Was amazed yesterday going through my usual sources of Greek news to discover a video showing a couple of policemen abusing two immigrants in a police station in the very centre of Athens.
Once more it demonstrates how far Greece can really be from the civilized west.
The minister in charge seems not too be too bothered about the whole situation and clearly is not able to offer his resignation.
In my 18 years I spend in Athens I was witnessing from all sides the inability of the Greeks to deal with difference and change. And the logical conclusion of intolerance is racism and xenophobia.
Back in 1996 everyone seemed to be up in arms about the influx of Albanians in Greece and how it changed the traditional social strata of the country. What most people refused to acknowledge though was the very fact that all the cheap labour helped Greece though some rough times, when the economy was very unsteady and almost ruled it out of the single European currency. All the migrant workers were referred to as if they were inanimate objects, there just to please the Greeks.
I am deeply ashamed looking back at those years realising with hindsight that the times were, and still are, deeply racist and intolerant.
Everything in Greece has a veneer of "national pride" which legitimises the most abhorrent behaviour. And most people think that the country is owed special dispensation from accepted wisdom and mores because it was the historic cradle of civilization. I remember countless conversations and quarrels at school when I expressed any views that did not reflect this pseudo-patriotic given. Other students would call me names and that I was anti-patriotic. For them being a patriot equalled agreeing with all the policies the Greek government came up with without judging them in the slightest. If the government wanted to go to war over the sea borders with Turkey then we all had to agree that Turkey is automatically the force of evil and it had to be ring fenced. The very fact that Greece is most probably the only European country to use land mines to protect its borders always used to pass by all those "patriots".
I’m sure a number of people will quietly applaud the police officers in the leaked video for "keeping in check the foreigners". Police brutality is nothing new in Greece. The power of the police over the lives of the citizens is immense. They pretty much have every right to stop and search anyone whenever they fancy and of course all of them being armed you wouldn’t resist! That police state practically dates back to the dictatorship (1967-1974) when torturing the opposition became the norm. The country since then is pretty much run under a status quo of hatred, suspicion and fear. I just wish they would all wake up and realise that very much like ancient Greece built its success on huge numbers of slaves, modern Greece depends on human trafficking and bribery to keep itself going.
I will be watching the development of the story with huge interest and see if any politicians will take responsibility for the institutionally racist police force they have nurtured over the last 30 years.
The furore has not as yet made it to the UK media, here are a couple of links to the Athens News Agency in English:
and the link to the video on the Greek website that publishised it: