on Tuesday, 23 April 2024, the Network’s twelfth Annual Report, covering the period from January to December 2023, recorded, through interviews with victims, 158 incidents of racist violence. Of these, 89 targeted migrants, refugees or asylum-seekers, while 61 targeted LGBTQI+ individuals.

In almost half of the incidents, victims reported having experienced violence before, while in 15 incidents victims reported being doubly targeted because of more than one of their characteristics. It is noteworthy that in almost one in three incidents (50), minors were among the victims while in some cases, minors were also among the perpetrators.

The event was opened by the two coordinators of the Network, the President of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), Professor Maria Gavouneli, and the Representative of the UNHCR in Greece, Ms. Maria Clara Martin.

The President of the NCHR stressed the “need for coordination among competent state authorities for a comprehensive and effective policy to prevent and address the phenomenon of racist violence across all its manifestations”. She particularly underlined “the need to create an effective national mechanism to support and protect victims of racist violence, activate the National Council against Racism and Intolerance and prepare a new Action Plan against Racism.” On her part, Ms. Martin praised the important work done by the 55 member organizations of the Network in monitoring and spotlighting the trends of racist violence and in understanding the trauma inflicted on victims. “Fighting racism requires a systematic, progressive, and coordinated approach, and above all it requires commitment from all parts of society and the State,” she pointed out.  

The discussion that followed, moderated by journalist Yannis Papadopoulos, featured representatives from Network member organizations — Chrysanthi Zacharoff from the Greek Council for Refugees, Konstantinos Marangos from the Thessaloniki Pride organization, Anastasia Mitropanou from ELLAN PASSE and Anastasia Karkoulia from the Network for Children’s Rights. Low-intensity racist violence and its normalization within daily life, refugees, migrants, LGBTQI+, Roma, and other targeted groups, were among the main issues addressed. The speakers emphasized the link between pervasive hate speech in public discourse and racist violence. They also highlighted entrenched fear, persistent trauma, and lack of trust in authorities as main deterrents hindering the vast majority of victims from lodging formal complaints.

The Network’s Annual Report for 2023 can be found in Greek here.

Photos: UNHCR/Socrates Baltagiannis