Monday, February 06, 2006

Rampaging Greek Anarchists Rule!

The flowers of evil
By Nikos Konstandaras

The revelation last week that not even the prime minister can speak on his mobile phone without being listened to by unnamed agents as well as the brutal attack on the president of the General Confederation of Labor, Christos Polyzogopoulos, are two sides of the same coin.

The perpetrators may belong to two different worlds but the result of their actions leads to one inescapable conclusion: No citizen can feel secure — not when talking on the phone nor while driving through the center of the Greek capital.

But how did the seed of insecurity take root in a country with a low crime rate and where the security forces pride themselves on the high level of training and technology that helped achieve a perfectly secure Olympic Games in 2004?

At the heart of the problem is a complicated and often paradoxical relationship between the public and the police. The dictatorship and the brutal crushing of the student revolt in 1973 put a decisive end to public tolerance for the traditionally autocratic behavior of the security forces. But sometimes the police still act as if they yearn for the time when they could act with impunity.

On the other hand, there still seems to be a highly exaggerated sensitivity toward anything that might resemble police brutality, leading to a peculiar tolerance for antisocial and often violent outbursts by various “anti-authoritarian” groups. We have reached the farcical point where some security officials operate under the lack of accountability that existed in the past and others cannot do their jobs lest police work look like an assault on citizens’ rights.

To complicate things further, suspicions abound that the security forces tolerate (if not cultivate) violent groups so that they can justify the existence of expensive units.

This is the classic protection racket. Who would pay if there was no fear of damage? Citizens would not accept the existence of specialist riot squads and their equipment if they did not fear regular “anarchist” rampages.


No comments: