Greece plans immigrant detention camps
Four days after the European elections that saw far right parties rising in prominence across Europe, the Greek government announced measures aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Greek daily "Ta Nea" reports (translation from Greek):
Felony offenses for slavers and the creation of financial immigrant reception centers for 12 months are two of the immediate measures announced by the government to address the problem of illegal immigration. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos pointed out the european dimension of the issue, saying that no country can face the problem on it's own. He also said that the Greek prime minister will broach the issue at the upcoming EU Summit, next week, and press for readmission treaties to be signed with third countries, as well as for signatories, like Turkey, to accede to treaties.
In a previous article, "Ta Nea" quoted sources within the government and provided more details about the plan (translation from Greek):
The Defence Ministry sent a list of 11 military camps that could be used as concentration facilities for illegal immigrants arrested by police. The camps have been decomissioned but their facilities are in particularly good condition, the army department of infrastructure assured the police. Sources within the Interior Ministry told "Ta Nea" that the camps available are strewn across various parts of Greece. Greek police didn't insist in creating just one big camp in Attica, fearing that it could be easily accessible to anti-statists attempting to cause unrest.
The government is accused by the opposition of pandering to the nationalist LA.O.S. party, which doubled it's seats in the European Parliament, after ethnic tensions flared in recent months in downtown Athens. The center-right Greek government of Kostas Karamanlis, besieged by scandals and the dire condition of the Greek economy, came second at the European elections behind the socialists, losing for the first time in 15 years.
Immediately following the announcement of the measures, hundreds of police officers took part in a broad sweep operation at the historical center of Athens. Daily "To Vima" reports (translated from Greek):
A little after 20.00, riot squads and public security officers surrounded the area encompassed by Evripidou, Sofokleous, Athinas and Ag. Konstantinou streets, making arrests. The officers didn't stop at making arrests in the streets, but entered all the shops in the area, arresting anyone deemed suspect. Police officials pointed out that the officers had been ordered to exercise "particular resolve".
Rumors about a possible police operation in the area of St. Panteleimon had circulated earlier in the afternoon, where dozens of officers has been assembled.
St. Panteleimon was the focus of racial clashes last week between ultranationalists, anti-statists and riot police, centered around the use of a playground.
In.gr also reported:
Omonia Square was at the center of the operation, where around 180 immigrants without identification were taken into custody, 50 of which arrested.
Also last night, Socialist party leader George Papandreou announced an 8-point plan proposed by the main opposition party, centered around zero tolerance for illegal immigration.