Three years of hard economic crisis, poverty, and misery have nourished the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, which has emerged as a significant force in the Greek Parliament.
The criminal activities of Golden Dawn have long been known to the Greek and other European governments. Even while participating in the Greek Parliament, the Golden Dawn continued its goon squad activities: engaging in acts of violence even in schools, issuing death threats, and abusing and even murdering immigrants.
The media typically did not present these incidents in the news, and the political system "did not see" and "did not listen."
It took the cold-blooded murder of a young Greek artist to characterize the Golden Dawn as a "criminal organization" and to arrest the General Secretary Nikos Michaloliakos, four MPs and other leading members.
The political murder of Pavlos Fyssas was allegedly organized about thirty neo-Nazi Golden Dawn members, who wore black clothing, wore gloves and knuckledusters, and operated as paramilitary force.
The murderer arrived by car, approached the victim purposely, and carried out the killing.
The doctor who examined the body talked about a "professional hit" to the heart. The alleged killer, George Roupakias, was well-known within Golden Dawn, took part in food distribution by the party, joined its summer camps, was photographed with its MPs and confessed to performing various "errands" for a fee.
Witnesses have testified that four police officers who were present at the scene did not intervene until after the murder, when a female police officer arrested the killer.
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn is also directly linked to a group of thugs that have recently attacked members of the Communist Party and trade unionists at the Shipbuilding Zone of Perama near Athens. They have also issued death threats against members of the largest anti-fascist organization (KERFAA) in the same area and elsewhere. The violent and racist activities of Golden Dawn are most overt in this working class area, which has been hit hard by the crisis.
The attitude of the police in relation to the activities of the Golden Dawn has sparked protests by anti-fascist collectives and organizations. The police have been condemned not only for the tragic murder of Pavlos Fyssas but also for ignoring photos, videos and other information about the Golden Dawn that have been made public mainly through social media.
There is widespread talk about cooperation between the Golden Dawn and police. A former member of the Golden Dawn has openly stated that the police are "in the know." An officer in the police department of the neighborhood where the murder took place is apparently a member of Golden Dawn who has kept the leadership informed and offered to rescue those who were caught red-handed.
The murder of the young artist was a key event that brought a chain of reactions mainly because the people took action. Up to 20,000 protested near the murdered man's home. and many more thousands took to the streets in every city in Greece in large anti-fascist rallies. The protests were massive and spirited particularly in the vicinity of Golden Dawn offices in various cities. More protests followed at the victim's funeral
Anti-fascist protests triggered by the murder of Paul Fyssas also took place in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin, where thousands of people shouted political slogans showing their solidarity and determination to stop all forms of fascism in Europe. "Enough" was a common cry.
As the anti-fascist mood swelled up across Greece, the General Secretary of the Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos, was forced to cancel planned speeches and the party had to close down its offices in the working class area where the murder took place. And then the government and the parties that support it broke with the tolerance with which they had treated the actions of the Golden Dawn for so long. Senior executives of the Greek police resigned overnight "for personal reasons," police officers were arrested, searches were made in various offices of the Golden Dawn.
The crux came on Saturday when the public prosecutor declared the Golden Dawn to be a "criminal organization." The General Secretary was arrested as the head of this criminal organization on charges of homicide and other criminal acts, together with four MPs and many leading members of the Golden Dawn.
Public opinion polls continue to indicate that the Golden Dawn has strong support. It appears, then, that the political system wants to remove it from the scene. It remains to be seen how things will develop, particularly as the government continues to abide by the policies of austerity that have led to the emergence of the Golden Dawn. Unless action is also taken to remove the social and economic devastation caused by the policies, it doubtful that the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn will be decisively beaten.
Photo: Screenshot Via Euronews.