“Keep fascists out” was the slogan repeated at a peaceful protest that took place early this evening, in the port town of Perama, south-west of Athens. Demonstrators, mainly from communist backed PAME union, assembled on the city’s docks, carrying the labour union’s flags and banners condemning Greece’s extreme-right Golden Dawn party.
The protest was the second in less than a week, called in anger over a recent violent attack on a group of communists.
Last Thursday night, 50 men wearing black T-shirts, some bearing the far-right Golden Dawn party logo, emerged from alleys and side streets in Perama and rounded up communist members who were sticking up posters ahead of a planned youth festival, according to a witness.
The perpetrators brandished long clubs fastened with blunt metal objects at the tip, truncheons and other weapons. Nine men were taken to hospital with serious injuries, including head trauma.
“It was a very well-organised attack... it only lasted two to three minutes,” victim Stavros Likodimitris, 34, father of two, told The Independent. He escaped relatively unscathed, he says, with bruises and lacerations on most of his body as his assailant hit him with a sharp-edged club. “There is no doubt they intended to kill.”
Golden Dawn party officials denied that they were behind the attack, but locals marching in the town today were convinced.
“They [the perpetrators] are not youths, they are fascist creatures of Nazism and we shouldn’t allow such youth to be created,” said retired builder Kostas Tselepakis, 74, who attended the protest in Perama. His father fought Hitler’s forces during Greece’s occupation by Nazi Germany.
Golden Dawn is a far-right party whose politicians have openly espoused Nazism and Hitler’s ideology, while its logo, the “meander”, an ancient Greek symbol, bears an eerie resemblance to the swastika. Once a tiny fringe party, the party’s popularity soared in Greece’s 2012 elections, garnering nearly 7 per cent of the vote.
Greek government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou condemned the attack and described Golden Dawn’s behaviour as “attempting to create civil war-like events”.
His remarks came in reference to the party disrupting two Second World War commemorations in two cities in Greece over the weekend. On Saturday in the northern town of Giannitsa, a Golden Dawn politician laid a wreath at a memorial commemorating the victims executed by German occupation forces and local collaborators in 1944.
Before leaving the memorial, far-right MP Antonis Gregos raised his arm in a Nazi-style salute, prompting fury in the Greek media.