Friday, 19 October 2012

The arm of the state

Two issues, amongst others,  have dominated Greek society in the last two weeks.  Firstly, the article by Maria Margaronis in the Guardian on 9 October reporting on a group of anti-fascist protesters who were arrested in Athens during a clash with supporters of the neo-Nazi party.  They were subjected to Abu Ghraib-style humiliation and torture at the hands of the police.  A second group who were demonstrating in support of the origial protesters were also arrested the following day  and were also tortured and humiliated. They were spat on, hit, kept awake all night with torches and lasers being shone in their eyes, burned with cigarette lighters, shot with Taser guns, made to strip naked in corridors and the women were sexually harrassed.  The police officers threatened to post their pictures on the internet and to give their addresses to the neo-Nazis.

The lawyer of one of the protesters said: 'this is the new face of the police, with the collaboration of the justice system'.

The second issue has been the thuggery of the neo-Nazis outside the Hytirio theatre in Athens, where Terrence McNally's play Corpus Christi (which casts Jesus and his disciples as gay men), was staged. The opening night was postponed as the theatre goers were beaten up and the actors were locked inside the theatre. Following that first night, the area outside the theatre became a battleground, where theatre goers and journalists were abused, threatened and beaten up while police looked on. Priests and nuns joined the fascists. The anti-fascists who came to protect the theatre and the people wanting to see the play, were kept behind solid police lines.

One neo-Nazi protester got arrested by the police and put in a police van: a neo-Nazi MP went inside the police van, removed the demonstrator and the police simply looked on and did nothing. A journalist was threatened and beaten by the neo-Nazis and again while the police looked on and did nothing. 'They're beating me, are you going to do nothing?' shouted the journalist. This is what he posted on twitter: 'I move away so I can look on from a distance. One fascist MP follows me, punches me in the face twice and knocks me to the ground. The police are two steps away but they turn their back'.

I called Mr Samaras a hypocrite in my post on 8 October for claiming that the rise of the neo-Nazi party was a destabilising factor and that 'Greek democracy is perhaps facing its biggest challenge', likening the situation to the Weimar Republic. I posed a number of questions related to the measures his government has taken that have actually helped and colluded with the neo-Nazis.

Things have become much clearer since reading an interview by the Minister of Public Order, Nikos Dendias, the Minister who has instigated the Xenios Zeus operation which has effectively fuelled the neo-Nazis activities. Mr Dendias addressed both of the above issues and has made his position quite clear.

Mr Dendias claimed that the Guardian report on torture of anti-fascist protesters in the hands of the police was false. He claimed that this report was something that was pushed through by SY.RIZ.A and that he will sue the Guardian if no proof of torture is found by the doctors. He added that since there are no official lawsuits against the police, and since the detainees have not gone on record with their names and reports, there is no justification for the publication of the piece. He disputes the originality of the pictures of the torture that have been published on the internet. He denies the fact that the protesters have not gone on record about the torture because they are afraid of the neo-Nazis and the police.

When asked about the Hytirio incident, he made no mention of fascist MPs attacking people but tried to justify why police stood by and did nothing to protect people who were being beaten up, by explaining that they did not have orders to arrest people.

It seems that, knowing he is losing the police to the neo-Nazis, Mr Dendias is trying to placate them.

Mr Dendias as Minister of Public Order  has made it very clear what he understands by 'order' and who he is going to side with and protect.

My question is this: if the police are the arm of the state, and if the state and the police collude with the neo-Nazis, does this then not mean that the neo-Nazis themselves are an arm of the state?

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