Watchdog group fights fascism in Greece by filling in media gaps

Over 140 hearings have taken place during the Golden Dawn trials. Photo by Golden Dawn Watch

ATHENS — The world has not seen this many Nazis on trial since the end of World War Two when Allied forces decapitated the leadership of Hitler’s Germany at Nuremberg. But a mass trial of 69 members of Golden Dawn, Greece’s virulently far-right movement, has attracted little public interest or media coverage.

Thanks to Golden Dawn Watch, an independent watchdog organization that broadcasts the trial daily, citizens and non-Greek speakers are able to follow what’s happening. The organization is a critical component in the resistance against fascism in Greece. Its leaders say they saw a critical gap in media coverage and decided to broadcast daily coverage of the trial of Greece’s third-largest political party.

“All we care about are the facts,” said Antonis, a member of Golden Dawn Watch who, for his own security, requested his last name not be used. “I’ve been beaten up by fascists before,” he said.

They’re partnered with the Hellenic League for Human Rights and the Greek Observatory against Fascism and Racist Speech in the Media.

Golden Dawn Watch stepped in when members of the Greek media got facts wrong about the September 2013 murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas.

“Everyone on social media knew that Nazis had killed Fyssas,” said Luke, who is part of Golden Dawn Watch’s live feed team and who also requested that his last name be withheld for safety reasons. Yet Skai TV, a mainstream broadcast news network based in Piraeus, Greece, first reported the murder was the result of rival football factions clashing.

A banner at the bottom of Skai TV’s broadcast read: “He killed him over soccer.” Meanwhile, witnesses on social media were recounting what had looked to them like an assassination.

“Killed over a soccer match?” said Stamellou. “The coverage was pathetic.”

Even before the murder, Stamellou said, media coverage often portrayed Golden Dawn favorably. One notorious example is a cover story of Golden Dawn supporters escorting an elderly lady to the bank because she was too afraid of migrants. It was later revealed that the old woman was the mother of one of Golden Dawn’s leaders.

So far the watchdog group has covered every day of the trial, over 140 hearings. And its members say they’re not going anywhere until Golden Dawn is convicted, though the verdict could still take months.

This article is part of a GroundTruth Special Report called “Greece’s Crisis of Faith,” produced in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.