It’s not something that’s been kept a secret. The right and the far right of Europe are experiencing something of a resurgence. Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, most of Europe has been plagued by austerity, unemployment, economic crises, plunging living standards and a rising cost of living. But perhaps the most prolific case has been Greece. Greek people have been called lazy and feckless and many would even go as far to say ‘the red necks of Europe’, Greek people are stereotyped as fat and lazy and stupid. And it isn’t a fair or accurate portrayal at all. The Greek economy has always been one of the poorest in the European Union, relying on tourism and agriculture.
In 2009, Greece experienced a monumental financial crisis. For years, previous administrations had been hiding the extent of Greek public debt. Greek public sector spending rose dramatically in the preceding years, indicative that the economy was on the up and things were looking positive. Not exactly. The Greek government were missing some key tax revenue receipts. There was some serious tax avoidance going on, to the extent that it caused a massive financial black hole in the Greek public purse. So the Greek government covered it up by borrowing masses of money from other, more prosperous countries. Everything was going swimmingly. Until 2009 when the Greek economy crashed and burned. The Greek public debt amounted to €290 Billion. A whopping 82.5% of the Greek GDP was made up of foreign debt. The EU bailed the Greek economy out with certain conditions attached- and that started with public sector cuts. We’ve seen them on the news and in the newspapers, but the Greeks are seeing the most austere cuts in all of Europe.
And in times of adversity, it provokes a new feeling of anger within people. And there are parties in Europe that exist to try and direct that anger towards a marginalised group in society and use them as scapegoats. In Britain, the Tories use benefit claimants as a scapegoat and justification for their programme of cuts. In Greece, Golden Dawn use immigrants, sex workers, drug users and now transgender people as scapegoats for all the problems that Greece is facing. Golden Dawn aren’t in power, but their political ideology has an alarming influence in Greek politics. There have also been allegations that the Greek police have very close connections to Golden Dawn.
There have been revelations recently, that the Police in Thessaloniki have been rounding up people who ‘look’ transgender and placing them in internment camps. This is under the pretext that transgender women may or may not be prostitutes. Women are often held at police stations for three or four hours for no other reason than to determine whether or not they are sex workers.
Victims testimonies outlined that the experiences were highly embarrassing, degrading, humiliating and were meant to undermine the dignity of transgender women. Women have even reported that police have threatened violence against women who do not ‘return to normal’.
It isn’t just transgender women who have been affected. Migrants, suspected sex workers, homeless people and drug users are being cleared from streets in Greece in time for the influx of tourists this summer. It is social cleansing, clearing the Greek streets of ‘undesirables’- the kinds of people the Greek authorities do not want the world to see.
People are being placed in internment camps and suspected sex workers are being forced into undergoing humiliating HIV and AIDS tests. Transgender people are being forced into showing identity documents at police stations to confirm who they are.
What all of this shows, is that the far right Golden Dawn have much more influence over the Greek authorities than one would hope. The far right have more of a say and influence over Europe and this is the Greek example. In austere times, people become uncertain about their future and far right groups often look for some kind of scapegoat in order to pass the blame for austerity onto them. For Hitler in Depression-era Germany, it was the Jews. People saw Jewish people doing well out of businesses and began to resent them. Adolf Hitler turned this into political propaganda to a new extreme that ended with the deaths of 6 million Jews in the concentration camps.
As a continent, we fought Fascism once before. But the alarming thing is, far right and neo-fascist thought is finding it’s way into the political mainstream. This needs to stop. We need to equip our democratic, peaceful left wing parties to challenge this-not take the concerns on board and shape policy around them. We can fight the rise in far right thought again by speaking out against the kind of thing Greek, marginalised social groups are experiencing. How is this kind of thing okay in 2013 in a country in the European Union? It isn’t. It is a breach of these people’s human rights. And it has to be stopped. That’s why NAS is spreading awareness.
The national media in Britain has not highlighted this issue at all. One national newspaper is more concerned about the plight of jobless university graduates than people who are having their human rights systematically abused. This issue has little to no precedence in the national media-I could not find any supporting articles to highlight my point.
The world’s attention has to be brought to the fact that this is happening a four hour flight away and in a place where we like to go on holiday. It is a scandal that this is being allowed to go on and shows just how much influence the disgusting, far right, Golden Dawn has on politics and policing in Greece.