Imagine sitting on a beach. The tide is out. Things look static. You’ve set up your chair, beach towel, maybe you’ve even constructed a little sand castle. The tides come in slowly at first, then without warning a big wave comes rushing toward you, swamping you and your belongings.
We think we’ve learned from history. We think that we’ll see the warning sings and step back from the water’s edge before its too late, but often this is not the case. Change can happen suddenly and even those of use who pride ourselves on staying informed can find ourselves overwhelmed.
In Greece, we’re continually surprised to see such big waves. The situation has rapidly deteriorated. Unemployment among the youth is currently estimated at 55 percent. Since the start of the crisis, personal income has fallen by 25 percent. Acts of public immolation and suicide are common. Greek prison inmates are out of food, now surviving only on donations. Up to 30 “detention centers,” what some might call concentration camps or internment camps, have been set up to hold real or perceived illegal immigrants.
The police have urged crime victims to seek help from the fascist New Dawn party. They are slowly becoming a de facto law enforcement agency in the poor and middle class parts of the country.
“Some said they were burned on the arms with a cigarette lighter, and they said police officers videoed them on their mobile phones and threatened to post the pictures on the internet and give their home addresses to Golden Dawn [the fascist party in Greece], which has a track record of political violence…
One of the two women among them said the officers used crude sexual insults and pulled her head back by the hair when she tried to avoid being filmed. The protesters said they were denied drinking water and access to lawyers for 19 hours. ‘We were so thirsty we drank water from the toilets,’ she said.
One man with a bleeding head wound and a broken arm that he said had been sustained during his arrest alleged the police continued to beat him in GADA and refused him medical treatment until the next morning. Another said the police forced his legs apart and kicked him in the testicles during the arrest.”
The list goes on and on. Severe beatings and degrading sexual torture reminiscent of Abu Ghraib are common. The Guardian quotes a police representative who said, “There is no doubt that the Greek police always respect human rights and don’t use violence.”
All of this is due to European power brokers and their unwillingness to allow Greek debt to be written off. There’s a word for this: tyranny.
Watching the situation in Greece feels like an omen. Collectively, the Greeks know history and they know what serious economic pressure can do to a society, and yet they still fall into the same traps Weimar Germany fell into in the 1920s and 30s. Can we honestly say that when our time comes, we will not do the same?
For more on Greece, Spain and the Euro crisis, read our in depth analysis here: Tyranny Engulfs Europe: Neo-liberalism in Greece and Spain.