The trial of Savvas Michael-Matsas, General Secretary of the EEK (Workers’ Revolutionary Party), and of Konstantinos Moutzouris, former Rector of the National Technical University of Athens, took place on 3-4 September 2013. The lawsuit was submitted by the Nazi ‘Golden Dawn’ Party on 8 May 2009 and was promoted by the Greek ‘democratic’ State and its judiciary following Golden Dawn’s entry into Greece’s parliament in June 2013. The trial had enormous repercussions, producing outrage both domestically and internationally.
As statements made by numerous organizations, well known and ‘unknown’ individuals, cultural and political figures – including those in the mainstream media – repeatedly pointed out, this was the first time since the end of WWII and the defeat of Nazism that two antifascists, including a Jewish communist intellectual and leader of a Trotskyist Party (Michael-Matsas) were brought to court by Nazis with the complicity of official state institutions in a EU member state.
It was this powerful tsunami of protests and solidarity that created a political dynamic securing the eventual acquittal of the ‘accused’ in an initially very difficult trial. Parties of the Greek Left, many trade unions, anarcho-syndicalist and anarchist collectives, cultural associations, artists and intellectuals, all issued public statements of solidarity and/or sent defense witnesses for Michael-Matsas. About a thousand people gathered inside and around the court during the two-day trial. In the end, the court unanimously found the two accused ‘not guilty.’
As Michael-Matsas pointed out, in his final ‘apology’ to the court, the three interconnected aims of this outrageous persecution were:
- To criminalize antifascist discourse and action in conditions of social polarization and mass upheaval (in a country where the ruling class invokes a state of emergency, using fascist gangs to re-impose control);
- Starting with the Trotskyist party, to begin the process of criminalizing the entire Left and dismantling democratic popular rights in Greece;
- Last but not least, to institutionalize the virulent anti-Semitism that accompanied Michael-Matsas’ persecution from the start, including an incessant Nazi hate-campaign to brand him an “instrument of the world Jewish conspiracy to impose a Judeo-Bolshevik regime in Greece in crisis.”
The organizers of this witch-hunt, however, failed. For the first time, after its ascent, the Golden Dawn lost a trial in Greek courts (which tells us a lot about Greek Justice). An important tactical victory was achieved, one hailed by the workers movement – particularly in general assemblies where strike action in the public sector was decided – and among the popular masses identifying this battle with their own struggles against the escalating social disaster and barbaric repression by the bourgeois state’s security apparatus and fascist paramilitary gangs.
But, as the EEK stressed, in its first statement following the trial, a battle was won but class warfare continues. What followed proves the truth of this statement.
Minutes after the trial ended, youth who had gathered in solidarity with the accused were stopped and bullied by special DELTA police forces (the same force that had attacked a peaceful EEK rally in December 2009, nearly killing comrade Angeliki Koutsoumbou and seriously injuring dozens of comrades). The police shouted at them: “Are you coming from the trial of the dirty Jew?” A similar police attitude was on display following massive worker demonstrations in Thessaloniki on September 7, when the police likened 130 demonstrators, including many EEK comrades, to “dogs of the dirty Jew Matsas”… The same insult was used the next day against another comrade arrested in an antifascist demonstration in Larissa. Even more sinister was the murderous attack, the day after the trial, by a fascist gang in Pyrgos, Peloponnesus, against the 19 year-old son of a well-known EEK trade union cadre, leaving the youth in hospital with serious injuries.
Such fascist crimes have escalated in the two weeks since the end of the trial. There was yet another murderous attack by dozens of Nazi storm-troopers – a gang financed and supported by Greek ship-owners – in the Perama shipyards against a group of KKE (Communist Party of Greece) members, trade unionists and supporters who were peacefully campaigning for the Festival of the KNE (Communist Youth of Greece).
These assaults culminated with the murder, on September 18, of 34-year old Pavlos Fyssas, a young leftwing antifascist activist, musician and metal worker. It was a cold-blooded murder organized at the highest level by the Nazi Golden Dawn and its protectors inside the bourgeois State. The crime was executed by the Golden Dawn Nazi Mafia in the working class area of Nikaia, a historic stronghold of the communist movement. The murder produced huge popular anger, sharpening the political crisis confronting Samaras’ bourgeois regime. Nevertheless, and despite the government’s hypocritical crocodile tears and its announcement of “imposing the rule of law,” the mass antifascist demonstrations against the murder were savagely repressed by riot police, sending dozens to the hospital with serious injuries (including one demonstrator who lost his sight) and arresting hundreds.
This on-going confrontation is insolubly tied to the latest phase of the class struggle in Greece, including the eruption of powerful workers’ strikes in the public sector, in education, in health services, and in three of the major industries facing closure under the diktat of the hated troika. It has included the struggle of LARKO factory workers, one of the biggest in the country and in Europe, who blocked the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway and were brutally attacked by hordes of riot police sent by the government as a response.
The murder of comrade Pavlos Fyssas, the fight with the murderous Nazi gangs and their protectors within the state, the repressive state apparatus, the sharpening struggle against the social devastation imposed by the troika of the EU/ECB/IMF have all worked to deepen the crisis confronting the Samaras government, revealing the bankruptcy of bourgeois parliamentary democracy in the process.
The EEK has been fighting all over the country to unite these struggles for the purposes of an indefinite General Political Strike to bring down the government, to kick out the imperialist troika, to smash its catastrophic policies, to build a United Front of the workers and popular organizations, including Workers Self Defense groups and workers militias that will stand against the Nazis and state repression. This will open the road to workers power and a socialist way out of the crisis. For a socialist Greece in a United Socialist States of Europe!
Note by Ana Bazac
So, what to be done, dear benevolent progressive, democratic, open-minded members of the civil society? Are these Greek events not a warning for all of us?
Do we need only critiques of the present capitalism, state, fascism, global imperialism and warfare? Are they enough in order to save our human present and future and values? Is it enough to fight against fascism, in the name of democracy and human rights, and to ‘postpone’ the radical removal of the causes of fascism? Would this separation of antifascism from the anticapitalist struggle and hardihood not be a blind alley just for the democratic searchers for democracy? And would this separation and new focus on fascism not be a trap ‘strategically’ promoted by the capitalist rulers? Are we afraid of the radical inferences based just on reality?