Will Germany make the similar bold move to end the Odyssey for justice to the Greek victims and close these dark chapters of history?
Among the major media networks, I was delighted to read the other day also in the DW (Deutsche Welle) website:
"The British government has agreed to compensate 5,200 Kenyans tortured during the Mau Mau uprising against colonial rule in the 1950s. The settlement came after a High Court ruling in favor of three elderly Kenyans.
Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons the government would pay a total of 19.9 million pounds sterling (23.5 million euros, $30.8 million) to 5,228 clients represented by a British law firm."
Ironically, this piece of good news came at the moment that Greece is preparing to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Distomo massacre where on June 10, 1944 the German occupiers brutally executed 218 innocent villagers and torched the homes of the entire town. Distomo is just one of the long lists of atrocities committed by the Germans in Greece which, despite the non-stop efforts of Greece for justice, sadly until this date none of the cases were settled and the victims were never compensated.
While we are congratulating both the Kenyan victims for their huge victory and the British government for their courage to acknowledge wrongdoings, apologize for their actions and compensate the victims, we wish this case to serve as a strong precedent and become the light in the long dark tunnel for the unsettled Greek WWII pending reparations cases.
Undoubtedly, this victory of the Kenyans, which its timing can also be called as a "gift for the Distomo victims upcoming anniversary," it will boost tremendously the hopes to achieve smooth and quick justice for all the cases of the Greek victims as well. Given the utter failure of the legal system to deliver justice to the Greek victims of brutal crimes, this precedent must serve as a denial to Germany's convenient excuses such as; Germany is immune to paying WWII reparation or the time has lapsed therefore, the claims cannot continue to be sought and other shallow dilatory tactics to evade settlement.
Greece has started the legal struggles for justice more than six decades ago and acquired first hand experience qualifying her to state that obtaining justice from the existing legal system is a very steep uphill climb and almost impossible to reach despite the presence of compelling evidence and Germany's inability to prove innocence.
Greeks, as well as other victims of injustice, shall have a good reason to celebrate today and thank the Kenyan victims who, with their persistent struggle for justice have reminded all of us that "justice delayed is justice denied". The winner in this case is also the rule of law which must be respected by all and applied fairly to every member of our society, regardless of its race, size, financial status, or whether they are strong or weak nations.
We also expect Germany, a respected nation of the world community, to make the bold move and settle with finality all her obligations to the Greek victims. Critics, who suggest that Greece must give up the struggle for seeking justice for her victims, must understand that such a suggestion is immoral, absurd and illegal. To neglect the rights of Greek victims is also a non-negotiable obligation for the Greek government. Instead the critics to the Greek claims including Germany, will be of immense help if they support the quick resolution of the cases as such a move will serve as a deterrent to future aspirant invaders, occupiers and perpetrators of atrocities to be reminded that crime does not pay and sooner or later the law will catch up with them.
During WWII German invasion and occupation, Greece suffered the worst type of massive war atrocities when the country was first attacked by Italy and after fierce fights which resulted to a great number of casualties, the Greek armed forces defeated and repelled the invading Italian forces in the north-west part of Greece. Unfortunately that victory was short lived because few months later during the spring of 1941 Germany attacked and invaded Greece causing massive crimes against the population and the country's entire infrastructure has been reduced into debris. Almost every Greek town is decorated with memorials on which long lists of the victims names are engraved.
These massive crimes were committed just less than 10 years earlier than the ones committed in Kenya and therefore it is imperative now for the international legal system to use its impartiality and invite Germany to apologize for the atrocities committed, cut short the delay of settling her obligations to Greece and together with the pending war reparations, bury into the dark pages of her history this inglorious chapter of brutal war atrocities and crimes against humanity.
We know that no amount of compensations can heal the wrongs and we cannot bring back the lives of the innocent victims but it is important that we punish the perpetrators of crimes to ensure that they cannot circumvent the rule of law.
The British people must be proud and honored of their leaders for having the courage to admit mistakes in the past and deliver justice to the victims. The global legal societies too, must applaud this landmark decision which they can use as a milestone point of reference on many other similar pending cases.
With this precedent already on official world legal records, the Greek cases can be lost ONLY if double standards of justice are applied on their resolution. We count on the world community to prevent that from happening.
More about the Greek pending cases including bibliography can be found here: www.greece.org/blogs/wwii