Posted: September 30, 2013 Filed under: Politics, Society | Tags: Golden Dawn, Racism
The authorities in Greece have long been aware of this neo-Nazi group. So why are they only now taking action? by Costas Douzinas, Hara Kouki and Antonis Vradis
- Originally published at The Guardian, Sunday 29 September 2013
Antifascist demonstrators hold a banner that reads ‘crash the Nazism’ at a demonstration in Athens on 25 September. Photograph: Orestis Panagiotou/EPA
Imagine an Athenian who went on an overseas trip for a couple of weeks and returned to the city on 28 September. The traveller left beforePavlos Fyssas’s assassination, and the awakening of media and government to the neo-Nazi threat, leading to the arrest of Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and some of its MPs and supporters.
The initial reaction of the traveller to the crackdown would be jubilation mixed with surprise: the change in the authorities’ attitude following Fyssas’s murder was dramatic. And yet, the same authorities have had detailed information about the party’s criminal activities for years. Racist violence is experienced daily and has been widely reported by international media, national and international NGOs and the EU commissioner for human rights. Indeed, racist violence had become normalised for many. Legal and political authorities were unwilling to take action; Greece’s anti-racist law was never applied (an improved version was recently rejected in parliament); and perpetrators of racist attacks were offered impunity.
Less than a year ago, Nikos Dendias, the minister of public order, insisted that no link existed between the police and Golden Dawn, and threatened the Guardian with a libel suit when it reported that policemen tortured anti-fascists. Yet in the wake of Fyssas’s assassination, Dendias was forced to launch an inquiry into such links. Several senior officers were sacked or suspended. A day after the assassination, 32 legal cases were filed against Golden Dawn including violent, even lethal incidents.
Our Athenian would be puzzled by the obvious questions: why did the authorities not step in earlier? Why are they stepping in now? Could it be because a Greek has been murdered?
Golden Dawn should have been designated a criminal gang and legally confronted a long time ago. This course of action would have been automatic in most European countries. After the murder, European politicians indicated their displeasure, with several suggesting that unless Greece confronts the neo-Nazis it should not assume the EU’s rotating presidency in January.
But perhaps the main motive in the government’s fluctuating response has been political calculation: until very recently senior rightwing politicians and commentators suggested that the rightwing New Democracy (ND) party should consider entering a coalition government with the neo-Nazis, if they became more “moderate”. The government presented the left and anti-fascist movement as one of the two pro-violence “extremes”, even though they resisted Nazism all those years.
This historically ignorant and morally perverse “theory of two extremes” was meant to instil fear and turn people away from the leftist organisations and grassroots movements resisting neo-Nazi attacks and supporting their victims. The ND/Pasok coalition government now hopes that the exposure of Golden Dawn criminality will attract its voters to their natural home.
And so, the feeling is bittersweet: even if delayed, the heavily publicised arrest of the Golden Dawn leadership will be a relief to many. To the city’s migrants, who may find it easier to walk the Athenian streets, to homosexuals, leftists, to all anti-fascists to everyone resenting Golden Dawn’s shameless entry into everyday life and in the country’s politics.
Every dark-skinned person had to take precautions in Athens. Evil walked the streets.
Little has changed at the institutional level, however. The application of the criminal law to thugs will not change the widespread racism fuelled by the New Democracy-Pasok coalition government. It was Andreas Loverdos, a prominent Pasok member at the time, who likened Golden Dawn to a “Greek Hezbollah” because they are “active in the big issues” and “create trust”.
It was Vyron Polydoras, a former New Democracy minister, who urged a coalition with them. And it was prime minister Samaras himself who declared, in March 2012: “Our cities have been occupied by illegal migrants; we will take them back.” Sticking to its word, this government launched the ironically named hospitable Xenios Zeus operation, rounding up dark-skinned people and detaining undocumented immigrants in camps euphemistically named “holding centres”.
