Amnesty International Urges Greece Not to Use Excessive Force During Protests

Press Release
June 16, 2011

Amnesty International Urges Greece Not to Use Excessive Force During Protests

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) – Amnesty International has urged the Greek authorities against using excessive use of force against protesters during continuing demonstrations in the capital Athens.

The call comes after a largely peaceful demonstration against government spending cuts was marred by small groups of hooded rioters who clashed with police. According to eyewitnesses, the police used excessive amounts of tear gas against protesters.

"The Greek police face a tough challenge tackling a volatile situation on the ground but they must ensure that the policing of demonstrations is carried out in a manner that complies with international standards," said John Dalhuisen, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International.

Video footage from yesterday's protests in Syndagma Square shows several police officers beating a demonstrator, pulling him by his hair and ripping off his top.

Thirty-three protesters were reportedly injured and taken to hospital, most with breathing problems or minor injuries. The Greek police also reported that 36 police officers were injured.

"The Greek authorities must prevent the excessive and indiscriminate use of force and other violations by the police in future protests. They must also ensure to investigate thoroughly, promptly, independently and impartially all allegations of such abuses," said Dalhuisen.

Greek police are alleged to have used excessive force against a large number of peaceful demonstrators in Athens on May 11, leading to more than 30 injuries, of which two were serious.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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