Friday 7 December 2012

Greece 21st century Fascists leave this African immigrant scarred for life just because of the colour his skin

Horrific: Migrants living in Greece have become the biggest and most defenceless of victims of the country's economic crisis. Hassan Mekki, a 32-year-old Sudanese migrant, shows scars on his back following an attack against him

Injured: Mr Mekki says he was attacked by a group of men holding Greek flags and left with the deep wounds on his back, throat and neck in August

It is a country which has been left on its knees, fuelling anger and resentment among its people.

Almost nobody in Greece has been left untouched by the devastating economic crisis.

But it is the country's migrants who now appear to have become the biggest victims of this troubling period in Greek history.

Many face daily racist attacks, police apathy and a system that punishes them rather than their assailants.

Hassan Mekki, a 32-year-old Sudanese migrant who fled conflict in his country in hope of a better life in Europe - has been left fearing for his life.

In August, he and a friend were walking in Athens when black-shirted men on motorcycles holding Greek flags came up and knocked him unconscious with a blow to the head, he said.
 When he came to, he was covered in blood. Only later would he realise that his attackers, whom he says were likely tied to the far-right Golden Dawn party, had left large gashes resembling an 'X' across his back.

'I don't have the right papers, so I can't go anywhere to ask for help,' Mekki said. 'I can't sleep. I'm scared, maybe they will follow me, and my life is in danger now.

Tapping into resentment towards illegal immigrants, Golden Dawn emerged from obscurity to enter parliament this year pledging to kick all immigrants out. The fast-rising party, which has been linked to racist attacks, denies it is neo-Nazi.
In the latest criticism of Greece's handling of migrants, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on migrants' rights condemned Greece for doing little to curb rising racist attacks.
Much of the violence went unreported because victims were afraid of deportation if they went to the police, who were sometimes involved in the attacks, Francois Crepeau said.
A major gateway for Asian and African immigrants trying to enter Europe through its porous borders, Greece has long struggled with illegal immigration.
In the last few years, the problem has exploded into a full-blown crisis as Greece sank into a deep recession, leaving one in four jobless and hardening attitudes towards migrants who were blamed for a rise in crime.
Ill equipped at the best of times to deal with the hordes of immigrants crossing its border with Turkey or arriving in plastic boats, Greece now finds itself grappling with a rising number of migrants when it can barely keep itself afloat.
Stepped-up border patrols this year have stemmed the flow only slightly - in the first 10 months of the year, over 70,000 illegal migrants were arrested for crossing into Greece, down from about 82,000 in that period last year.
Many often find shocking conditions at detention centres with food shortages, no hot water or heating and open hostility from Greeks embittered by years of austerity, Crepeau and other rights groups say.
Egyptian immigrant Waleed Taleb is another victim. He says demanding his unpaid wages in Greece came at a heavy price; 18 hours chained and beaten by his boss, a stint in jail and orders to leave the country he calls home.

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