Greece: Charges against women’s rights activists – including Amnesty staff – must be dropped

Greece: Charges against women’s rights activists – including Amnesty staff – must be dropped

Responding to the arrest and subsequent charges of nine women’s rights activists taking part in peaceful actions to mark the Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Europe said:

“Arresting, fining and charging peaceful activists simply for staging symbolic actions against gender-based violence is an assault on their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The Greek authorities must drop all charges against them and ensure that people can safely raise their opinions even during this public health emergency. Activists must not be penalized for trying to raise awareness about gender-based violence, let alone at a time when women and girls face increased risks due to lockdowns and other restrictions around the world.”

“The nine women, including an Amnesty International member of staff, were wearing masks and observing physical distancing rules during their protest, so it is unclear why they face criminal charges for breaching public health rules and fines of 300 euros each.”

The women, who included leading members of feminist collectives, were initially taken to Syntagma police station for identity checks. Despite their repeated requests, they were not told why they had been transferred to the police station, nor were they informed that they were being formally arrested until later that evening.

Amnesty International understands that five other members of feminist collectives, who threw flyers against gender-based violence in the air, were also taken to Syntagma police station before being transferred to Akropolis station for identity checks. Amnesty International understands that two of them were subsequently charged under the same provisions as the nine women activists. Amnesty International calls for charges against these two activists also to be dropped.

Yesterday’s arrests are part of a wider crackdown by Greek authorities in recent weeks against protests, including a much criticized four-day blanket ban of demonstrations in mid-November, a series of reports of excessive and otherwise unlawful use of force and violence against peaceful protesters on 17 November 2020. A Prosecutor has also filed criminal charges against five members of a political party handing flyers calling on people to join the 17 November demonstrations.

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