To initiate a war of aggression...is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
Nuremburg War Tribunal
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

July 31, 2004

Athens Goes 'Rambo' on Security

by Sanjay Suri

ATHENS - The guns are not pointing at visitors, they do not need to. The men carrying them have visitors to the new Olympics stadium in their sight all the way.

The men are carefully positioned to see there is not a moment anyone could be out of sight. A visitor begins to feel like a suspect until he can prove himself innocent, by doing nothing.

Down by the side of the white beams holding the futuristic new stadium together a group of workers, black or apparently of Mediterranean origin, were busy planting shrubs to give the surroundings that landscaped look. A group of policemen placed themselves across the road to watch every move they made.

The real alert has not even begun yet. And all this is in any case only the more visible part of the security around the main stadium and all other venues.

Control rooms watch every inch of land around, every person on camera. The police think nothing of driving down the wrong lane with security flights flashing to confront anyone who could look a foreigner. After three bomb blasts outside a police station in central Athens early in May, following the March 11 bombings in Madrid, the police are clearly jumpy.

And it is clear who they are watching, and watching out for. After a group of Moroccans were held responsible for the Madrid blasts, few people with Mediterranean or Islamic looks seem to venture near the new facilities to see what they look like.

Several reports suggest that people with these looks have had more than a few visits from the police. Amnesty International says it is concerned about reports that "refugees, migrants, asylum-seekers and the homeless are being rounded up and detained as the Greek government mounts the biggest security operation in the history of the Olympic Games."

Amnesty said: "The Greek government must protect athletes, officials, journalists and spectators. It is responsible for the security of its citizens and guests. However, this must not happen at the expense of human rights, especially the human rights of vulnerable groups."

Amnesty International says it is concerned that "under the pretext of building up security, state officials are violating, with impunity, basic human rights and encouraging discrimination on racial grounds."

Amnesty expressed concerned about several issues. These include:

  • Lack of transparency in the way the security apparatus will operate, particularly regarding mechanisms for control and accountability;
  • Muslims being targeted in a discriminatory manner in the name of security;
  • Violation of the basic human rights of socially marginalized groups of people;
  • Impunity for security and state officials.

Amnesty points out that the new legislation on "terrorism" does not fully guarantee a fair trial and does not clearly define "terrorist acts."

Amnesty added: "Olympic Games conducted against a backdrop of security measures which violate human rights would be the very antithesis of the games' original purpose to promote peaceful competition, the pursuit of excellence and common humanity."

Several of the security measures have been put in place to handle a major attack. Aerial surveillance systems are being put in place by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was requested to step in after the March 11 bombings in Madrid. Patriot surface to air missiles have been installed around Athens and in other cities where football competitions and some other sporting events will be held.

Local reports suggest that more than 70,000 security officers will be on duty, and that the organizers will spend about $1.5 billion on security. Several countries are sending in their own armed guards to provide security for their athletes.

But rights advocates are less concerned about the expense than over the people who may be targeted. The Greek government declares there are no ethnic divisions within the 10.6 million population. About 1.3 percent of the population is Muslim.

Rights advocates say visitors could be particularly vulnerable. The announcement that a separate detention center has been prepared for foreigners who break the law has led to renewed fears among minority groups within Greece.

Nikos Constantopoulos, president of the opposition Coalition of the Left, said in a statement that Greece was under pressure to accept "Rambo mechanisms of surveillance and repression."

The Greek branch of Amnesty International says "the games are escorted by extensive security measures that are unprecedented for Greece. Even though it is recognized as the right of the country to take measures that are deemed necessary, there is, however, fear that the measures affect negatively basic human rights."

(Inter Press Service)

comments on this article?

  • Israeli Claims Over Abused Journalist Challenged

  • Amnesty: US Sets Standards, Fails to Meet Them

  • UK: Once Again, Stop the War

  • Iraq: Little Brother Poses a Problem

  • UK Officer: Afghanistan Policy 'Barking Mad'

  • Watch That Box for al-Jazeera, and More

  • Report: Taliban Taking
    Over Again

  • UK Foreign Policy Hangs Above Terror Threat

  • UK Muslim Leaders Begin to Doubt the Plot

  • A Story Left Incomplete

  • Taliban Regaining Influence, Report Warns

  • War Provoking Terror, Amnesty Says

  • Rights Group: Iraqi Women Worse Off Under Occupation

  • Afghan Farmers Feel Pinch of Poppy Eradication

  • Iran Air Strikes 'Under Consideration'

  • Two Sides to a Withdrawal

  • London: Last Police Lie Blown Off

  • Police Response More Frightening Than the Killing

  • UK Cleric: 'Reclaim Islam From Terrorism'

  • Iraqi Shadow Seen Over Train Attacks

  • Iraq Clouds Blair Victory

  • 78 Journalists Killed Last Year

  • Torture and Oppression of Kurds in Syria

  • Palestine Peace Move Could Be the Kiss of Death

  • UK: Torture All You Want, but Leave the Cameras at Home

  • Proposed UK Law Makes Guantanamo Look Liberal

  • In Iraq, It Could Be Getting Worse for Women

  • For UK Troops, Abuse Only Happens if Photographed

  • Child Soldiers Still on the March

  • Glass House Weakens US Case in Darfur

  • In the UK, a 'Terrifying' Judgment on Suspected Terrorists

  • Athens Goes 'Rambo' on Security

  • Where the Taliban Once Tread

  • Report Reveals Lies, Not the Liar

  • Palestinians Run Into Another Wall

  • Palestinian Win Rises Higher Than Israeli Wall

  • Blair's Troubles Multiply

  • Saddam Could Call CIA in His Defense

  • Britain's Guantanamo

  • Amnesty: Abu Ghraib Cases Not Isolated

  • Report: US Needed 500,000 Troops to Pacify Iraq

  • Foreign Firms Continue to Try to Do Business in Iraq

  • What Becomes of Brits Released From Guantanamo to Become Test Case

  • Britain: Tories, Civil Rights Groups Lead Strong Opposition to Secret Trials

  • Rights Group: Iraq War Was 'Not Humanitarian'

  • New Effort Launched for Guantanamo Detainees

  • Another Son Rises in the West

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2017 Antiwar.com