Samaras Stripping Greeks’ Civil Liberties



Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ plans to repeal laws granting citizenship to second-generation immigrants who were born in Greece, speak Greek and go to Greek school, and his embarrassing double jeopardy re-trial of an investigative journalist who revealed the names of Greeks with secret Swiss bank accounts who hadn’t been checked for tax evasion, shows him to be just another right-wing goon in glasses dressed up in a nice suit with an Amherst degree and a straw man for rising extremism.

Prosecutors, taking their direction from Samaras and the far-right wing Golden Dawn party, also are going to put on trial for blasphemy the organizers, producer, cast and crew of American playwright Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, which portrays Jesus Christ and his disciples as gay and living in Texas.

Great, now Greece has a neo-dictator as well as neo-Nazis, and just in time for the Nov. 17 celebration of the student uprising in 1973 at the Athens Polytechnio that led to the downfall of an American-backed military junta. Samaras was a college student then too, in the United States, and opposed to the Colonels who ran his country, but now is emulating some of their tactics.

At least he hasn’t put a tank on the streets yet, unless you count the water cannon he had brought out to spray anarchists and protesters against crippling austerity measures he’s imposing after lying before the June 17 elections when he said he would oppose the conditions.

He also wants to let police fire rubber bullets at demonstrators who are upset that pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions have pushed 20 percent of Greeks into poverty, and a lot of them – including a young nurse who was fired recently and jumped out a window in Athens – to choose suicide over living under a repressive government that has stripped many people of all hope and now is trying to do the same to their civil liberties.

You’d think that Iraklis Pasalidis, who got drubbed and embarrassed worldwide for prosecuting journalist Costas Vaxevanis for publishing the names of 2,059 Greeks with $1.95 billion in the Geneva branch of HSBC would have had the decency to take the beating and crawl away, hoping people would forget instead of resurrecting charges that smell like a politician with a bag full of someone else’s money. It took the judge a heartbeat to acquit Vaxevanis because the case was so bogus and an obvious political persecution.

HANG ‘EM HIGH

“Greek people have known for two years now that there is a list of people who are rich, rightly or wrongly, and they are untouchable. At the same time, the (Greek people) are on the other side, they are suffering cuts,” Vaxevanis told the court in a trial that came only days after he was arrested while tax evaders – those few who are arrested in public relations sham shows – won’t face prosecution for up to a decade, and probably never.

The case points out another critical difference between a real democracy like the United States, and a plutocratic oligarchy like Greece: in America, you go home if you’re acquitted. In Greece, you can be arrested again because prosecutors can keep coming after you on the same charges until they find a hanging judge, or Samaras issues the verdict.

While much of the Greek media virtually ignored Vaxevanis’ trial because it’s in cahoots with politicians and the rich, it was left to reporters from international news agencies to let the world know that Greece was going after journalists for doing the government’s work.

After hearing the news that he would be prosecuted again for a crime he didn’t commit and for which he was exonerated by the courts, Vaxevanis Twittered more truths about the government which still hasn’t checked a single name on the list of Greek depositors, some of whom he said can’t account for their riches. “While society demands disclosure, they cover up,” he said, pointing a finger right in Samaras’ face.

RIGHT TURNS ONLY

Samaras, seeing Golden Dawn rise in the polls while support is slipping for his New Democracy Uber-Capitalists and uneasy coalition government that includes the PASOK Anti-Socialists and Democratic Right Left Hut-Hut party of Fotis Kouvelis, a gutless wonder who voted “present” on austerity measures he pretended to oppose, has taken a hard turn to the right and headed toward junta mentality territory.

He’s said nothing while Golden Dawn thugs beat up immigrants, perhaps emboldened by his implicit support for their tactics and his statements ahead of elections he narrowly won that he wants all immigrants out of the country too, preferably put on a sinking boat and pushed out to sea.

Ahead of the Nov. 17 anniversary, the U.S. Embassy in Athens issued a warning that Americans who don’t look like George Washington or King Leonidas, but are of Latino, African, Asian or Middle Eastern descent, should be wary of venturing around Greece, a further humiliation for Samaras who’s apparently not going to stop until he disembowels the Greek Constitution and strips away civil liberties while he drives Greece toward becoming Syria.

Greek police, under orders from the government, have for months been rounding up virtually every immigrant they can find in a search for those in the country unlawfully. They should be deported, but not using tactics that remind of Nazis stopping people and asking for their papers.

The U.S. Embassy said it “confirmed reports of U.S. African-American citizens detained by police authorities conducting sweeps for illegal immigrants in Athens.” That came as Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni said she would shake up the country’s notoriously incompetent Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) after a disastrous summer caused largely by the country’s crushing economic crisis and images of strikes, protests, riots, and tourism workers shutting down ferry boats, transportation and even the international airport. What’s the motto now? Come to Greece, Get Arrested!

THIS IS NOT THE POLYTECHNIC

Greeks have nowhere to turn: the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is run by a Leftist reality denier, Alexis Tsipras, who doesn’t want international bailouts paying the reduced salaries and pensions of Greeks, nor foreign investors.

PASOK, under its failed leader and former finance minister Evangelos “Emperor” Venizelos – who doubled income and property taxes – is backing more austerity measures but not the kind of real reform that can save Greece. His party includes Maria Damanaki, who was the voice of the student uprising 39 years ago but now has lent hers to the rich and privileged.

Pasalidis, who who should be chasing tax cheats who owe the country $70 billion while his government is cutting pay, raising taxes, slashing pensions and turning off the lights and power of 30,000 people a month who can’t pay their utility bills, accused Vaxevanis of “turning the country into a coliseum” by defaming people without determining their guilt.

At least Vaxevanis, who said the the names of bank account holders were not private and that the case “not a legal issue but a very important social and political one,” wasn’t throwing poor people – nor any sense of justice or the rule of real law –  to the lions.

Vaxevanis, who Pasalidis said in a lame attack wanted to “crucify” people, retorted that, “The political system has been hiding the truth for so long.” It’s the government of Samaras that wants to put its critics on the cross and if he does, maybe he can charged with blasphemy. If he’s found innocent, he can be tried again until he’s found guilty, but don’t count on it. This is the real voice Greece now.