The call for international protests against racism and fascism this Saturday first came from Greece. And the demonstrations here look set to be massive.
There is a good response from the left, the trade unions, even municipal councils.
There are a lot of activities in migrant communities—in the mosques, the shops, the streets—and immigrants are going into universities to speak to students. They feel more powerful, and they will mobilise in mass.
Protests are planned in the capital Athens, Thessalonica in the north and Chania in Crete. A protest in Patras in the west will see the immigrant strawberry farm workers from Manolada, who were shot at by their bosses in 2013, return to the streets.
The demonstration is a big preparation for the long-awaited trial of the fascist party Golden Dawn, finally set to begin on 20 April.
The fascists have led violent attacks, and protesters demand they are put in prison.
But Golden Dawn is trying to return to the political scene by exploiting the frustration at compromises the government has made with the European Union. It wants to become the opposition that says immigrants are to blame.
Newly elected left party Syriza formed a government in January including ministers from a party to its right.
It has made steps in a good direction—and some in the wrong direction.
Syriza promised to shut down the camps where thousands of migrants are detained in horrific conditions.
But a racist campaign by the right wing, claiming that closing the camps will increase crime, has put them under pressure.
Now the plan is to let people out slowly. Two months into the new government only 500 detainees have been released—barely 10 percent of the total.
And minister of public order Giannis Panousis says they will restart police sweeps for illegal immigrants in the centre of Athens. Those who don’t have papers will be arrested—and no migrants have been given papers for years.
This new cycle of racist sweeps has given Golden Dawn an opening to call a meeting against immigration.
The speaker of parliament Zoi Konstantopoulou, a member of Syriza, has said it’s essential to have Golden Dawn MPs in parliament for it to vote. This is a terrible declaration, and a reminder that labelling them a criminal organisation is an open fight.
Many people in Syriza are angry at this declaration. And in every council and trade union Syriza members have been voting to back Saturday’s demonstration.
There is a self-confidence that everyone feels. It says we can stop the racists and fascists. And that means there must be no steps back.
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