Iannis Delatolas reports on the trial of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, giving some background about the anti-fascist movement in Greece and calling for international solidarity with Greek organizers currently fighting fascism in the courts, the streets, and the workplaces. We encourage all who are able to offer material support to contribute to United Against Racism and Fascism’s solidarity fundraiser, which will help offset the huge costs of this campaign against Golden Dawn.
Golden Dawn’s rise
After the 2008 economic crisis in Greece, the neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn took advantage of the hardships that fell on the backs of workers and ordinary people, attempting to use the situation to bring themselves out of the political margins and into the mainstream. They did this by staging a vicious series of attacks on immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, trade unionists, anarchists and socialists.
They orchestrated these attacks from their well-funded offices across the country. After the 2012 election they were strong enough to successfully enter parliament. This meant a large funding increase to their coffers, since political parties receive public money if they are in office. Golden Dawn’s entry into parliament shocked people across the globe. At the same time Golden Dawn became an inspiration for fascists and racists around the world who saw the successes of this openly neo-Nazi organization as a green light and model to follow.
The anti-fascist movement in Greece and especially the organization KEERFA (Movement United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat) had already been organizing against Golden Dawn before 2012. Members of our Greek sister organization in SEK (Socialist Workers Party) saw the danger the neo-Nazis posed going back to the very early 1990’s and worked to launch a broad united front to lead an anti-racist and anti-fascist campaign. This meant the movement was able to respond rapidly to the electoral success of Golden Dawn in 2012. They did not panic or despair, but instead escalated the anti-fascist organizing by going to face the fascists in their stronghold, Agios Panteleimonas, a square in a working class area of the Greek capital Athens. Local chapters of KEERFA were set up in neighborhoods like this and across Greece to localize the anti-fascist struggle and mobilize the local community, workers’ associations, and labor unions.
The fascist murders of Pakistani worker Shezad Luqman and hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas caused an anti-fascist explosion in the streets in September 2013. The day after the murder there was a big demonstration in the working class Keratsini neighborhood of Athens. Most importantly, with the help of the public sector union (ADEDY), the movement turned a general strike two days later into an anti-fascist strike. After a call out from KEERFA, tens of thousands of strikers marched to the central Golden Dawn offices in Athens, clashing with the police that tried to stop them. This forced the right-wing government of New Democracy to take action and make arrests. Equally important was the public sector union work stoppage the day that Golden Dawn went on trial for their racist attacks, where unionists rallied together outside the court.
The lawyers of the antifascist movement Jail Golden Dawn represented all the victims of fascist and racist violence pro-bono. They represented the anti-fascist movement in the court. By bringing extensive evidence, they have proven that Golden Dawn acted like a criminal organization, not a political party, and did so by using their state-funded offices to store weapons and plan their calculated attacks. Given the fact that Golden Dawn was modeled after the Nazi party, it is not surprising that all their actions can be traced back to their leadership.
On October 7 the court is set to reach its verdict regarding the actions of 68 members of Golden Dawn, including 20 ex-MPs who were in office between 2012 and 2015. Anti-fascist work stoppages are being planned for that day and a big demonstration will take place outside the court.
The current ruling party New Democracy is a right-wing one, implementing racist policies towards refugees and immigrants and with a neoliberal economic program for Greece. It is hard to predict what the court will rule, but the government is already facing opposition to its policies. Many students are occupying their high schools against another round of proposed government cuts and other workers are beginning to mount an opposition. Art workers, the seafarer’s union, tourism workers, teachers and hospital workers have been on strike over the last few weeks as Covid-19 has made a comeback following the summer tourist season — in a country where the healthcare system has already been gutted by austerity. The court’s decision on October 7 will take place in this political context.
On September 18, the 7th anniversary of Golden Dawn’s assassination of Pavlos Fyssas, there was a very large demonstration in the area where his murder took place. Regardless of the court’s ruling, the anti-fascist movement has pledged to continue the struggle. Even though Golden Dawn has been kicked out of parliament for its criminal behavior and has suffered splits, the threat of fascism has not gone away. As long as there is capitalism, so too will exist racism and the threat of fascism.
We stand in solidarity with the anti-fascist movement in Greece and with KEERFA, and we call on all who are able to extend their support to do so as well. United Against Racism and Fascism-NYC has started a fundraiser to help cover the monumental legal and practical costs the anti-fascist movement currently faces — as it both opposes the fascists but also organizes actively to shut down the immigrant concentration camps and to open the Greek cities to the refugees.
Below we also reprint KEERFA’s appeal for solidarity:
The trial of the neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn is coming to an end! On October 7, 2020, the court will announce its decision on the 68 members of Golden Dawn, including 20 Golden Dawn MPs from the period of 2012-2015. The anti-fascist movement kicked Golden Dawn out of the Greek Parliament, they lost all their seats in the last election. Infighting and splits followed as Golden Dawn went into a crisis. However, we call for an escalation of anti-fascist pressure to make sure that they will be sentenced to the full extent of the law and not be let off lightly.
KEERFA for years has supported this campaign with mass mobilizations outside the court, supporting the lawyers of the civil action, but most importantly fighting against fascism and racism in neighborhoods, workplaces, universities, and schools.
We appeal to you to support the Greek anti-fascist movement in this historic moment for Europe and the world. This is a chance to send the message that there is no tolerance in our multicultural societies for neo-Nazism and racism.
- Please send a delegation to witness the trial, and also participate in our mass demonstration and strike on October 7
- Please sign the following appeal and send it to KEERFA firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please donate to KEERFA and help build the mass mobilization on October 7. Send your contribution to KEERFA, NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE, 167/470832-65, IBAN GR78 0110 1670 0000 1674 7083 265 SWIFT ETHNGRAA.
For the Coordination of KEERFA,
Petros Constantinou, councilor on Athens municipality