Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

On the night of the 17/9/2013, 34 year old Pavlos Fyssas, a Greek anti-fascist activist and rapper was ambushed by about 40 members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (GD) gang after leaving a cafe in Keratsini, a working class neighbourhood in Athens. He was stabbed twice while police officers stood by without intervening, according to witnesses, and shortly after succumbed to his wounds.

This is only the latest of thousands of attacks carried out by GD. While their MPs have been giving fascist salutes, vigilantes flashing swastikas and other Nazi symbols have been beating up immigrants, activists, or anyone they suspect of being LGBT or left wing for over three years– often in front of cameras. Last September, three MPs led gangs of heavies through street fairs in the towns of Rafina and Messolongi, smashing up immigrant traders’ stalls with Greek flags on thick poles. Less than a week before Fyssa’s murder, unionists of the Greek Communist Party were assaulted by 50 thugs armed with bats with nails sticking out of them.

Nearly all of these attacks have gone unpunished and a lot of them have been carried under police officer noses. Claims that “GD have infiltrated the police” made to the “Guardian” by a high ranking officer are backed by the overwhelmingly high results it received in the latest elections in wards where the police vote in large numbers. The web is flooded with photographic and video evidence of GD members working side-by side with riot police against demonstrators. Immigrants trying to bring complaints of racist violence are routinely threatened with counter-charges and held in cells while last October anti-fascist protesters claimed they were tortured in the police headquarters.

The rise of fascism also owes a lot to mainstream media. Effectively unregulated by the state and owned by a few small Berlusconis, Greek tv channels have been cultivating chauvinism, racism, sexism and anti-immigrant hate for decades. Now they present GD cadres as normal people, explore their lighter side and even turn them into lifestyle icons or tele-celebrities. They rarely discuss the violent crimes for which many of these people have been accused or convicted. The murder of Fyssas was largely presented as a fight over a football match! And despite its anti-systemic image, GD is quick to return the favour to the rich ruling class whether by voting in favour of its interests in parliament, or by keeping the left in check.

A lot can also be said about the role of the “centre” ruling parties – the neoliberal extremists who have imposed measures of violent pauperisation and created widespread perceptions of decay and victimisation and feelings of national humiliation all of which fuel the rise of fascism. It was they who first demonised immigrants, who have rounded illegal immigrants up in modern concentration camps, who talk of “taking back Greek city centres”, who have unleashed the riot police against demonstrators time after time. They now speak of “a clash of the two extremes” thus further legitimizing GD by equating it to the left. They are using it to fight the anti-austerity movement by presenting themselves as the only rational alternative and by keeping people in a passive state of terror.

Few anticipated the sudden rise of fascism in Greece. The factors that fuelled it exist in other societies too however. The recent EDL attacks or the murder of French teenage anti-fascist Clément Méric show that in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, fascism is once against on the rise – much in the same way as in the 1930s. An internationalist anti-fascist movement is therefore necessary. A movement that understands fascism for what it is – the long arm of the system and will fight it together with its root cause before it is too late. If we tolerate this, our children will be next!

Join us for an anti-fascist demonstration on Saturday 21/9 at 1pm at the Mound.

Yesterday, we gathered in front of the City Chambers in Edinburgh as an act of solidarity to the ERT workers demanding the re-opening of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. We are against a state ‘public’ broadcaster whose job is to secure the ideological and political domination of the political and economic elites within Greece and the EU. We are fighting for a public media outlet that truly belongs to and speaks for the people and their needs. The thousands outside the ERT premises all around Greece must multiply and form a radical movement against the government, for a society of peoples’ needs.

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On the 11th of June, the Greek government, once again expressing its totalitarian identity, took the decision to pull the plug on the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) with its three channels and numerous radio stations. In this way Greece became the first EU country without a public broadcaster and 2,700 workers were forced to unemployment. This decision was taken without parliamentary approval (apart from New Democracy the only political party openly supporting it is Golden Dawn), against the Greek constitution. From 5pm when the Samaras’ government suddenly announced the shutdown, it took only 6 hours for the riot police to pull down the antennas while the program was still on air.

