• Golden Dawn leader tells AFP: “We’re not going to take this”
By Pete Papaherakles
At the break of dawn on Saturday, September 28, the police in Greece raided the homes and arrested the leading members of the Golden Dawn (GD) party including its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, three top members of parliament (MPs) and more than 12 key members. Two more MPs voluntarily turned themselves in. This is the first time since the fall of Greece’s ruling junta in 1974 that the leader and MPs of an elected political party have been arrested and put in jail.
The government is claiming GD was preparing a coup and has charged them with belonging to a criminal organization, conspiracy to commit murder and laundering money. Their “evidence” is based on sketchy, unsubstantiated speculation and obvious disinformation.
This was the culmination of what started with the September 18 fatal stabbing of Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, 34, also known as Killer P., allegedly by George Roupakias, a 45-year-old truck driver who claims to be a member of the GD.
It has been alleged that Roupakias was given instructions to commit this murder by the top leadership of GD. The GD leadership, however, has vehemently condemned this action and denied any connection whatsoever with the crime. They have sued members of the Greek media and certain politicians for having publicly characterized the GD as a criminal organization.
The killing occurred as a result of a bar brawl between the two men over a televised soccer match at a sports bar in the town of Piraeus. The two men eventually took the fight outside the bar, where Roupakias pulled a knife and stabbed Fyssas.
It is unclear whether Roupakias was a current GD member, but he was of no significance among the party’s more than a million supporters.
Roupakias, married with two children, claimed the stabbing was in self-defense. He was not charged with murder, only manslaughter, making the case for a premeditated conspiracy impossible.
The Greek media, however, featured the story non-stop on all television channels and in newspapers, accusing the GD leadership of orchestrating the killing and calling for banning the party. Even the international media repeated stories of a murderous, racist neo-Nazi GD systematically killing and oppressing leftists and immigrants. But the real story started much earlier.
On March 17, speaking to Jewish leaders from around the world gathered in the synagogue of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, Ronald Lauder, the head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), demanded that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras ban the GD, which he called “the new Nazis” and a “threat to democracy.”
Samaras, the first sitting PM to enter a synagogue in Greece in over 100 years, promised that the Greek government would enact legislation that will be “completely intolerant to violence and racism,” noting that with neo-Nazi parties on the rise in Europe, governments had to “be very careful not to let them gain ground as they did in the 1930s.”
So far, Samaras has been unable to outlaw or stem the explosive growth of the populist GD party, which after getting into parliament for the first time last June with 7%, moved up to third place and kept rising to as high as 20% by some polls.
In the upcoming municipal elections in May 2014, Ilias Kasidiario, the dynamic young MP and spokesman for GD, was leading in the polls for mayor of Athens, a huge milestone for GD’s rise to power. Seeing his own fragile coalition slipping in popularity as Greece continues to disintegrate and under rising pressure from international Jewish groups, Samaras was desperate to put a stop to the GD’s rise.
In the midst of this turmoil, Deputy PM Evangelos Venizelos traveled to the United States, where he met with the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Council and the Anti-Defamation League on September 24.
On Sunday, September 29, a day after the arrests, Samaras also traveled to the U.S., where his first meeting on Monday morning was with David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Council. In his speech there, he assured his audience of 100 that his government will do “whatever it takes” to completely eradicate the GD party, whose leaders have just been arrested.
Samaras boasted that authorities reacted decisively in “identifying the culprits” of alleged crimes by GD. The judicial system is now in charge, he said, and it will “take care of them” and it “will deracinate this phenomenon from Greece.”
Samaras may be counting his chickens before they hatch. In an exclusive interview on October 1, George Misiakas, a top member of the GD, told AMERICAN FREE PRESS that beyond the media hype and all the posturing, there is no evidence that GD officials did anything wrong.
“They have no case at all,” Misiakas said. “All their concocted accusations have already fallen apart, and everyone knows it. The prosecution’s accusations against us have been studied by several experts, including the prominent independent legal expert M. Dimitrakopoulos, who concluded that the case will collapse with a ‘loud thud.’ ”
Even many of GD’s opponents have expressed outrage at this blatant violation of justice. Misiakas explained that the party’s million-plus supporters are by far the most organized and motivated in Greece.
“We’re not going to take this sitting down,” he said. “We are staging a rally outside the courthouse where ‘the leader’ and the rest of the guys are held. We expect thousands to show up. Short of declaring Greece a police state it will be impossible to incarcerate the Golden Dawn officials. And no matter what they do, they can never wipe out the Golden Dawn. This will boomerang on them.”
Misiakas said that the GD held its annual rally at Thermopylae threeweeks ago to honor Leonidas and the 300 Spartans who gave their lives for Greece.
“Without their sacrifice there would be no Greece today,” said Misiakas. “We are today’s Spartans. Every one of us took an oath under Leonidas’s statue to fight till the death for Greece. This is our country. We’re not just going to hand it over to them.”
On October 2, three of the five detained MPs were released, including Kasidiario. As of this writing, Michaloliakos is detained waiting arraignment.
Pete Papaherakles is a writer and political cartoonist for AFP and is also AFP’s outreach director. Pete is interested in getting AFP writers and editors on the podium at patriotic events. Call him at 202-544-5977 if you know of an event you think AFP should attend.