Monday December 22, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
13o C
8o 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)  
Klaus Regling stresses debt sustainability through commitment to reforms
‘Crisis of confidence will come back again and again,’ says Thomas Piketty
Who lost Greece
Snubbing the moderates
DIMAR not poised to break apart, insists spokesman
Democratic Left’s parliamentary spokesman Nikos Tsoukalis has rejected a report claiming that his party may be on the point of breaking apart. “This report is so far from the truth that I do...
SYRIZA offices in Athens evacuated after bomb threat
SYRIZA’s headquarters in central Athens have been evacuated after someone called to warn that a bomb had been planted there. Police are searching the building on Koumoundourou Square. On Fri...
Inside News
Spanish bond gains push yield to record low as Greek debt rises
Spanish 10-year government bonds rose, pushing yields to a record low, helped by greater investor appetite for risk that drove stocks higher amid the prospect of European Central Bank purcha...
ANALYSIS
Low costs, yield hunt to propel long-term euro zone bond sales in 2015
Euro zone governments are preparing to sell a record amount of bonds next year, tilting towards more long-term debt as they try to lock in historically low borrowing costs. Analysts estimate...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Special day for Abidal, lucky one for PAOK
PAOK scraped through its Livadia challenge beating Levadiakos to remain on top of the Super League for Christmas, one point ahead of Olympiakos that enjoyed a great game at Kalloni and offer...
BASKETBALL
Explosive Barca unfazed by Panathinaikos, bomb scare
Panathinaikos lost 80-67 at home to Barcelona on Friday in a rather meaningless game at the end of the first group stage of the Euroleague, but the encounter will be remembered for the bomb ...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. DIMAR not poised to break apart, insists spokesman
2. SYRIZA offices in Athens evacuated after bomb threat
3. Spanish bond gains push yield to record low as Greek debt rises
4. Low costs, yield hunt to propel long-term euro zone bond sales in 2015
5. Greek parliament vote in balance after Samaras election offer
6. Parliament to investigate Haikalis claim he invested in stock market
more news
Today
This Week
1. Euro shaky on ECB and Greece, dollar keeps edge
2. Government accuses SYRIZA and Independent Greeks of 'clear alliance'
3. Prosecutor gathers depositions in Independent Greeks 'bribe' probe
4. Draghi starts squaring QE circle in month of persuasion for ECB
5. Parliament's ethics committee to look into independent MPs' comments
6. Energy shares and Greek rebound lift European equities
Today
This Week
1. Samaras summons bond vigilantes with euro exit talk
2. High stakes
3. Europe's drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
4. A friendly yet firm message from Pierre Moscovici
5. On the edge but not gutless
6. Ship with 200 migrants off Pylos towed to Italy after passengers refuse to stop in Greece
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.