Greece: anti-fascist activist on trial

Savvas Michael-Matsas, leader of a small radical-left party, went on trial in Greece Sept. 3, charged with "libellous defamation," "incitement to violence and civil discord" and "disturbing the public peace" in a case brought by members of the far-right Golden Dawn party. Michael-Matsas' Revolutionary Workers' Party (EEK) has a slogan of "The people don't forget, they hang fascists." Michael-Matsas himself had publicly boasted: "I'm the embodiment of every fascist's fantasy. I'm a Jew, a communist—and a heretical communist, a Trotskyist, at that. I don't fit anywhere. The only thing I happen not to be is homosexual." Co-defendant Konstantinos Moutzouris, a former rector of Athens Polytechnic, stands accused of allowing progressive news website Athens Indymedia to use the university's server.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, former Golden Dawn candidate Themis Skordeli, was charged in a stabbing attack on an Afghan immigrant in September 2011. Her trial has been postponed eight times. The MP Ilias Panagiotaros, another of the complainants, owns a shop called Phalanga (Greek rendering of Falange, a name used by far-right paramilitary movements in Spain, Lebanon, Bolivia and elsewhere) that sells street-fighting paraphernalia; he told the BBC last year that Greece is heading for civil war.

Michael-Matsas' friend Maria Margaronis, in commentary for The Guardian, charges that he was targeted by Golden Dawn in part because he is Jewish: "[P]icking out the Jew to be the first to walk the plank is sleazy beyond belief, a cheap sop to the fascist gallery. As one of the few Jewish public intellectuals in Greece, Savvas has long been targeted by neo-Nazi websites, with slogans like 'Crush the Jewish worm' and claims that he can be found lurking under every stone, fomenting civil war among pure-blooded Greeks in order to establish a Judeo-Bolshevik state. He has also been accused of being both an agent of Iran and a fully paid-up member of the international Zionist conspiracy (in fact he's a fierce anti-Zionist)." (Enet English, Ha'aretz, Sept. 3; The Guardian, Sept. 1)

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  1. Greeks protest Golden Dawn attack on Communists
    Thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens Sept. 13 to protest a violent attack on Communist Party (KKE) members by black-shirted supporters of the Golden Dawn party which left nine hospitalized with serious injuries. In the attack the pervious night, some 50 men wielding crowbars and bats set upon KKE followers as they distributed posters for an upcoming left-wing youth festival in a working-class district of the capital. Many of the assailants wore ski-masks and helmets. (The Guardian, Sept. 13)

  2. Anti-fascist riots rock Greece
    Clashes with police broke out in several cities across Greece Sept. 18 after an anti-fascist rap artist  Pavlos Fyssas AKA Killah P was stabbed to death by a man claiming to be a member of far-right Golden Dawn party. Fyssas was stabbed twice outside a cafe in the Keratsini area west of Athens. A man was arrested at the scene admitted attacking Fyssas and said he belonged to Golden Dawn. A knife with traces of blood was found near his car. (Daily Mail, Sept. 19)

  3. Greece probes military ties to Golden Dawn
    The Greek defence minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has launched an inquiry into allegations that members of the country’s armed forces have helped to train hit squads formed by the far-right Golden Dawn party. Said President Karolos Papoulias: “From the time I was a young man I fought fascism and Nazism. It is my supreme duty as president of the republic to defend democracy and the Greek people from the storm that is approaching.” (The Guardian, Sept. 23)

  4. Party leaders arrested in Golden Dawn crackdown
    Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and four other Golden Dawn MPs were arrested Sept. 28 on charges of belonging to a “criminal organization.” Some 200 party followers gathered outside the police headquarters in Athens to protest for their release. (BBC News)

  5. Greece: armed left re-emerges?

    BBC News reports Jan. 20 that Christodoulos Xiros, convicted in 2003 in connection with Greek armed-left cell November 17 but who apparently disappeared while on "prison leave" last year, has vowed in an Internet statement to return to arms. Citing austerity measures and the rise of the Golden Dawn, he boasts: "I've decided to fire the guerrilla shotgun against those who stole our lives and sold our dreams for profit." Pictured behind him are portraits of Che Guevara, Greek anti-Nazi resistance hero Aris Velouchiotis—and two leaders of the 19th-century independence struggle against the Turks, Petros Mavromichalis and Theodoros Kolokotronis. These last two are nationalist (not leftist) icons. 

    Authorities have offered a reward for information leading to his arrest, of course. (AP, Jan. 22) But English-language media accounts provide few details on the circumstances of his escape, or why a terror convict was allowed "prison leave." It all smells slightly suspicious.

    Last year, when there were reports on the armed left re-emerging in Turkey, we were similarly skeptical…

  6. Greece cracks down on fascists …and anarchists

    A Greek public prosecutor has called for Golden Dawn’s entire parliamentary group stand trial for criminal offenses. The order, outlined in a 700-page argument by state prosecutor Isidoros Doyiakos, said that more than 50 leading party members should also be tried for using the far-right group as a political front to pursue a litany of illegal activities. “This is an extremely important development and no time should now be wasted in holding this trial and putting these criminals away for life,” said Petros Constantinou of the anti-fascist Antarsya whose supporters have been widely targeted by the extremists. “Their murderous tactics have been tolerated for far too long.” (The Guardian, Oct. 16)

    Two weeks earlier, authorities arrested anarchist Antonis Stamboulos pending trial on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. He is said to be linked to Nikos Maziotis, a leader of the militant group Revolutionary Struggle, previously accused of planting bombs and firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the US embassy in Athens. (AP, Oct. 5)