Doctors of the World provide frontline primary health care to people who otherwise lack access to health care services. In Greece they have been providing health care for free, an invaluable service especially for refugees and migrants without papers. Since the crisis the percentage of Greek people coming to their clinic has been rising.The health care cuts in Greece as part of the austerity measures have been drastic and leave many people unable to afford doctors visits and medication.
Five days ago, Golden Dawn showed up at the Doctors of the World Clinic in Perama, on the outskirts of Athens shouting racist slogans. At the time over 40 patients were being treated by the staff. Doctors of the World issued a press release in response to the attack:
“We declare that we refuse to “take fright” and we will staunchly continue to defend the right to Health care wherever there are people.
“We deem that Golden Dawn bears moral responsibility for any potential attacks our Clinics may be subjected to in the future and for this reason the relevant authorities will be notified accordingly.
“We call upon the Greeks who share the same solidarity principles with us to support our efforts with even greater determination.
This is not the first experience the Doctors of the World have had with Golden Dawn. A translator working for them was beaten up in a racist attack, and when their mobile clinic was treating people near a Golden Dawn office they were also intimidated.
Golden Dawn has in the past threatened to go into hospitals and nurseries to stop them from caring for undocumented immigrants. Only yesterday news broke of the dismissal of hospital manager Eleni Siunuri. She had allowed Golden Dawn access to the hospital’s employee records to check their immigration status. Now Golden Dawn has set up their own program “Doctors with borders”, with the aim of providing health care only to Greeks.
Golden Dawn have made an appearance in Perama on a different occasion, short before the second round of elections last year. On the 11th of June 2012, Golden Dawn had their local meeting. During that meeting, a speaker talked about how there had been complaints about Egyptian fishermen and announced Golden Dawn would hold them accountable for their actions. The meeting was filmed and published online. The speaker talks about Egyptian fishermen 3:10 minutes into this video.
The same night, short past 3am, Egyptian fishermen living in a house overlooking the harbour were woken up by the noise of someone breaking into their house. The attackers emptied a fire extinguisher, adding to the terror of a sudden night time home invasion by making it hard to see. What the fishermen did see was the emblem of Golden Dawn on the t-shirts of the attackers, just like the man wears who walks through the frame about 10 seconds into the video of the Golden Dawn meeting in Perama earlier that night.
It was a hot month, and one of the fishermen had decided to sleep on the roof in the fresh air. The attackers spotted him. They attacked a sleeping man, and beat him into hospital. He survived. The metal bars used in the attack could easily kill a person. As another victim said: “This is inhuman, when will this end?”
In the afternoon of the following day, members of the Egyptian community are gathered around the house. The cars outside are trashed. They were used for work. No other cars in the street are damaged. The windows and doors are broken. On the roof, the bed is still made, some change has fallen on the blanket. There’s blood spatter and footprints. There are no police. Not a car, not a single officer. It doesn’t look like there has been an investigation of a crime scene. The left behind metal bar, used in the attack, is still there. No evidence seems to have been gathered at the scene of what to the observer looks like attempted murder.
This is what Golden Dawn means when they speak of holding someone accountable.