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Murder of anti-fascist hip-hop artist sparks protests in Greece

A woman stands in front of the site where Pavlos Fyssas died early Wednesday, at the suburb of Keratsini near Athens on 19 September 2013.
A woman stands in front of the site where Pavlos Fyssas died early Wednesday, at the suburb of Keratsini near Athens on 19 September 2013.

AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis

By Christos Syllas

Thousands of protesters gathered on Wednesday evening in Athens near the place where Pavlos Fyssas, a 34 year-old antifascist hip hop artist was murdered by a Golden Dawn supporter.

“The blood is running, it seeks revenge”, they shouted, a slogan echoing the December 2008 riots, when 15 year-old student Alexandros Grigoropoulos was killed by two policemen.

The 45 year-old man who carried out the stabbing has told police that he was a supporter of far-right party Golden Dawn. This was clearly a politically motivated killing, added to a sequence of intimidation events and attacks carried out by Golden Dawn against immigrants and asylum seekers.

On 17 January, Shehzad Luqman, an immigrant worker from Pakistan was lethally stabbed by two men. Police later found pre-election pamphlets of Golden Dawn in the house of one perpetrator.

In December 2012, Amnesty International reported on this issue. In addition, Human Rights Watch has found that there is evidence connecting the attackers on immigrants with members of or affiliated with far-right groups such as Golden Dawn.

No matter how useful these findings may be, they were clearly not on the “agenda” of the rally at Keratsini. Young and old antifascists, together with immigrants, have been increasingly struggling with Golden Dawn vigilantes in the past five years. The murder of Fyssas comes as no surprise. A lot of people somehow anticipated the tragic event.

“The regime, in co-operation with Golden Dawn is clearly escalating the confrontation with political dissidents. This is why we're here today. And we have to step up the intensity of this political struggle. Everywhere,” said a demonstrator, local resident of Keratsini.

Some 3,000 – 4,000 members of an organised anarchist block were heading towards Golden Dawns' offices in Nikaia, while at the same time, demonstrators attacked Keratsini's police station. Almost instantly clashes began: Riot police squads tried to disperse groups of demonstrators with the typical use of excessive force.

In an alley, the head of a police squad was heard shouting “Come on, let's go and fuck them up”. Middle-aged people from the neighborhood cursed them, while young antifascists threw Molotov cocktails and stones.

Keratsini district, a working class neighborhood, was established after Greek refugees fled Asia Minor in 1922. The greater area of Piraeus (Nikaia, Perama, Keratsin), known for its anti-Nazi struggle, was historically affiliated with the political left.

This picture, though, seems to be fading away. According to polling company “Public Issue”, Golden Dawn has doubled its electoral influence on these areas. Moreover, it has worked its way on socially penetrating existing political views.

On June 2012, Egyptian fishermen were attacked in Perama after an inflammatory and racist speech by Golden Dawn MP Yannis Lagos, who said that the party would hold them accountable for their actions. A few days ago, again in Perama, members of the Communist Party (KKE) were brutally attacked by Golden Dawn's supporters while putting up posters for an upcoming festival.

Last nights' clashes have led to a total of 130 detentions and 34 arrests while tweeters were reporting a demonstrator had been heavily injured by a direct teargas shot. Questions about the way police responded at the place of the assassination remain unanswered. Witnesses on TV broadcasts this morning said that police were reluctant to get involved in the fight before the stabbing.

There were protests against the murder throughout the country. Latest reports suggest that there have been discussions on emergency legislation to ban Golden Dawn's acts.

This article was originally published on 19 Sept 2013 at indexoncensorship.org

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