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Thread: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

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    Kritias's Avatar Petite bourgeois
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    Default Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    More controversial news from Greece since earlier this week the government majority MPs voted on a widescale education reform. Potentially writing off around 30% of the student body and placing stricter limits to young students achieving university education, the lawmakers also decided on a permanent police presence inside the campuses. Disguised as ‘campus police’, this security force will answer to the police minister instead of the university faculty, have rights of arrest, calling reinforcements and even the riot police without permission from the university authorities. Misinformation by the Oxford-schooled minister for education regarding police role in the esteemed university forced Oxford to issue a statement voicing their concern over academic liberty in Greece. Indicative offenses the campus police can proceed to an arrest range from the reasonable (ie. Damaging property, graffiti etc) to Orwelliesque like handing out leaflets or “noise disturbance”. More scandalously, the funding for this campus police will come out of ELKE, a joint university fund reserved for university research.

    The undeclared war between the government and parties of the opposition over the issue of universities has been waging for over a year now. The co-author of the bill, Police Minister Michalis Chysohoidis has accused the opposing academic authorities to be operating under some sort of Stockholm Syndrome, and the Prime Minister declared that “the police will bring democracy in the universities”. A student uprising during the junta that left at least 26 people dead when tanks busted through campus gates on November 17th, 1973 stood as reason for the restored democracy to issue the so-called “university asylum law”: that no state force could enter campus grounds unless serious crimes were being committed or else invited by the university authorities.

    The government narrative paints Greek universities to be completely lawless grounds. The narrative sometimes points to petty crime happening in campuses like selling contraband items, weed etc while others to assaults from unknown individuals on faculty. A significant such attack, the rector of the Economic University of Athens was forced to pose for a photo with a sign across his chest writing “I support squats”. However, professors have spoken out against the bill pointing towards statistics, both from police themselves and independent actors, showing that criminality in Greek universities is as limited as in the rest of the developed world. Opposition MPs have laid blame on the sorry state of the Greek universities primarily to the government funded and backed student union DAP-NDFK: the student union has been regularly accused of hiring thugs to break up student elections, of selling test answers to students, of buying test scores for students from government-inclined professors, of hosting parties with certain ‘benefits’ (and not a few cases of rape) inside campus grounds for recruitment efforts, and of generally being sexist fratboys. The opposition states that the government utilizes the pandemic and strict home orders for health purposes to pass as many unpopular laws as it can. Its indicative that right before this bill reached the parliament there was a lot of talk for issuing a curfew after 6 in the afternoon to combat the pandemic. Similarly, important dates for the student movement in Greece like 17th of November and 6th of December were declared extremely dangerous for public health. In the former case Michalis Chysohoidis, the Police Minister, imposed a ban on public congregations of more than 4 people.

    At the same time when Greek media over-sensationalize police brutality in neighboring Turkey as a sign of increasing discontent for the Erdogan government, native police brutality seems to go significantly under reported. On the bill’s ramification day, students throughout the country took to the streets and were faced with significant violence from the police. In one instance a policeman allegedly crushed a student’s jaw with a fire extinguisher while 25 detainees were taken to the hospital with fractured skulls before taken to the police station to be processed. Earlier this year MPs of the opposition have repeatedly reported being witnesses to police violence against citizens and journalists, while an MP and Speaker of the House reported being assaulted by the police herself. On November 17th 2020, MPs were also assaulted by police during the march to commemorate the fall of the military junta of 1967-1974. On the same time the special guard’s union speaker tweeted that a “significant part of Greek society is ailing and needs to be cured” eerily rehashing junta rhetoric.

    Making the situation more complicated, MPs for the opposition produced documents from Wikileaks where the US Ambassador in Athens in 2008, Daniel Speckhard, outlined US-backed reforms for Greece’s education system and the need to “police the overly politicized Greek students.” The documents produced demonstrate alleged pressures by the US government on the Greek government 13 years before a bill with the entirety of the suggestions made its way to the parliament. The government has declined to comment on the allegations of giving in to foreign pressures on the matter of policing Greek universities.
    Last edited by Kritias; February 14, 2021 at 10:05 AM.
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    Sir Adrian's Avatar the Imperishable
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    There is nothing Orwellian here. We've had campus police for 10 years now and they've never bothered anybody without cause. The worst they did to someone was issue a fine and ban that person from entering the girl's dorm after he punched through a door during a fight with his girlfriend.

    Otoh petty theft, destruction of university property, street fights on campus and loud noises during study hours dropped dramatically once campus police started doing the rounds.


    Campus police is a good decision.
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    Morticia Iunia Bruti's Avatar Protector Domesticus
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    Germany has no campus police nor France or UK as far as i know.

    Greece should not copypaste everything from the US, which has with Ted Bundy and other serial killers, their mass shootings and their history of massive drug abuse a complete different development of their society.

