When photos contadict biased claims: The case of mr V. Friedman’s account on the book presentation organized by the Rainbow party
There is no need to repeat once again that everyone in Greece should have, and actually has the right and the liberty to express freely their views on different issues.
The case of the Rainbow party is a characteristic example of the aforementioned statement, precisely because this particular party has been provided in the past and also today, not only with this liberty but when necessary, with the adequate police protection as well (as in the case of its first congress that took place back on 2004, in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, in Greece), so that it could publicly and freely communicate its ideas.
Testimonies of the above are the following pictures, a courtesy of the Rainbow party:
Riot police forces protecting the Rainbow party’s first congress and their right to free expression, by colliding with ultra nationalistic groups outside the hotel that hosted the event.
Note that recently (ex) members of the Rainbow party publicly supported that “the only activities of this party are concentrated in some provocative actions just before every election and nothing else….“ obviously refering to the events that took place on June 2, 2009 during the presentation of the so called “Greek-Macedonian” (sic) dictionary.
http: //www.maknews. com/ forum/general-discussions/ vinozito-election-results-t15465-200.html
Testimonies of the fact that the organization of this book’s presentation, few days before the 2009 European Parliament election, was just another attempt to exploit the predictable reaction of an ultra nationalistic small group, for canvassing reasons benefiting the Rainbow party’s electoral campaign and for defamatory purposes against the Greek State.
Reading accusations and insinuations against the greek State and the police forces, as in the text quoted below, published on the Rainbow party’s website, is somenthing that -considering a few points that will be made clear in the following lines with the help of the video spread in the net by the Raibow party itself- exceeds the point of grotesque.
Attack of the Xrissi Avgi (Golden Dawn) a Greek Neo-Nazi party during the presentation of the Greek – Skopjan dictionary
12 June, 2009Victor Friedman Professor of Balkan and Slavic Linguistics University of Chicago
I went to Athens on 2 June 2009 for the promotion of the first Modern Greek-Skopjan dictionary to be published in Greece (by Zora [dawn], the publishing arm of Vinozhito [Rainbow] the ethnic Skopjan political party in Greece).
The first part of the promotion proper was presented by Riki Van Boeschoeten, a Dutch Hellenist who has been teaching at the University of Volos for the past 10 years. Riki’s speech alluded to the same verses in Daniil’s Tetraglosson (1802) that I have also cited and that begin “Albanians, Bulgars, Vlachs, and all who now do speak/An alien tongue, rejoice!, prepare to make you Greek!/Give up your barbarian tongues, your customs rude forego/So that as bygone myths your children may them know.” and so on.
Then I began my speech, which concentrated on the Greek persecution of the Modern Skopjan language in the twentieth century. The speech was in English, which most but not all of the audience understood. Riki kindly served as my translator. It was a 5-page speech, and at the bottom of page four, just as Riki finished translating “On the one hand, we can note that dialects such as those of Florina and Edhessa in Greece are so close to those of neighboring Bitola and Gevgelija in neighboring Skopje that calling them separate languages does not have a basis in the linguistic data. On the other hand, if we accept the argument that the Skopjan dialects of Greece are a separate language or separate languages, then their documentation is all the more urgent, since they are on the very brink of extinction.” and before I could begin the next sentence, which was “Either way, it is to be hoped that the Greek government will permit linguists to document these dialects before they disappear without the police harassment that, unfortunately, continues to instill fear in speakers and obstruct researchers.” about a dozen thugs dressed in black and 1) wearing the kind of combat helmets that riot police wear burst into the room screaming and yelling.
All but two of them took up positions by the doors so no one could escape. Two large louts were screaming at us on the podium and at the audience “Oli ekso!” [Everybody out], and “Prodhotes!” [Traitors] “Edo einai Ellada” [‘Here is Greece’ — the same motto that was used on placards banning the speaking of Skopjan and Vlah that used to be all over Greek Macedonia] and other things I did not catch. One of them ripped the banner off the podium that had the name of the book in Greek and Skopjan. 2) Another ripped out the wires that the TV cameras were attached to. I decided that if they were going to beat me up I would try to get a picture of it and pulled out my camera. I took a picture but wasn’t sure it worked so I took another.3) The bearded thug was about to hit me with a combat helmet when the fat thug stopped him. Apparently the dogs were under orders to bark but not bite. We did not know this at the time, however. They kept screaming and yelling and making menacing gestures, but did not actually come up onto the podium. One of them screamed at me ‘sign me this book’ in English using the intonation that one would use to scream ‘I’m going to smash your head in’. After a few more minutes of screaming and yelling they left, taking the display copy of the dictionary with them. (They did not, however, actually destroy it in our presence.) After a few minutes of discussion we resumed the promotion and I finished my speech. I got one of the loudest rounds of applause I have ever had. After it was all over, we stayed in the building for quite a while until it was safe to leave. 4) There were riot police stationed outside the building, but they were probably the same people who let the thugs in in the first place. 5) They also got very angry when I photographed them. We later learned that a Greek fascist political party called Hrisi Avgi [Golden Dawn] had had a rally just before our book promotion. The police were present at the rally, and so the thugs could not have come to the Foreign Press Association building, where our promotion was held, without their knowledge. Unfortunately, such incidents can be connected directly to the Greek government’s policy toward its ethnic Skopjan “”minority””.
A clip of the beginning to the thugs’ interruption can be viewed at
http: //www. youtube.com/ watch?v=2hVZYz_gH5k
1) wearing the kind of combat helmets that riot police wear
It is not THAT difficult to distinguish a motorcyclist’s helmet from a helmet that riot police wear.
worn by the thugs that burst into the Foreign Press Association building
HELMETS OF THE RIOT POLICE
This photo was taken on a different occasion, but as we can see in the following pictures, they are the same helmets borne by the riot police forces that arrived in the Foreign Press Association building on June 2.
The difference between the two types of helmets is obvious and the initial allusion made by mr Friedman appears completely laughable in the eyes of everyone. Obviously the attempt to connect the thugs that tried to obstruct the book presentation to the police fails beyond any doubt.
2) Another ripped out the wires that the TV cameras were attached to.
We can all be satisfied with the fact that the “wireless” TV cameras worked at their best so as to have today in one single video (you can find in the bottom of this post), simultaneous footage of the event both inside and outside the building of the Foreign Press Association.
3) The bearded thug was about to hit me with a combat helmet when the fat thug stopped him.
It seems that noone of the hosts of the book presentation took the time to explain to mr Friedman that the “bearded thug” was NOT about to hit him with his “RIOT POLICE” helmet, but only tried to cover the lens of mr Friedman’s camera so as not to permit to him to take pictures of the thug’s faces.
Of course the “fat thug” that stopped the “bearded thug” had a different opinion on the issue, since he had no problem with mr Friedman photographing his face. In fact in the video we see/hear him saying firstly to the “bearded thug” and then to mr Friedman: “Astona. Vgale me fotografia, vgale me re, vgale me fotografia re vlaka, ti thes, what do you want?” [ Let him (take pictures). Take a picture of me, take a picture of me, take a picture of me *****, what do you want, what do you want?] just before asking him to sign the book.
4) There were riot police stationed outside the building
5) They also got very angry when I photographed them.
A quite reasonable reaction if we consider the fact that in the past the faces of policemen who were on service ended up as targets for the various anarchic, communist and far left-wing groups, in ambiguous internet sites as athens.indymedia.org, which awkwardly enough is used as a reference by another member of that panel, mrs Riki Van Boeschoten
At the end, there are always the Evzones for those interested in taking pictures of uniformed officers.
The video from which the snapshots are taken is in the following link:
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