Thursday 20 December 2012

UAF condemns fascist attack on MP in Athens

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) is throwing its weight behind an international call for action against the threat of fascism, following a serious attack on an MP of the official opposition party, Syriza, on Sunday 16 January.

There will be a national rally against fascism on 19 January in Athens. UAF is supporting that and sending a delegation, as well as organising a protest at the Greek embassy in London as part of the international solidarity action on the same day.

Dimitris Stratoulis MP was assaulted by three members of the fascist Golden Dawn party when he attended a football match in Athens on Sunday. The attack follows daily physical assaults on immigrants, minorities and oppositional voices by the Golden Dawn party, which entered the Greek parliament this year and is now third in the opinion polls.

Golden Dawn does not hide its fascist regalia nor its affinity to Nazism. Its symbol is crafted to resemble a swastika; its members parade in blackshirts and it is openly anti-Semitic as well as Islamophobic, racist and contemptuous of democracy.

“This attack on an MP of the main left opposition party should sound alarm bells,” says Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF. “There is a rising threat from the far right and of racism across Europe, but nowhere more so than Greece. UAF stands in full solidarity with all the victims of the fascist Golden Dawn in Greece and we are supporting the gathering international campaign to halt and reverse its rise. We are mindful of the threat of fascism, xenophobia and racism in Britain too. That’s why in acting on 19 January in solidarity with the growing anti-fascist movement in Greece we will also be drawing together a range of communities and civil society organisations to counter real, though as yet thankfully less developed, threat here. It will signal the start of a massive campaign to get the BNP and far right out of the European parliament at the elections in 2014 and to prevent racism and xenophobia polluting politics here.”

Fellow joint secretary Sabby Dhalu adds, “UAF had already been contacted by a broad umbrella of immigrant and anti-fascist groups to support the call for action on 19 January. Now this attack underlines our determination to do just that. We are circulating a statement which we will have published in the new year highlighting the threat. There is already a very positive response from a range of trade unions, BME and immigrant organisation, MPs and prominent cultural and intellectual figures. The threat of fascism in Greece is serious. We will do all we can to stand with the majority of people in Greece and in Europe who are recoiling in horror at this resurgence of racist hate.”

The movement for 19 January in Greece is cross party and very broad. There has already been a silent demonstration on 15 December which had support from the main centre-left and left parties, including the equivalent of the Labour Party in Britain.

The President of Greece has felt obliged to remove a Golden Dawn MP from a delegation to the Council of Europe, which is meant to safeguard human and civil rights across the continent.

UAF looks forwards to strengthening links with all those fighting fascism in Greece and across Europe.

Among those urging a massive response to Golden Dawn is Dimitris Tsoukalas, MP for the Syriza party and former leader of the bank workers union. He says:

“The attacks by Golden Dawn are beyond any precedent. After the murderous attacks against immigrants, it is now targeting even the MPs of the left. On Sunday 16 December, three members of this Nazi organisation – as they described themselves – approached Syrza MP Dimitris Stratoulis who was outside the Olympic Stadium during the half-time break of a football match. After telling him, ‘We are Golden Dawn and today you are gonna die,’ they started beating him on the head, punching and kicking him. Fortunately, he got away thanks to fans who heard him shouting and rushed to help. The attack against this Syriza MP is a direct threat for all the MPs of the left, and an assault on democracy. The aim of Golden Dawn is to suppress any voice fighting against the politics of the Troika and the austerity Memorandum, against the policies that demolish the political, labour and democratic rights of the Greek People. We call on the people of Athens and of the rest of the country to participate in the big rally against fascism, racism and xenophobia outside the parliament on 19 January. Let’s give a resounding response to the fascists of Golden Dawn.”

Greek community organisations in London are among those organising to protest here on 19 January. Oliver Vardakoulias of the Syriza party in London says:

“We condemn the cowardly attack against Dimitris Stratoulis MP undertaken by neo-Nazi thugs of Golden Dawn. This despicable attack is but the tip of the iceberg. Neo-Nazis are openly conducting a war on workers, foreign or nationals, social movements and all left wing parties which represent them. Piles of death and injuries are accumulating while the Greek state and its watchdogs (notably police forces and media) are, silently or loudly, backing up these attacks. Only a united anti-fascist front across Europe can prevent the rise of this hatched serpent’s egg, which is now seeking to literally kill any progressive route out of our European ‘great depression’. Let’s start building this front on 19 of January.”

Add your name to the UAF statement:

The rise of the fascist right, racism and xenophobia across Europe is frightening. Nowhere more so than in Greece.

The Golden Dawn Party is unashamedly anti-Semitic. It is directly involved in attacks on immigrants and the Muslim community, which are happening daily. Critical journalists and oppositional politicians have also been targeted.

Golden Dawn doesn’t seek to hide its neo-Nazi credentials or regalia. Yet it is in the Greek parliament and third in the polls despite one of its leaders physically assaulting two women MPs on television before polling day.

Golden Dawn has grown since entering parliament. It is organising paramilitary gangs and it has infiltrated sections of the police.

Neither conceding to their bigotry nor hoping the storm will pass have ever stopped fascist storm troopers. And Greece, in a 1930s-style economic meltdown is facing the real threat of fascism.

The very word democracy comes to us from Greek. Now in a country that has recent memories of military coup, democracy is again imperilled.

We stand with the suffering Greek people, in their majority, against the most serious threat of fascism any where in Europe in our lifetime.

We support the call for an international day of action to highlight the threat of fascism in Greece. We stand with the civil society organisations and intellectuals who are rallying on 19 January under the banner: Athens – Anti-fascist city. We will gather outside the Greek embassy on that day in London.

It is neither too alarmist nor to late to take this threat seriously. If not now, when?

Email to add your name to the statement above

Never Again!
Saturday 19 January 2013, Noon
Assemble Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, to march to the Greek Embassy in London

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