The ERT building which was the scene of occupation and eviction. Photo: George Diakoumakos
Greece: The ERT belongs to the people, so give it back
The recent attacks by Greek authorities on journalists show why we must work together to fight for press freedom and for stronger unions. When we first heard the news on Thursday morning of the violent raid by Greek police at the headquarters of the national broadcaster ERT, we immediately condemned the action by the authorities.
The damaging austerity measures that led the Greek government to try to take ERT off air in the first place in June this year were challenged by the media workers at the time. Since June they have continued to refuse to switch off ERT and were backed by international support.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, the riot police and public prosecutor turned up and entered the occupied building, at the time the police blocked the entrances and they stopped surrounding traffic.
One of our sister unions, the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN), say the police used tear gas to drive the station’s journalists and media workers away. This was absolutely unnecessary and requires mass condemnation from all those who want a free press. It is the latest example of an attack on press freedom and the NUJ will continue to support our colleagues.
We want the police to leave the building and give it back to the journalists and media staff – we support their efforts to continue their public broadcasting via satellite and over the internet.
From the beginning of the raid, members from the JUADN and the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists’ Union (PFJU) were on site to show support for their colleagues. Journalists and members of the Greek parliament remained outside the building, demanding entry, while a crowd of supporters at the front of the building continued to grow. Demonstrations in support of ERT took place yesterday in Greece.
We need to build strength from international solidarity, seek out new members support and expand our network of alliances.
The NUJ is a trade union that stands up for journalism, working with the International Federation of Journalists to do so. This collaborative work has been absolutely essential and is needed most during these challenging times.
As a union we support journalists including those who have been attacked, evicted, arrested, detained, jailed or killed – simply for doing their job and working in the public interest. We spend our lives helping professional media workers – campaigning for our colleagues and using our ethical code of conduct.
We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Greece. The ERT belongs to the people, it is their struggle to keep it and it is our fight too.
Messages of solidarity can be sent to the trade unions involved: [email protected] and [email protected] and messages also sent to [email protected] will be read out on Radio Sto Kokkino which has offered its studios to ERT employees.