Is Greece’s Golden Dawn a neo-Nazi party?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The European Union should recognise the Greek party 'Golden Dawn' as a racist organisation opposed to fundamental European values and should genuinely work against the catastrophic economic conditions that have given rise to such extremism, argues Chibo Onyeji in an open letter to Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Chibo Onyeji Adla Shashati is president of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) which is a network of  NGOs working to combat racism in all EU Member States.

"Dear President Barroso,

We are writing to you in response to your statement at a European Commission press conference on 8 May that 'we have to define what a neo-Nazi party is and look at national legislation on the issue', when asked about the high vote percentage gathered by Greece's far-right party Golden Dawn/Chrysi Avgi.

A number of elements of the Golden Dawn party undoubtedly place it on the far right of the political spectrum and are in blatant violation of fundamental rights:

1. Members of Golden Dawn are regularly linked to racist attacks on immigrants and ethnic minorities, as well as attacks on political opponents. A member of Golden Dawn is currently on trial for attacking three Afghan immigrants in September 2010. On 16 November 2010, during the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha, local residents and members of Chrysi Avgi tried to stop the believers from praying in a local square. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, racially motivated attacks on immigrants and asylum seekers have become an almost daily occurrence in Athens.

2. The party’s political programme includes several proposals that contravene fundamental rights, including:

  • the immediate expulsion of all ‘illegal’ migrants, to be followed by legal migrants;
  • the introduction of border minefields to prevent incoming immigrants and zero tolerance to dissidents who should be treated as "traitors";
  • the reinstatement of the death penalty for drug dealing;
  • a ban of trade unions.

3. Golden Dawn's Youth Front has distributed fliers with nationalist messages in Athens’ schools and organised white power concerts. It publishes the white nationalist magazine Resistance Hellas-Antepithesi, which promotes National Socialism to young people through articles on music and sports.

These are clearly sufficient elements to forcefully condemn this party as violating the values and fundamental rights enshrined in the European Union Treaties. However, beyond these violations, the real issue at stake is the context in which such a party moved from being a marginal far right group to garnering 7% of the votes in the Greek elections last Sunday.

Indeed, the economic policies put in place by the European Commission, EU member states and the IMF bear a clear and direct responsibility in the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece and similar far right parties in other European countries. Unjust austerity measures have helped such parties gain ground.

We therefore call on you, as president of the European Commission, and on European heads of state and government, to make real the commitment to inclusive growth and jobs made in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

European citizens and residents need progressive alternatives to austerity measures. It should not be the vulnerable persons in society who pay the bill of the financial and sovereign debt crises generated by financial institutions and lack of oversight by political leaders and decision makers.

Yours sincerely,

Chibo Onyeji Adla Shashati"

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