Saturday 2 February 2013

The terrorism of 'law and order'

Basic and fundamental human rights are being abused in Greece in the name of 'law and order'. Adopting a policy of zero tolerance to anything it deems as 'lawlessness', the Greek government believes that a society that has been brutalised and beaten by the economic crisis will accept its policies of repression. The ideology of the Neo-Nazi party, that has seen such a spectacular rise since the last elections, is being put into practice by a coalition government that has no ideology of its own.

These policies of repression and terrorism are being implemented by the Minister of Law and Order, Nikos Dendias whose first 'achievement' was the introduction of the so-called 'koukoulonomos'  in 2009, a law that decrees that anyone who wears a hoodie can be arrested. This was the beginning of a series of attacks on civil liberties. Under this law hundreds of people have been arrested and prosecuted because some police officer or other has attested that these people were wearing a 'hoodie' or something resembling a 'hoodie' during the time of their arrest.

Mr Dendias's second major 'achievement' was the establishment of the Xenios Zeus operation, where under the name of 'hospitality' thousands of people of colour are arrested, beaten, terrorised and taken to detention  centres that have been condemned by human rights organisations throughout the world, but are called 'hospitality centres' in the warped rhetoric of this repressive government. In the name of this 'hospitality law' aimed at 'clearing' the country of illegal immigrants, tourists are arrested and in some cases beaten because the colour of their skin is not white. The cases of Korean backpacker Hyung Young Jung, American Christian Ukwuorji and visiting academic S. Kumar Rai are cited by the BBC as examples of such police brutality.  'Anyone who looks like a foreigner or who looks suspicious can be stopped and investigated'  is the police's response to allegations of abuse of tourists.

This terrorism by the state continues with impunity. When the torture of 15 anti-fascist demonstrators were reported in the Guardian newspaper (initially not reported in the Greek press) Mr Dendias's sole response was that he would sue the Guardian. When journalists challenged Mr Dendias's version of the above events, the television programme was censored and taken off the air. The Minister's paranoia reached unprecedented heights when he accused Syriza of being a terrorist organisation and asked for a written guarantee that the party does not condone terrorism.

The attack on the 'centres of lawlessness', places that in most cases are owned and abandoned by the state, and had been taken over by squatters, was the next violent assault.  The squatters who were using the buildings as community centres were violently evicted and used as sacrificial lambs in this war of repression.

The use of an emergency law, the civil mobilisation order, to break the strike of the metro workers is yet another draconian measure used by the Greek government to smash any opposition to its austerity measures. This law which is intended to be used in cases of threat to public health is deemed to be unconstitutional  by the legal profession, as the strike posed no threat to public health. The threat of arrest and dismissal led to an end to the strike.

The government has now decided that given its 'success', this model of breaking strikes is going to be used on future occasions when workers mobilise against austerity. We have moved beyond the repression of a few minorities (as we are daily told in the news), to repression of large sections of the population.

The right to demonstrate is constantly being violently challenged as excessive use of force by the police and the constant use of tear gas is making it increasingly difficult for people to exercise this basic democratic right. One by one, freedoms that were laboriously fought for and gained over the last decades are being eroded with violence.

The rhetoric of the far right has been adopted, assimilated and imposed. This flirting with the Far Right that this government is adopting was shown clearly during the funeral of the last, unrepentent junta colonel, Dertilis, on Thursday. Five Neo-Nazi MPs and tens of members of that organisation attended. 30 gunshots were fired and yet, the Greek police stood by and let all this happen. When challenged on this by Syriza, Mr Dendias's response was that one man was arrested at the end of the funeral. All is well, then.

'When the face of the beast stops frightening us, then this means that we have started to resemble the beast', said Manos Hadjidakis. The beast is here. We have allowed it to come in and live among us.

'We should not allow ourselves to live like slaves', is written on the wall.

As I have said before in this blog, the streets say it all. This one reads: 'It's worth living for a dream, my friend, even if its fire will burn you'.

For more information on:

Xenios Zeus go to:
The squats go to:


Kyriakatiki Eleutherotipia

For further information on Greece plus more on current affairs, go to:

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