The fight against Golden Dawn isn’t over

July 22, 2015

The SYRIZA-led government's negotiations with the European blackmailers and the adoption of a third Memorandum of drastic austerity measures in return for talks on another bailout have overshadowed the continuing trial of Greece's fascist Golden Dawn party, which is accused of operating as a criminal organization. The trial--in which 69 Golden Dawn members, including 18 representatives in the previous Greek parliament, are defendants--was scheduled to begin in April, but was repeatedly postponed because of legal maneuvers. Korydallos Prison, where the trial is taking place in a specially designed courtroom, has been the site of several large protests mobilized by the left and anti-racists.

Thanasis Kourkoulas, a member of the socialist group Internationalist Workers Left (DEA) and the Expel Racism movement, explained the latest developments in the trial and made the case for bringing the anti-fascist struggle into the campaign against the austerity measures agreed to by the Greek government, in an article first published in French at the A l'encontre website and translated into English by Michele Hehn.

THE TRIAL against Golden Dawn for being a criminal organization--often postponed under various pretexts--has been decisive in suspending the actions of fascist vigilante groups.

The anti-fascist movement has played a large role in this. Earlier governments and the legal system were unwilling to bring charges against the neo-Nazi organization. The latter was only made possible by anti-fascist protests on a massive scale following the death of antifascist rapper, Pavlos Fyssas, who was killed while leaving a bar in a suburb of Athens on September 18, 2013.

This shows that the political influence of Golden Dawn remains limited for the present. It drew 6.3 percent of the vote during the elections of 2015 as opposed to 9.4 percent during the elections for European parliament in 2014. Admittedly, there may be some holding back in talking to people administering polls. But the fascists' sympathizers do not dare to defend the organization in public.

The trial began within the walls of Korydallos Prison on April 20--a few months ago after a long waiting period. Over 60 members and leaders of Golden Dawn are implicated.

Immigrants lead a protest against Greek fascists of Golden Dawn
Immigrants lead a protest against Greek fascists of Golden Dawn

This is where the challenges begin. The antifascist sentiment of a strong majority of society currently fails to find expression within political institutions or bodies. On the one hand, it should be found within the left, particularly within SYRIZA, but there are no public statements condemning Golden Dawn for its criminal acts. The sentiment should also be expressed, on the other hand, in the different democratic groups. But few attorneys have been mobilized--most of those who have been are close to the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and the smaller anti-capitalist alliance ANTARSYA.

There is clearly an underestimation of the danger represented by Golden Dawn in the current context. One effect of SYRIZA's electoral victory has also been to direct a great deal of attention to questions of government.

It is also important to know that several trials are in progress against supporters of Golden Dawn. In addition to this one in which they are charged with being members of a criminal organization, there are three others moving forward at the same time. They concern: one, the murder of antifascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas on September 17, 2013; two, the attempted murder against Egyptian fisherman in Perama near Athens in June 2012; and three, the attempted assassination of members of the PAME trade union and KKE, also in Perama, on September 12, 2013. The other trials are still in the discovery phase and won't begin in earnest until the beginning of September 2015.

THE RETREAT in the mobilization against fascism has enabled Golden Dawn to win an important point during this phase of the legal battle. The presence of the victims' lawyers will be limited to the trials where they are directly representing the injured parties. They are therefore prevented from presenting themselves as civil parties in the trial in which Golden Dawn is accused of being a criminal organization. This victory was won by an appeal made by Golden Dawn's lawyers that each trial be treated separately. It is nevertheless evident that all these trials are connected, given that the criminal activity of Golden Dawn consists principally of physical and lethal aggression against leftist militants and trade unionists.

Golden Dawn has also taken advantage of the current context to present itself as the sole anti-system party working toward a national resistance. It presents SYRIZA as being a traitor "to the nation" because a majority of its members signed a new Memorandum with the creditors. It also asserts that the entire political system is rotten, and that the charges against the leaders of Golden Dawn, its militants and the organization itself are motivated by its posture of opposition to the political system.

Until now, the majority of the population has not been convinced by these arguments. However, this may change with the new political phase opened by the third Memorandum. The Greek people have not yet been fully informed about the details of the new austerity measures. The resistance is therefore in its opening stages. From now on, the attitude of the left and the mass movements will play a crucial role in this regard. The essential question is linked to the ability of the radical left, whether it is part of SYRIZA or not, to energize and give expression to a mass movement.

Golden Dawn's military wing--its vigilante groups, repeatedly denounced for their use of weapons--has not taken to the streets since the organization was charged with being a criminal organization. For the immediate future, we are optimistic that Golden Dawn will be unable to gain a wider hearing in society.

Nevertheless, the danger is very real. It is therefore critical to include an anti-fascist dimension to every aspect of the anti-austerity fight and the struggles that follow it. We try to do this on a daily basis, not only in our trade union work, but also in our workplaces and communities. We also anticipate holding protests in front of the courthouses as soon as the trials enter their next phase. It is important that we widely publicize that Golden Dawn is not an organization against the system--that it supports capital and benefits from its relationship with Greece's rulers, in particular, with weapons manufacturers.

At present, Golden Dawn is unable to act openly in communities. Nevertheless, it reappeared yet again in the days preceding the passage of the last Memorandum. Its members had a small postering campaign against the privatization of the port of Piraeus. In fact, Golden Dawn did nothing against the Memorandum, even if its members in parliament voted against it. The press did not relay any information about its positions during the July 5 referendum. According to polls, only 40 percent of Golden Dawn voters voted "no" in the referendum. The most fascist core is more preoccupied with the nature of government--which it considers "Bolshevik"--than by the new austerity measures.

First published in French at the A l'encontre website. Translated into English by Michele Hehn

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