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, 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