Many today want that right abolished since demonstrators can find refuge on university premises. Others think it an important right against abuse of power by authorities.
Anarchists confront police regularly in the center of Athens, often destroying banks' ATMs, burning cars, and injuring policemen. Riot police retaliate with teargas and beatings, the brutality of which has at times led to widespread uproar.
This time street fighting erupted when a group of anarchists and members of radical leftist organizations attempted to oppose a demonstration called by the Golden Dawn to commemorate the day of Imia (Jan. 31), an islet in the Aegean Sea over which Greece and Turkey almost went to war in 1996.
Five people were injured during the clashes; three of them were stabbed.
Some hours later, as clashes continued, video footage started circulating of riot policemen collaborating with members of the Golden Dawn, causing serious concern about the relations of police forces with fascist elements.
The police officially deny that riot police have joined forces with fascists, and blame the scale of violence on poor preparation on their side. The government says the police did nothing more than "stand between the two fronts."
Petros Tzomakos, a member of the Greek wing of Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE), who broke his hand during the clashes, sees things differently. "If in the past we could talk about police tolerating them, this time they clearly co-operated with the Golden Dawn. They backed them up while they assaulted people," he told IPS.
"They worked together with a gang who exists at the expense of society, stabbing migrants and beating up people who look or think differently. We demand that policemen present in the incident are brought to the courts to explain themselves."
According to a Greek Ombudsman's special report in July 2004, the majority of abuses by uniformed officials go unpunished. This 'culture of impunity' also seems to apply to extreme right radicals -- very few have faced justice for hate and racially motivated crimes during the last two decades.
According to the YRE, fascists are becoming more active. They have been involved in 20 cases of assault over the last six months, attacking or intimidating political activists, damaging their organizations' offices, and brutally beating and stabbing migrants from Pakistan, Morocco and Sudan.
"There is a serious boost in extreme right radicals' confidence lately," Tzomakos said. "Their ideological relatives are in the parliament for the first time (the extreme right Popular Orthodox Alarm), and they enjoy more support than before. We ought to face this before it is too late."
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Albion Monitor February
25, 2008 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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