The MYPLACE team at Panteion University of Social Sciences in Athens send this report on recent events surrounding the leadership of The Golden Dawn – another of the activist groups being studied in MYPLACE.
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On September 17, Pavlos Fyssas a 34 year-old rapper, known for his anti-fascist activism and lyrics was with his friends at a cafeteria in Keratsini, Piraeus. During the same time a group of Golden Dawn members were there watching a football match. After the end of the game, Pavlos Fyssas and his friends left the cafeteria. On their way home, about 30 members of Golden Dawn surrounded and attacked them. At that time a car stopped and a man came out of it. He reached Fyssas and after fighting with him for a few seconds he stabbed him in the chest, in his heart. Before dying, Fyssas managed to point out to the police officers the man who stabbed him, and he was arrested on the scene. He was a 45 year-old Golden Dawn member, member of the local party division and known for his participation in the party’s activities (camps, food donations, etc.). A few hours later he confessed and was accused of cold blood murder.
The reactions this murder caused were huge. All the political parties condemned the killing, among them Golden Dawn that claimed no relation with the murderer! Huge anti-fascist demonstrations took place in the area and in the center of Athens the following days.
The next weeks were more impressive. The judge that was charged with that case ordered to open the mobile communications of the murderer and examined his contacts before and after the killing. At the same time the government, too late according to some of its critics, sent 32 criminal cases to the judges in order to examine the involvement of Golden Dawn members and MPs in criminal activity. Based on the evidence on Saturday, the 28 of September, early in the morning the police arrested 6 MPs of Golden Dawn among them the general secretary Nicos Michaloliakos and the party’s spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris.
One of them went later on that day at the Police Headquarters to surrender and another one a couple of days later. Apart from them, other members of the party were also arrested among them two police officers. All of them were accused of as members of a criminal organization based on the Greek penal code. It is worth mentioning that three of the MPs were released after a few days, but under the term to not leave the country, while Ilias Kasidiaris had also to pay a bail of 50,000 euros, of course they are still accused of being members of a criminal organization. At the moment, apart from the leader of Golden Dawn, two other MPs are imprisoned and many other members of the party. The police have arrested many party members since then many of them in other Greek cities. In one of these cases, in Volos, 3 young people of 17, 22 and 27 years old were arrested before attempting to burn down an Islamic Mosque in the city of Volos. During his plea the 22 year old said that he went to the Golden Dawn offices with many others, because he had heard that they offer jobs to Greeks and he is unemployed. Furthermore, internal affairs of the police are conducting controls to police departments and arrested the former head of the Police Department in Agios Penteleimon, where Golden Dawn actually started its campaign against the immigrants.
It has to be mentioned that after their arrests they didn’t stop uploading texts and messages in their websites. Among other messages they uploaded the support from other extreme-right groups around the world (Spain, Colombia, France, Italy, Germany, etc.). One of the first groups that wrote a support announcement was the British National Party together with the National Revival of Poland’s Foreign Committee (http://www.bnp.org.uk/news/national/breaking-news-golden-dawn-arrest-bnp-statement) on the day of the arrests. Among other things they expressed their “full solidarity with Greek patriots, being persecuted by the system as a consequence of their fast growing support among ordinary Greeks”.
Many things have happened within a month. Three are the most striking things. First of all, the material found in one of the houses of Christos Pappas, a party MP, which is directly related with Nazism as the pictures below prove (Pappas with Nazi uniform, SS helmets, bottles of wine with photos of Mussolini, Hitler’s photos, etc.).
The second one, that many active and former members of Golden Dawn broke the law of silence and spoke to the judges asking for protection and not revealing their ID. Finally, and most importantly, even though the majority of the Greeks were very critical about the party’s actions, in the opinion polls following the events, Golden Dawn is still the third political party receiving from 6.8 to 8% of the votes. This means that the arrests have weakened the party, but not to the level it was expected. It is absolutely certain that this case will not be closed. This means that our MYPLACE research about Golden Dawn is fundamental in order to understand this phenomenon and try to explain its presence in Greek society and especially its impact and influence on young people.