Sheffield TUC welcomes the decision by the Court in Athens on October 7th 2020 to convict seven leaders of the Golden Dawn party of directing a criminal organisation – while convicting 11 other former Golden Dawn MPs of participating in a criminal organisation. The seven leaders of Golden Dawn – Nikos Michaloliakos, Christos Pappas, Artemis Matthaiopoulos, Ilias Panagiotaros, Ilias Kasidiaris, Yiannis Lagos and Giorgos Germenis – now face prison terms of 5-15 years for running a criminal organization. The three-judge court in Athens also convicted a rank-and file Golden Dawn member of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist musician; others were convicted of organising an attack on migrant fishermen. Golden Dawn also organised attacks on migrant-run market stalls and left-wing social centres.
“This is a tremendous victory for Greek trade unionists, anti-fascist groups and all those who opposed Golden Dawn” said Bob Jeffery President of Sheffield TUC. “Golden Dawn was not a legitimate political party, but a violent, racist and fascist organisation determined to use physical brute force and even murder to achieve its ends. The Greek trade unions and the Greek people successfully defeated Golden Dawn on the streets and at the ballot box and this legal judgment crowns those prior achievements.”
In 2012, at the height of Golden Dawn’s power in Greece, the most violent fascist party in Europe had gained 21 seats in the 300-member parliament, with 7 per cent of the vote. Whilst Golden Dawn posed as a legal, parliamentary party it also ran a violent racist militia. It accumulated guns; its members conducted secret, occult rituals with Nazi memorabilia; it trained and deployed action squads on the model of Hitler’s Sturmabteilung; its politicians physically attacked rival politicians live in television studios. Tellingly, it had support in the ranks of the specialist riot police.
“This is a stark warning of the dangers posed by the far right,” said Martin Mayer Secretary of Sheffield TUC. “Violent, racist and anti-immigrant far right groups are on the rise, not just in Greece but also in UK, USA and across Europe, exploiting fear and division in our blighted communities and peddling the politics of hate. Sheffield TUC stands fore-square against racism and fascism and strongly opposes the scapegoating and demonisation of refugees and asylum seekers. There is one race – the human race”.
Martin Mayer Bob Jeffery