The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East and Central Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI) is concerned at the recent assault on photo-reporters and foreign press journalists by security forces during the strikes in front of the Acropolis, in Athens, Greece.
According to information received by SEEMO, on 14 October 2010, in the morning, the police appeared to break the lockdown of the Acropolis by protesting short-term contract workers. While they began by telling journalists present to “go away and let us do our jobs” at first, after they got past the barrier, the riot police turned around and launched tear gas to disperse photo journalists and cameramen crowding in front of the barrier, trying to take pictures.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: “Once again, the deterioration of the media in Greece has yielded some truly appalling developments. In treating journalists like an obstacle to be shoved aside so “they can do their jobs”, Greek police appear to suggest that the right to information is subject to the whim of the powerful; it is very lucky that no one was hurt.”
Vujovic added: “In attacking journalists, the Greek police has exceeded its mandate. It is therefore to be hoped that the persons responsible for this will be punished in an exemplary fashion, thus enabling people to continue to believe that the role of the police is in the protection of citizens, not in the gagging of information workers.
This year has proven to be a very dark one for press freedom in Greece, as the number of attacks on journalists has increased quite dramatically. SEEMO would like to call on the authorities to make it clear that they consider the right of journalists to exercise their profession a cornerstone of the democratic system.”