The same government repealed the reform of the 2010 Greek citizenship law, the first to offer second-generation migrants a potential entitlement to citizenship. The government and authorities criminalised HIV patients and drug addicts; persecuted and illegally detained anarchists and anti-fascists; slashed salaries and pensions; saw youth unemployment rocket to over 60%; shut down hospitals; and pushed universities to the point of collapse. This is the great paradox of dismantling Golden Dawn: the same government which threatens democracy and indulges fascism gives itself democratic credentials for its supposed curbing of extremism.
Golden Dawn is both a political party and a gang – and outlawing political parties often proves problematic and ineffective. The law can prohibit, but it cannot eliminate, fascist ideas; these must be confronted politically instead. For ordinary people, the struggle against Golden Dawn is not limited to the welcome though theatrical arrest of its leadership. Anti-fascism is a political struggle about the kind of life we want to live. It is fought daily by citizens, activists, civil society groups and migrant communities. It is a battle for democracy, solidarity and social justice. It cannot be won unless the systemic injustice of austerity is defeated.
Posted: June 18, 2013 Filed under: Politics | Tags: Racism
The aim of this map is to provide up-to-date information about racist attacks taking place in Athens and other Greek cities. The map is accessible here:
Being constantly updated, it will become an ongoing reference point where the quantity and scale of attacks, their location and severity can be grasped at a glance. The map will highlight and prioritise first-hand reports, yet it will nevertheless include information submitted by individuals, witnesses, mainstream or independent media –– as long as it meets a minimal verification level.
Given the complexity of the legal status and story of each migrant individual identities will remain hidden unless they have already been publicised elsewhere or the person explicitly wishes to publish their identity. This of course also counts for anyone else that might risk police persecution or fascist violence.
Our aspiration is for the map to become a tool for anti-racist and anti-fascist organising locally and for raising international awareness and pressure.
Ο στόχος αυτού του χάρτη είναι να παρέχει πληροφορίες σχετικά με τις ρατσιστικές επιθέσεις που λαμβάνουν χώραστην Αθήνα και σε άλλες ελληνικές πόλεις.
Ο χάρτης είναι προσβάσιμος εδώ:
Ο χάρτης ενημερώνεται συνεχώς σε αληθινό χρόνο, και η επιδίωξη είναι να γίνει ένα τρέχων σημείο αναφοράς, όπου η έκταση και ο αριθμός των επιθέσεων, η τοποθεσία και η σοβαρότητά θα είναι ορατή με μια ματιά. Ο χάρτης θα αναδείξεικαι θα έχει ως προτεραιότητα τις αναφορές, από παθόντες/ούσες, τους/τις γνωστούς/ες φίλους/ες ή συγγενείς τους. Αλλά θα περιλαμβάνει και πληροφορίες που υποβάλλονται από άλλα άτομα, που είτε υπήρξαν μάρτυρες περιστατικών, είτε επιθυμούν να καταγράψουν ένα περιστατικό που είδαν σε επίσημα ή ανεξάρτητα μέσα ενημέρωσης - εφ ‘όσονπληροί ένα ελάχιστο επίπεδο επαλήθευσης.
Δεδομένης της πολυπλοκότητας του νομικού καθεστώτος και της εκάστοτε προσωπικής περίπτωσης του κάθεμετανάστη, τα στοιχεία της ατομικής ταυτότητας θα παραμείνουν ανώνυμα. Εκτός εάν έχουν ήδη δημοσιοποιηθεί αλλούή το θύμα επιθυμεί ρητά να δημοσιεύει η ταυτότητά του/της. Η αρχή της ανωνυμίας μετράει επίσης για οποιονδήποτεάλλο θα μπορούσε να κινδυνεύει από αστυνομική δίωξη ή φασιστικής βία.
Επιδίωξη είναι ο χάρτης να γίνει ένα εργαλείο για την καταπολέμηση του ρατσισμού και να βοηθήσει την κατά τόπους αντι-φασιστική δράση, αλλά και να συμβάλλει στην διεθνή ευαισθητοποίηση και πίεση.