According to Samaras, ERT suffers from a “unique lack of transparency and incredible waste” and needs to be shutdown in order to give space to a new ERT built in the future. Nevertheless, his party (New Democracy) and Pasok, which have been in power in Greece for the last 40 years, are the ones that have been imposing their own people in management positions in order to pursue their political agenda. These are the people with large salaries causing the waste and not the everyday employees. For that reason, it is naïve to believe that the new ERT is going to be objective and efficient – it will be an even more corrupt mouthpiece of the government and the ruling class.

From the moment of the official announcement, the employees (journalists, technicians and administrative staff) decided to occupy the premises and continue to broadcast showing their opposition to the completely anti-democratic policies of the government. Thousands of people have gathered to all the ERT premises around Greece. They are expressing their solidarity to the fired workers and demonstrating against the closure of the last broadcasting body which has been instrumental in promoting culture and connecting Greek emigrants with their home country. Moreover, the Greek National Union of Journalists has voted for a continuous strike and on Thursday the 13th of June there was a call for a general strike of the private and public sector.  Foreign media, as an act of solidarity, have been transmitting in Greek (ARTE JOURNAL) and reproducing the signal around the world. In addition to this, Journalists’ Unions from the EU and the UK have announced their solidarity messages to their colleagues in Greece, while the government in a fascist way is threatening all those who are reproducing the ERT signal with legal sanctions.

Apart from thousands of jobs, a massive archive of cultural wealth, managed by ERT, is also now in danger. This is the creation of the people and it needs to stay in their hands. In addition, there is also a significant amount of material wealth in terms of important broadcasting infrastructure and technology which has been paid for by the people. This simply cannot be left to private hands, in the same way as other parts of our social wealth (the telecommunications and energy infrastructure, the ports and the airlines), the subjection of which to market forces has already begun.

We are against a state ‘public’ broadcaster whose job is to secure the ideological and political domination of the political and economic elites within Greece and the EU. We are fighting for a public media outlet that truly belongs to and speaks for the people and their needs. The thousands outside the ERT premises all around Greece must multiply and form a radical movement against the government, for a society of peoples’ needs.

Edinburgh,

14.06.13

The Real Democracy Now Edinburgh [GR] group was started by workers, unemployed people and students living in Edinburgh. Its decisions and political views are formed autonomously within the group using direct democratic procedures. Its main purpose is to inform and take action regarding the economic, social and political crisis in Greece, which led many of us to emigrate along with thousands of other young people. The group also extends this spirit of resistance locally, by actively participating in the Scottish political scene.

The forthcoming visit of the former Prime Minister, as a representative of the Greek political system, caused a negative reaction in our group and in the wider local community. Papandreou is responsible for deceiving the Greek people and triggering a cascade of catastrophic measures. However, it is not the individual that our group is reacting against, but the policies and the “one way street” logic that Papandreou consciously represents. These policies are dictated by the dominant institutions that the country is integrated in, such as the EU and the IMF, and the domestic super rich ruling class. Faced with a society that is becoming impoverished as a result of the crisis, it is at least distasteful for one of the main implementors to give lessons.

Once again, an opportunity to speak is given to one of the representatives of the ruling class, which has benefited from the current situation, to the detriment of Greek society. At the same time, in Greece any effort at resistance and any counterarguments are targeted and silenced. This is a standard practice of disinformation and marginalization of certain views by the oligarchy and the mass media that represent them. It is a technique that seeks, either to equate popular anger with fascist practices, or to silence it (struggles in Skouries and Keratea, strikes, racist attacks, state repression).

The group will continue to strive against beliefs and practices that are in opposition to the interests of the majority. By doing this we hope to contribute to the foundation of a society based on the needs of the people without exploiters and exploited.

