Greece: Neo-Nazis accused of cold-blooded murder of Pavlos Fyssas, Left activist and rapper

The Left and organised working class needs to organise a powerful anti-fascist front

Last night (18/09/13) the municipality of Keratsini, in greater Pireas, the second largest city in Greece and which has its biggest port, was overwhelmed by tens of thousands of anti-fascists from all over Pireas and Athens. The city, near Athens, has strong working class traditions and a history of struggles. The anti-fascists were expressing their anger at the cold-blooded murder of Pavlos Fyssas, a rap artist and anti-fascist activist.

Pavlos Fyssas was well-known for his bold anti-fascist songs and left ideas. He was attacked by Golden Dawn thugs in front of many witnesses and four (armed) policemen who did nothing to prevent the killing.

A supporter of Golden Dawn was arrested by police yesterday and he reportedly confessed to the murder. He was arrested on the spot. Although fatally wounded, Pavlos was able to point out his assailant to police. There were also many eye witnesses to the stabbing, as the attack took place in a central square.

After admitting having killed Pavlos Fyssas, the suspect said he was a member of Golden Dawn and that he visited the offices of Golden Dawn in the area very regularly, “five to ten times every month”.

The police searched the suspect’s house after the murder and found Golden Dawn literature and other party material. It is reported in the media that his wife told police that immediately before the suspect’s arrest he telephoned her and asked her to take all the Golden Dawn material away from their home and to bring it to the house of one of his relatives – who is the leader of Golden Dawn in the area.

The Greek media reported widely that the suspected killer was paid by the Golden Dawn to be ‘on call’ for attacks on immigrants and for street clashes with Left activists. This is a common practice by Golden Dawn; they pay people to take part in Golden Dawn attacks when needed.

Pavlos Fyssas is the first Greek activist to be murdered by Golden Dawn supporters. Up until now, they concentrated their attacks on immigrants, causing a number of deaths. But since last year they have begun to concentrate more attacks on Left anti-fascist activists. On 17 September, the Greek Left and anti-fascist movement had its first fatality.

Pavlos Fyssas was a rapper and a musician, who wrote and sung against fascism. He was born, grown up and lived in Keratsini, a traditional working class area in the city of Pireas. He was watching a football match in a cafeteria in the town centre when he was recognized by some Golden Dawn thugs. The latter had targeted him because of his songs, and began to use their mobiles to send messages, which, as events proved later, were to mobilize the murderous gang to wait for Pavlos once he came out of the cafeteria.

Pavlos and his friends, sensing that the whole atmosphere was getting “dangerous” decided to leave the cafe, only to discover that about 30 to 40 thugs, were waiting for them outside. He was stabbed in the heart by what doctors described as “professional” attack.

Two evenings before, again in a working class area in Pireas, Golden Dawn attacked a group of about 30 Communist Party members who were fly-posting. It is estimated that about 50 thugs attacked the Communist Party members with sticks with nails and 9 people were hospitalized. Among the injured is the leader of the Metal Workers’ Union, who lives in the area.

It was a matter of time before Golden Dawn members and supporters would be implicated in the killing of a Left activist. It was also a matter of time before they would launch attacks of this type, trying to regain the initiative, after having quite a few setbacks in the past period.

After the rise of Golden Dawn (GD) during elections in May and June 2012, anti-fascist committees sprang up and, on many occasions, GD thugs were chased out of areas, their demonstrations were cancelled due to counter, anti-fascist demos. On one occasion, immigrants chased away GD thugs. On another, in Chania, Crete, the leader of the local Nazis was thrown into the sea by anti-fascists.

Golden Dawn try to regain initiative

The recent attack on the Communist Party members can only be explained as an attempt to regain the initiative by Golden Dawn. If they could attack 30 CP activists and send nine of them to hospital, when the CP is generally recognized as the best organized force on the Left, with many determined and self-sacrificing militants, then the fascists are the ones who are seen to “rule the streets”.

What is tragic is that the Communist Party (KKE) has no real anti-fascist campaign, and thus the attack against it was not followed by any serious anti-fascist initiative by the CP. Thus the effect on the movement, in general, by the attack on the CP members, was what the fascists aimed for: fear and demoralization.

The truth of the matter is that Golden Dawn can only have this show of strength because the mass Left parties are “fast asleep” over the issue of fascism. Both the KKE and SYRIZA (radical left coalition party) underestimate the danger of fascism, as if the experience of the 1930’s never existed. Syriza has made some steps towards a better understanding of this issue and developing some anti-fascist campaigns. But they are far from sufficient and fundamentally it is mainly up to local activists to decide to take anti-fascist action, and not so much as a result of clear directions from the Syriza centre.

There is no unity of the Left over the issue of fascism, not only the Communist Party but even ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist left alliance) refuses to work together with other forces, particularly with SYRIZA, over the issue of fascism. There is no understanding that an anti-fascist front and campaign need to develop across the whole of the Left and the organised working class. Neither are important practical measures taken, such as setting up defence committees – the fascists are training in the use of fire arms under the guise of “private enterprises”. And there can be no answer to the threat of fascism unless the Left decides to fight against not just the policies of the Troika and the Greek government, but against the capitalist system itself, which is the root of the re-emergence of the fascist threat. On this, again, the Left parties are miles away from what is required.

Despite these weaknesses of the “official” Left parties on this issue, thousands of anti-fascists are organising campaigns and committees, in city after city, are developing powerful campaigns. After Pavlos’ murder, their struggle will become more determined. There are good reasons to believe that Pavlos’ death will awaken many who might not realise how deadly serious the general situation is becoming in Greece. This is the best tribute to Pavlos’ early loss: to fight against what he fought – the rising danger of fascism – to fight for what he fought – a better life under an alternative to capitalism – a socialist society.

Pavlos lost his life, fighting and standing; he did not bow to the fascists, not for a second. According to eyewitnesses, Pavlos’s last words to his enemies were “You want to fight like men, come one at a time”. But the fascists would not go one at a time. They do not have that courage, cowards that they are.

Pavlos Fyssas will remain a fighter of our movement. He will be on our banners and slogans. We will make sure he did not die in vain!

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September 2013