The Greek coalition government was forced into a spectacular U-turn last week over the Nazi Golden Dawn party.
After 15 months of offering all kinds of protection for the fascist gang Greece’s rulers now admit it is a “criminal organisation”. The leader of Golden Dawn and a number of its MPs were taken to prison on charges of organising several murderous attacks.
This development was triggered by the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member on 18 September. Pavlos was a musician and active anti-fascist from the working class area of Keratsini, near Athens.
The murderer was arrested on the spot and the connections with the Nazi hierarchy were too open to ignore. The Public Prosecutor’s office had to intervene and order the arrests that have exploded like a bomb on the Greek political scene.
To understand the extent of the authorities’ U-turn we have to go back a few months.
Last January a young Pakistani worker, Sahzad Luqman, was stabbed to death in Petralona in central Athens by two thugs with Golden Dawn connections.
They claimed Sahzad was blocking their way with his bicycle and they hit him in the quarrel that followed. The police concluded that there was no racist motive for the murder.
Now, the murder of Sahzad is part of the charges the Nazi leadership faces.
The central reason for this change is the explosion of anti-fascist strikes and protests since Pavlos’ murder (see below).
The government was clearly worried that the situation might get out of control and had to act against the Nazi gang quickly. A combination of strikes and antifascist demos was the last thing they wanted.
The strikes played a crucial role in another respect too.
Until recently Golden Dawn focused on attacks against immigrants as a way to establish terror squads in working class areas. Emboldened by police protection during such racist activities they decided to go for trade unionists and the left as a show of strength in the middle of a strike wave.
Two weeks before the murder of Pavlos they attacked a group of the KKE (Communist Party) who were flyposting near Piraeus—including shipyard workers and trade unionists.
Golden Dawn’s escalation was a bridge too far. A weak government struggling to survive against workers’ resistance to its austerity attacks could not afford to continue protecting Nazis on a murderous rampage.
There is now an opening for the left to counterattack.
We have to make sure the arrests of the Golden Dawn leadership lead to convictions and the net is spread wider to include all the Nazi squads, their backers and protectors.
The government in Greece has sacked a leading official in the intelligence service EYP with Golden Dawn links.
He obstructed an investigation into the phone calls between hit squads and the party’s leaders.
Prime minister Antonis Samaras reinstated him last year but has now had to sack him.
There are many more links between the state and the fascists.
We have to uproot them.
The mainstream parties Pasok and New Democracy used to claim the left was to blame for the rise of Nazis. Their mantra was “The two extremes feed on each other”.
Now they are urging the left wing Syriza to cooperate with them in isolating Golden Dawn.
The left cannot allow those who protected the thugs to evade all responsibility. Samaras and public order minister Nikos Dendias must resign.
The struggle against the fascists must continue alongside the fight against those who spread poverty and racism.
In the evening of 18 September tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Keratsini, the home of Pavlos Fyssas, and in cities across Greece.
The anger linked up with strikes against redundancies in schools, hospitals, colleges and social security offices.
Mass meetings of striking teachers voted for action against the Nazi Golden Dawn.
Unions called a 48-hour general strike across the public sector on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week and anti-fascist rallies on the second day of the strike.
The 50,000-strong rally in Athens turned into a mass march on the Golden Dawn headquarters led by the far left.
The parliamentary left, however, put out calls for people to stay away.
Katerina Thoidou of the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (Keerfa) said, “All the roads in the area were just full of people, and lots of union placards saying ‘Nazis out of our workplaces’.”
“People didn’t just want to dissolve the Golden Dawn, but to bring down the government.
“They are so angry at the government, the courts and the police that spent so long trying not to notice the Golden Dawn and all its attacks.”
Petros Constantinou is the coordinator of Keerfa, the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat. It organises anti-fascist and anti-racist protests in Greece.
Petros faces prosecution for using an anti-fascist slogan on leaflets and for reporting on police repression of migrants.
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