Merkel’s Visit in Greece: A Well-Organised Project of “Applied” Political Repression

Two were the highlights of the day Angela Merkel visited Greece on October 9: on the one hand the absence of any kind of intention to negotiate – as far as the Memorandum and the austerity measures are concerned – on behalf of the Greek government, on the other the very well-organised plan the Greek authorities launched for the purpose of targeting social protest and terrorising the politically “awake” youth and working-class people.

In order to avoid the symbolic and at the same time political impact of angry social demonstrations during the visit of the German chancellor in Athens, the Greek authorities launched a plan of “applied” political repression. This wide-scale police enterprise – in which all police units participated: riot police, National Information Service, police, traffic police – at the end of the day had resulted in 317 citizens being unwarrantedly detained in the headquarters of the Attica General Police Directorate, GADA (the Athens equivalent of Scotland Yard). In many cases handcuffs were worn by people who were unreasonably dragged to GADA – an act that is considered illegal during detainment –, a Greek policeman was accused of using a female protester as a human shield and 24 protesters were arrested, with dubious charges. Ιt is important to mention that among those arrested there was an adolescent of 13 years of age. All the arrests were made during the demonstration and with reference to the so-called “anti-terror legislation”, which actually has become a barrier for union and political activity in Greece. The 24 arrested were accused of carrying items – masks or even scarves – that can supposedly be used to cover facial characteristics while attempting terror acts. In reality, the arrested carried with them scarves and masks in order to protect themselves against the chemicals and teargas that the riot police would attempt to throw at them during the demonstration.

Four days later, under the pressure of the opposition and of a large-scale solidarity movement the first 17 of those arrested were set free. In the meantime, the authorities had published the photos in the General Police Administration website of the faces of the young people arrested, thereby disregarding the presumption of innocence and fundamental human rights.

 Ιt is also cited that a week before Angela’s Merkel visit to Greece, Greek police arbitrariness was once more in the foreground, when fifteen anti-fascist protesters arrested in Athens during a clash with supporters of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, said they had been tortured in the Attica General Police Directorate (GADA) and subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation.

This uncontrolled physical and psychological brutality on behalf of the police-force against society can be seen as a part of a wider plan for the repression of social protest which has been set in motion since the voting of the first Memorandum. In real terms, during the most intense phase of the financial and political crisis in Greece, the Greek authorities choose to undermine democracy and “activate” repression apparatuses with the objective of detaining the social anti-austerity movement.