Some info on the recent clashes in Cyprus
“Phinikoudes Beach was turned into a warzone, when marching members of three nationalist movements came into conflict with participants at the antiracism festival, and with members of migrant support group KISA, the organisers of the event”.
Cyprus Mail, November 6, 2010
The rainbow festival is being organized for many years by KISA (Action for Equality, Support and Antiracism) in Nicosia and Limassol. This year, the 13th Rainbow Festival was held in Larnaca and not in Limassol after the nationalist “Hellenic Resistance Movement” announced that it would hold an anti-immigrant demonstration on Friday 5 November in Larnaca, with the participation of the “Pancypriot Anti‐Occupation Movement” and the “Movement for the Salvation of Cyprus”.
The Rainbow festival was moved to Larnaca in order to stop the fascist threat, as it publicly announced.
We must have in mind that the Rainbow festival is sponsored by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus and is being organised with the support of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus. That’s why the organizers thought they would have protection and felt no actual preparation for real fighting with the far right groups was necessary.
Far right groups seized the opportunity to describe antiracists as ”the enemy’s fifth column, funded by foreign centers”, accusing the Cypriot state that “from its birth, it fights against the hellenism of Cyprus in order to eliminate it“.
At the beginning of the event, people at the festival were three times more than the far-right demonstrators (mainly old, traditional nationalists) but by the end neo-nazis were heading the attacks. Late in the evening, it was the police who was rescuing the few antiracists and immigrants who remained at the site until the end of the event.
Nazis not only controlled the streets, they also posed as anti-state and anti-police activists.
Something similar happened a month ago in Belgrade, at the LGBT pride parade, that was protected by the government and co-organized with EU Commission representatives in Serbia. It is estimated that on the day of the LGBT pride parade, over 6,000 fascistoid youths (supported by football clubs and priests) were fighting the police on the streets of Belgrade for hours. According to a report:
“Gendarmerie and other special units were using armored vehicles and tear gas, trying to regain control over the rally. Police clashed with the rioters near Palace Albania, where they were pushed back from Terazije Sq. The protesters were shouting ‘Go to Kosovo’ at the officers.The mobile mammography unit was stoned, bought with the help of donors and B92, in downtown Belgrade while the doctors were examining their patients.The headquarerts of the ruling Democratic Party were also under attack and were set ablaze for a short while. The building of the national television RTS did not escape the attack of hooligans, who also tried to storm the parliament building, but failed. A number of vehicles were damaged (…), including several parked cars and 11 police vehicles, two buses and two trolleybuses.”
Yesterday, at the local elections in Greece, the nazi (“Golden Dawn” party) candidate got 5% of the votes for the municipality of Athens. In the last few months, a central square in Athens (Attiki Square – see video) has evolved into a hothouse for fascists, who have organized pogroms against migrants’ shops and apartments, as well as attacks with knives against refugee families sleeping in the park.
Why are these three incidents connected?
As we have already implied in our text On Crisis and Migration, the immigrant/refugee struggle is a lost cause, unless it is connected with the present crisis.
Last March, almost coinciding with the arrival of the IMF in Greece, a round of discussions began amongst people and groups aiming to prepare a series of no-border actions in Greece during the summer of 2010. Despite the important work especially by people from abroad towards that goal, the actions were either poorly attended, or were canceled altogether. We feel there is a deeply political reason for this: At the moment, any struggles which are not connected to the new capitalist attack against (this time) its own strongholds in Europe, are doomed to fail. Let us explain:
The nature of the crisis and the far-right as a ”popular movement”
Two years ago, leftists and anarchists were celebrating the imminent end of capitalism after the collapse of the US banks. With the breakout of the greek crisis we started reading analyses about “over-accumulation [being] the main cause of the crisis”, or conspiracy theories about the “bad bankers winning over the productive capitalists”.
Things are clearly different though:
Migration flows are created by the same globalized capital that attacks populations through financialization, after having moved production from the developed to the developing countries, initiating the destruction of the middle and lower classes in the west.
In the past, the shock of the ”discovery” of the deaths at the frontiers of Fortress Europe or of the horror prisons in Greece, or even of the threat of a hyper-militarized Frontex Agency could be a viable tactic for the solidarity movement, but no more. Last November, in a text on the occasion of the 3rd International Forum for Migration and Development we said that immigrants bring home to the EU the reality of global capitalism and thus give us an opportunity to understand global reality beyond the virtual banality of consumerism.
Now that global capital is bringing third world conditions inside the EU (i.e. Aghios Panteleimonas/Attica Square) and is dismantling the middle classes, condemning to poor to utter misery, the serpent’s egg of fascists and neo-nazis appears in the guise of resistance. In countries where there is no organized and widespread social resistance movement, public discontent can be manipulated by mixing liberal politics with abstract, non-clarified cultural issues. In that way, with NGO-, liberal and EU coalitions, the substance of resistance is hijacked, as it is taken away from the oppressed and the radicals and the semblance of resistance is handed by the State, by Authority, to the new fascist riots, disguised as “society that cannot take it anymore”.
This is what happened in Serbia, which has been in deep crisis for the last two decades, and on a much smaller scale in Cyprus, (where it is nevertheless extremely important, since the fascist attack was a response to a Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot social movement that has been growing steadily for some years now).
Athens is a similar but different case. After the December 2008 riots, the attack against immigrants, climaxing in the summer of 2009, was part of a full-scale counter-attack (a kind of counter-insurgency) by the State. During that time, a social laboratory, testing the creation of fascist reflexes, was gradually being allowed to develop in the center of town, not far away from areas practically dominated by the social movement. It is now evident that if we do not organically connect our responses to the crisis to the issue of solidarity and struggle with immigrants, we are leaving a void that will be filled by the “fascist response to the crisis”.
Events in Larnaca, Belgrade and Aghios Panteleimonas/Attiki Square in Athens alert us to the possibility of a return of the far-right as a ”popular movement”.
No NGOs, no liberal alliances, no multicultural festivals or rhetorics of tolerance can be effective against it, neither is it enough to condemn Frontex on a humanitarian basis. To walk round Attica Square and still romanticize immigrants as ”neo-nomads” seems as irrelevant as interpreting the IMF-attack on developed countries and unemployment through Negri’s “end of work”. We have to see the current ”crisis” for what it has always been – a full-fledged war against the unprivileged, a war where you have to identify allies and enemies. Only in this context can we speak about the issue of immigrants and solidarity, poverty and the crisis.
Modern migration and the current crisis are products of the same move of globalized capitalism.
You cannot fight against the causes of one if you do not fight against the causes of the other. It is now obvious that we need a grassroots movement for social justice, a movement of self-organization and action, freed from disguised vanguardists and supporters of electoral politics, freed from the spectacle of violence.