ΑΤΕΗΝS – They call themselves Guardians of the Constitution by 11 anti-vaxxers in Greece who barged into a high school, handcuffed the principal and dragged him to a police station in a citizens arrest are facing criminal charges of kidnapping.
Nobody was identified despite the high-publicity incident as anti-vaxxers who aren’t required to be inoculated are becoming bolder and more violent in opposing COVID-19 health measures, trying to prevent school officials from imposing them.
The suspects, including two women, also face charges of using violence against civil servants and judicial officials, disrupting a public service, violating measures for the prevention of disease, threatening behaviour, defamation, simply bodily harm and violating personal data, said Kathimerini.
They tore into a high school in Aiginio gymnasium, in Pieria, northern Greece, and later said they had “arrested” the principal for legally following required health measures such as making students wear masks and show self-test results.
When they got to the police station they found themselves detained instead and sent to a security division while the principal was released, later treated at a health clinic for abrasions to his wrists from the handcuffs.
The Ministry for Citizen Protection said three of the suspects have childen in the school, those arrested ranging in age from 42-70 and coming from a range of areas including Grevena, Imathia and Athens.
Anti-vaxxer parents who refuse to send their children to school for at least the obligatory first nine grades are looking at a possible two years in jail and a fine.
The government is trying to slow the surging pandemic and keep schools open although a number of them have found students being infected and skeptical parents not letting their children attend classes.
The government earlier said that students who miss too many classes because of their parent’s resistance against health measures could find themselves held back a year and have to repeat the grade.
Minister of Civil Protection Takis Theodorikakos condemned the attack and said in a statement that, “Such behavior is provocative and unacceptable and police should not allow it to be repeated.”
Nikos Fylis, the shadow education minister of main opposition SYRIZA, also said denounced the attack although the party is full of anti-vaxxers, with party leader Alexis Tsipras for vaccines but against mandatory shots and Fylis not missing the chance to use the incident to attack New Democracy.
Fylis said the nationalism that was fuelled has now given ground to obscurantism “and an ominous unscientific irrationality,” with tragic consequences for the victims of anti-vaxxers, without clarifying what he meant, reported Kathimerini.
A reported 35 students in the central city of Larissa face consequences because of their anti-vaxxer parents who won’t provide school authorities with required negative tests either, the paper said in November.
That has led to the students being barred from going into the schools and officials warning it means they could be held back, school administrators said to have contacted parents to inform them it would happen if the students go past a permissible number of absences.
After some teachers in Greece’s schools were detained by police after being sued by anti-mask parents violating the country’s COVID-19 mandates, the practice was to be stopped.
The Citizen’s Protection Ministry, which has oversight of the police, said the teachers will be protected, not prosecuted for following the law which requires students to wear masks and stay safe social distances from each other in schools.
A 37-year old anti-vaxxer father in a Thessaloniki suburb attacked his son’s female school principal when she asked the youth to show a self-test proving he was negative for the virus before entering.