In Greece, the far-right New Democracy party has presided over a year and a half of reactionary efforts to crush the country’s vibrant culture of resistance, targeting immigrants, anarchists, ecologists, students, and rebellious neighborhoods. On October 7, after seven years of popular pressure, the Greek courts were finally compelled to find members of the fascist party Golden Dawn guilty for the murder of Greek musician Pavlos Fyssas. This gesture was supposed to legitimize New Democracy, distancing them from the fascist party whose voting base they stole to enact a more respectable version of the same agenda. But in the streets, refugee camps, and prisons, the same struggles continue with undiminished intensity.
This is expanded from Radio Fragmata’s contribution to the Bad News report. You can also read our reports from May, June, July, August, and September.
On October 7, the trial of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn took place in Athens. The trial dates addressed the murder of anti-fascist Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, also known as “Killah P,” back in 2013. The neo-Nazi group, which previously held seats in both the Greek and European Union parliaments, faced conspiracy charges for “acting as a criminal organization” and for murdering Killah P as well as multiple migrants.
On the day of the trial, a crowd of thousands gathered against the fascist party outside the courthouse of central Athens. Small clashes took place after police attacked the march. Police threw tear gas, shot water cannons, and violently attacked demonstrators at random; people threw Molotov cocktails and built barricades to defend the march. It is not certain if the actions of police were ordered from above, or were the result of their own disappointment that a party that a large percentage of Greek police embrace was deemed criminal by the state that employs them.
Members of the party were given sentences ranging from 5 to 13 years in prison, including a life sentence for the individual responsible for murdering Killah P. However, since the verdict, the state has already revealed how pointless it is to expect justice from the judicial system. The prosecutor has called for the suspension of all sentences with the exception of the individual found responsible for the murder of Killah P. One of the Golden Dawn members also has political immunity due to his status in European parliament. Most of them remain out of prison, employing excuses such as having sick relatives or COVID-19—ironic, since Golden Dawn has been seen denying the existence of pandemic and playing on conspiracy theories about it being created by the likes of George Soros.
Another appeals court awaits—and while this trial is probably the most famous in modern Greek history, it is no surprise that the convictions will not deliver justice for the atrocities perpetrated by Golden Dawn. So many acts of violence go unaccounted for. The appeals court, the enforcement of prison sentences, and the course that the prosecution will take in the post-verdict judicial proceedings remain unclear. It is reasonable to expect that as the case leaves the headlines, the right-wing New Democracy government will conclude that they have achieved the effect they needed from the guilty verdict; many of the defendants may end up serving no time at all.
Here is a statement from Radio Fragmata in response to the verdict:
“We sympathize with this broad moment of joy at the expense and inconvenience of the scum making up Golden Dawn. However, we want to use our voice to state that our thirst for vengeance for their heinous acts is not satisfied. We desire the liquidation of fascism, both on a social and institutional level, not the judicial regulation of fascism.
With a humble appreciation for the feelings of redemption experienced by the family and friends of those affected by Golden Dawn’s rotten existence, we also want to point out the trickery of New Democracy ‘s administration.
In some ways, New Democracy also won today. In creating this spectacle of “justice,” they attempt to distinguish themselves from the “fringe extremists” of Golden Dawn and reinforce their claim as the moderate neoliberal heroes of a Europeanized Greece. At the same time, they continue carrying out fascist pogroms against people of color and immigrants and waging war on anarchists and anti-fascists.
We don’t mind when those in Golden Dawn suffer, regardless of the cause; whether from the courts, COVID-19, or tripping on a banana peel. Any cause of pain to these awful fascists brings us comfort, but we do not want to use our voice to appreciate the courts of this fascist system. As anarchists, we recognize that no true justice will ever be found in the courts. The system of the courts in itself is an injustice to our humanity. The horrible actions of Golden Dawn must be avenged and dealt with in the streets and in our broader revolt against a society built on fascist ideals.
It’s unclear how much time these people will get. It’s unclear if Pavlos had not been Greek whether the case would have ever reached the spotlight, or gone unprosecuted like those of so many others tortured and murdered by Golden Dawn and Greek fascists/patriots. It’s not clear if the state will compensate and appease its right-wing base after this by doubling down on future repression of immigrants, anarchists, and other communities it deems expendable or unwanted.
