IFJ Greek Union Launches Historic Exhibition To Celebrate Its Centenary

The International Federation of Journalists congratulates its member union in Greece, the Journalists Union of Athens Daily Newspapers, for his 100th anniversary, commemorated last Sunday.

IFJ president, Jim Boumelha, participated at the event organised by the JUADN Cultural Foundation at the union headquarters which assembled scores of journalists, union activists, politicians, academics, labour movement leaders and civil rights activists.

The exhibition of “100 YEARS JUADN” is bringing to the Greek public, for the first time, the story of the union which was started on 14 December 1914 by young Athenian journalists who collected funds to pay for the funeral of a young colleague who died penniless in a hotel room in Athens.

The festivities kicked off in the presence of Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, with the opening of an exhibition of pictures, books, newspapers and mementos, many of them documents and personal work exhibited for the first time as well as videos documenting the 100-year period.

“It is a fantastic sight to see our union showcase one hundred years not only exhibiting the historical contribution by its members to Greek journalism and literature but also recounting all its battles at the forefront of defending and advancing social rights of journalists and standing up for press freedom and Greek democracy. JUADN has proved to be a model of a strong fighting union – the perfect mix of humanity and tenacious resolution. Greek journalism is in good hands as along as JUADN continues to thrive and to develop.” said Jim Boumelha.

The exhibition includes the union’s Library, the brainchild of late journalist, Panos Patrikios, who devoted his life in collecting, cataloguing and preserving a collection of rare books donated by JUADN members and their families. Recently the union was able to secure EU funding to digitalise and index the library contents.

“1914 Europe was ablaze by World War I, when a handful of young Athenian journalists with vision, values and ideals founded our Union. In 2014, in the midst of global financial war, Greek journalists continue to struggle for the same ideals: truth, freedom, democracy, press freedom, justice, equal rights, dignity and solidarity. Hundred moments in our union’s history portray our vision for the new century”, underlined Maria Antoniadou JUADN president.

Among the rarest documents presented are the original issues of the newspaper “Ellinika Chronika,” edited by young Swiss Philhellene, Jacob Johannes Mayer, and printed in 1825 in Messolongi on a print set offered by Lord Byron who died in the city that was later besieged by the Turkish army for over a year. The local population, suffering from starvation, was forced to exit only to be slaughtered by the troops.

On the occasion of the centenary, the union is honouring J. J. Mayer, along with other contemporary journalists and deceased JUADN presidents, by issuing two series of stamps by the Greek postal service, financed by money donated by the family of a former JUADN president, Dimitris Pournaras, who shared his presidency with two other journalists during World War II German occupation. Giorgos Karantzas, the union president at the time, signed a historic protest letter against the treatment of Jews along with the Archbishop and other representatives of Greek institutions and later dared to strike over workers’ rights.

The Union’s Cultural Foundation played a major role to conceptualise and commission the exhibition and will issue a 240-page publication depicting all the items of the exhibition and the videos produced.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17

The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries