The Leader of the Nazi party Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos has been found guilty by an Athens Court today of running a criminal organisation under the guise of a political party. Nikos and 67 other Nazis were convicted of a range of offences including brutal racially motivated attacks, attempted murder and murder in this, the biggest case against fascists since Nazi Germany’s 1946 Nuremberg trials.
Today’s ruling marks the end of a five year trial which began after the murder of anti fascist musician Pavlos Fyssas and the verdict is the result of unrelenting pressure by the anti fascist movement. It’s a significant turning point for the global working class as we continue to fight against a growing right wing movement and racist populist leaders.
A crowd of 15,000 strong gathered outside the Athens court to hear the ruling and erupted into applause as the verdict was read. Petros Constantinou, Organiser of Greek anti fascist organisation KEERFRA said:
“It is a historical day for the anti fascist movement. The conviction as a criminal organisation will send the message that the only place for Neo Nazis is in prison.”
Weyman Bennett, co-convener of Stand Up To Racism in the UK, sent solidarity and gratitude to Petros and all of the activists in Greece who have been fighting the Golden Dawn for years:
“Greek prosecutors have put Golden Dawn on trial because of long running campaigning by Greek anti fascists. General Strikes by public sector workers and others in honour of Pavlos were central in pushing back GD. As anti fascists in Britain we pay tribute to KEERFA for all their enormous efforts. Their mass, united front work has brought the downfall of Golden Dawn. They have played a critical role in curbing the return of fascism, in a land where once of course, Jews and others were deported to concentration camps.”
Golden Dawn grew in popularity in 2012 when Greece was at the peak of it’s economic crisis. Emboldened by a wave of anti immigrant sentiment and nationalist opposition to the government, they won 21 seats in a 300-member House making them Greece’s third largest political party at the time.
However, the murder of Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 marked the start of their rapid decline. Embroiled in court cases, in fighting and pressure from consistent anti fascist opposition ever since, the party had all but collapsed by the time they reached trial today. Their decline and their defeat in court today are significant in the global fight againt racism and fascism.
Not only is this ruling the biggest case against fascists since the Nuremberg trials but it also comes at a time when right wing populism is on the rise across the world and right wing populist leaders are normalising racism and hate.
This trial makes clear that these ideologies are not just another side of an argument and they do not belong within the political mainstream. The views and values of this party and other neo-nazi groups are to be stamped out every time they show up wherever they show up in the world.
The disgusting views represented by these organisations, and actions in their name, are a systematic threat to the freedom of all people. The defeat of Golden Dawn is a reminder to fascists everywhere: They Shall Not Pass.