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Greek Anti-Fascist Protesters Tortured By Police

- Common Dreams staff

Fifteen Greek anti-fascist protesters who were arrested in Athens after a clash with members of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn were severely tortured by police while in custody, according to the group's lawyers.

Protesters carry a banner that reads Fascism Never Again, during a protest in Pireaus near Athens. (Photograph: Kostas Tsironis/AP) Fifteen of those arrested in Athens during the September 30 demonstration say they were subjected to "Abu Ghraib-style" humiliation. An additional 25 others who took part in solidarity protests following the original arrests were also detained and tortured.

Those detained told the Guardian they were beaten by police before and during their 19 hour long stay in detention by police officers. They were also forced to strip naked and were put in humiliating positions. On many occasions multiple police officers would watch and take turns beating the prisoners. They were spat on, "used as ashtrays," verbally abused, and were kept awake all night.

The protesters were denied drinking water and access to lawyers for the full 19 hours. "We were so thirsty we drank water from the toilets," one protester said.

Many said the torture was videoed by the officers on their mobile phones. The officers also threatened to post the pictures on the internet and to give the detainees' home addresses to Golden Dawn party members, the violent neo-nazi organization which was the reason for the protests.

"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 [prison] 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," reports the Guardian, who describes all of the sustained torture in detail here.

"They spat on me and said we would die like our grandfathers in the civil war," one detainee said.

Charis Ladis, one of the protester's lawyer, stated, "This case shows that a page has been turned. Until now there was an assumption that someone who was arrested, even violently, would be safe in custody. But these young people have all said they lived through an interminable dark night."

Dimitris Katsaris, a lawyer for four of the protesters, stated, "This is not just a case of police brutality of the kind you hear about now and then in every European country. This is happening daily. We have the pictures, we have the evidence of what happens to people getting arrested protesting against the rise of the neo-Nazi party in Greece. This is the new face of the police, with the collaboration of the justice system."

One of the arrested protesters stated, "Journalists here don't report these things. You have to tell them what's happening here, in this country that suffered so much from Nazism. No one will pay attention unless you report these things abroad."

The original protest and site of the arrests had been called when a Tanzanian community center was vandalized by a group of 80-100 Golden Dawn supporters.

The detainees have now been released on bail of €3,000 each.

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