Posted: February 19, 2013 Filed under: Society | Tags: Golden Dawn, Racism
by Yannis Hamilakis
14 February 2013 originally published at London Review of Books Blog
In the early hours of Thursday 17 January, 26-year-old Shehzad Luqman rode his bicycle from the Peristeri suburb of Athens to the farmers’ market (or bakery, according to other reports) in Petralona, not far from the Acropolis, where he’d been working for several months. He was paid 20 euros a day, most of which he sent back to his family in Pakistan. He’d been in Greece for six years, and now had a ‘pink card’, granting him temporary residence. Not far from the market, he was knifed to death by two young Greek men on a motorbike. They then unscrewed their number plate, put it under the seat and drove calmly towards Syntagma Square.
A taxi driver who witnessed the incident took a note of their number plate and called the police. The men were arrested shortly afterwards and, according to press reports, their racist feelings became immediately clear. Their story was that Luqman blocked their way with his bike. The police raided their homes and found several folding knives and penknives, air rifles, metal pellets, slingshots, brass knuckles and, in the words of the police report, ‘50 pre-election leaflets of a certain political party’ – i.e. the far-right Golden Dawn, which won 18 seats with just under 7 per cent of the vote in last summer’s general election. Their current poll showing is at 10 to 12 per cent.
Two days later, the two men, one serving in the fire brigade and one unemployed, were charged with murder, but not racially motivated murder. Legislation on racially motivated crimes has been in place since 2008 but is very rarely acted on. The president of the Pakistani Community in Greece said that his members have been the victims of more than 800 attacks in the last six months. Under public pressure, the police gave a press conference announcing that they are launching a phone number citizens can call to report racist attacks. They made it clear, however, that immigrant callers who are found to be in Greece without legal documentation will be deported.
On 26 July 2008, at the Golden Dawn’s annual gathering at Thermopylae, one of the speakers said:
We look forward to the moment of great counter-attack, walking on the footsteps of ancient krypteia, which involved silent strikes, in the darkness and quietness of the night, against the city’s internal enemies.
Krypteia was the ancient Spartan rite of passage that supposedly involved going out at night armed with nothing but a knife and killing helots. The perceived militarism of ancient Spartan society has an obvious appeal for the Golden Dawn, as it did for the Third Reich and for Ioannis Metaxas, one of their heroes. It was during Metaxas’ regime, in 1939, that the site of Thermopylae was excavated. The dictator visited the dig, and the first report on it was published in his ideological mouthpiece, Neon Kratos (‘New State’).
Ancient historians have demonstrated time and again that though militarism was a significant factor in Spartan society, it was not the dominant one. Nor did the Spartans glorify their war dead in the way that some of their present-day admirers would have us believe. One of the Golden Dawn’s favourite mottos is ‘ή ταν ή επί τας’ (‘Either this [shield] or on it’), supposedly the Spartan mothers’ farewell to their sons who were departing for the battle: come back victorious or dead. But the phrase comes to us from later sources, of the Roman period. And in any case the classical Spartan dead were not brought back home for burial.
It’s not clear whether there is a direct connection between the Golden Dawn’s evocation of krypteia and the attack on and killing of immigrants. But the myth of Sparta is still more potent that it should be, with political implications, and still in urgent need of debunking.
Posted: September 22, 2012 Filed under: Politics, Society | Tags: greek police, Racism, xenophobia
By Apostolis Fotiadis
originally posted at http://www.ipsnews.net
ATHENS, Sep 19 2012 (IPS) - Panahi Gholamhousein (22), an Afghan refugee who spends his days in a room that is barely five square metres with his wife Zarmina (18) and their 19-month-old daughter Zahra, has hardly left his place in downtown Athens since he was beaten up and robbed nearly a month ago.
Extremist sympathisers in the Greek police force breed impunity. Credit: George Laoutaris/CC-BY-ND-2.0
The four attackers “unleashed their dogs on me”, he told IPS. The incident shook him badly, confining him to an apartment shared with many other irregular migrants living in squalid conditions.
