From IFEX (International Freedom of Expression Exchange)
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned about the physical attack on journalist Abdulhalim Dede on 19 February while he was on-air during the morning programme, Kalimera Ellada, broadcast by the Athens, Greece-based Antenna TV.
According to SEEMO’s sources, the Turkish Ziraat Bank had invited, among others, Dimitris Stamatis, Secretary General of the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace, to attend the opening of its first branch in Komotini, Thrace, Greece. Stamatis declined because the letter of invitation was written in English and Turkish, but not in Greek, and because the city of Komotini was referred to by its Turkish name only.
Abdulhalim Dede, publisher and director of the newspaper Trakyanin Sesi and owner of the radio station ISIK FM in Komotini, was invited by the hosts of Kalimera Ellada to express his opinion live from Kamotini on Antenna TV. During the interview, an unknown man approached Dede, shouted at him using obscene language, and physically attacked him. The main studio in Athens immediately terminated the live broadcasting.
Dede, who was hospitalised for several days, is known for his promotion of the rights of the Turkish-speaking population in Thrace, Greece, and has been the target of various attacks over the years. In 2006, he received the SEEMO Human Rights Award.
SEEMO strongly condemns all physical attacks on journalists, which have no place in a democratic society. Attacks like these must be prevented from occurring in the future, said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General. SEEMO notes with concern this increasing trend of assaults against journalists in the entire region. It calls on the authorities to demonstrate their commitment to the protection of journalists, and press freedom in general, by taking active steps to counter these disturbing developments.
From MINA (Macedonian International News Agency)
MHRMI joins the South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO) appeal denouncing the attack on Turkish minority rights activist, Abdulhalim Dede, during a live television broadcast on February 19, 2009. See SEEMO’s press release for details (www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/101110).
Greece vigorously denies the existence of any ethnic minorities on its territory and attempts to suppress any voices that advocate human rights. Simply raising the issue of minority rights, and specifically the Macedonian minority, in Greece causes Greek citizens and politicians alike to react in outrage.
Greece’s state-sponsored racism includes Greek politicians publicly calling for the death of Macedonian minority party EFA-Rainbow members, the Greek army entering an ethnic Macedonian village and arresting several inhabitants, and possible treason charges against Greek Helsinki Monitor spokesperson Panayote Dimitras for advocating minority rights.
MHRMI calls on the international community, and specifically the European Union, to finally hold Greece accountable for its persecution of its ethnic minorities and force Greece to abide by all European Court of Human Rights judgements against it.