clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

GREECE: IMMIGRANTS AND ANARCHISTS STRUGGLE AGAINST RACIST ATTACKS

Posted by clandestina on 2 July 2009

This is a part of the Britain, RESISTANCE bulletin issue 114 July/August 2009 providing some context and links of the on-going anti-immigrant campaign with December’s revolt and the State’s “counter-revolt” since then.

clandestinenglish

GREECE: IMMIGRANTS AND ANARCHISTS STRUGGLE AGAINST RACIST ATTACKS


Throughout December, Greece was alive with working class dissent. Police stations burned,
luxury shops were ransacked, roads blockaded and the centre of Athens saw continuous
running battles with aggressive riot police (often in collaboration with neo-Nazi
paramilitary organisations).

An important factor that was to colour the December events was the sheer diversity of
those involved. Anger at the murder of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by police was
shared across Greek society. This and the continuing attacks by the state on workers’
conditions in response to the economic crisis served to fan the flames of wider political
dissent across the country.

But this time the streets were not only filled with the usual gang of hooded
insurrectionists. Factory workers, school students, university students, teachers, health
workers, the precariously employed of the so-called “seven hundred Euro generation”,
immigrants, agricultural labourers, the unemployed (and many more) all took to the streets
in outrage. Helena Smith of the Telegraph reported on the 14th December that, to her
horror, even “middle-class rioters are buying rocks”. It seemed that everyone was starting
to see the rotten state of the system.

Yet, the mainstream media inside Greece, and later the professor’s of Greek Universities,
would continue to tell two stories about the riots. The first, that it was just a mob of
hot-headed youth. This wasn’t political, these people were just bored and disillusioned.
All they needed was better jobs and better opportunities. The economy had failed them, we
know what’s best for them, oh the folly of youth etc. The second accusation betrayed a far
more vicious agenda and introduced a political scapegoat for the violence. That poor Greek
youths had been led astray by immigrants whose only aim was to loot and steal from native
Greeks.

In the media, distinctions were continuously made between the naïve and hot-blooded
actions of Greek youth and the criminal behaviour of immigrants and minorities. Such
accusations were also backed by a very real campaign of intimidation and violence against
immigrant communities by Fascist organisations.

In early May, for example, a rally called by fascist groups quickly turned violent.
Neo-nazis began randomly beating immigrants with iron bars with the police looking on.
Later, under the protection of the riot police, the neo-nazis attacked buildings where
immigrants find refuge with stones and flash and sound grenades.

Such anti-immigrant activity, however, was not limited to the streets. The European
elections saw the ascent of LAOS, the populist rightwing Popular Orthodox Alarm Party, to
4th position with 7% of the vote. This, combined with the governing party’s landslide
defeat, led the government to endorse the core of the extreme-right wing policies of LAOS.
The Minister of Public Order, Mr Makroyannakis, announced the launch of a mass pogrom of
immigrants in the centre of Athens. He pledged to “clean” immigrants from the city centre
and displace them in what he called “a ghetto” at the outskirts of Athens. The camp, which
will use the old NATO base of Aspropyrgos in the city’s heavily industrially polluted
rustbelt, is expected to hold more than 2,000 ‘illegal’ immigrants. The premises had been
proposed in the past as a temporary concentration camp for immigrants, addicts and
homeless people during the 2004 Olympic Games but the plan was abandoned after a huge
public outcry.

Immigrants and their allies are not taking these attacks lying down. Early March, after
all, saw protesters, in response to an attempted hand grenade attack on an immigrant
community, break into the offices of Neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn (Xrysi Avgi) and torch
them to the ground. On Friday 29 May immigrants and solidarity protesters also marched to
the Greek parliament despite a fascist counter-demo and media scaremongering. Tensions are
high, however, and attacks on immigrants are likely to escalate.

Early June saw anarchists in the area of Agios Panteleimonas move to unblock the entrance
of the local children’s playground which the fascists want to keep locked in an effort to
impose segregation between Greeks and immigrants, and “to preserve the blood purity of the
white race”. While unblocking the playground the anarchists were attacked by fascists who
were soon routed before the arrival of riot police forces.

During the clashes one policeman was injured and five protesters were arrested on criminal
charges. After the end of the clashes, a local Greek father, Mr Tasoulas, took his son to
play in the coveted playground. Soon they were surrounded by fascists who blocked the exit
of the playground and threatened to lynch the father calling him a traitor. After he
managed to hand the child to a sympathetic neighbour, the fascists beat the father in full
presence of the chief of the local police station.

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