The anti-immigrant operations continue and expand across Greece. Detention camps, round-ups and harassment are now state policy.
The extreme right wing party Golden Dawn(GD) has been gathering more attention from the media recently. There have been significant reports about GD from the BBC and the Guardian. These reports are useful but the problems in Greece are not just from GD. Lets not forget the role of the official Greek state in the persecution of those deemed foreign.
The Greek state is continuing it's policy of rounding up and deporting non-Greeks. Operation Xenios Zeus continues and has been expanding to different parts of Greece. The operation began in August with a massive redeployment of police to the centre of Athens. What followed was thousands of arrests and the harassment of the non-Greek population. The number of those questioned has reached over 40,000 with some thousands of these arrested. At times hundreds have been arrested in a single day with 487 reported arrests just this weekend. The idea is to deport as many people as possible via special detention camps being set up around the country.
It has become common to see these police operations in progress in the centre of Athens. Police will frequently descend on an area populated largely by non-Greeks and begin to question and detain those they come across. Often police vans and buses full of people who have been taken in such operations line the streets. Once busy and lively streets and squares can now feel quiet and empty.
Operations similar to this were begun before the period of elections in May and June and intensified after the establishment of the current coalition government. This government is headed by New Democracy(ND) whose leader Antonis Samaras labelled immigrants as the 'tyrants of Greek society' in his election campaign. The immigration 'problem' received a lot of coverage during the elections and was at times seen to be just as important as the collapsing economy.
With Greek police stations and prisons already full the detained are being held in special camps. Across Greece up to 50 of these camps are being built. The camps are either newly built or converted from previous usage. The network of camps cover a wide area of Greece and will be expanded into other areas. Previous Greek detention facilities have been criticised by human rights groups. A report last year from Human Rights Watch stated.
''The detention facilities where they[detained immigrants] were held did not meet minimal human rights standards. Though their treatment varied from place to place, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has held that migrant detention in Greece generally constitutes “inhuman and degrading treatment.”''
Whilst you would think the far-right would be happy that their policies of deporting non-Greeks are being carried out GD and 'local residents' have protested about the camps. For the far-right even holding people in camps is being too soft and there has been complaints that the camps have been built on army or police property.
At the same time as the state attacks the immigrant population within Greece it also seeks to stop any new arrivals. A fence along the Evros river which marks the border with Turkey is nearing completion. Once complete the 3m high fence will run for a distance of 12.5km. Frontex units have been previously deployed to the area and there has been a crackdown against those trying to enter Greece at this point in recent months. These measures have largely closed this entrance to Greece.
With the land border closing many people are attempting to cross into Greece via the islands in the Aegean sea. This has recently included large groups of people who are fleeing from the civil war in Syria. The Greek state's response to large numbers of people desperately trying to escape an increasing bitter civil war has been to draw up another special anti-immigrant operation. Operation Ione will see more detention camps built on the Greek islands themselves and forces concentrated in the north Aegean. The sea crossings into Greece can be extremely dangerous as was tragically demonstrated when a boat went down with the loss of dozens of lives in September.
As the international media begin to pay more attention to GD and the fascists roaming the streets we should not forget that this is just one side of the attack on the immigrant population. Whilst the fascist gangs attack and murder at night the Greek state harasses, detains and deports during the day. Round-ups, detention camps and deportations used to be a far-right dream, now it is official state policy.