Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Greece: The rise of the racists. Golden Dawn

4 News ( Greece ) reports

Standing up to Golden Dawn in Greece

                                                                      Michael Chege

The economic crisis in Greece has led to a rise in support for the far-right Golden Dawn and an increase in racist attacks. Jamal Osman talks to one man who is fighting back.

Michael Chege and his friends patrol their neighbourhood in Athens, Greece, most nights. After many encounters with the neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn, they set up their own brigade, nicknamed the Black Panthers.They want to protect themselves from the fascists who are targeting people who are not ethnic Greeks.

It is hard to support vigilantism but there seem to be few alternatives available.

Since the economic crisis tore Greece apart, people have been trying to find someone to blame. Some blame immigrants for the high unemployment and crime. Racist attacks against immigrants have been rising steadily. In the last year alone, more than 150 racist attacks were recorded by police, but most go unreported.


Finding someone to blame.


" As it turned out, what the Greeks wanted to do, once the lights went out and they were alone in the dark with a pile of borrowed money, was turn their government into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums and give as many citizens as possible a whack at it. In just the past decade the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled, in real terms—and that number doesn’t take into account the bribes collected by public officials. The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job. The national railroad has annual revenues of 100 million euros against an annual wage bill of 400 million, plus 300 million euros in other expenses. The average state railroad employee earns 65,000 euros a year." Vanity Fair


The Greeks and only the Greeks are to blame.
 

Greece is a gateway to Europe and many immigrants travel there as an entry point in the hope of reaching the richer nations on the continent.
Newly arrived immigrants, who do not speak the language or have proper documentation, live in fear. But Michael and his friends are taking on the extremists.

'We will exterminate them'

"I'm not afraid of this neo-Nazi, stupid, idiotic group," he told me. "In WW2, they were crushed. In WW3, we will exterminate them out of the face of the earth.

Actually understandable on one level but not very helpful.

"I am a member of the Black Panthers and everybody knows that. So I am giving them (Golden Dawn) a straight warning - don't mess with black people, anyhow. And I mean it."

Members of the Black Panthers rescue each other if one is attacked. Using mobile phones with instant messaging and social media, their response is swift. "It has turned our lives better, at least in our neighbourhood," Michael told me.
Michael arrived in Greece from Kenya at eight months. Although he has lived there for 28 years, he is treated as a new immigrant. Police stop him on a regular basis to check his identification papers. So he has to carry a bag full of documents to prove that he is legal in the country.

Whilst Golden Dawn Shower  ( R18 link ) are the face of the problem it would seem to run far deeper. Incidentally probably more information than you need.

" The golden shower was a practice already in place in ancient Greece (One also wonders if there are practices that were not already in place in ancient Greece.) And did you know that the prostitutes of ancient Greece (at least those who practiced this kind of game) had prohibition of eating asparagus because of the bad taste that it gives to the urine "
 
For immigrants, the situation in Greece is worsening. They accuse the Greek police of harassment. I joined one of the many police patrols as they rounded up immigrants.

We came across drug users but the police did not bother to chase them after they ran away, but carried on arresting immigrants, which seemed a more important job than dealing with drug users. Thousands of immigrants are languishing in detention centres.

Australia should be thinking about this.

'Get respect'

Growing up in Greece, as the only black child in his school, he had to fight every day to "get respect" from fellow pupils. He took up martial arts at the age of seven and has been doing it since then. That gave him the confidence to confront people like Golden Dawn members.

".. he had to fight every day to "get respect"..". From a New Zealand perspective this seems unlikely. I have discussed it with a Rwandan friend with a school age kid here and he can only recount one instance with his son that he puts down to bullying and nothing to do with racism. 

One of his latest encounters happened while he was on a bus in the city. Two men with "a neo-Nazi look" entered the bus. Some of the passengers were signalling to Michael, telling him to "leave, run or get down", but he defied it. One of the techniques he learnt in his martial arts lessons was that "when you see a danger, you don't wait, you go for it and push out".

..."a neo-Nazi look"..  I have no idea what he means. There is an irony here. Getting into a fight with someone because of perceived look is bloody stupid.

Although the fight inside the bus was "really hard", Michael left the scene with minor injuries. He said: "It is not the first time and certainly not the last time … if you need respect, you must earn it".

I would personally try and make sure it was the last time. Violence never works long term.

'Cannibals'

A day later, on live television, he challenged the Golden Dawn leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, who thinks Africans are cannibals. In the television debate, Michaloliakos said: "The pygmies are boiled and eaten by other blacks in Africa … and they're considered special too."

Nikos Michaloliakos is a fuckwit.

Nikos Michaloliakos told Greece's Mega TV channel in an interview shown Sunday that "there were no gas chambers and ovens [crematoria] in Auschwitz," said the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, or KIS.


But when Michael asked him whether he had ever been to Africa to witness that, the far-right leader replied: "No, I only read about it in newspapers, I know what I've read in newspapers." Consequently, the Golden Dawn media wing made a video mocking Michael.

Yes.... an old newspaper man, many years ago told me the only thing you can trust in a newspaper is the date and I have seen many papers get that wrong.

Michael says it is unfortunate to be a "stranger in your own land". Greece, where he spent all his life, is the only place he knows. But as a father, it is no longer about him. He does not want his children to experience the same abuses he has. So he wants to raise them in Kenya, where they will not be treated as foreigners.
 
But for now, while Michael and his gangs continue to guard the neighbourhood, thousands of immigrants are facing uncertainties.

Hat Tip Rosebell Kagumire on Facebook.

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