We recognize the struggles and efforts to draw attention to this case in the streets, but we plead not to allow the state and its trickery to measure the distance and victories of our struggles.
Will the two comrades facing terrorism charges for attacking Golden Dawn’s offices now see their charges dropped? After all, they were combatting a criminal organization, according to the courts. Of course not—dismissing those charges wouldn’t serve New Democracy’s goals.
Let us use our voices to push things further, and on our terms!”
As we believe that it is essential to achieve victory in the streets, we want to recognize some of the actions building up to the case.
In Patras, the day before the trial, people attacked the local branch of the Ministry of Justice, as well as two ATMs and two bank branches. An anonymous group took responsibility for the action. An excerpt from the communiqué states:
In the early morning of October 6, while we waited for the completion of the trial of Golden Dawn, we chose to strike state and capitalist targets in various parts of the city. More specifically, the branch of the Ministry of Justice, two ATMs, and two bank branches were broken and painted…
As anarchists, we have no illusions about the bourgeois system of justice, as we know that it is a pillar for the preservation and formation of power. We have no confidence in this institution, which will always be in favor of the bosses and the rulers.
We recognize that this court is by no means the final battle with fascism, because the anti-fascist struggle is daily, and requires constant vigilance and presence in our workplaces, schools, universities, and squares.
No matter how much the state escalates its repression, no matter how many squats it evicts, no matter how many revolutionaries it imprisons: we will stand up for the anarchist / anti-fascist struggle, aiming to upgrade it.
Building up to the trial, people took other actions against the offices of New Democracy, as well as the offices of the lawyers defending Golden Dawn. The communiqués for the actions spelled out a message of refusal to embrace state justice. It was impossible to miss the banners and graffiti across the country as well.
The verdict came just weeks after 51 people were arrested while covering up fascist graffiti in Thessaloniki, all of whom face criminal charges. Much like Facebook, or Macron in France and Merkel in Germany—and soon, Biden in the United States—New Democracy tries to present itself as the peacekeeper of a polarized society while enforcing and protecting the broader policies and goals of the right.
Just days before the trial of Golden Dawn, a 64-year-old man murdered an 18-year-old Roma boy in the region of Messina, Peloponnese. The man claims that the boy was trying to rob him, but witnesses state that the boy was simply stepping onto his land in order to gather some lemons. The man also claims he only fired to scare away the boy; however, he shot him three times with a shotgun.
After the murder of the boy, the Roma community of Messina surrounded the police station, hoping to capture the murderer and enact revenge. The news spread across the country to various Roma communities in Athens, Volos, Kalamata, Katerini, Thessaloniki, Aspropyrgos, Lamia, and elsewhere. During the week of the anniversary of the October 10, 1944 murder of 800 Roma children in Auschwitz, Roma communities across the country participated in riots and barricades in response to the murder. The Peloponnese region, despite its history of being occupied by the Nazis, has many active fascist groups and instances of racist violence.
Roma people are excluded and marginalized in Greece, as they are in Europe in general. While the man has been charged with murder, the state has also charged two Roma boys with trespassing on the allegations that they were with the victim when he was murdered. The laws surrounding this murder resemble the “stand your ground” laws in the USA; it will likely go unpunished because of the ethnic background of the victim. Fascism is alive and well in Greece, and no court will ever eradicate an ideology that serves to protect the state.
Student General Strike
Huge student strikes have erupted across the country in response to the lack of safety in schools in the face of COVID-19. The state continues to redirect money towards gentrification efforts, military budgets, and policing while sending students back to school in the middle of the pandemic with nothing more then a mask mandate. In some cases, students have occupied their schools; ironically, some conservative parents have responded by assaulting the occupiers and trying to break up barricades, despite the fact that their children are fighting for their own safety.
The occupations began in response to a lack of anti-virus safety protocols in the schools. They have become politicized as a consequence of anarchist groups’ support efforts, as well as many young people’s experience of state repression and brutality.
To support the youth-led demonstrations, mass bicycle protests, and blockading of schools, anarchist and anti-fascist groups have organized solidarity actions and hung banners, as well as helping to defend the occupations. As the strike has grown, the state has threatened young people identified as participating in the occupations with expulsion from school programs. Repression has escalated with riot police and Delta police attacking young people, tear-gassing gatherings of students, and, in one recent case, arresting and beating four 14-year-olds.
