One of our Greek contributors has drawn our attention to the story of Marios Lolos, President of the Greek Photojournalists' Association.
Many Greeks gathered in Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament on Thursday 5 April to commemorate Dimitris Christoulas, a pensioner who committed suicide in the square last week, apparently in despair over his financial situation. This was seen as dangerous by the MAT riot police, who attempted to clear the square.
Unfortunately, photojournalists covering the demonstration seem to have been identified as part of the problem, as has been happening regularly in Greece, Spain and elsewhere in recent months. There were confrontations between photojournalists explaining that they were exercising their profession and the riot police demanding that they move on.
During one of these confrontations, Marios Lolos was struck on the head with a police baton. The official blog of the Photojournalists' Union (Greek language) has more on what happened and the background of repeated injuries to photojournalists at demonstrations, despite assurances by Greek government ministers that photojournalists were not being targeted.
Full-time and citizen journalists in Greece and beyond are outraged about the incident, which has left Lolos hospitalised with serious injuries to his skull requiring surgery. The Greek government and the MAT have questions to answer about why photojournalists can't be confident that they won't be identified as participants in demonstrations rather than as members of the press.
Whatever comes to light about how and why exactly Lolos was injured, it's important to remember that being a member of the press is no guarantee of safety in a potentially violent situation like the many emotional demonstrations that have taken place in Athens over the past year. Both police and demonstrators are likely to be on edge and not taking care that they aren't attacking members of the press who are there simply to document events. We ask all our Demotix contributors in Greece and worldwide to take the utmost care for their safety above all else.