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Greece: Neo-Nazis assaulting immigrants on the streets

Athens, Greece, 13.7.2012 19:33, (ROMEA)
ilustrační foto

Neo-Nazis from the Golden Dawn party in Greece have shocked health care workers by calling on the population to donate blood only to Greek people. The medical profession says the initiative is illegal, inhumane and racist. Promoters of the party are also stepping up their assaults against migrants. The Czech right-wing extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) sympathizes with Golden Dawn.

Golden Dawn has distributed posters around Athens calling on people to voluntarily donate blood "only for Greeks who need help... All of the blood we collect will be given to patients whom we select and to no one else. All volunteer donors, not just members of Golden Dawn, have the right to choose who will receive their donated blood," the party's declaration on the issue reads.

The party has announced that it has succeeded in winning over a particular blood bank in a particular state-run hospital in Athens to their cause, but blood bank director Janis Stefanu said no discriminatory measures would be introduced and that blood would be distributed to all patients in need per the applicable rules. Health authorities say any other procedure would be illegal.

One of the largest Greek medical trade unions has criticized the Golden Dawn initiative as "crazy, illegal, racist and unscientific" and has promised to do everything necessary to protect "the sanctity of blood giving". Commenting on the Golden Dawn initiative, a Greek Health Ministry official said, "That would be inhumane. If people need blood, they should have the right to receive it irrespective of who they are."

Golden Dawn achieved unheard-of success in recent months during repeated rounds of parliamentary voting thanks to their pledge to remove all immigrants from Greece. Violence against immigrants has risen since the elections. News server iHned.cz reports that The New York Times (NYT) has drawn attention to the fact that 50 male members of Golden Dawn recently rode motorcycles into the Nikaia suburb armed with large wooden sticks. Eyewitnesses said some were also wearing shields with the party's symbol, which is similar to a swastika. The men gave an ultimatum to local business people, most of whom are legal immigrants. Mohammed Irfan of Pakistan told the NYT that the men said: " 'You have seven days to close your shops or we’ll burn your shop — and we’ll burn you'." (The NYT story is at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/world/europe/as-golden-dawn-rises-in-greece-anti-immigrant-violence-follows.html?h).

The Golden Dawn members also told the immigrants that they were the cause of Greece's problems. When Irfan attempted to call the police for help, they told him they did not have time to help immigrants like him.

A spokesperson for Golden Dawn has denied that party members threatened immigrants or that they have attacked them, but a new study by Human Rights Watch says the opposite. The organization has observed that violence committed by extremists has reached "disturbing dimensions". The Greek anti-racist organization Expel Racism has deposed dozens of eyewitnesses who have seen immigrants being beaten while police officers stood by and did nothing.

The NYT reporters described the story of Marco Moheb, a 30-year-old legal immigrant from Egypt whose cousin was arrested by police because he was not carrying identification. Mr Mohebi brought his documents to him. Before he left the police station, a police officer photographed him and then warned him not to walk through the main square. Mohebi ignored the warning because cutting through the main square was his shortest route home. He was then beaten up on the square so severely that he was hospitalized with a concussion. Some of the 12 men who attacked him were wearing t-shirts with Golden Dawn insignia. "It was like it was arranged," Mohebi said.

Nationalistic moods are manifesting in relation to the economic crisis in France and Germany as well, but in Greece they are taking the form of overt, systematic violence. The police are just standing by and watching in the vast majority of cases, and according to some eyewitnesses they even support these assaults. According to an analysis published by the Greek daily To Vima, a large proportion of the votes cast for Golden Dawn were cast by police officers.

Journalists researched the electoral results in several electoral districts in Athens where 5 000 active-duty police officers voted. In some districts, Golden Dawn won a surprising 19 - 24 % of the vote. To Vima reported that in 11 districts (numbers 806 - 816) close to the Ellas police station, the party even received the majority of votes. In four districts near the MAT police station the party won between 13 and 19 %. According to the electoral rolls roughly 550 - 700 people voted in each district reviewed, and 20 - 30 % of them were police officers. From that analysis, To Vima has deduced that 45 - 59 % of police voted for Golden Dawn.

It is also well-documented that Golden Dawn has close relationships with several sections of the police. The party's Secretary-General Nikolaos Michaloliakos has been charged with collaborating with the Greek secret service.

The ideology of Golden Dawn, whose main slogan is "Rid the country of filth", is not only showing up on the streets, but has started filtering into public discussions and the schools. At one school in Athens, several pupils left a class in order to beat up a black person walking past the school on an errand. Greek television is also placing more and more emphasis in its reporting on problems concerning immigrant neighborhoods.

Czech right-wing extremists from the DSSS have congratulated Golden Dawn on their electoral success. The Czech party is also known for its close collaboration with German neo-Nazis.

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, František Kostlán, iHned.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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