The strike is expected to continue, while the corporate media has tried to minimize attention, mocking young people’s demands for safety as nothing more than an attempt to avoid school. The students’ original demands were:
· Divide classrooms into sections to avoid overcrowding · Recruit long-term teachers, not teachers on temporary contracts · Expand funding for cleaning staff · Provide properly sized masks for students according to need, as well as general PPE and hand sanitizer for free
The state has made clear to an entire generation that it is not concerned with the safety and preservation of humanity, leaving a new generation of young people skeptical and discontented.
On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, police raided several apartments in Berlin and Athens, pursuing accusations from the German Federal General Prosecutor at the Federal Court of Justice regarding “formation of a criminal organization” according to §129 StGB. The raids and charges have been hushed up; according to one of the only corporate media reports, they are part of a broader investigation into the riots that happened during the G20 in Hamburg.
In Athens, Greek officers of the anti-terrorism authority (DAEEB) and one officer from the German Federal Criminal Police (BKA) stormed two apartments to execute search warrants. They took the accused and the other persons they found in the two apartments to the police headquarters in Athens and brought them into interrogation rooms.
After ten hours of waiting, they released two people and arrested the remaining three on the basis of pepper spray that was found in the apartment (violation of the Greek weapons law), two pocketknives, and for refusing to give fingerprints. After another six hours, the arrestees were transferred to prison cells. The next morning, a heavily armed squad dressed up all three with bulletproof vests as if they were in a blockbuster movie (typical for a presentation by the anti-terrorism authority), tied them up, and brought them to court. Yet at the end of the hearing, the court decided to postpone the trial and release the prisoners.
The allegations seem absurd. However, the implications of the conspiracy charges and the state’s willingness to coordinate to pursue the case internationally both indicate seriousness on the part of the European authorities.
Meanwhile, Pola Roupa, the accused member of the group Revolutionary Struggle famous for allegedly hijacking a helicopter to liberate a political prisoner from the Korydallos prison in Athens, continues to fight for better living conditions and for an appeal of her sentence.
On September 24, the anti-terror police unit arrested three comrades after raiding their homes and a warehouse. The media already had a full story from the cops linking them to the “Group of Popular Fighters,” a revolutionary group that has claimed responsibility for several attacks since 2013. It appears that the story is based on fake news and false evidence. Two of them were released; one was transferred to Larissa’s prison, facing the vengefulness of the minister Chrysohoidis. Focusing on his past contacts with the notorious fugitive Palaiokostas, the Greek state is trying to silence him and at the same time send a message to all the aspiring revolutionaries of the present and the future.
On October 14, Şadi Naci Özpolat, an alleged fighter of “Popular Front” who is imprisoned in the Diavata prison in Thessaloniki, began a hunger strike. He was arrested in Athens on March 19, 2020, after an operation targeting Turkish and Kurdish fighters. From the moment he was taken prisoner, he refused to cooperate, maintaining his dignity in the face of the humiliating prison procedures. To punish his courage and will, the chief at the prison put him in solitary confinement, from which he was released only after a hunger strike. Now he has commenced a new hunger strike, demanding to be permitted to receive printed material sent to him (books, newspapers, letters) without censorship or damage by the prison authorities, and for his family to be permitted to visit him in prison.
Prisoners across Greece continue to demand hygienic conditions inside the prisons. Prison staff hiring continues to outpace hospital staff, as court cases continue to mount against the movement in parallel with the campaigns of state terror and repression. However, solidarity remains strong. Every trial draws a large presence of supporters outside the court, despite the attempts of riot police to intimidate those who express solidarity. Noise demonstrations continue relentlessly outside prisons as well. Repression is as strong as ever, but our solidarity will always provide a weapon to overcome it.
Since our last report, police have evicted the squat Filolaou 99 in the Athens neighborhood of Pagrati. This follows the evictions of the historic squats Terra Incognita in Thesaloniki and Rosa Nera in Crete. The squat served as a library, an organizing point, and a mutual aid resource center.
The state refuses to return any of the contents of the library or the other equipment and resources housed by the space. After the eviction, corporate media attempts to find locals willing to offer interviews demonizing the space failed; locals described their disappointment about the eviction, recalling that the squat had replaced a house once used for drug dealing, and that the squat became known as a community resource center supporting those suffering the economic consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown.
In response to the eviction, a demonstration spontaneously gathered in support of the squat. A thousand people took to the streets in defiance of the new law banning all non-permitted demonstrations. Police attempted to intimidate the participants, but without success.
Despite the unrelenting attacks on squats in Greece, anonymous individuals expressed solidarity with those defending the recently evicted Leipig 34 squat in Germany by attacking the offices of a German tourism business in Thessaloniki.
Resistance continues in response to all the evictions: a constant campaign of graffiti, banners, and protests communicating that the spirit at the foundation of the movement’s squatted infrastructure can never be evicted. October has been deemed a month of international solidarity with squats under threat; throughout the month, people have repeatedly attacked bank branches across Athens and Thessaloniki. There have also been reports that people threw Molotov cocktails at riot police guarding the recently evicted Terra Incognito squat in Thessaloniki. No arrests were made.
Exarchia continues to be overrun with police. The latest pandemic measures will undoubtedly impact the neighborhood even more, as such measures are always enforced more harshly in Exarchia than elsewhere in Athens, as a means to seek more control over the area. An organization called the “quality of life” committee has been coordinating urban gentrification efforts, helping to line the pockets of Greece’s elite with funding from the European union. A new proposal worth 3.5 million euros to restructure a street in Exarchia that runs parallel to the historic Polytechnic University—a street once notorious for clashes with police—will likely serve as another effort to gentrify Exarchia. This illustrates the priorities of an administration that aims to decorate the city in the face of a looming depression.
On the island of Lesvos, immigrants and refugees continue to face dehumanizing treatment from the Greek state; the only humanitarian measures are directed solely at shaping international attention. The new camp replacing Moria, the previous concentration camp for refugees, leaves the residents facing comparable or even worse conditions than before. Police continue attempting to deter grassroots support efforts, blocking aid shipments and threatening to arrest people who try to help those inside the refugee camp. While funding is desperately needed for infrastructure to support those displaced from Moria or facing miserable conditions elsewhere in refugee camps across Greece, the state is prioritizing investing funds in building a new border wall on the border with Turkey in Evros.
Delivery Worker Strike
On October 8, a massive strike and demonstration took place involving delivery workers across Athens. Organizing attempts by delivery workers have drawn repression and arrest. But efforts to crush the delivery workers’ grassroots union have only invigorated the strike; in light of pandemic safety measures and the new recognition of delivery people as essential workers if another lockdown is to come, these workers are refusing to tolerate the degradation of their jobs. The strike called for more PPE for delivery workers and payment for fuel for those working on motorbikes. The delivery union’s wildcat efforts have radicalized an entire demographic of workers in Greece, helping to provide a support network among delivery workers during a precarious time.
In solidarity with the strike and efforts of the delivery union, anonymous individuals set fire to a delivery van belonging to the courier company ACS in the early hours of October 13. ACS is a courier company operating across Greece that is notorious for exploiting their employees.
In memory of murdered LGBTQ activist Zackie-O and against patriarchy in general, anonymous individuals claimed responsibility for a campaign of actions against churches in Athens in mid-October.
In response to New Democracy’s escalation of surveillance and policing, anonymous individuals attacked the private security company Group22 SA on October 13. The company’s office’s façade was set on fire along with multiple vehicles belonging to the company. The action also declared solidarity with squats and squatters evacuated by the state. Vehicles belonging to another security company had been set ablaze in Thessaloniki the previous day, on October 12.
In response to the broader repression of campuses in light of the abolition of the asylum laws protecting universities from police attacks, anonymous individuals stormed and destroyed the offices of the dean of the NTUA university in Athens.
The second wave—or is it the third?—of COVID-19 is coming hard. The deception of New Democracy’s guilty verdict for Golden Dawn has helped to conceal some of the regime’s heinous acts from public dialogue and media headlines, but nothing has really changed. We face an uncertain future, as people do everywhere in the world—but our solidarity and struggles remain intact.