Edinburgh

23/05/13

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On April 17th 2013, about 30 migrant workers from Bangladesh were injured in a shooting at a strawberry farm in Nea Manolada, Greece. A group of about 200 workers had gathered to demand a 6-month overdue pay when the three Greek foremen of the farm opened fire using hunting rifles against the crowd. Several workers were taken to the hospital, some of them in critical condition. The three perpetrators were arrested after two days on the run while the owner of the farm was arrested soon after the events.

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Working and living conditions in the strawberry fields of Nea Manolada easily resemble those of the 19th century plantations of the American South making modern slavery a reality. The workers live in crowded greenhouses, sleep on the ground and have minimum access to clean water and no medical care. Some of them have their families with them living under the same horrible conditions. Most of the workers do not have the necessary documents for legally working in the country making them susceptible to constant threats by their employers of being reported to the police and deported from the country. They are subjects of utter exploitation: with a daily pay of €23 of which almost half is spent on accommodation, they are working extremely long hours, allowed only a single break under the burning sun and eat only once per day.

However, the events in Nea Manolada came as no surprise. Nea Manolada has previously been in the spotlight over exploitation of migrants. In 2008 workers staged a strike against inhumane conditions. In summer 2009, two men had tied two migrant workers to their motorbike and dragged them in the streets of the town because they thought they had stolen some sheep. While in 2011, the journalist G. Pouliopoulos and the photojournalist I. Chatzistaurou were heavily beaten while investigating the living and working conditions of the migrant workers in Nea Manolada. Despite these events in March 2011, G. Papandreou, the Greek prime minister at the time was applauding the producers of Nea Manolada for their investments and pioneering cultivation methods referring to the strawberries as “red gold”.

The events in the bloody strawberry fields of Nea Manolada are not isolated incidents. They occur under the political coverage of the last governments and the silence of the mainstream media, all in the name of ‘economic growth’! They are coming at a time where migrant workers are demonised, as the source of all evils, by the far-right/fascist Golden Dawn party and at a time where the established state itself is piling up illegal immigrants in detention camps to live under inhuman conditions. It becomes evident that there is an on-going social decay where human and working rights are routinely ignored and the survival of the exploited, the Bangladeshi workers in this case, is always at stake.

These last events sparked a nationwide boycotting campaign of Nea Manolada’s strawberries. Many big supermarkets have already removed Vangelatos SA from their suppliers after receiving complaints from their customers.

IF THEY CANNOT, WE CAN!

Posted: April 8, 2013 in event
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Workers of the Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me) factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, a subsidiary of “Filkeram & Johnson”, stopped being paid in May 2011, and subsequently the management abandoned the factory. After a series of assemblies, the workers decided to manage the factory themselves. Since then, they have occupied and defended the factory and the machinery needed for production. On the 12th of February 2013, the factory started production under workers’ control. The production is planned directly with democratic assemblies, without bosses or hierarchy. The workers’ assemblies have declared an end to the unequal division of resources with the workers finally having equal and fair remuneration. This has been decided collectively. The factory produces building materials and they have declared that they plan to move towards production friendlier to the environment. They have continued to reach out to other workers and communities, receiving tremendous support throughout the world. The solidarity shown by these individuals, groups and communities has made an important contribution towards the survival of the workers and their families so far. Supporting them is especially essential in these first months if the project is to succeed.
While the number of unemployed people in Greece is approaching 2 million and the whole world is being plunged deeper and deeper into an economic and ecological crisis, the Vio.Me workers have taken a first step on a long and difficult road. They offer an alternative way forward: the way towards a democratic society without bosses, exploiters and exploited. For that reason, the struggle of Vio.Me. is every worker’s struggle and deserves our solidarity.
We see this as the only future for worker’s struggles.” Makis Anagnostou, Vio.Me workers’ union spokesman.
Join us on Sunday April 14, 2013 at 5.30pm for a discussion with a Vio.Me. workers’ union representative at Pleasance Highland room.

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