Published on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 14:40 Written by Avaaz Team
The activists told the Guardian that police at the Attica General Police Directorate in Athens beat them, spat on them and burned them with a cigarette lighter while threatening to give their addresses to Golden Dawn – currently the third most powerful party in the country. They say they were denied drinking water and kept awake all night with flashlights and lasers in their eyes.
Others reported being stripped naked and forced to bend over in front of police and other prisoners. One activist says police told them "we would die like our grandfathers in the civil war."
Police officials denied any abuses, saying, "There is no doubt that the Greek police always respect human rights and don't use violence." But this report adds weight to the growing sense that, as Greece's social fabric deteriorates under the incredible strain of severe economic austerity, law enforcement is making common cause with the extreme-right Golden Dawn party.
Anyone who thought that Golden Dawn would tone down its violent rhetoric and thuggish actions after winning seats in the Greek parliament have been proven wrong. The black shirts waving their swastika-like flag have stepped up their attacks not only on immigrants but on anyone who opposes them. The group threatens journalists, intimidates elected officials, and roughs up immigrants on the streets on so-called "patrols." And a Golden Dawn MP assaulted two female MPs during a live TV interview show.
As austerity deepens and social functions in Greece start to fail, Golden Dawn is stepping in to present itself as the protector of the Greek people. They give away free food (but only to white Greek citizens) and sponsor blood donation drives meant for Greeks only.
And they are insinuating themselves into Greek law enforcement to a degree that it's getting harder to tell where the police end and Golden Dawn begins. One police officer has been caught taking part in a Golden Dawn attack on a market, where immigrant vendors were assaulted and their goods destroyed. In fact, there are reports of police outsourcing law enforcement to Golden Dawn, telling citizens who have complaints involving immigrants to take it up with the black shirts.
While police officials deny any affiliation with the neo-Nazis, a Greek newspaper reports that a majority of police officers voted for Golden Dawn in the last election.
This has got to stop. It's not hyperbole to say that this is exactly how fascism gets started. And on a continent where fascism has taken hold in several countries in living memory, with catastrophic global consequences, this is an urgent warning sign. Those who continue to push Europe's crushing austerity, who continue to inflict needless pain on its citizens, need to wake up.