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Greece: hand grenade attack on meeting of Association of Conscientious Objectors

Demonstration in Athens on 26 FebruaryDemonstration in Athens on 26 February

On 24 February, members of the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors were the target of a hand grenade attack, and only survived unharmed by sheer luck. According to the press release of the Greek Association of COs, at around 10 pm, while an open meeting against the new armaments plan, hosted by the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors, was in full progress, an unknown person threw a hand grenade at the building in which the meeting was taking place - the Migrants’ House at 13A Tsamadou Street in Exarchia - and then run away.

"Those of us that were inside at the time heard a loud knock at the window and then a strong explosion. The perpetrator tried to throw a hand grenade inside the meeting hall through the window. Fortunately, there was double-glazing and only the outside glass broke, bouncing off the hand grenade into the pavement, just outside the building. From the explosion, some glass windows in the surrounding buildings were broken and damage was caused in the pavement. But thankfully, and only due to sheer luck, no one was harmed, against, apparently, the clear intention of the perpetrator to kill."

The building known as the Migrants’ House houses a number of left, feminist, homosexual and immigrant groups, apart from the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors. A short time before the attack, Greek language courses for non-native speakers were taking place, as every day, attended by tens of immigrants.

War Resisters' International issued a statement of support for the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors, an affiliate of War Resisters' International. In the statement, WRI says:

"The War Resisters' International is extremely concerned about this particular attempt to kill Greek antimilitarists and the general rise of fear and insecurity in Greece, specially for activists in Greece. The spirit of December 2008 (when the killing of Alexandoros Grigoropoulos provoked mass protests throughout Greece) is obviously still alive among different activist groups in Greece and WRI supports their struggle to end the circle of violence. The rise of extreme right wing groups which spread fear and threaten the very life of people cannot be tolerated. Not anywhere in the world, not in Greece.

The War Resisters' International calls upon Greek authorities to undercover the perpetrator and unmask the motives behind this terrible act.

The War Resisters' International calls other antimilitarist and pacifist groups to express solidarity with Greek COs in their struggle."

In their press release, the Greek COs vow to continue their struggle. They write: "The revival of extreme-right or para-state terrorism, which we seem to be witnessing, can frighten only those who are already frightened, therefore not us. As it is obvious and as it happens in such cases, the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors will continue and intensify its action, especially now that we realize how much this action annoys them. We did not need a hand grenade exploding outside our building to realize how murderous nationalism and militarism are and how determined we are to oppose them. The militaristic attitude that we experienced yesterday is incompatible with the liberation movement while antimilitarism is one of its basic components. We stand determined against those who invest in the terror of the setup military tension in the Aegean Sea seeking to justify a new armaments race, against those who invest in terrorism, racism and xenophobia, nationalism and militarism."

The Association of Greek COs can be reached on:

Sources: Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors: No more military armaments, no more hand grenades, Press release, 25 February 2009; War Resisters' International: public statement on the bomb attack on Greek COs, 26 February 2009