Category: Greek Politics

Exclusive: Greek far-right organising violent anti-refugee rallies

“Greece belongs to Greeks!”

Shouts rang out at a demonstration held by far-right Greeks protesting against refugees last weekend in Piraeus, a port city south of Greek capital Athens. More troubling was the chant, “Knife into the heart of every antifascist!” That chant would be taken into action with fists and clubs.

In Greece there are still over 50,000 refugees and migrants are trapped by the closed borders, with over 4,000 having waited in the port of Piraeus for over 2 months. The Greek far-right sees increasing numbers of refugees as an opportunity for gatherings and pushes the agenda “Against the Islamisation of Europe.” Similar anti-migrant gatherings are being organised all over the Greece lately.

“We are many hundreds here today and this is just a beginning. Our heroes who were fighting against Islam once are the ones leading us,” spokeperson for Greek parliamentary neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn Ilias Kasidiaris stated from an improvised stage, where the slogan “Stop Islam” was written.

Just an hour before Greek rightists reportedly carried out an attack, led by Golden Dawn MPs Yiannis Lagos and Ilias Kasidiaris. They attacked the group of anti-fascists who gathered to protest a Golden Dawn rally. Among those attacked were also journalists, including

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A girl named Sanaa Taleb – Part 2

Introduction in the fight of Sanaa Taleb

Sanaa Taleb in colours μ.μ.

Sanaa Taleb, a woman who resists forced deportation

The trial against Sanaa Taleb was postponed a month ago. Sanaa was handcuffed, accompanied by 6 police officers back to women prison cells for undocumented migrants Elliniko in Athens. (See our earlier coverage here

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B+D Exclusive: Journalist attacked, witnesses threatened at neo-Nazi Golden Dawn trial

The trial against Greek’s far-right and self-proclaimed fascist political party Golden Dawn started on 20th of April this year. From the beginning is marked with controversy. Sixty nine defendant members of the neo-Nazi political party, including its founder and leader Nikos Michaloliakos, as well as lower level operatives like police officers, navy officers, and school teachers, are accused of operating a criminal organization.

Called the most publicised trial in decades, it is bringing little or almost no interest in international or European media. (With the exception of few rare visitors, I am the only foreign reporter in the courtroom all the time.) It is also rare to see local media deeply involved in case, and at many hearings photojournalists are not present in the courtroom.

This is especially worrying because of escalation of threats and violence by Golden Dawn members in last three hearings (including the one yesterday). When defendant Giannis Kazantzoglou, who is accused of participating in the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member, was identified by a witness, he responded in a manner that suggested threats of reprisal.

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Most of the time, less than a dozen local journalists can be seen in the press area of the courtroom.

“You remember me from two years ago!?” Kazantzoglou shouted at witness Dimitra Zorzou

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Just another Greek general strike, with a few Molotov cocktails

Another anti- austerity general strike passed today in Greece. Second in last then a month. Reportedly it was attended by some 15,000 demonstrators.

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Protesters outside of building of Greek central bank

The strike was organised because of new cuts in social security system (among others state – guaranteed pensions will be cut by half – to a minimum of 384 euros) and it was called by all the large unions supported by left parties primarily. The strike was not much different from everything what we could see for last three years, however the lack of enthusiasm for protest was notable.

The members of Pame (Union of Greek Communist party) started with rally one hour before others. Even if rallies that are organised by Pame are always very well attended they never seem to join other left groups but prefer to do their solo march towards parliament and then leave.

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The Pame supporters passing the poster that calls for rally organised by other unions.

 

The meeting point of other worker unions (mainly members of Pasok or Syriza) that played rather unpopular role in recent Greek workers history – accused of nepotism and political affiliation, thereby losing all credibility.

One angry Greek lady screamed towards the stage: “Thieves!”..signifying the general mood of the public towards the leaders. There were almost no young faces. 

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European left gather to promise anti-austerity fight. Ironically organised by Syriza.

Athens saw International conference of Youth left organised by Youth of Syriza, political organization of dominant Greek party Syriza, this past weekend. Several members of other European Network of Democratic Young Left (ENDYL) also attended the meeting.

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International conference of Youth left organised by Youth of Syriza

Among foreigners, there were speakers from Turkey, Finland, Italy, Ireland and Spain. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras briefly had a cameo.

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Aleksis Tsipras during his speech on Friday

“We were blackmailed and forced to sign a deal with which we did not agree. It’s us still fighting together with European left movements for the changes in European society. Our place is well known from heroic fights but this is not enough. We also need heroic victories,” he said to young supporters: “The hope didn’t disappear,” referring to his earlier election motto from January: “The hope is coming.”

From elections day 20.9.

The pre-election slogan of Syriza “The hope is coming” was eight months later replaced with “We win tomorrow.” Photo: Supporters of Syriza waiting for election results, Athens, 20.9.2015

 

After that, Tsipras stayed to listen only a representative of Turkish HDP Cihan Erdal and then left. Erdal however in his speech focused on terrorist attack and fight against ISIS.

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Cihan Erdal during his speech on Friday

The member of Left youth of Finland Pinja Vuorinen was talking about austerity measures implemented in her country and emphasized the importance of people “to stay angry”. There were representative of Irish Sinn Fein, without any hint of irony in his voice, thundered: “We are nationalist and republicans, fighting for socialism.”

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Representative of Left youth of Finland

 

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Representative of Irish Sinn Fein

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A girl named Sanaa Taleb

My name is Sanaa Taleb. I come from Morocco. I am being imprisoned for 7 months in detention facilities Elliniko and I demand my freedom.

These are the words from a letter that 33  year old Sanaa Taleb released 14 days ago. She is detained from 4th of April this year in one of Greek detention centers for undocumented migrants, south of Athens. Sanaa was almost deported by Greek police ten days ago but the pilot of the plane prevented her deportation; not that he was worried particularly about her forced deportation. “What will the tourists say if they will see a woman with ripped clothes covered in a blood travelling among them?” was his concern.

The police officers brutally beat Sanaa (in handcuffs) the day she rejected deportation and took her back to the women detention facilities Elliniko.

The bruises and scratches from police aggression was still visible on her body when I met her this week in one of the Athens courtroom. “After 6 months of my detention the authorities decided to simply prolong my imprisonment for another 3 months. From then on I decided to reject any food given to me by prison staff,” she explained to me.

on her hand scratches

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EXCLUSIVE: Slovenia razor wires borders as refugees face the European winter

It happened. Slovenia, one of the smallest countries in European Union decided to follow its Hungarian neighbour: as government sent military troops to its Southern border with Croatia to build a fence. Why a fence? Its task is to prevent refugees who are on the rush to escape winter to enter Slovenia. Not that they are going to stay in Slovenia; as we have seen refugees are on their way to Nordic countries, passing Slovenia on the way.

In news conference the Prime minister of Slovenia Miro Cerar announced that fence will be build on its border with Croatia in order “to protect security of our citizens and immigrants, and to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe”. Cerar tried to avoid the unpopular term “wire fence” and replace it with a soft version: “technical obstacles”.

When local journalists visited the Southern Slovenian border they reported on “wire fence with a razors”.

At the moment of writing this report there are over 10000 refugees in Greece who want to leave and continue their way towards North Balkans. Slovenia was an exception, the only country which for last few months allow them to past its territory relatively freely. Not anymore.

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