In the midst of the international outcry against rising neo-Nazism and murderous attacks against foreign nationals and Greeks, the Greek government recently arrested several Parliament members (MPs) and other leaders of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party.
It took the death of Pavlos Fyssas, an antifascist Greek rapper, to arouse the government from its self-imposed slumber.
It has suddenly realized that Golden Dawn is a “criminal organization… acting since 1987… and responsible for at least five murders,” per the report of the Greek Supreme.
Guns, along with large amounts of ammunition and cash, were confiscated from the homes and offices of the neo-Nazi party and its MPs. These same MPs, mind you, were entering the Greek parliament until now carrying weapons with nary a peep from the government.
The government also seized the cell phone records of the man charged with Fyssas’ murder, as well as the phone records of 300 Golden Dawn members, monitoring them for conversations implicating Golden Dawn Parliament members in the violence.
Several members of the police were arrested as well. And high-ranking members of the police and the army were removed from duty, pending the outcome of investigations into their relationships with the Golden Dawn.
One of these officers, Demos Kouzilos of the National Intelligence Service, was himself appointed to investigate the “criminal organization” of the Golden Dawn. Kouzilos, a relative of one of the Golden Dawn’s MPs, was appointed by the Greek Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, Nikos Dendias.
Dendias is the very same man who not so long ago inaugurated his operation of arresting foreign nationals as “Operation Welcoming Zeus.” Under this plan, the police stopped and arrested men and women who looked foreign to them, tourists among them, detaining the people apprehended in one of several "closed hospitality centers"– incarceration camps with people “housed” in small metal containers in sizzling Greek summer heat, which led some of the detainees to attempt suicide.
It is not surprising that the government suddenly woke up. Only weeks prior, the government declared its complete failure to improve the Greek economy a “success story.” That “success story” was repeated incessantly amidst rising unemployment and the continuation of its plan to fire 14,000 more public employees by the end of the year. Other IMF and EU sponsored austerity measures continued as well – the closing or privatization of public utilities and other national industries, the sale of prime state-owned land and properties.
These ferocious austerity measures have brought unemployment into the highest in Europe. It is in this context that the arrest and prosecution of the Golden Dawn, following on international and national outcry, is a convenient diversion.
And the European Union is projecting yet another austerity memorandum for 2014 and new borrowing.
“Justice and stability, not elections,” declared Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as he left for a meeting at the United Nations and with IMF’s Director, Christine Lagarde, in the U.S. His press secretary, in the meantime, continued attacks on SYRIZA and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, repeating the tired but dangerous mantra of the “two extremes” versus the “stable” center.
If the mass arrest of the Golden Dawn’s MPs leads to their expulsion or their resignation from the Parliament, what then? The Greek constitution calls for special elections in the event of the removal from parliament of any of its members. Several MPs from the ruling parties observed, “If we go to elections for the Golden Dawn’s seats it is likely that SYRIZA will win these seats and that the government will fall.” If the government does fall, this would bring on general elections.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Samaras assured the visiting representatives of IMF and EU that no general elections would be held. This ensures the continuation of austerity, the dismantling of worker rights and of the social safety net, and the privatization of public services and utilities.
Perhaps it is possible that Greece will yet choose a new left government. Then Europe may be forced to move away from the harsh austerity programs that have impoverished hard-working people, shuttered factories, destroyed countries, and ushered in the Golden Dawn.
Photo: Screenshot Via Euronews.