Tue Oct 1st, 2013 at 02:19:32 AM EST
After years of toleration of nazi / organized crime activities the Greek government following the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, acted at last:
(Reuters) - Greek police arrested the leader and more than a dozen senior members of the far-right Golden Dawn party early on Saturday after the killing of an anti-fascist rapper by a party supporter triggered outrage and protests across the country.
The arrests, which are the most significant crackdown on a political party in Greece since the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974, are the biggest setback to Golden Dawn since it entered parliament on an anti-immigrant agenda last year.
front-paged by afew
So here's a recap, I'm working on a more extensive diary:
Golden Dawn are Nazis. As I have pointed out here early on: they are deadly dangerous. They are nazis who have connections with, and work as, organized crime, down to having turf wars with other gangs and making deals with Albanian and Pakistani mobs (while beating up and killing random Pakistanis in Athens). They apparently are also funded by shipping magnates, clergymen and businessmen. And they are (I can't say were yet) certainly protected and supported by police. The last bit is crucial: wherever GD fought antifascist groups in comparable numbers they got their arses kicked. It was only due to police intervention that they could claim the streets. And all this started according to the preliminary investigation (but you could ask even me and I'd tell you, all of what they found has been public knowledge for ages) in 1987. They were collaborating with the police and building support for 25 years and the political establishment did nothing at all to stop them.
Had Pavlos Fyssas survived the attack I reckon that the police would throw the book on him and his attacker would get a hand-slap. This has been going on for ages: This is what happened last year to the anti-fascists that confronted Golden Dawn: The police arrested and tortured them.
Most of the establishment media were implicitly "humanizing" them and hushing up completely, or not covering the extent and severity of their crimes: The Nazis were just "one of two extremes" according to the government and its media parrots, the other being SYRIZA. This immoral calculus of inventing an equivalence between political protest and racist gangsterism, has characterized media coverage of Golden Dawn by oligarch controlled media in Greece. Suddenly, though, they have all discovered the Nazis misdeeds and crimes. And they are "bringing to light" actions that were common knowledge to everyone who has access to the internet, or the foreign press or social media the past 5 years...
It is some sort of perverse deja-vu - and while it is rewarding to hear someone on TV publicly stating that these people are common criminals, one is outraged by the gall of the MS media pretending that all of this is just now emerging into the spotlight... (Until early September there were pundits and Conservative cadres calling on New Democracy to collaborate with a "more serious" Golden Dawn. Even after Fyssas' murder Samaras' advisers were pushing the Golden Dawn - SYRIZA equivalence, until the last possible minute - and still are...)
Why now? GD went three steps too far, too soon (three steps: attacking very right wing but non-GD members in a memorial service - I kid you not - for Nazi-collaborators executed by partisans during WWII, attacking Communist Party members with clubs and then killing a Greek), and if the government didn't act now things would have gotten completely out of hand for them - leading even possibly to some sort of low intensity civil war, judging from the extent of anti-fascist reactions across Greece. That, and the unanimous horror that the murder and Neo-Nazi impunity caused in the EU and the US, made it difficult to persist in using the threat of Golden Dawn as a political counterbalance against the left.
Still this is possibly the most right wing government in Europe (along with Hungary) and its attitudes towards immigrants, law and order and popular protests isn't that far from that of the Nazis. And it has a murderous agenda of unrelenting austerity to pull-off. So while the organized crime part of this terror might subside, I'm not sure at all that institutional terror, via police brutality and government legislation will disappear... The day after Pavlos Fyssas' murder while massively protesting his death at the scene of the crime, in Keratsini, we were tear gassed by riot police as Golden Dawn thugs were by their side throwing rocks at us... As a Greek Human Rights NGO activist put it in a recent article: About Golden Dawn, I am angry for the past, happy for the present and worried about the future...
The government is planning - it seems - to evade a round of local by-elections (which should occur if GD MPs resign en masse) by a totally unconstitutional change of electoral law. This is an outrage against democracy of course and is due to the fear of losing an election to SYRIZA, despite supposed gains after GD's ban. GD is dead but undemocracy on the other hand will remain very much alive under this government:
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.