The current year is one of the worst periods in the history of Conscientious Objection in Greece, as measured by the number of prosecutions. Long-forgotten charges have been re-activated in a deliberate attempt to suffocate the objectors personally and financially. Six trials and over ten arrests of longstanding ideological objectors who had never concealed their personal data (place of living etc), are proof of recruitment offices’ immediate and aggressive reaction to the growing number of new conscientious objection objectors.
The new aggressive interventionism of the military has spread to every sector of the citizens’ everyday lives. The change in the way the objectors are treated by the courts is obvious. Their cases are judged in court sessions on days when there are no other cases, so that their testimony may not be heard by third parties. Trials are held in closed session with access limited to a few supporters of the “accused” and on the other the policemen and the military policemen.
All this is no surprise to us. Greece has the worst record among the 27 EU countries and the 4th worst among the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe behind only Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia) regarding violations of the rights of conscientious objectors and year after year SIPRI’s figures show it spending the highest proportion of GDP on armaments of any EU country.
The violation of rights that have been imposed during June alone include:
a. The arrest of Micalis Tolis in Ioannina (03/06)
b. The arrest and trial of Nikos Karanikas (44 years old) in Thessaloniki
c. The trial and repeated sentencing of Menelaos Exioglou (already convicted in December 2012) in Athens (20/6)
d. The arrest of Lazaros Petromelidis (50 years old) on the same day he supported Exioglou as a witness in court, in Piraeus (20/6) and his release only after the payment of €5500.
We already know that further trials have been scheduled within the next six months, there are already trials scheduled for Karanikas, Exioglou, Tolis, Akrivopoulos, Niotis and Sotiropoulos, at least these are the ones we know till now. At the same time an automatic €6000 fine is imposed on total objectors and people who want to serve an alternative civilian service but are rejected by the so called Conscience Committee a fine of 6000€ is imposed. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that conscientious objection to military service is a fundamental human right and also that civilians should not be tried before military courts for their refusal of military service. Moreover, the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee has declared that repeated prosecution of conscientious objectors for their refusal of military service is tantamount to repeated punishment for the same offence and therefore contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Greece, regardless of all these decisions is trying to morally, physically and economically eliminate all those trying to exercise the right of conscientious objection to military service.
We call upon social and political groups, parties, organizations, every sensitive and democratic citizen in Greece and abroad to stand up for our effort, supporting the fund raising for the prosecuted objectors with any amount available. As repression spreads over Greek society, whoever invokes the word “rights” tend to be characterized as “enemy of the state” and it seems that the first imprisonment of a conscientious objector is closer than any time in the past ten years.
Account number: National Bank of Greece, ΙΒAN: GR7301101390000013995324392,
Account Holders: Dimitris Sotiropoulos, Lazaros Petromelidis
Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors,