Menu

EAGAINST.com

Student protests and clashes in Greece

By Markos Vogiatzoglou, via: Dinamo

In Greece schools are occupied since one week, and today the rector of Athens University locked the university with riot police that attacked the students demostration.

It’s been sometime since we last heard from the Greek movement. But, thanks to the Greek government and its riot police, today became a day of large student demonstrations, clashes with the cops, injuries and rising tension. First, let’s see what happened. Early in the morning, the Athens Law School students arrived at their University in order to apply their Assembly decision, which included a symbolic occupation of their University until the 17th of November, commemoration day of the 1973 student revolt against the military dictatorship.

The problem was that the school was already occupied by the riot police. The Athenian Universities’ rectors had decided to apply a peculiar “lock out” of the students and employees, supposedly for “security reasons”. The government gave a helping hand by sending hundreds of cops, in riot gear, to apply the decision. The cops assaulted the students, seriously injuring a couple of them and dispersing the rest. The news circulated, public outrage was expressed for the police blockades and violence, hundreds of students demonstrated in the center of Athens during lunchtime, and another protest, involving thousands, is now going around the Universities, confronting a total police blockade of the city center.

A question I guess the Italian reader would put is why this mess, and why now? November is the traditional month of student mobilization in Greece. Yet, in the last years, seldom –if ever- did the protests go beyond the symbolic level, as the movement was too preoccupied with the country’s current problems to seriously devote itself in commemorations.This school year (anno scolastico) though, started with incredible problems for both schools and universities, due to underfunding and lack of teaching and administrative personnel. Hundreds of schools were occupied in the previous weeks and soon enough the universities joined the struggle.

The mobilization, if we want to be sincere, seemed quite weak until now. In a collapsed country, where everyone is waiting for the government to collapse as well and for the elections that will bring the left-wing SYRIZA to power, some hundreds of occupied schools do not make a real difference. It is also noteworthy that the student population of Greece, which was traditionally at the avant-garde of the movements and had led all major mobilizations since the 1990s and up to 2008, was largely absent from the large anti-austerity protests of 2010-2012.

But, as it seems, our surrealist government is doing its best to reverse the situation. As I am concluding these lines, the student protest arrived at the Polytechnic University of Athens in Exarchia (where it all started back in 1973), the students forced open the doors and entered with the purpose of making yet another Assembly. The police immediately attacked. Eye-witnesses report several injuries among protesters; hundreds are barricaded inside the Polytechnic. The burning smell of tear gas is spreading, once again, in Athens.

London, antifascist gathering for Pavlos Fyssas – Λονδίνο, αντιφασιστική συγκέντρωση για τον Παύλο Φύσσα

EL: Στην ιστορική οδό της Cable Street – όπου τοιχογραφία αναπαριστά τη νικηφόρα προσπάθεια αντιφασιστών, συνδικαλιστών και μειονοτήτων την 4η του Οκτώβρη του 1936 να αποτρέψουν τις φασιστικές συμμορίες του Oswald Mosley και του British Union of Fascists να επιτεθούν μαζικά στους μετανάστες της περιοχής (Ιρλανδούς και Εβραίους Eastenders) πραγματοποιώντας τη δική τους πορεία προς το Westminster – πραγματοποιήθηκε χθες η συγκέντρωση αντιφασιστών, εν όψει της συμπλήρωσης ενός χρόνου από τη δολοφονία του Παύλου Φύσσα. Στο σημείο αυτό, και με ισχνή αστυνομική παρουσία, περίπου 100-150 άτομα συγκεντρώθηκαν, φωνάζοντας αντιφασιστικά συνθήματα ενώ ακούστηκαν και ομιλίες διαφόρων αλληλέγγυων οργανώσεων και σωματείων.

En: Yesterday in historic Cable Street – where a large mural on St. George’s Town Hall (next to Library Place) depicts scenes of the victorious effort of antifascists and trade unionists, on 4 October 1936, to prevent the fascist blackshirts of Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists to attack en masse immigrants and minorities (Irish and Eastender Jews) making their way to Westminster – the antifascist gathering took place, in view of the first anniversary of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas. About 100-150 people gathered, chanting anti-fascist slogans, whilst speeches from various solidarity organizations were delivered.

Neo-nazi Frequencies

greekSmall2

The far right is a hot topic right now and Chrissi Avgi\Golden Dawn (GD) are increasingly making headlines all over Europe, as this recently small neo-Nazi group suddenly stumbles onto the political stage; rabid and unclean compared to many of its European cousins, punching and threatening and speaking of civil war whilst for a long time no one does anything even though migrants and other undesirables are beaten and killed, and the cops are participating actively or at least not preventing it as the government tries its best to do even better in its own bureaucratic way. The murder of the antifascist Pavlos Fyssas by a GD member has created a sharp u-turn that recently saw surprised members of GD marching on their own as cops busted in on them and the state went antifascist. I have chosen the term ‘far-right’ to act as a massive umbrella term under which fascists, Nazis, xenophobic populists and nationalists can be categorised. I know that this is a simplification, but simplification is necessary if one is to talk about a new political climate which is spreading over Europe, a climate which is created by many groups with differing backgrounds and ideologies but which most significantly is characterised by racism and cultural protectionism. When analysing Golden Dawn it is relevant to look at Greek history as well as the ideologies of fascism and national socialism, but the international context is also important. If we look at international connections between GD and other far right groups, we can narrow our definitions, because we find the solidarity coming from a very specific political grouping: the neo-Nazis.

InterNational Solidarity

Neo-Nazis are more complex than one might at first think. Though they do exist in the shape of political parties, these parties are a part or product of a larger movement. I would suggest that part of the ideological and perhaps practical content of GD consists of an ideology which is connected to this movement. The European neo-Nazi scene has its roots in the 1970s but matured in the 1980s and 90s. For many years it has been possible to read about GD on Swedish neo-Nazi websites as they have had contact and even visited GD for a number of years. GD members have in return visited Sweden, and many other European countries such as Germany, to form links with neo-Nazi groups. In fact, much detailed information about the current situation is available on the website of the militant national socialist group (not a political party), the ‘Swedish Resistance Movement’ (SRM), who are in regular phone contact with their ‘comrades’ in Greece. They organised coordinated Scandinavian manifestations against Greek embassies in solidarity with GD, together with their sister organisations in Finland, Denmark and Norway when the GD leadership was arrested. Similarly, the Swedes Party (SP) (formerly National Socialist Front) carried out a solidarity manifestation at the Greek embassy and have eagerly followed the political rise of GD as they have steadily gained popularity and parliamentary success. This is an unlikely path for SP but one that they nevertheless dream of as the most openly national socialist party in Sweden. This party has even hosted members of GD on at least one occasion and receives regular updates.

On the recent 70th anniversary of the Crystal Night, SRM demonstrated through the streets of Stockholm to the Greek Embassy in solidarity with GD and against the assassination of GD members Giorgos Fountoulis and Manolis Kapelonis. The demonstration gathered 93 participants (they counted) and was carried out pretty successfully even though it was met with a sizeable resistance and was protected by police the whole time. Even so, the Nazis did manage to break out of the police lines and carry out some coordinated attacks against counter demonstrators. Considering the lull in neo-Nazi activity in Scandinavia in recent years- since the peak of the annual Salem demonstrations(1) close to Stockholm in the early 2000s that drew neo-Nazis from all over Europe and for some years led to the biggest Nazi demonstrations outside of Germany- it is not surprising to see the current enthusiastic excitement amongst these groups. The Scandinavian Nazis are excited both about what is happening in Greece and the possibility to come out in the streets again where they have not been able to have much presence in recent years due to anti-fascism, state repression and perhaps the fact that other populist right wing groups are currently better at attracting xenophobes. The fact that Nazis in the north of Europe have in the past attacked Greek migrants seems to be a comfortably forgotten memory.

On the same historical day that the Nazis were on the streets in Sweden, a manifestation took place in London as some of the relatively few british neo-Nazis gathered at the Greek embassy and started a new group imaginatively named ‘New Dawn’. The protest was advertised on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront and though some participants were confronted at another location by anti-fascists the manifestation went by peacefully and gathered little attention. Similarly, solidarity protests have been reported from France, Colombia, Argentina, Serbia, Italy, Spain, Russia, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic. Those carrying out these protests are neo-Nazis, not some other right wing factions. In fact in France Marine Le Pen has recently complained about her party ‘Front National’ being labelled ‘extreme right’ as that is a term that refers to groups such as GD with whom she does not want to be associated. This takes us to a point of terminology in relation to the far right.

Three Shades of Brown

For the sake of simplification I would categorise the far right in Europe into 3 camps. Firstly, the neo-Nazis, many of whom who are connected to the Blood and Honour, Combat 18, white power music and subculture scene of the 1980s and developments thereof. Though this category contains the stereotypical skinhead Nazi that many people are aware of, ideological developments have created more complex neo-Nazis who organise as parliamentary parties, resistance movements and international networks. Common factors include antisemitism, sexism, homophobia as well as a belief in a connection between blood and land as a geographical cultural identity of a people, and hierarchical divisions between different kinds of people. The original ideology still exists in these groups and some ideas that were around in the early days of national socialism, such as the anti-capitalist and socialist wing known as Strasserism, have played a part in a more complex theoretical foundation. This also creates different characteristics as some reject the legacy of Hitler and others are split between christianity and paganism as religions of choice. Though mostly a subcultural movement with ideological continuations of national socialism, new ideas and a romanticism of the past, national socialism is increasingly sneaking onto the political stage. Whilst in northern Europe this movement is largely young male dominated and subcultural, recent parliamentary success in Hungary and Slovakia suggest a broader appeal.

The neo-Nazi category differs from the second category which is a more reformed version and more likely to win votes as the anti-semitism and Nazi references are swept away and the boots and shaved heads are replaced with suits, since Nazi discourse proved to be a hindrance in many countries. The white power concerts, drunkenness and violent street confrontations that were central to the neo-Nazi movement from the late 1970s to the early 1990s were not only not attracting normal people, increasingly they were being met by strong antifascist resistance and repression from the state. Inspired by political parties like Front National in France, these Nazis put on suits to gain credibility and try to follow the parliamentary path to power. In this transition it has been common for anti-semitism to be replaced by islamophobia and whilst national socialism is, at least officially, abandoned and new members are attracted by a more moderate xenophobia, the old neo-Nazis often criticise the new political party for being too liberal and forgetting their roots (which is exactly what this second category is hoping that everyone else will do). One such political party are the Swedish Democrats who polled as the 4th biggest party in August 2012. In the early nineties they wore Nazi uniforms at meetings, planned attacks and used Nazi symbols; now they wear suits in parliament.

The third category is one which has no apparent historical connection to national socialism and fascism. Born as out of some immaculate conception, there is no parental lineage to speak of and the modern xenophobic populist party neither has to defend their belief in national socialism nor reject any connection to it. Modern populist parties have appeared across Europe with great success in the last 10-15 years and whilst the result of their politics are very similar to the two other categories, they are free from Nazi accusations and can enjoy formulating a kind of innocent unhindered racism. The Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn is perhaps the most obvious character who showed the possibility of a new xenophobic approach. An openly homosexual former marxist, he considered islam as a backward culture and his xenophobia was based on the negative effect that he believed that it and other foreign cultures had on the liberal Dutch society. Though against immigration, he distanced himself from far right parties in Europe and on most matters could not be considered conservative. Though he was assassinated just before the general elections in 2002, he changed Dutch politics and paved the way for the populist right wing “Party for Freedom” headed by the islamophobe Geert Wilders who wants to limit muslim immigration as part of a defence of liberal western culture. The discourse surrounding this defence against islam is directly connected to the ideas that were behind Anders Breivik’s terrorist attacks in Norway which left 77 people dead just over two years ago. More recently, the populist right wing party, ‘The Progress Party’ (a party which Breivik left some years before his attacks because he considered it too liberal), entered parliament as part of a coalition government, led by a female party leader who has proposed that women have some responsibility when it comes to rape. The party are against migration and for traditional hetero-normative family structures, and now hold several important ministerial posts in government. Though groups within this category are without links to fascist or national socialist movements, they nevertheless tend to attract people from these milieus.

The Hydra That Won’t Die

“What is needed in Greece right now is a military junta, which would not need public approval and could use tanks against strikers and demonstrators.”

— True Finns MP Jussi Halla-aho.

Along come the ‘Finns Party’ (previously called the ‘True Finns’) and challenge my simple categorisation. They have 38 out of 200 seats in parliament and are currently the biggest opposition party. Their xenophobia even extends to the crisis-ridden south of Europe, as Finland has had to participate in the Greek bailout packages. As a recently formed party they should belong in the third category though they lack the sophistication of many of their counterparts and amongst their incredibly crude homophobic and racist remarks one can also find many that question the extent of the holocaust and appear sympathetic towards Nazi Germany. Even though they have no direct organisational link to neo-Nazis, they certainly do not self-censor themselves in a way to exclude Nazi ideas. Maybe this shows that the days of careful political positioning where a closeness to national socialism and fascism seemed incompatible with parliamentary success are over.

There seems to be some attempts of Golden Dawn to take a leap from the first of these categories to the second, as the appreciation of Nazism has some problematic elements for a populist party who might just have progressed a little too quickly to work on its facade. There is no doubt that GD have roots and inspiration from recent Greek history, but if we look at the sources of current solidarity these come from the neo-Nazi groups and parties of Europe and beyond. A source of inspiration, GD give hope to Nazis who have not yet watered down their politics as a tactic for parliamentary rewards, while years of contacts between GD and foreign neo-Nazi groups also places GD in a larger neo-Nazi context. Even though the broad appeal of open national socialist ideas in Greece is problematic historically, maybe the time for the Nazi is here once again, as the political centre is increasingly pulled to the far right. GD will either have to reinvent themselves slightly to become more presentable, or perhaps convincing people that the Greek is the real übermensch will be enough.

A new political Europe is taking shape as political parties of different backgrounds and ideologies, but similar in their nationalist and xenophobic stances, are winning parliamentary victories that would have seemed impossible not long ago. There are hardly any countries in Europe that currently do not have successful anti- immigration parties. Some of these parties are neo-Nazi, some have neo-Nazi roots and some seem free of such a past whilst whipping up strong nationalist feelings as an opposition towards the perceived cultural threat of immigration. It is easy to say that people are drawn to these parties due to a lack of confidence in the mainstream parties, but the inherent racism and hatred towards ‘undesirables’ that goes along with this is harder to explain. Looking at the far right tendencies around Europe might however be an important tool in understanding the appeal of these parties and groups, and discovering effective ways of developing anti-fascist tactics. Even though they are not all friends many are connected and they are growing and making alliances by looking beyond their borders. Antifascism must keep up with these developments in order to confront the fascists in all their forms and wherever they pop up, our internationalism is a weapon.

“The one thing with writing stories about the rise of fascism is that if you wait long enough, you’ll almost certainly be proved right. Fascism is like a hydra- you can cut off its head in the Germany of the ‘30s and ‘40s, but it’ll still turn up on your back doorstep in a slightly altered guise.”

– Alan Moore

Written by: Coraline

Republication from The Barbarian Review

___________

1. Salem is a small city close to Stockholm. In the end of 2000 a young skinhead was killed there by a gang of kids, some of which had foreign backgrounds, which sparked yearly Nazi demonstrations against ‘violence towards ethnic swedes’.

Information about prisoner hunger strike from 18 to 20 July in Germany and Switzerland

397492_494537010656554_1197921798_n

Update on prisoner hunger strike in Germany and Switzerland, in solidarity with prisoners in Greece, following this announcement:

Even if the Greek parliament passed the bill on maximum security prisons on the 8th of July, the resistance against the new prison system, and in particular the type C prisons, is not over… These prisons have similarity with the F-type prisons in Turkey or with maximum security prisons in Germany. Following the mass hunger strike in Greek prisons, a statement on international solidarity hunger strike has been sent around in different prisons in Germany, but the communication between/with inmates takes a long time.

In German prisons, the participants in the solidarity hunger strike are until now Oliver Rast at Tegel prison in Berlin, Ahmet Düzgün Yüksel (extradited from Greece to Germany in May 2014), as well as Andreas Krebs.

Andreas, in his early 40s, has been in prison for over 16 years. He is a rebellious prisoner, and participated in several hunger strikes and also tried to escape two times. Thanks to his initiative, over 20 prisoners in the Aschaffenburg jail in Bavaria declared their solidarity with the upcoming strike. He has also written to inmates in two other prisons.

Comrade Thomas Meyer-Falk, imprisoned since 1996 and now in security detention in Freiburg, has written a solidarity message for the hunger strike, announced between the 18th and the 20th of July 2014.

Anarchist Marco Camenisch (in jail more than 20 years) will participate in the hunger strike as well; he is currently held in Bostadel, Switzerland.

Republication from contrainfo.espiv.net

Briefings from Greece 12-4/22-5

Screenshot from 2014-05-28 22:59:45

12 April
Αthens: 600 demonstrated at Ermou Steet (main commercial road in central Athens) against the abolition of the Sunday holiday. The demonstrators, who were blocking the entrance to many shops, were attacked by riot police and later a march took place down Ermou street. Various workers’ unions took part (such as the Union of Bookseller employees of Attica, local assemblies and others). Τhis is part of an ongoing dispute between unions and the government, the latter trying to pass a legislation that would allow shops to be open on Sundays.

14 April
Athens: Koridallos prisoners collectively decided to have their food distributed to poor and homeless people of the district. They sent their written demand to the Ministry of Justice but received no reply. They were later assured by the prison guards that the food was delivered to the poor.

15 April
Thessaloniki: A demo took place at Lampros bakery by members of the Network of unemployed and precarious workers who were asking for their wages and protesting against appalling working conditions (long working hours, low pay, constant threats of dismissal). Police arrived and 2 demonstrators were arrested.

15 April:
Athens: D. Liakopoulos and H. Stergiopoulos were sentence to life imprisonment for the in cold blood murder of Pakistani migrant Shehzad Luqman οn January 13 in Athens. See previous briefings for more details.

17 April
Ioannina: 2 anarchists were taken to court after a lawsuit against them by a local fascist who claimed to have been threatened and verbally assaulted by them. Approximately 60 comrades showed up in support of the accused and briefly scuffled with a number of fascists, pelting them with coffee and spit. The accused were finally acquitted by the court.

28 April
Lesvos: The University of Aegean authorities took down the antenna of the antiauthoritarian anarchist radio station 105FM which was operating from within the university. This was done without warning during the holiday period, after an indictment issued by the ESR (Νational Council of Radio and Television) and the ΕΕΤΤ (Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission).
Update, May 7: The frequency was reoccupied, the antenna was replaced and the radio station is back on air.

30 April
Athens: The fourth session of the trial of the Golden Dawn member Apostolopoulos, who on 28 January 2013 assaulted and stabbed in the face the then school student F. D. (the attack was carried out with another accomplice, Hatzipavlidis, who will be tried by a court for minors). The reason behind the attack was F.D’s antifascist opinions which he had discussed with a common friend. The Golden Dawn members are facing the accusation of attempted murder with intent. The next session is scheduled for May 14.
Update, 14 May: Examination of witnesses took place. The next session is scheduled for May 28.

1 May
Athens: Motorcycle demo of 100-120 bikes took place through the streets of Ampelokipi, Psihiko and Halandri, and reached Marousi to demonstrate at cafe Scherzo against the brutal practices of the boss against a migrant worker (see previous briefing).

3 May
Athens: Antiautoritarian school student demo took place against the incrimination and arrest of students who were occupying their schools against education reforms.

Screenshot from 2014-05-28 22:57:24

8 May
Aspropyrgos, Athens: An intervention took place by anarchists during an ‘informative’ workshop programme for the unemployed in the «Cultural Centre» of Aspropyrgos. The workshop was essentially a per-electoral attempt of local authorities to attract votes by promising jobs. The comrades distributed leaflets propagating the idea that the solution to unemployment can only be collective, against the shameful working conditions that the authorities can guarantee.

10 May
Korydallos. Athens: Approximately 50 Golden Dawn members attacked the anarchist social centre Pasamontaña, causing damages on windows and were repelled by those inside. Soon afterwards, about 200 anarchists marched to the GD office in Nikea (which has not been entirely closed even after Fyssas’ murder in September 2013) and caused similar damages at the entrance.

May
Athens, Irakleio & Hania (Crete), Veria, Karditsa, Kalavrita, Kavala, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Lesvos and more: Ongoing anti-electoral anarchist actions. Banners and posters were placed at various places (streets, squares, universities) against the dominant narrative of participation in the municipal and Euro elections; various actions took place against the pre-electoral campaigns of fascists, who were confronted in the streets (often chased and beaten), their leaflets and posters torn and thrown away.

May 22
Athens: The cleaners of the Ministry of Economics occupied the ministry’s foyer after officials did not allow them to resume work, despite the court decision which annulled their dismissal. The cleaners have been in an ingoing dispute with the ministry with daily protests outside its premises, often facing riot police violence. They had camped outside the ministry for approximately 15 days until the court’s decision.

20-22 May
Athens, Patra, Thessaloniki, Veria, Naousa: Solidarity demos (more than 200 in Athens) for the Zapatista teacher Galeano, who was murdered on May 2 by paramilitaries of the Mexican government.