Saturday May 23, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Can Greece's crackdown on Golden Dawn be justified?

Whenever police frog-march the duly elected leaders of a political party to jail for collective prosecution, alarm bells should sound. The arrest of six neofascist Golden Dawn politicians in Greece is no exception -- although in this case it may also be the least bad option for Greek authorities.

The cause for alarm is clear: The prosecution of opposition parties almost invariably represents an abuse of power for political ends, damaging the rule of law, free speech and the right of voters to representation (more than 400,000 people voted for Golden Dawn in the last elections). This kind of abuse can rip the fabric of democracy at the seams.

The Greek crackdown on Golden Dawn appears political because it happened only after the stabbing death of a left-wing rapper, Pavlos Fyssas, caused public support for Golden Dawn to drop to 7 percent from post-election highs of 11 percent. The violent nature of Golden Dawn, which has 18 members of Greece’s 300-seat Parliament, has been clear for at least two years.

So how can this nakedly political crackdown possibly be justified? The answer depends partly on the past -- Golden Dawn’s history of violence -- and partly on the future -- the government’s prosecution of the case.

Human Rights Watch and others have documented an increasingly organized campaign by Golden Dawn members in which they ride on motorcycle patrols hitting “immigrants” with clubs and iron spikes as they pass, smash the stalls of immigrant market traders, and ask dark-skinned passers-by where they are from before beating them. Yet the state seemed unwilling or powerless to prevent such crimes.

The Golden Dawn gangs have lately become more brazen and violent. This organization is not like other far-right parties that have gained a footing in other European parliaments. The views these parties promote may be repugnant, but they largely keep their activities to politics. Golden Dawn bears more resemblance to the Brownshirts who spread fear in the streets of Germany between the wars. That is neither the exercise of democratic rights nor free speech: It is crime.

All that said, the European Union and Council of Europe should press and help the Greek government to address two major concerns. First, the arrested members of Golden Dawn must receive, and be seen to receive, a fair trial. This will be a huge challenge, given their treatment by Greece’s frenzied news media. Comments such as one from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras recently in New York -- that those arrested are “a criminal group of people” -- don’t help. Nor does the reported expulsion of a lawyer from the ruling New Democracy Party for agreeing to represent a Golden Dawn defendant. Prosecutors must be able to link the arrested politicians directly to the acts of violence under investigation, including two deaths.

Second, and equally important, is that the Greek government address the root problem: racist violence and police complicity. That means changing the rhetoric of the government itself on the issue of immigrants and providing police with the training required to ensure that immigrants are protected from hate crimes. A new law on racism, which the government has said it will send to Parliament in coming days, could be a start.

The rest of Europe has yet to grasp the extreme nature of what has happened in Greece over the past six years. By the end of 2013, the Greek economy will have shrunk by 30 percent, the same proportion that the U.S. lost during the Great Depression. This is a human catastrophe, which Samaras has likened to interwar Weimar Germany. That is hyperbole that should be taken seriously.

[Bloomberg]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday October 2, 2013 (12:33)  
Neither Grexit nor a dual currency will solve Greece’s problems
First aid for the capital
Response to May 15 comment
No more delays
Tsipras faces down radicals within SYRIZA over terms of deal
After a busy week of talks with European leaders aimed at securing support for a deal for Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces challenges on the home front amid tensions with SYRIZA o...
Police on standby after Roma dispute leaves one dead
Police in the western Athens district of Egaleo were on standby Saturday after a dispute between two Roma families left one person dead, another injured and two properties seriously damaged....
Inside News
Hotel contracts with a ‘Greek default clause’
After the drachma clauses seen in tourism contracts, foreign tour operators are now forcing hoteliers in Greece to sign contracts with a Greek default clause. Foreign organizers of internati...
Listed firms have whisked away most of their cash reserves
Listed companies have felt compelled to whisk their cash reserves abroad as the liquidity shortage increases uncertainty among local entrepreneurs. Kathimerini has discovered that 85 percent...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Greece escapes soccer suspension, FIFA happy with changes
FIFA says it is satisfied with changes made to sporting law in Greece, and has dropped a threat to suspend the country from international competition. In a letter to the government dated May...
SOCCER
Four-goal Panathinaikos thrashes Asteras away
Panathinaikos thrashed Asteras at Tripoli to gain an early advantage in the race for a spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers, as the Super League play-offs got under way on Wedne...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Tsipras faces down radicals within SYRIZA over terms of deal
2. Police on standby after Roma dispute leaves one dead
3. Dog attacks seven people in Thessaloniki, including 13-year-old boy
4. Two children aged 4 removed from Roma camp after DNA tests
5. Ten suspects arrested over 2011 abduction
6. Eleven kilograms of heroin stopped from reaching Italy
more news
Today
This Week
1. Hotel contracts with a ‘Greek default clause’
2. Listed firms have whisked away most of their cash reserves
3. Neither Grexit nor a dual currency will solve Greece’s problems
4. First aid for the capital
5. Response to May 15 comment
6. New civil service assessment scheme focuses on rewards instead of punishment
Today
This Week
1. The Greek-German breakthrough that didn’t come
2. Conspiracy madness
3. Greece came close to not paying IMF
4. National self-awareness put to the test
5. Albanian demarche raises concerns about possible territorial claims over Greece
6. Greek endgame nears for Tsipras as bank collateral hits buffers
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.