The young family – who lost legal status some months ago after withdrawing their asylum application to Greek authorities in exchange for a return ticket to Afghanistan – embody the predicament faced by many migrants caught in a rising wave of xenophobia.
The last three years have seen racist attacks dominating the streets of Athens, spreading fast throughout the country.
Some experts blame the situation on the social stress caused by an extended period of economic austerity – unemployment rates are fast approaching 30 percent and approximately 25 percent of the Greek population now lives below the poverty line.
Last Saturday at 2 a.m. a group of three unidentified assailants used an incendiary explosive device in an attempt to burn Pakistani immigrants alive in their home while they slept.
Navit Navaz was awakened by an explosion from a flaming bottle of gasoline that landed on the edge of the bed. Navaz was subsequently brought to Thriasio Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit with severe burns on his back and hands.
Two months ago Human Rights Watch released a report describing how gangs of Greeks carry out attacks against migrants with almost total impunity. Authorities are reportedly ignoring complaints, or discouraging victims from filing them at all.
On Jul. 23, the rape and attempted murder of a 15-year-old girl in the island of Paros by a Pakistani migrant worker, Ahmed Vakas, fueled a wave of attacks against foreigners during which Iraq Aladin, an Iraqi immigrant, was beaten and stabbed to death by five hooded youngsters on Aug. 12.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with 20 organisations that comprise the Racist Violence Recording Network, blamed the deterioration of social relations on the “the inability or reluctance of the law enforcement authorities to carry out arrests”.
Extremists on the rise
Many of the attacks are allegedly linked to the neo-fascist party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) that entered parliament last June with 6.9 percent of the vote and is now climbing even higher in the polls.
So far the organisation has not accepted responsibility for instigating the attacks but continues to endorse racist initiatives. Thus far, only two violent attacks have been linked directly to the party, one against four fishermen at Perama and one in central Athens that involved a Golden Dawn candidate.
According to migrant communities more than 400 attacks took place last year alone, but very few people have been arrested and none of the perpetrators has faced justice. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 30, 2012 Filed under: Politics, Society | Tags: Racism
Actual fascists in actual black shirts are waving swastikas and murdering ethnic minorities in Athens
Originally Published at The Independent Thursday, 30 August 2012
“After the immigrants, you’re next.” That’s what was written on flyers that appeared this week in the gay clubbing district of Athens. As violence against immigrants and ethnic minorities escalates across Greece, supporters of the ultra-right Golden Dawn party have also begun to promote hate attacks on homosexuals and people with disabilities. These fascists march with black shirts and flares through Athens, terrorising ethnic and sexual minorities, waving an insignia which looks like nothing but an unravelled swastika, and declaring disdain for the political process. And yet, across Europe, they continue to be treated as a mere symptom of Greece’s economic crisis.
Once, right-wing thugs only came out to attack immigrants at night. Now they do so in daylight, unafraid of the consequences because there rarely are any. In recent weeks, the number and severity of the attacks have increased – on 12 August, a 19-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker was fatally stabbed by a gang on motorcycles just streets away from the Greek parliament – and if migrants report attacks to police, they risk being arrested.
Not only are crimes against immigrants in Greece considered low priority, much of Golden Dawn’s support base comes from police ranks. Exit polls in the May 2012 elections suggested that in some urban districts up to 50 per cent of Greek police voted for the racist group, which now holds 7 per cent of the seats in parliament. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 11, 2012 Filed under: Society | Tags: Golden Dawn, Racism
Eirini Vourloumis for the International Herald Tribune
Mohammed Irfan, right, a legal Pakistani immigrant who owns a hair salon and two other stores in Athens. He said members of the Golden Dawn threatened to burn his shop. By LIZ ALDERMAN , originally published at New York Times
ATHENS — A week after an extremist right-wing party gained an electoral foothold in Greece’s Parliament earlier this summer, 50 of its members riding motorbikes and armed with heavy wooden poles roared through Nikaia, a gritty suburb west of here, to telegraph their new power.
