On Saturday 23 January an anti-racist demo of the Cultural Centre of Ambelokipoi in Athens was fiercely attacked by a fascist group of so-called “autonomous nationalists”. The demo was organised as a response to continuing disturbance of the functioning of the 50 year old Centre by fascist thugs who tried to burn it down last week. Before the official start-time of the demo, at 12, when only the organisers were in Panormou square, 40 fascist thugs attacked them with sticks leading to the wounding of three people, amongst which a 50 year old woman who has been hospitalised. During the attack riot police forces stationed in the square stood by watching, even moving aside to let the fascists strike. Nevertheless, the demostrators managed to counterattack chasing the fascists, despite police efforts to stop them.
Thr police finally intervened only after it became known that an MP was also amongst the people attacked. The police intervention has led to 44 detentions of fascists, who are being interrogated at the police headquarters.
The attack comes in a climax of similar moves that have been growing ever since the government announced a law that will legalise hundreds of thousands of second generation immigrants giving them the right to vote. The extreme-right has launched a campaign of hate in order to halt the procedure.
Ambelokipoi, the area where the attack took place, has a long record of fascist action, with leafleting at schools of the area coming under frequent attacks, once even at gun-point. This does not however mean that the neighbourhood is fascist as such. In fact, after the 50 year old woman was taken to the near by Red Cross Hospital, doctors and nurses came down to the street to join the demo in protest to the fascist violence. The demo formed a protest march towards the Athens police HQ which is also in the area.
The Coalition of Radical Left MP who participated in the demo has declared that “For one more time fascists are acting in the open with the toleration of the police against any kind of protest against racism and xenophobia. This terrorism will not pass. Fascism will not take root in this country”. The Left wing labour union umbrella “Autonomous Intervention” denounced the “Uncontrollable activity of neofascist groups which are provoking the democratic and anti-fascist sentiments of the people”.
It must be noted that recently Spartakos, the 30 year old “Network of Free Conscripts”, revealed that the Ministry of National Defense has been organising paramilitary training camps in Chalkdiki, where ex-soldiers and other militaristic elements have been trained in “counterterrorist” operations. After the revelations, Spartacus has come under the spotlight of the fascist parliamentary party LAOS, which has demanded from the Ministry the containment of the group. Spartakos has denounced efforts of detaining its members during leafleting, and has further revealed that a secret General Stuff document describing in detail the Network’s totally legal day-to-day activities has come to the Network’s possession.
Moreover, the escalation of fascist violence has inculded the torching of the Chania Synagogue which destroyed thousands of rare manuscripts and books. Regarding the torching (twice in one month), the police has arrested 1 greek and 2 british citizens as part of the anti-Semitic group that perpetrated the attack. The greek has confessed, while the british are denying any involvement in the act; 2 US citizens are also wanted for the same case. However, the police is refusing to follow the link to the torching of the Immigrant Social Centre of the city which occurred within the same time. Swastikas were found painted in the torched Immigrant Centre, while a slate of soap believed to be the group’s signature was found in the torched Synagogue.
The arrests come as a rare incident in a country where fascist action is tolerated by the state to the degree that it is often believed that fascist groups are in fact parastate terror organisations, similar to the ones kept by the state until the end of the junta.