    Its obviously an attempt to surpress any left opposition against conservative government policy.
    Last edited by Morticia Iunia Bruti; February 14, 2021 at 12:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    Greek police has a long history of affiliation with the far-right, including the criminal, Neo-Nazi organisation of the Golden Dawn, so I can understand why students there are so upset over the new law. I also remember a few years ago, huge protests taking place in Greece, after two officers had murdered in cold-blood a 15-years old teenager, who hadn't committed any crime whatsoever. I even found a case, where the victim, a Cypriot student in the local university, was seriously ibeaten by the police, which falsely claimed that he injured himself by falling into a flower pot. Not a very convincing excuse, especially after a video was leaked of the officers attacking the fallen suspect, who got 300.000 euros as a recompensation.

    Given the Greek police's history of brutality and incompetence, I don't see the utility of the measure, especially considering it will be financed by the already impoverished tertiary education system. After all, the police can already intervene, when a crime is taking place and proximity hardly plays a role. If the issue is so divisive and controversial, I suppose the reasoning behind it is to attract the far-right voters, who view the libraries as a nest for Bolshevism and who may have been alienated by the economic recession and the pandemic restrictions. It's a right-wing government, after all, which needs the support of more extreme elements, if it wishes to acquire an absolute majority in the elections.

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    Kritias's Avatar Petite bourgeois
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    There is nothing Orwellian here. We've had campus police for 10 years now and they've never bothered anybody without cause. The worst they did to someone was issue a fine and ban that person from entering the girl's dorm after he punched through a door during a fight with his girlfriend.

    Otoh petty theft, destruction of university property, street fights on campus and loud noises during study hours dropped dramatically once campus police started doing the rounds.


    Campus police is a good decision.
    You misunderstood. Greek universities employ security guys as campus police for years now; the government passed a bill to replace them with regular policemen answering to the ministry instead of the university. From my experience, one of the security guys in the university I attended was actually arrested by the police and almost carried off the campus. The reason: policemen in civilian clothing were taking notes on the students (which is illegal) and he intervened to demand who they were and what they were writing. Cool and normal.

    The insistence of putting policemen inside university campuses is increasingly worrisome when Greece had the second most policemen per hundred thousand citizens in 2016, following only Cyprus. Since 2019 where this government was elected thousand more policemen have been hired possibly making us the most policed place in Europe. Add to that significant allegations of collusion with neo-nazis, far-right extremists, a right-wing government and more than a dozen reports damning Greek police for violations of human rights and you can see the full picture.
    Last edited by Kritias; February 14, 2021 at 01:38 PM.
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    So I guess my take would would be conceptually I don't have a problem with campus police. Particularity for a campus that abuts a high crime area. But it should be a completely administered entity of the university acting as a public locality. Thus the police should effectively responsible to some kind of joint local civilian and resident oversight (at the campus level) and still subject to whatever larger public agencies regulate local police.

    In this case as far as I can understand that is not the case. So unfortunate.

    Edit

    So re post 5. Very much what I not recalling from Eastern Michigan University. The campus police were hired and funded by the University and administered by it as an independent police force (they had to be vetted by the county sheriff so they carry out law enforcement all over the local county). There was a oversight board of students factually and random school administrators to take complaints to. Things like detective work or riots(?) stuff was something you had to call in the state cops for really.

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    the US, which has with Ted Bundy and other serial killers, their mass shootings
    I give on the mass shooting, in a nation of guns that is expected I suppose unfortunately. But I am not be sure on the serial killers. A EU with open borders is as likely as the US to lots disposable people that get killed and never pieced together by the local Po Po. A Bundy that attacked the upper part of society is the exception and the reason he got caught. A long haul trucker in Europe who is a serial killer killing transient people is as likely to pass under the radar for a very long time as in the USA.
    Last edited by conon394; February 14, 2021 at 01:49 PM.
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    Sir Adrian's Avatar the Imperishable
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    Quote Originally Posted by Kritias View Post
    You misunderstood. Greek universities employ security guys as campus police for years now; the government passed a bill to replace them with regular policemen answering to the ministry instead of the university. From my experience, one of the security guys in the university I attended was actually arrested by the police and almost carried off the campus. The reason: policemen in civilian clothing were taking notes on the students (which is illegal) and he intervened to demand who they were and what they were writing. Cool and normal.

    I was talking about real police too. Though to be fair in our case it wasn't actual police but gendarmes, which is military police, but they still answer to the ministry of the interior while on guard duty.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kritias View Post

    The insistence of putting policemen inside university campuses is increasingly worrisome when Greece had the second most policemen per hundred thousand citizens in 2016, following only Cyprus. Since 2019 where this government was elected thousand more policemen have been hired possibly making us the most policed place in Europe. Add to that significant allegations of collusion with neo-nazis, far-right extremists, a right-wing government and more than a dozen reports damning Greek police for violations of human rights and you can see the full picture.
    Yes, and? You're talking as if having police is a bad thing. We have 3 types of police patrolling the streets. There's local police, which is managed by city hall. There's military police, who guard schools, institutions, etc and there's regular police.

    If there are bad apples among the Greek police force, they need to be cleaned out. But that doesn't mean that having police is bad or that somehow it will lead to censorship. That's just nonsense. Having police on campus means there will be a squad, usually 2 people, in a room at the campus entrance and maybe one or two more squads around hard to reach areas of the campus. At night they patrol the campus, during the day they just sit in their car or their room.

