Last night, 34-year-old anti-fascist and left-wing rapper Pavlos Fissas was stabbed to death in Athens while he was surrounded by a group of 30 thugs in Golden Dawn shirts and military trousers. The victim, whose stage name is MC Killah P, had been watching a football match with his girlfriend. The Greek media is reporting that the murder came about after fighting between the fascists and anti-fascists, but according to eyewitnesses there were no clashes. The source – a local woman with no stated political allegiance – said that while Fissas was surrounded by the fascist mob, the murderer pulled up in a car, parked in a hurry, jumped out and attacked him straight away – details that point towards a premeditated attack. Fissas was stabbed twice in the heart, and once in his stomach. He died later in hospital. The murderer, who has been named as Giorgos Roupakias, was arrested later and confessed to both the murder and the political nature of his act.
The same sources allege that a group of police officers at the scene did nothing to stop what was happening – according to the left-wing Athens-based website Left.gr, police told onlookers that they could not intervene because the assailants were “too numerous”. The attacker was eventually arrested by an officer and his car was taken away. Two hundred anti-fascists gathered at the scene later, and calls for protest marches all around Greece were put out.
The Golden Dawn [the explicitly fascist Greek grouping] claim that Roupakias isn’t a member of their organisation and is threatening anyone who implicates them in the murder with lawsuits. However, police sources have confirmed to Kathimerini newspaper reporter Jean Souliotis that Roupakias’ party membership card was found in the rubbish bin outside his house. According to sources, he is associated with the Piraeus branch of the Golden Dawn. As far as Golden Dawn violence goes, this was an extreme incident but not an isolated one. There seems to have been a resurgence in Golden Dawn attacks of late, to the extent that you wonder if this is a calculated strategy to escalate tensions between the far-right party and its political opponents. Late last Thursday night, 30 Greek Communist Party (KKE) members were putting up posters in the streets of Perama, when a group of 50 masked individuals wearing Golden Dawn insignia attacked them with iron bars and wooden sticks with nails through them. Nine KKE members were hospitalised.
When I spoke to Sotiris Poulikoyiannis, President of the metalworkers union and one of those attacked, he told me that, “When they came for us, they were shouting, ‘We’re running this place, this harbour is ours.’ They were well prepared and equipped, they had sticks with nails in the end – this wasn’t a random attack. The two people in charge of the group even identified themselves.” It doesn’t look like a coincidence that the attack came after a speech by two Golden Dawn MPs in the area. One of them, Yiannis Lagos, told his activist branch, “You choose how you want to move forward, and we’ll back you up.” This had echoes of a speech he made last year, after which an attack was unleashed upon some Egyptian fishermen. On both occasions, no charges of incitement to violence were brought against him, and it’s unlikely that any will brought against Golden Dawn after Fissas’ murder.
Curiously, while the Golden Dawn has been ramping up the violence it has also been flirting with relative respectability, by courting New Democracy – the large centre-right party that is in the government at the moment. New Democracy kept schtum about the attack on the communists in the domestic media, only condemning it in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. Last week, high-profile Greek journalist Babis Papadimitriou asked, “If SYRIZA [a left party] can work with KKE, why can’t a more serious Golden Dawn support a conservative alliance, like what happened in Norway?” Several MPs and advisors have hinted at the possibility of a potential alliance between the centre-right party and the neo-Nazi gang – if only the second would “shape-up”. Though Golden Dawn has attempted, in its own, ham-fisted way, to engage with mainstream political processes – bringing leftists to court for slander, standing in the Athens mayoral election – it seems their idea of “shaping up” doesn’t extend to not murdering political opponents in bars.
The brother of Nikos Mihaloliakos (leader of the GD) is rumoured to be recruiting heavily from circles of lawyers, businessmen and academics – supposedly upstanding professionals who are a little bit too fond of the Greek Junta and the colonels who overthrew the Greek government in 1967. However, with this latest murder, the Golden Dawn’s dual tactic of shaking the hand of the respectable political classes at the same time as they’re using the other hand to plunge knives into their enemies may finally have come unstuck. The Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Dendias has said the government will look to change the law around criminal organisations, hinting at a ban of the far right-party. Unfortunately, such a change could have implications for radical leftist organisations as well, meaning that the Golden Dawn could drag their foes down with them and mortally wound Greece’s democracy. Which means that, ultimately, they would kind of get things their way after all.
Reposted from the Greek Left Review