Resounding NO to racism heard in Rethymnon

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NO to racism

A resounding NO TO RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA went up from thousands of protesters at a protest rally in Rethymnon. Among the participants were organisations from across Crete, immigrants’ associations and local political party groups. The cause of the demonstration was the tragic and horrific murder of a 17-year-old Albanian by an 18-year-old army conscript from Rethymnon.

The murder took place in the early hours of New Year’s Day in the Albanian family’s home. Earlier, a group of Greeks and a group of Albanians had been partying in a Rethymnon nightclub. There was a fight between the two groups outside the club and a Greek was slightly injured. The incident seemed closed, but later, at 5.30 am, the Greek group invaded the home of one of the Albanians, Edison Yahai. They hunted the young Albanian down and finally an 18-year-old from Rethymnon stabbed him 17 times before his father’s eyes.

The Albanian community in Rethymnon collected money to send the body home to Albania, in a coffin covered by the Albanian flag. The victim’s father, Lativ Yahai, made the following statement at the demonstration, his voice shaking: “I am very happy, not only with Rethymnon but with the whole of Greece. I have been living here in Rethymnon for 12 years with my family and relatives. I am very glad you understand the pain we are in at this time.” He then wished that Greeks and immigrants would live in harmony and that such tragic incidents would never be repeated.

The demonstrators stressed that the murder of the 17-year-old is the result of the existence and activities of small groups trying to promote a climate of intolerance against economic immigrants, both in Rethymnon and in many other towns throughout Greece. The demonstration ended peacefully with no incidents. Police presence was heavy but fortunately unnecessary.

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