Awarded to Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor[ Translate this Page to French ] [ Translate this Page to Ελληνικά ] [ Translate this Page to Dutch ]
Why the choice of Panayote Dimitras and the Greek Helsinki Monitor?
For more than 30 years Dr. Panayote Dimitras and his Greek Helsinki Monitor, founded in 1993, have been fighting a tireless battle against hate speech, racism and human rights violations, and in more recent years, also against cyber hate. For years, he was a Trusted Flagger on the platform formerly known as Twitter. In the past 5 years, Panayote Dimitras has taken more than 400 lawsuits against Greek authorities and organizations for violation of human rights and/or anti-racism laws.
For years now, Panayote Dimitras is experiencing opposition in his own country. Opposition in the form of judicial harassment and smear campaigns, that are recently taking an increasingly oppressive form and about which organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have already published.
In the words of the jury: “Dr. Panayote Dimitras and his Greek Helsinki Monitor is a standout candidate especially at a time when speaking out is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous.”
At the time the jury is working on this website announcement, it is unknown whether Panayote Dimitras will even be able to come to the awards ceremony: the Greek authorities have deprived Panayote Dimitras of all opportunities to travel.
Dr. Panayote Dimitras Biography:
Dr. Panayote Dimitras was born in Athens in 1953. He received his B.A. in Economics from the Athens School of Economics and Business in 1975, as well as a Master in Public Administration (MPA) in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government in 1979 from Harvard University in the USA. He was a lecturer at the American universities in Greece, American College in Greece, University of Maryland and University of Laverne, and between 1989-1992 he was Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Athens University of Economics and Business (formerly ASOEE), from where he was forced to resign due to his involvement with rights of minorities in Greece. He authored the two-volume work "Political Environment, Parties and Elections in Greece" (Athens: Lychnos, 1991).
Panayote Dimitras is a founding member of the Minority Rights Group – Greece (MRG-G) in 1992, he co-founded Greek Helsinki Monitor (EPSE — Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι) in 1993, of which he has been the Spokesperson from the beginning until today. In 2010, he co-created the Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) (Ένωσης Ουμανιστών Ελλάδας) and has been a member of HUG’s Secretariat ever since. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the European Network for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (European Implementation Network — EIN) since 2018, a member of the Executive Board of the European Humanist Federation (EHF) between 2014 – 2020, a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism (GAADHE) and finally member of the World Organization against Torture (OMCT) since 2004.
He is the author of the books “In search of lost rights in Greece: the dark side of the Hellenic Republic” (print-objections publications, 2007) and "Racist discrimination in Greece under the microscope of the UN" (Epikentro publications, 2016).
- Greek Helsinki Monitor website
- Racist Crimes Watch Greek Helsinki Monitor’s project to combat racist crimes including cyber hate
- Public Statement of Amnesty International on judicial harassment of Panayote Dimitras
- Article by Human Rights Watch on the smear campaign and judicial harassment of Panayote Dimitras
- Humanists International Case Of Concern: Humanist Panayote Dimitras faces judicial harassment in an attempt to prevent his work to defend human rights
- Blogcollection by Panayote Dimitras (in Greek)
- Articles by Panayote Dimitras on The Book's Journal (in Greek) or: translated to English from Greek by Google Translate
- BBC-Interview with Panayote Dimitras, October 21, 2013
- Panayote Dimitras on his YouTube-channel
by Alexander Verkhovsky at the International INACH Conference, October 5, 2023
As a previous recipient of the Ro & Suz Magenta Award, I have both the duty and pleasure to congratulate Panayote Dimitras, the head of the Greek Helsinki Monitor, as the new recipient of this prestigious award.
The Award Jury unanimously chose to honor the Greek Helsinki Monitor with the Ro & Suz Magenta Award this year, and rightly so. This recognition comes at a crucial time as Panayote Dimitras stands courageously at the forefront, advocating to bring the online in line with human rights. Currently, he is facing vicious campaigns aimed at tarnishing his reputation and undermining the efforts of the Greek Helsinki Monitor. This award serves to acknowledge his resilient spirit and unwavering commitment to human rights, and it stands as a beacon of our solidarity with him in these trying times.
