Greece drastically restricts right to assembly
Today, November 17, Greece celebrates the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising against the military junta. But the planned rallies have had to be cancelled because the government has banned public gatherings of more than three people - a restriction last imposed by that very same junta. Is the argument of fighting the pandemic merely being used as a pretext, as left-wing opposition parties suspect?
No time for discord
Greece's Supreme Special Court on Monday dismissed an action brought by a left-wing party and a human rights NGO, ruling that the ban was in the public interest and constitutional. The judgment should be respected, To Vima urges:
“This outcome was widely expected and is logical, because the commemoration of the uprising coincides with the climax of the new wave of the pandemic. In the interest of the nation, everyone without exception must implement this decision and set aside their revolutionary gymnastics. We must seek unity and reconciliation in the face of the new virus that is still killing many people. ... There is no place for division and discord in these hours. ... It would be a catastrophic mistake to disrupt social cohesion at a time when we can see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Pandemic of authoritarianism
Efimerida ton Syntakton sees the ban as part of a larger trend:
“The emergence of extreme authoritarianism is linked to a broader transformation of democratic institutions which the government is trying to push through. ... The political programme of the ruling party Nea Dimokratia presupposes the abolition of all controls and the transformation of the people into fearful, and helpless beings. In the face of this pandemic of authoritarianism, however, the opposition must not let itself be cornered. The risk to public health should not be underestimated. There are many ways to oppose unconstitutional measures without resorting to uncontrolled mass demonstrations.”