Anti-racists in Britain celebrated blows to fascist parties in Greece, Slovakia and Austria at an international conference that began on Saturday.
The opening rally of the Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) online conference heard from Greek anti-fascists Petros Constantinou and Thanasis Kampagiannis, a lawyer in the landmark trial of the Golden Dawn fascists.
The leadership of the Greek Nazi party were sent down on Wednesday for setting up and running a criminal organisation. Other members of the party were sentenced after the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, attempted murder of Egyptian migrants and attacks on the Communist PAME trade union.
Thanasis said, “The fight against racism and fascism is an international struggle. We have had a tremendous victory in Greece with the conviction of the Nazis of Golden Dawn.
"Golden Dawn was an openly Nazi organisation. Its members were infamous for their violent attacks and admiration of Hitler and the Holocaust.
"They made a breakthrough in the national elections during the financial crisis and polled as the third party for quite some time.
“The penal prosecution against them was the result of the anti-fascist uprising that followed the murder of anti-fascist Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013. Only under this popular pressure did the state begin to act and start the penal prosecution.”
The verdict—following a trial lasting five and a half years—is a huge victory for the Greek anti-fascist movement, which hurled back the rise of Golden Dawn.
Petros Constantinou from Greek anti-fascist organisation Keerfa told the conference's opening rally that it’s “not a Greek victory”. “The defeat of Golden Dawn is a defeat for racism,” he said.
“It’s a defeat for Donald Trump and his friends and the neoliberal governments that are going around playing the card of racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism internationally.”
Discussion about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which exploded onto the streets after the police murder of George Floyd in the summer, ran through the conference. At an online workshop on BLM, people heard from nurse Neomi Bennett and Andrew Boateng who were stopped by the cops in Britain.
Neomi was convicted of obstructing a police officer after cops stopped her in 2019 because she had tinted windows. She told the workshop, “I kept asking why I was being treated in this way.
“When I kept naming the elephant in the room—which is race—the officer insisted on taking me back to the police station. Despite not having committed any crime, I was made to spend the night in a police cell.
“If I was a white nurse, I would not have been treated like this.”
“I had to fight all the way up to the crown court and walked through without a stain on my character.
“I’ve still not had a word of apology from the police about how demeaning and degrading my treatment was.”
Elizabeth from south London said, “We’ve got to remember that people want real effective change”. She argued that “this is where the substance comes in” around challenging policies such as Section 60 special stop and search powers.
“Because it’s not a handful or a few cops that make the police institutionally racist,” she said.
James talked about setting up a local campaign against police stop and searches. While Section 60 isn’t an issue in Hampshire, he asked “how we can show solidarity and raise awareness” about what’s going on in cities?
People talked about the importance of a national anti-racist campaign to take on the structural racism in society.
Other workshops were centred around decolonising education, disproportionate black deaths from coronavirus and challenging the far right.
The conference continues on Sunday with speakers including Labour MPs Diane Abbott, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Kate Osamor.