Greece: Extreme-right suspected of arson attack on left-wing meeting venue

In the early hours of Monday 13 December, a café used by left organisations and community groups in Neos Kosmos in Athens was burnt down.

A meeting organised by Youth Against Racism in Europe, a socialist anti-racist organisation led by members of Xekinima (CWI affiliated organisation in Greece), against racist attacks in the local area was due to be held later that evening.

Neos Kosmos is a large working class area with a high number of immigrants living there, mainly from Albania. However, while individuals have been attacked and sometimes killed, this is the first time in living memory that a left-wing meeting venue has been targeted for attack. Activists in the local area are convinced that those responsible for this arson come from the extreme right forces in Greece. As such this attack represents a serious escalation in attempted intimidation of anti-racists and the left in Greece and has to be met with determined opposition uniting local trade unionists, community activists, and socialists as well as the local community.

There has been an increase in racist and fascist attacks in the local area over the last month. YRE posters have been torn down and three local people have been physically attacked by gangs of fascists. The YRE has called for a demonstration in the local area next Monday and is seeking the support of trade unions and left parties in Athens to mobilise their members for this action. The Greek Social Forum has backed this call.

Xekinima and the YRE have been at the forefront of fighting racism in Greece and have been two of the most successful left organisations in organising immigrants on a consistent basis. One of the campaigns organised by the YRE has been in response to a racist murderer who shot 9 immigrants in 1999 and killed two of them. Kazakos explained in his trial that he hated immigrants and he, "Couldn’t stand their breath". The YRE has campaigned for the government to grant asylum, pensions and medical treatment for the victims of this thug.

Greece has seen a sharp rise in racial tension and attacks by neo-fascist groups such as ‘Golden Dawn’ over the last year or two. Neo-fascist groups have claimed an increase in the level of immigrants as the reason for falling living standards and a rise in unemployment in Greece. The attacks on working class living standards by the previous misnamed "socialist" government of PASOK, has been followed by the promise of more of the same by the recently elected right-wing New Democracy administration.

Under conditions like this, moods of insecurity have increased amongst Greek workers and youth. Without a mass, socialist party at national level to defend workers against neo-liberal attacks, some sections can be affected by the propaganda of the neo-fascists. Golden Dawn’s main campaign at the moment is to mobilise opposition to Turkey joining the European Union.

When the Greek national football team lost a match to Albania in September, fascists and racists took the opportunity to organise attacks against Albanians in different parts of Greece and particular Athens.

However, these racist and fascist attacks have also led to a reaction from workers and youth who are horrified by them and by the threat to the unity of the Greek working class that they represent. Xekinima and the YRE are campaigning to defeat the fascists and racists and build a mass socialist and revolutionary alternative for those looking for a way out for the dead-end offered by Greek capitalism.

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December 2004