If you follow the INACH mailing list, you’ll predominantly find updates from the headquarters, which is to be expected. Yet, among these, Panayote’s messages consistently shine through, showcasing his active role in promoting human rights. Recently, his efforts have been directed towards resisting Elon Musk’s endeavors to reshape Twitter in ways incompatible with INACH’s ideals.
But Panayote’s commendable efforts span far beyond recent developments. His journey began years ago, earning his Ph.D. from Harvard the year I finished high school. Since then, he has been a diligent researcher, honing his focus on democracy and human rights, with a recent emphasis on issues of racism and intolerance towards migrants. His role transcended that of a researcher, evolving into a dynamic human rights defender, co-founding the Greek Helsinki Monitor in 1992. Since its inception, he has fervently addressed numerous instances of offline and online racism.
I find it personally significant as a Russian citizen to note that the Helsinki movement follows in the footsteps of the Moscow Helsinki Group established in the 1970s under the Soviet regime. Panayote’s discourse on migrant issues and the threats posed by the far-right resonate deeply with me. Drawing from the Russian context, I understand the immense challenge and paramount importance of advocating for the rights of the LGBT+ community and the Macedonian minority in Greece.
In recent times, Panayote finds himself the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by individuals within the Greek authorities who oppose his humanitarian endeavors. Both the jury and I stand firmly with Panayote in this critical period. It is heartening to witness the rallying support from several major human rights organizations voicing their solidarity. With a history of emerging victorious in such adversities, we harbor hope and firm belief that Panayote will overcome this challenge as well.
Words on behalf of the Jury, by Jolie Martin-van der Klis
It is my honor and pleasure to share with you something about the background of the Ro & Suz Magenta Award.
Two years ago, we lost Ronald Eissens and Suzette Bronkhorst, two of the founders of INACH. It was Suzette who initiated the Award in Ronald's name soon after Ronald's passing in January 2021: an award that meant to exemplify the INACH slogan of “Bringing the Online In Line with Human Rights” and recognizing innovative ways to combat cyber hate.
When it became clear that Suzette would not live long enough to present the first Award on the INACH Conference in 2021 — Suzette passed away on October 8 in 2021 — we asked her if she would give us permission to include her name in the Award too. Reluctantly, she agreed.
Since then, since Suzette's passing, the jury has the challenging task to choose one organization from all the organizations worldwide, both INACH members and not INACH members, who are working so hard, day by day to make internet a better place: to Bring the Online In Line with Human Rights. We have seen wonderful work, daunting tasks and innovative projects, done by all of you. Projects that give us hope for the future, such as the implementation of AI to combat antisemitism.
One organization however, finds itself in a perplexing situation. While we all know that our concept of democracy has many of its origins in Greece, and while we know it were the ancient Greek playwrights — Sophocles, Aeschylos — who warned us about abuse of power and lack of humanity, it seems as if the inheritors of this great culture, the Greeks themselves, have forsaken the wisdom that once gave birth to democracy and human rights.
The dire situation of Dr. Panayote Dimitras and the Greek Helsinki Monitor would have perplexed Ronald and Suzette, would have made them sad and angry, I am sure they would have done everything in their power to change this situation. So, let us all stand firmly with Dr. Panayote Dimitras in this critical period.
Dear Panayote, thank you for your achievements, your dedication and commitment to protecting human rights, both online and offline, for more than 30 years.
Thank you words, by Dr. Panayote Dimitras
Well, I want to thank you. I want to thank you, because this award has a special vibe to me, because of the two names. Two people who ages ago, I think it was before 2000, first got me into trying to fight racism online. At the time is was just Magenta and ICARE. And then at some crucial points, they allowed this almost occasional activity to become permanent by invitation if I wanted to join INACH and its projects, through which in the last two or three years, we have had more success effectively silencing hate, than in everything else we have done in the thirty years of our organization.
As it has been introduced: it has not been an easy way because we feel that we are somewhere between Hungary and Russia in terms of the way the Greek authorities treat people who deal with issues that they do not want to be dealt with. But we are here and we’ll continue to be here. I'm sure that it's a shame for the country that it will be known that I will not be able to come to Spain to get an Award, because I was not allowed to travel. That's reminiscent more of the Soviet Union than of an EU-democracy like Greece.
So thanks to all of you, and especially to you, Tamas because you've been the leader behind all our efforts to work with INACH.So thanks to those who gave me the award, and thanks to the audience, and thanks to everyone.