    Only negative aspect is that parking fines have started to become much more numerous. Before you could park your car without paying for half an hour. Now they'll spot it and tow it.

    People can still discuss politics, people can still talk about whatever, without anyone harming them.
    Last edited by Sir Adrian; February 14, 2021 at 03:24 PM.
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    Kritias's Avatar Petite bourgeois
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    I was talking about real police too. Though to be fair in our case it wasn't actual police but gendarmes, which is military police, but they still answer to the ministry of the interior while on guard duty.

    Yes, and? You're talking as if having police is a bad thing. We have 3 types of police patrolling the streets. There's local police, which is managed by city hall. There's military police, who guard schools, institutions, etc and there's regular police.

    If there are bad apples among the Greek police force, they need to be cleaned out. But that doesn't mean that having police is bad or that somehow it will lead to censorship. That's just nonsense. Having police on campus means there will be a squad, usually 2 people, in a room at the campus entrance and maybe one or two more squads around hard to reach areas of the campus. At night they patrol the campus, during the day they just sit in their car or their room.

    Only negative aspect is that parking fines have started to become much more numerous. Before you could park your car without paying for half an hour. Now they'll spot it and tow it.

    People can still discuss politics, people can still talk about whatever, without anyone harming them.
    If you read the documents accompanying the OP, you'd see that the "campus police" the government is proposing will amount to roughly 1300 policemen. Now, even if this force is equally distributed around the 26 universities in Greece, it's still around 50 policemen in a university. Hardly the two blokes drinking coffee in a room. And what kind of place needs 50 people to guard it? There's less police in the parliament!

    Unless the purpose is not to guard the university -- but to harass the students. Which the Greek police has a lot of experience doing anyway, as the OP news articles and Abdulmecid's insights show.

    As to your more general thought: Policing is neither bad nor good. It's what the people instructing the policemen to do want it to be.

    And in our case, it's mostly bad. You can read more in the Amnesty International report I included in my previous post.
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    AnthoniusII's Avatar XXI ARMORED BRIGADE
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    My friend Kritias you see the entire matter from a wrong prospective. The excuse for Police's eastablishment permantly in the Univivercities is the smaggling and drug dealing . Nottice the word "excuse". The primary goal is the purcecution of free ideas inside Univercities. Being s student long ago i had personal expirince of "permanent" students paus by political parties to be students for decades not years. Now the goal is to encourage students to enlist to private Colleges and leave Public Univercities. Its a matter of political prospecttive. This gaverment copies everything neoliberal that wants to sell everything for NOTHING (defence industry, education, health even water like the Chile example). The actuall goal is not peace and order. There are laws old enough that allow Univercities to call Police for invasion if crimes are being but the coucils never used them inorder to create a feeling thatUnivercities are the hideouts of crime! Don't fall into that trap. The Greek goverment move has much to compare with the supress policy in Turkish Univercities that state was full control of the ideas produced there. The only thing that changes between the two similar issues is teh name of teh goverment (greek /turkish). The result in both caces reminds times of dictatorships.

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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    I’m kinda torn on this to be honest.

    On one hand, this could have a chilling effect on academic freedom and free speech. Police as an institution at the end of the day serve the government, private security are well, private.

    On the other, illegal acts taking place in university campuses should be within police jurisdiction if they aren’t already. I have a stake in the matter if my local university is a breeding ground for drugs/vandalism/even (it has to be violent!) political extremism.

    @Kritias on what grounds can the police stop leaflets being handed out? On the other hand, noise complaints are absolutely a valid arrest reason.

    1. This has the potential for severe political repression.

    2. University students are not privileged beyond the reach of law enforcement and should not be.
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    Kritias's Avatar Petite bourgeois
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    Default Re: Greece: MPs vote for permanent police presence in Greek universities

    The asylum law simply made an arrest inside a campus more difficult by having the police inform the university authorities and get their approval beforehand; it did not make illegal actions inside a university campus somehow legal; it definitely did not bar the police from making the arrest after the criminal individual left the premises. The law itself was proposed following the junta where political dissent was a quick way to an island prison; during that time, police would roam the universities and collect evidence of 'subversive proclivities'. Speaking from my experience, the only illegal action I have ever witnessed in the univesity I attended was the police taking notes, pictures, videos of students during their every day activities. Which is unconstitutional and illegal.

    University students in Greece are definitely not above the reach of the law. In fact they are more often than not in its clutches.

    I will just mention one case of many: Irianna, a PhD student who got acquitted after seven years of judicial fighting because her boyfriend once got arrested by the police and she got implicated by association, while another student lopped in her case was arrested and tried with the sole evidence of taking a trip to Barcelona! If that's absurd to you, let me remind you that Greek judiciary ever since the crisis consistently scores at the bottom of the EU on independence indexes and on the 40th place in the world, well behind the majority of the developed world.

    As to your question:

    The law leaves the grounds for an arrest vague; the police definitely did not bother to arrest Golden Dawn members from handing out leaflets outside a university just days before the law was put for a vote. Even though the GD were threatening the well-being of professors who were declaring against the proposed legislation.

    I hope this account gives you a fuller picture of what's going on.
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