Kristallnachtherdenking Amsterdam, 9 november 2012
The night of 9 of November 2012; 74 years after the Kristallnacht* the yearly event against racism and discrimination took place in Amsterdam.
The event of this year was dedicated to racist violence and extreme right in Europe and was supported by several migrant organizations, trade unions and left-wing groups.
A speaker originated from Greece talked about the similarities that are clear in today’s Greek society with what happened in pro-IIWW Germany.
*Kristallnacht was a pogrom or series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary and civilians. German authorities looked on without intervening. The attacks left the streets covered with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues.At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers.Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone), and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.
All of you surely read often news about the repeated ‘rescue’ packages that Greece receives due to its fragile financial situation. Most of you have probably heard about the harsh austerity measures that are imposed on Greek people in return for these rescue packages that have led into a sky-high unemployment and to a severe worsening of the standard of living of the average citizen. However, I am sure that only a few of you know about the dramatic increase of racist violence and fascism that is taking place in the country.
After the last elections in June, a neo-Nazi party, the “Golden Dawn”, has entered the Greek Parliament with a percentage of 7% and 18 seats out of 300 seats. The members of this party are attacking immigrants all over the country. Every day, there are several incidents of immigrants being assaulted stabbed, burned as well as immigrant shops being smashed. In many neighbourhoods of Athens, immigrants are afraid to walk out in the streets as gangs of neo-Nazis led by Golden Dawn MP’s attack everybody with dark skin or with a foreign accent in Greek. Sometimes, immigrants are even attackedin their own houses by these gangs.
Unfortunately, racist violence seems to be accepted by the government. Most of the criminal gangs attacking immigrants enjoy immunity by the government, but also by the police and the media. Members of the gangs are hardly ever arrested or prosecuted even when their actions are recorded. When immigrants report attacks against them to the police, they are always ignored. Moreover, there have been several incidents where police officers arrest, beat or even torture immigrants at police stations. On the other hand, the police is very active in hunting down individuals and groups that attempt to protect immigrants from racist violence. In an incident that was documented by the British newspaper “The Guardian”, last month, the police arrested and tortured 15 Greeks that participated in a non-violent anti-fascist patrol in Athens. The perpetrators escaped any prosecution… How else could it be actually since – as the election polls suggested – 50% of the police officers are Golden Dawn- supporters?
The problem is not ‘just’ the existence of neo-Nazi gangs or the existence of a bad police force. These actions are fully supported by the government. Government officials either deny the existence of racist violence or – when it is no use of denying the truth – they name them ‘exceptional cases’. They are lying! The neo-Nazi gangs launch their attacks at the same moment that the government has launched its own attack against immigrants, the operation ‘Xenios Zeus’ where hundreds of people are stopped and searched every day with only criterion the colour of their skin. When the arrest and
torturing on the 15 anti-fascists took place, the minister rejected all the accusations and gave his full support to the perpetrators. The PM himself before the elections stated that ‘we will reclaim our cities from the illegal immigrants that are occupying them’. Which invitation for the neo-Nazi gangs could work better than that?
You are probably wondering, why this happen in a European country. Well, the answer is cruel but clear: the people in Greece face the severest ever economic measures than any other country in Europe has faced since World War II: unemployment is now more than 25% and more than 58% for the youths. Working people receive salaries of 400-500 euro’s. The unemployed have no access to health care. Hundreds of thousands of people just can’t make ends meet! In this situation, those imposing these destructive measures on the Greek people (these are the very same people that are responsible for this economic disaster and have moved hundreds of billions to Swiss banks) want to find an easy target to divert the anger of the people. Which ‘target’ can be better than the immigrants? With the EU-conventions, Greece has become the dumping ground of immigrants that want to enter the EU. Government statements against immigrants, police and neo-Nazi attacks against them have a clear message to the desperate Greek people: blame the immigrants for your misery not the government and the EU. Don’t fight for your rights, beat the immigrants instead.
It’s worth actually making one comment on the role of the EU and the other governments. Usually, EU and government officials are very eager in making statements about the Greeks that have to accept austerity measures because they were living above their means. However, none of them has every raised a simple demand from the Greek government about the increasing racist violence. Why? The reason is because the increasing racist violence in Greece actually helps the imposition of these austerity policies.
To end what I want to say, I would like to refer to a statement of the Greek PM, A. Samaras a few weeks ago. While being in a tour in Europe, Samaras stated that Greece resembles now the Weimar Republic in Germany in the beginning of the 1930’s. He failed of course to mention that the policies that his government and the EU are imposing on the Greek people are responsible for this.
At the moment, we are not very far from experiencing a Crystal Night in Greece. Since we would like to avoid coming here in Amsterdam in 30 years time to commemorate the victims of a possible Greek Crystal Night, we need your help and collaboration to stop these policies in Greece and together with it to put an end to racist violence and fascism.
Photos from the event taken from http://www.herdenkingkristallnacht.nl/Fotoverslag_herdenking_2012.html: