January 27, 2012

Press Release for the illegal arrest of Greek lawyers outside the Turkish Embassy

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In the early afternoon hours of the 24th of January 2012, members of the "Alternative Intervention of Athens Lawyers" and the "Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees" gathered outside the Turkish Embassy in Athens, in order to protest against the continuing imprisonment of 39 Turkish and Kurdish human rights defenders, who were arrested in our neighboring country, simply because of their work as lawyers. Similar protests were organised by colleagues of ours in most European capitals within the framework of a pan-European day of solidarity towards our imprisoned colleagues in Turkey.

The peaceful demonstration that took place in Athens, was however marked by a European novelty: the protesters were arrested and brought to the Athens Police Headquarters (G.Α.D.Α), where their personal details were registered.

It is with grave concern that we note this unprecedented and inconceivable action by the Greek authorities.

The right to assemble and protest was brutally violated without any pretense whatsoever and without the Police feeling even obliged to formulate an official justification. In contrast with the arrests in Turkey, Greek lawyers were arrested under the "rule of law" of the "Greek democracy", simply because they were citizens exercising their right to protest within a constitutionally designed framework. Despite the persistent enquiries of our arrested colleagues towards the police, nobody provided an answer as to who ordered their arrest (which was modestly referred to as a simple "detention for questioning"), nor an explanation about the reason for their arrest or registration of their personal details.

We refuse to treat the incident of the 24th of January as one more absurd story of Greek police behavior, even though there is also such a dimension to it as well. The reason for this is because we do not believe that the arrest happened "by mistake" or "by accident". We see as highly relevant the fact that the demonstration which was dispersed was taking place in front of the Turkish embassy, that the police was searching for Turks and Kurds among the protesters and that there was registration of our colleagues’ personal details.

We demand from the authorities to provide us with answers: Who ordered the arrests of the 24th of January? Will any of the authorities take responsibility for actual prohibition of a peaceful protest? What kind of cooperation and what sort of information exchange takes place between the Greek and the Turkish government?

We hereby call upon all democratic lawyers and all democratic citizens to be alerted and ready to act, if we do not want such incidents to reflect our near future. In the post-IMF Greece we are all daily witnesses of a borderline situation in which democratic rights are being infringed in every expression of our societal life.

Let us stop this aberration now, it is in our hands!

Athens, 27 January 2012

The Alternative Intervention of Athens Lawyers (www.epda.gr/)
The Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees (omadadikigorwn.blogspot.com/)

See also 
The Press Release in pdf form
The Call of Greek lawyers to release unlawfully detained lawyers in Turkey here
The European day of protest against the anlawful detention of lawyers in Turkey here