Nikolas Giakoumidis/Associated Press
Supporters of Golden Dawn celebrated last month after the party gained an electoral foothold in the Greek Parliament, with 18 seats. More Photos »
Eirini Vourloumis for the International Herald Tribune
Qaiser Parvez, a Pakistani immigrant, with an antifascist poster in Athens.As townspeople watched, several of them said in interviews, the men careened around the main square, some brandishing shields emblazoned with swastikalike symbols, and delivered an ultimatum to immigrants whose businesses have catered to Nikaia’s Greeks for nearly a decade.
“They said: ‘You’re the cause of Greece’s problems. You have seven days to close or we’ll burn your shop — and we’ll burn you,’ ” said Mohammed Irfan, a legal Pakistani immigrant who owns a hair salon and two other stores. When he called the police for help, he said, the officer who answered said they did not have time to come to the aid of immigrants like him.
A spokesman for the party, Golden Dawn, denied that anyone associated with the group had made such a threat, and there are no official numbers on attacks against immigrants. But a new report by Human Rights Watchwarns that xenophobic violence has reached “alarming proportions” in parts of Greece, and it accuses the authorities of failing to stop the trend. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 18, 2011 Filed under: Politics | Tags: Facism, Racism
by Yanis Varoufakis http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/ A brief history of the racist/fascist/neonazi penetration of Greece’s new ‘technocratic’ government.
It will prove George Papandreou’s ugliest legacy: that his last-minute childish maneuvering to maximise his waning hold on power (while negotiating his eviction from the PM’s job), has brought into the new ‘national unity’ government four self-declared racists (some of whom are neo-Fascists and one a neo-Nazi of some renown). It is also wildly ironic: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 13, 2011 Filed under: Activism, Society | Tags: Racism
Update: After two days of tension, racist attacks continued tonight in the capital City of Athens, raising the toll of wounded immigrants to 17 (12 stabbed). While the attention of the Media and the broad audience was directed to Eurovision, thugs of the Nazi group Hrisi Avgi (Golden Dawn) attacked immigrantrs in various neighborhoods of Athens, causing what will probably be characterized as the worst day in regards to Hate crimes for the past 30 years in the country’s history.
Demonstration for stabbed Greek turns into riots and racist acts
A gathering of roughly 1000 citizens at the point where the 44-year-old Greek man was stabbed, at dawn last Tuesday, turned into riots with anarchists and acts of racism. A gathering of around 1000 citizens at the point where the 44 year old Greek man was stabbed at dawn last Tuesday, turned into riots with anarchists from Villa Amalias squat and into racist action in the center of the Greek capital. Participants were holding Greek flags, were shouting slogans against migrants, communists and anarchists, and were singing the national anthem of Greece. During the protest march in Athens center, they attacked immigrants who were on their way.
After the incidents, a number of migrants were transferred to the Hospital.
Posted: May 13, 2011 Filed under: Activism, Society | Tags: Racism, Repression
By Christos Simos*
In the course of the recent labor march on the 11th of May in Athens, police forces brutally charged the demonstrating crowd. Many people were injured and six of them are still being treated in the hospital. A 31 year-old man is fighting for his life in the intensive care unit suffering severe head injuries, while another 29 year-old demonstrator has been diagnosed with a ruptured spleen caused by police batons.
In the meanwhile, racist attacks have been rapidly spreading around the center of Athens, in the aftermath of the murder of a Greek male in an attempted robbery some days ago. Last night, a 21-year old immigrant was stabbed to death by two men in an attack that some people believe to be a racist “retaliation”.
It is obvious that the Greek government has chosen the policy of repression in order to apply the austerity plans which have been decided and enforced by the very Social Democratic ruling Party (PASOK), the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Several organizations of the left and trade unions have called for demonstration in 12th of May asking for, among other demands, the disarmament of the police forces.
Another video documenting police brutality in Tuesday’s events :
*Christos Simos is one of the editors of the Greek News site, Red Notebook