PROTO THEMA journalists appeal to EC and international journalistic bodies over freedom of Press threat by Greek government

Resolution against Greek government manipulation of Press sent to EC and journalistic bodies

Journalists at Proto Thema have denounced the Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras’s stance, in a resolution, during a general meeting, in the presence of representatives of the Journalists’ Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers (ESIEA), and state they will appeal to all international organisations. The resolution, which will be forwarded to the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the competent European Commissioner, calls on the above bodies to deal with the attempts by the Greek government to intimidate and terrorise the press by threatening its freedom. The employees at Proto Thema have taken this initiative, as the media group has become a constant target by government officials, including the PM himself over the past months. During the general meeting that took place on Thursday, January 19, in the presence of an ESIEA delegation, the members of which expressed their support, instances of attacks against journalists and government intolerance were touched upon.

The resolution, approved by the general meeting:


Marousi, January 19, 2017

General Meeting of PROTO THEMA, and employees


We the employees at PROTO THEMA, and, following deliberations, with the participation of an ESIEA delegation, on the systematic attacks our newspaper and site have come under by the country’s Prime Minister himself, and the ongoing behaviour demonstrated by government officials, and taking into account the overall tactics adopted by the government concerning the Press, have concluded:

WE EXPRESS our deep regret for the bullying tactics and the selective hostility the government has exhibited against the Media, which ultimately turns against Democracy.

THE GREEK government has proven that it is permeated with an anxiety to manipulate and control the flow of information, by implementing methods which resemble antidemocratic regimes. The Government Doctrine boils down to: Any news medium or journalist that is not likeable is systematically targeted through slander and lies with the intent of degradation. This leads to extreme situations like arrests, and even the operation to shut down news media, as was recently attempted via the unconstitutional law form the TV channels. It is essentially the practical implementation of the slogan introduced by the PM himself: “either them (media), or us”.
Instead of contributing to dealing with the multifaceted crisis, which has hit the media sector, with thousands of lost jobs and the closing of many media outlets and the overall shrinking of the industry, the PM is intentionally trying to limit pluralism and many multiple voices, thus increasing mistrust among a portion of society against everybody.
The PM’s recent exhortation to citizens to refrain from reading newspapers to have their “peace of mind and health” (!!!), is indicative of a the mindset of those ruling that: “good Press is the closed Press”.
WE INSIST on the saying by Albert Camus: “A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.”
WE DENOUNCE the PM’s, and other Ministers’ obsession to constantly target PROTO THEMA. Alexis Tsipras, completely disrespecting his institutional role, resorts to unethical and cowardly attacks, disregarding the consequences of his behaviour. Only yesterday (January 19), he attacked, for the umpteenth time, Themos Anastasiadis in Parliament, completely and shamelessly ignoring Court rulings, by resorting to cheap and remarks, even lying about where the publisher and his family reside! He offered a sad spectacle, an show of overt authoritarianism which will forever haunt him.
It is obvious that the real target is not Themos Anastasiadis, but Proto Thema and its its journalists for criticising the government and revealing “annoying” issues. This can be ascertained by the recent headlines concerning the “asset origin” and the appointment of employees in the public sector, when professional journalists who reported on these stories with irrefutable evidence were personally attacked, whereas when reports based on allegations by SYRIZA officials were published there was no reaction by the government! The attempt to present journalists as subservient pawns without agency is a despicable and dangerous method.
WE UNDERSTAND the disappointment of the government officials, who for a long time, were intentionally attempting to keep the issue of the supposed “problematic” loans of Proto Thema in the spotlight, in order to harm the newspaper’s credibility, when the truth was revealed: “Today the company that publishes PROTO THEMA appears to be have all its loans in order, healthy and with no problems”, reports the draft finding of the SYRIZA MPs in the parliamentary special committee media and political party loans.
WE DEMOUNCE the threats caused by the ongoing and constant targeting and slander, with the presence of physical violence: the premises where PROTO THEMA is located came under attack a few months back, when a group of cowardly hood-clad members of “Rubicon” used crow bars, rocks and sharp objects. It was only a matter of luck that there were no victims.
Therefore, we render the government morally responsible for the physical safety of the journalists at PROTO THEMA, who are exposed via such machinations to bullying.
WE INFORM the government and all those interested that PROTO THEMA, and will continue to fearlessly report based on the professional consciousness of its journalists, which has brought it to the top of the readership among the public.
WE DECIDE to send a letter based on the RESOLUTION to ESIEA, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the competent European Commissioner so that they can deal with the arbitrary and the government’s regime-like attitude that threatens the freedom of the Press in Greece.