Olive Sutton

Murder Inc. in Greece



In many countries special committees have been established to assist the new Greek Democratic government and Army. Trade unions throughout the world have protested the Royalist government's suppression of the Greek labor movement.

Yet the most flagrant betrayal of the Greek people in the whole official U.S. record has come from Clinton Golden, of the C.I.O. United Steel Workers. Golden has been in Greece several months as labor adviser attached to the Griswold Mission. He has returned to the United States to defend the liquidation of the Greek labor movement.

According to Golden, the reports of the arrest and exile of labor leaders, the government's anti-strike laws, the execution of trade unionists—all these are "Communist propaganda."

Golden and C.I.O. President Philip Murray have both hailed a "first postwar labor congress" staged in Piraeus March 31. The Piraeus congress was strictly a Royalist-fascist get-together. The real "first postwar labor congress" was held in March, 1946, and promptly thereafter the Royalists launched a series of decrees to destroy it. The World Federation of Trade Unions had a representative on hand who witnessed and reported the events of the following months.

He was the French trade unionist, Leon Jouhaux, who has since knuckled to French domestic Marshall Planners and now devotes himself to labor-splitting activities. Jouhaux arrived in Greece on July 27, 1946, just two days after the Royalists ordered the Executive of the Confederation of Labor to hand over its administration to the Ministry of Labor. He termed the events that followed "scandalous."

When the Confederation challenged the Royalist order, Ministry of Labor officials escorted by police physically, took over the Confederation's offices. Four of its secretaries were later arrested and sentenced to prison terms.

The government then appointed a new executive of 21 members. Seventeen of them were Royalists, and the remaining four refused to serve.

On August 13, the government ordered the Trade Union Councils of Volos, Kalanaata, Kavafla and Patras to hand over their administrations within 24 hours. That action was followed by many more decrees suppressing trade union organizations throughout Greece.

On the basis of Leon Jouhaux's report, the W.F.T.U. executive board in September condemned "the action of the reactionary government of Greece in suppressing the democratic liberties of the workers freely to exercise their trade union rights." It called for world-wide support for the Greek workers' struggle to regain their trade union liberties.

The C.I.O. national convention endorsed this position and pledged its support.

Meanwhile the government's persecution of legally elected trade union officials, and rank and file leaders was intensified.

During June and July, 1947, after the Truman Doctrine went into effect, the arrests and deportations were carried out on a grand scale. Over 5,000 were rounded up for exile without trial from Athens alone. In July, the Secretary-General of the W.F.T.U., Louis Saillant, cabled Trygvie Lie, requesting the intervention of the United Nations in the situation. During the following weeks, the Athens government arrested 15,000 more men and women.

A few weeks later, Demetrius Paparigas, Secretary-General of the Greek Confederation of Labor, sent word to the W.F.T.U. from the concentration camp on the island of Icaria, that of 9,000 prisoners arriving from the mainland, 3,000 were trade unionists and labor leaders. They were in danger of dying from starvation and disease, and many of them were being kept in solitary confinement under indescribably inhuman conditions.

With the recent arrest of Antonios Ambatielos, secretary of the Federation of Greek Maritime Unions, no legal trade union leaders are left in Royalist Greece.

This is the record which Clinton Golden would dismiss as "Communist propaganda."

A few weeks ago, a Greek seaman in port for a few days, went to a C.I.O. Political Action Committee office.

What could it do about the situation in Greece, he wanted to know.

It was a very busy organization, came the excuse.

The seaman paused. Then he opened his shirt. His chest was a mass of deep torture scars.

"I have been busy, too," he said.

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