The rise and eventual fall of Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn contains lessons for Wales about how a violent street movement can combine with an electoral project to create a fascist political force, terrorising minorities & the left.
Images by Veronika Merkova 1
The threat posed to Wales from the far right and fascism goes beyond national borders.

On a recent Facebook group set up by the far right to coordinate anti-refugee actions in Penally, Pembrokeshire, members flooded in from Sweden, America and Australia. 2
But their movement was dealt a hammer blow in Greece this week as the leaders of one of the world’s most notorious fascist parties were jailed for 13 years for running “a criminal organisation disguised as a political party.” But this is only part of the story. 3
More than 30 party members were also found guilty and jailed for crimes including murder & attempted murder.

One of these was Giorgos Roupakias, convicted of murdering popular anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013. He was jailed for life plus 14 years. 4
Several other members were sentenced to between 10 and 7 years for involvement in the killing.

At the time of Fyssas’ death, someone called the police to report a gang of around 50 people armed with baseball bats patrolling the streets. Golden Dawn had planned the murder. 5
Golden Dawn was founded in 1985 by Michaloliakos but rose to real international prominence in 2012, winning 18 seats in the Greek parliament.

The party’s youth wing stood guard at party rallies wearing their black tops with a swastika-like symbol, holding burning torches. 6
As an EU-imposed austerity programme heaped misery on Greek society, they combined electoral politics with violence on the ground, where members regularly ‘patrolled’ the streets of working class neighbourhoods, attack left-wing activists, trade unionists and immigrants. 7
In September 2013, a group of around 20 trade unionists out flyposting were set upon in a planned attack by a gang of 50 Golden Dawn storm-troopers (‘battalion squads’) carrying crow bars and knuckle dusters.

Nine workers were hospitalised with one almost killed 8
Then there was the attempted murder of 3 Egyptian fishermen in 2013, who were jumped in the middle of the night by a gang of Golden Dawn members and almost killed. The assault was ordered from the top of the party in a way typical of Nazi organisations. 9
Through the course of the trial, the relationship between the police and Golden Dawn has repeatedly come to light.

“In many cases, the court is looking at incidents where there was a physical presence of police during attacks…” said one prosecution lawyer. 10
The state dragged its heels for years before Golden Dawn were eventually brought to trial, and never would have faced justice if it hadn’t been for anti-fascist campaigners, lawyers and the victims and their families. The trial took over 5 years. 11
On the day the guilty verdicts were handed down - Wednesday 7th October - some 30,000 people gathered outside the court to celebrate a victory against those who had previously terrorised their communities. 12
The idea of a fascist, Nazi style party like Golden Dawn coming to prominence in post-war Europe was often dismissed. As economic crisis stalks Wales, far right movements with fascist elements can become a real threat. 14
Photos by V Merkova, words by @s__cook

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