Golden Dawn stops fundraising drive in Australia, refuses to impose blanket ban

Golden Dawn supporters march during an event in memory of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki.

The Australian chapter of the far-right Greek political party, Golden Dawn, says it has stopped a one-off fundraising drive in Australia because of community pressure against it, but has refused to rule out future fundraising activities.

Golden Dawn is considered an anti-immigrant extremist group which uses Nazi-like imagery.

The head of Golden Dawn's Australian chapter, Ignatius Gavrilidis says his branch was working alongside another community group in Melbourne, called Voithame Tin Ellada, or VTE, which translates to "We are helping Greece".

Mr Gavrilidis says cash donations were sent directly to the party's parliamentary account by the individual donors and 10 pallets of clothes were shipped to Greece. 

But he says those activities have now stopped, and he has blamed a social media campaign aimed at disrupting Golden Dawn's operations in Australia.

Mr Gavrilidis has also laid out particular blame against Victorian state MP Nick Kotsiras, who's been a vocal critic of Golden Dawn and its presence in Australia.

"VTE has been shut down. VTE was shut down within 24 hours thanks to Facebook, thanks to the authorities, thanks to Victorian MP Nick Kotsiras," he said.

"You know, let's be frank, in my eyes as a Hellene he is a worm of the enemy and I'm proud to say that. He is a worm. And it's a shame to state that for a member, or a former member of the Australian political arena.

"He should watch his mouth. When you release words, as in removing the oxygen of the group that has decided to help people in need ... Well, I'm part of that group. Who are you to make a threat. What he doesn't realise is that one day in the future, those words can have serious consequences."

Mr Gavrilidis says the consequences could be charges in Greece against Mr Kotsiras.

Though Golden Dawn doesn't have the power to bring charges alone, as it currently holds only 16 seats in Greece's 300 seat parliament. 

Call for investigation into Golden Dawn's fundraising activities

Nick Kotsiras says he is not threatened. 

"He can call me what he wants. The facts are that the vast majority of Australians of Greek background do not recognise Golden Dawn, they do not represent them and, as I said, it's been very unfortunate that they are using the situation in Greece for political purposes."

Mr Kotsiras has expressed his concerns over the intended use of the funds raised in Australia by Golden Dawn and VTE and sent back to Greece.

He says the matter requires further investigation.

"I will ask the Minister for Consumer Affairs to ascertain where this money is going to. You have to be registered, you have to be open and transparent and I just pose the question, where is the money going?

"How much of the money is going to individuals? How is it being dispersed? People have got a right to know where the money that they have donated is going to."

Mr Kotsiras says he will make that request to Consumer Affairs Minister Heidi Victoria in the next state parliamentary sitting.

Consumer Affairs Victoria says it's already aware of Voithame Tin Ellada and Golden Dawn but isn't currently investigating either groups' activities.

The Australian Charities and not-for-profits Commission has confirmed neither are listed on the agency's Charity Register.

It's also noted community concerns "about both the nature of the organisation and the intended use of funds" it's raising.

Golden Dawn refuses to rule out future fundraising in Australia

Despite the pressure on Golden Dawn, its Australian head Ignatius Gavrilidis is refusing to rule out future fundraising activities.

"No, we're definitely not ruling it out, because you never know what happens around the corner ... So, on the basis (of whether) they need help, we will be there to help without question."

Golden Dawn's Australian chapter gained headlines in August when it announced it planned to host two Golden Dawn Greek MPs this month.

The visit by Eleftherios Synadinos and Georgios Epitideios, was to be supported by the nationalist Australia First party, which backs many of Golden Dawn's policies, including reduced immigration.

The goal of the visit was to raise support and funds. 

That was met with considerable public concern from the Greek community, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, the Australian Hellenic Council, and a number of Muslim and migrant groups.

They say Golden Dawn is a fascist group that promotes hateful attitudes towards women and espouses the marginalisation and suppression of gay people.

Together, they called on the Department of Immigration to refuse the Golden Dawn MPs entry visas to Australia.

And now, Ignatius Gavrilidis says their visit has been postponed, but not cancelled. 

"As planned, for October, no, but you've got to understand, if they act, they act in a very surprising fashion, but they're definitely coming out."

Source: World News Australia