Torture for fun
Unfortunately, Pavlos Fyssas was not the first victim of fascist / neonazi violence festering in neighbourhoods after Golden Dawn’s rise.
“Both wore black t-shirts with ‘Golden Dawn’ printed on them. They were tall, like bouncers.”
For several years now, immigrants, gay people, leftists and other dissidents have been the victims of an undeclared, merciless war unleashed by [Golden Dawn’s] ‘storm troopers’ and their assorted aficionados.
People were shocked by the revelations made by a former member of the neonazi organisation to To Ethnos that Golden Dawn members found it fun to kick a Pakistani’s head as in shooting soccer penalties. In fact, he went further to add that no-one would be admitted to the inner core of the organisation’s Nikaia [a Piraeus working-class area] section unless they had beaten up Pakistanis. Another active Golden Dawn member made a similar disclosure to To Ethnos. Their fun was to beat up and stab Pakistanis…
During the period around the two most recent parliamentary elections in May and June 2012, that is in the space of only three months, 400 (four hundred) immigrants were attacked in various neighbourhoods around the country, the president of the Pakistani community Mr. Javed Aslam claims.
“We have recorded racist attacks on approximately 900 (nine hundred) immigrants since 2010. Five hundred of these were Pakistani” he adds.
The same active member of Golden Dawn explained to our newspaper’s Sunday edition that this obsession with Pakistanis stems from the colour of their skin. “It is black. They don’t belong to the Aryan race.”
Amir is among these hundreds of victims. He was viciously slashed a year and a half ago in Petralona [Athens inner city area]. Mr. Aslam explains that it happened during a time when attacks peaked, and a lot of stabbed victims ended up in hospitals. Amir had surgery, was hospitalised and survived – and still lives in Greece. “They should have kept a leash on Golden Dawn right from the start. I mean, couldn’t they see that their hatred and violence would not stop with immigrants?” he wonders today and shows us the scars still visible on his body. He expresses his condolences for the family of [fascist-murdered Greek artist] Pavlos Fyssas. “All those who vote for and make fascists stronger, thinking that this will bring about better days for Greece, should wake up. I realise they are outraged with many of the politicians, but this doesn’t mean that Golden Dawn people will save Greece. We saw how this played out in Germany and what it led to”, he adds in flawless Greek. After all, he has lived in Greece for the last 15 years.
His fellow Pakistani Shehzad Luqman was less fortunate. He was fatally stabbed in January 2013. The perpetrators were arrested and a house search found that one kept Golden Dawn pamphlets at home.
The victim’s relatives are now demanding that Golden Dawn be declared an illegal organisation and an end to fascist violence… Riashad, himself a knife attack victim exactly a year ago in [northern Athens suburb] Metamorphosi, wants the same. “We had lived peacefully for so long in Greece. I can’t figure out why they are attacking us on the streets now.”
Amir: “They ambushed me intending to kill me”
Even though it has been almost a year and a half since Amir was left fighting for his life at ‘Sotiria’ Hospital with a stab wound, he still bears the marks of the racist attack unleashed on him last May in Petralona.
He was a take-away delivery worker and had just delivered an order when he was set upon past midnight.
“It was two of them. One had crouched behind my moped. As I started the engine he sneaked up on me and went for my neck. He wanted to kill me. I managed to pull back just in time, so his knife went in at the shoulder blade.” A second slash in the ribs followed immediately. He shows us the scars. The attacker said nothing, he just rode away fast on his motorbike when his ‘mission’ was over. Despite the blood loss, Amir staggered 150 meters (165 yards) away, when he saw the second attacker who tried to go after him.
“Both wore t-shirts with ‘Golden Dawn’ printed on them. They were tall, like bouncers.” Hearing his screams people came out on their balconies and the street. Before losing consciousness Amir managed to make an emergency call to [Greek police hotline] 100 and [NHS ambulance hotline] 166. He was operated on that very day and stayed in hospital for 15 days. “The doctor told me I might die.” The scarring goes across his chest and abdomen. He is 32 years old,he has lived in Greece for the last 15 years and has held a legal residence permit since 2004. “I haven’t bothered anyone all these years in Greece – and yet, here comes someone to kill me for no reason.”
He has been very guarded since. His wife and child are in Pakistan and he is loath to think how they would cope should anything happen to him. He wants the government to outlaw Golden Dawn. “I mean, is there anyone who thinks that Greece’s fortunes will pick up like this? What, with violence and killings?”
Riashad: “They knifed me when I said I’m Pakistani.”
Yesterday marked exactly one year to the day 49 year old Riashad came close to losing his life following a stabbing by two youths in Metamorphosi. “It was two young lads. Didn’t know them, hadn’t seen them before in my life.” Riashad was with two other Pakistanis. The three of them had been on their way to fill up a liquid gas container from a nearby petrol station. “One of the two asked me ‘Where are you from?’. I said, from Pakistan. He then said to the other guy ‘that’s it’.” They immediately pulled out their knives and stabbed Riashad in the chest and the ribs. He stayed in [Trauma centre] KAT for a week. “The doctors said the knife went in just one millimetre above my heart. It’s clear they aimed to kill me.” That same night, September 22nd 2012, two other attacks took place in nearby suburbs Neo Irakleio and Lykovrissi, Pakistanis being the victims of both.
According to the police, the same 20 year-old was involved in all three attacks plus an earlier one at a Pakistani barber’s in Metamorphosi. The youth was arrested and charged with organisation of criminal community, attempted murder with accomplices, arson etc.
It is noteworthy that just a few days later, on 15 October 2012, Golden Dawn unveiled its new local offices in New Irakleio… At any rate, Riashad has not gone out at night for a year now. He is now saving up to go back to his wife and three children in Pakistan. And he is now absolutely convinced that his attackers were somehow related to Golden Dawn. “Who else would have harmed us? In all my long years in Greece, I have never harmed or argued with anybody.”
Luqman: Slain on his way to work
“Now is the chance to outlaw and come down hard on Golden Dawn. It didn’t happen after Luqman’s death. Let it happen now.” The relatives of Shehzad Luqman, whose murder in Petralona last January was almost identical to Pavlos Fyssas’s, are now demanding an end to fascist violence.
“Luqman’s mother is still in hospital in Pakistan. She has been unable to come to terms with her son’s loss. She keeps repeating what a huge mistake of hers was to send her child to Greece, to Europe”, says Sfaqr, cousin of the victim. He is going back to Pakistan in less than a month. Eltaf, another cousin also living in Greece, has been asked by his family to do the same. “I was on the line to Luqman’s mother today and she tearfully pleaded with me ‘What are you doing in Greece, come back’.”
The 26 year-old Pakistani bled to death on the street in Petralona following a knife attack by two Greeks, one 25, the other 29 years of age. It was early morning and he had been cycling to work. They came riding a scooter – they were later arrested in Syntagma Square. Golden Dawn pamphlets were found in the home of one of them.
“I and Luqman arrived together from Pakistan five years ago. His family is very poor, he had many siblings. Luqman worked hard here to provide for them. He was a very bubbly man and loved playing cricket in his spare time”, says Eltaf. Their lives changed after the killing.
“I wish to express my sincere condolences to Pavlos Fyssas’s family. We have been through the same painful experience and we know what it feels like. Please let this be the end.”
The image that shook society
It’s an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. On 13 May 2011 To Ethnos published a documentary photo taken by our photojournalist Harris Gikkas. Those were turbulent days for Athens. An Athens man, Manolis Kandaris, was murdered by [Afghani, convicted since] robbers for a camcorder on [major street] Tritis Septemvriou, and Golden Dawn capitalised on the incident. “Far West: shock and violence in downtown Athens” was the front page headline of To Ethnos, with the very lucid image showing the racist frenzy of right wing extremists: it pictures a youth with a knife chasing an immigrant.
By Yiannis Foskolos
Photos by Harris Gikkas
Translated from To Ethnos newspaper, Saturday 2 November 2013