Friday, May 30, 2014

Resistance fighter returns to the fray

NOT  THAT HE EVER RETIRED!  A hero before he turned 19, Glezos has not given up in his 'Nineties. Protesting austerity in Athens.

ON this day, May 30, in 1941, two young men climbed to the top of the Acropolis, on the crag high above Athens, and tore down the Nazi swastika flag which had hung over it since April 27, 1941, when German forces took over the Greek capital.

For this defiant and heroic act, which inspired popular resistance to the Nazis in Greece and throughout Europe, Manolis Glezos and his comrade Apostolos Santas were sentenced to death in absentia by a Nazi court. Glezos was captured and tortured the following year, but he survived this and several other spells in captivity, both during and after the occupation.

WARTIME COMRADES Apostolis Santas and Manolis Glezos.

Now, at 91, Manolis Glezos is going to the European Parliament as a top figure of the left-wing Syriza party. He was elected with a record 233,000 votes and pledged to wage resistance to EU/IMF-imposed austerity -and fascism. Syriza beat the conservative New Democracy and left the fascist Golden Dawn in third place.

From his youth, -he was not yet turned 19 when he tore down that Nazi flag - Manolis Glezos has had a lifetime of struggle. As a result of his treatment at Nazi hands he was affected by tubercolosis. In 1943 he was arrested again by Italian forces, and the following year by Greek Nazi collaborators. He escaped in September 1944, but after the Greek civil war the right-wing regime which the Western powers had helped tried him as a leftist, and sentenced him to death.

After an international outcry this was reduced to life imprisonment in 1950. While he was still in prison he was elected to parliament as a left-wing MP in 1951 . He went on a hunger strike demanding the release of his fellow EDA MPs that were imprisoned or exiled in the Greek islands. He ended his hunger strike upon the release of 7 MPs from their exile. He was released from prison on July 16, 1954.

Apostolos Santas also suffered post-war imprisonment and exile, before escaping and gaining political asylum in Canada, where he died.

On December 5, 1958, Manolis  Glezos was arrested and convicted for "espionage", a common Cold War accusation. Released in 1962, after an international campaign, during which he was elected an MP again, he was one of the many rounded up overnight when the colonels junta seized power in 1967, carrying out a NATO contingency plan. He spent another four years in prison.

After the colonels' regime was removed, Glezos returned to politics, and was elected to parliament as a PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) MP, and then in 1984 to the European parliament. But in 1986 he withdrew from Parliament, to concentrate on developing grass-roots democracy. He was elected president of of a community council in Aperathu. In 2002, he formed the political group Active Citizens which is part of Coalition of the Radical Left, Syriza, and in 2012 he was elected a Syriza MP.

Between his political activities and periods of imprisonment Manolis Glezos managed to acquire qualifications in geology and civil engineering, applying them in developing techniques for flood control and preventing soil erosion.

Being a nonagenarian, not to mention a national hero, does not seem to have exempted Manolis Glezos from the police violence that has met austerity protests.  In March 2010, Glezos was participating in a protest demonstration in Athens, when he was hit in the face by a police tear gas canister. He was carried away injured.  In February 2012, he was sprayed with tear gas and arrested by riot police.

Manolis Glezos says he will remain in the European Parliament for a year, after which he intends to hand over to a younger person. Meanwhile he will bring with him memories not only of resistance, but of the way the Nazis occupiers plundered his country before they left.

“The German war reparations, which were never addressed by the current government, will be brought up by Manolis Glezos in the very first meeting of the European Parliament,” Syriza leader said in a statement before the election announcing the war hero's candidature. 

Glezos himself made clear in a statement together with composer Mikos Theodorakis that he is urging not just Greeks but all peoples to resist the impositions of fascism and finance capital.


Another anti-fascist veteran and nonagenarian celebrates almost a century on Sunday. Max Levitas is 99! 

Here is the message from the SEARCHLIGHT website:

Max Levitas took part in the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 and has dedicated his life to fighting racism and supporting the labour movement in Tower Hamlets and internationally. He was a Communist councillor in Stepney, east London, for 15 years. Born in Ireland in 1915 he has never completely lost his Dublin brogue. Even today he is still a key activist in the pensioners’ movement.

A celebration ‘meeting’ is being held on Sunday 1 June, 2pm to 4pm, to celebrate Max’s 99th birthday, at the Idea Store, 321 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1BU. Nearest tube Whitechapel (turn left on leaving the station and it is on the left-hand side).

Please come and join us.



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