Hate Hurts started in 2015. I was invited to a photography residency in Athens to work on a project that would expose the crisis that the city was facing. It was at the apex of the refugee crisis when thousands of refugees were fleeing war ravaged countries to find safety in Europe. Greece was battling a deep economic crisis and with the Balkan route closing, it also faced the impact of diplomatic stand-stills leaving thousands of refugees stranded in the country. I began making regular visits to refugees centres, informal camps and on the street. As my work progressed, it became clear to me that many refugees had a history of physical and psychological abuse and these stories needed to be told. They were subjected to unsolicited stop and search, detention, maltreatment, physical, verbal and psychological attacks. Some were targeted by the same very people meant to protect them such as the police and by groups and individuals belonging to the Golden Dawn, an extreme far-right political party. Refugees from Africa were the most vulnerable to violent physical attacks as the colour of their skin made them easily identifiable on the street. At the Babele Day Centre for Victims of Torture, I met Sila, a refugee from New Guinea victim of an atrocious attack by a group of Golden Dawn as he was descending a bus.
Unfortunately, he was only one among the many other cases, often unreported. Almost everyone that I talked to, have had similar experiences: being taken to police stations and often beaten or mistreated, unsolicited stop and search, stark conditions in detention and long painful wait in limbo situations.