In 1997, a “major national challenge” was announced for Greece: the Olympic and Paralympic Games “Athens 2004”. And what a challenge… From the beginning the state bet on the doctrines of patriotism, volunteering and security, and channeled public wealth to this “Great Idea”.
In the summer of 2002, society watched as the scenarios on the dismantling of the “Revolutionary Organization 17 November” unfolded. The FBI decorated the current Minister of “Citizen Protection” M.Chrysochoidis, while urban guerrillas and the broader left-wing movement were pinned to the wall. With the judiciary authority’s harmonious collaboration, individual rights and political freedoms were put at stake.
In June 2003 the then prime minister C.Simitis (Pan-hellenic Socialist Movement) signed along with Bush and Pronti the international terror-agreement that the USA imposed after 9/11. Amid bombings, state occupations, assassinations, the kidnapping of “suspects” and their transfer to concentration camps, thousands took part in the large-scale demonstrations in Greece in 2003: against the war in Iraq, against the EU Summit in Thessaloniki, in solidarity actions demanding the immediate release of all the hostages of social war.
The real face of the authority’s new order was promptly revealed: the “great public works” constructed at the expense of workers filled the pockets of big contractors, public debt skyrocketed, speculators and investors got rich beyond imagination, exorbitant sums of money were spent on surveillance cameras, the terror-law was applied, all kinds of snitches were legitimized, “preventive” detentions, unprovoked arrests, unfair trials and national celebrations were conducted. The misinformation media, multinationals, banking institutions, secret services and the super-rich ruthlessly persecuted social freedoms. Our hatred grew and was expressed through a diversity of actions.
In 2004, a Zeppelin decorated the sky of Athens; it watched and listened to us. Cell phones were tapped more than ever. “Police-frenzy” propaganda flooded the media. The cops organized their “anti-terror” unit according to “international standards” and collaborated closely with foreign secret services (American, British, Israeli etc); requesting social consent in order to exterminate the state’s “domestic and foreign enemies”. In Athens, racist policy promoted the “Clean Alliance” [the slogan for municipality cleanliness, written for example on the garbage trucks] : State, prefectures and municipalities drove homeless people, migrants and drug addicts out of Athens neighborhoods, so as to hide the victims of poverty and degradation. The citizens’ tolerance was methodically cultivated under the threat of unemployment.
It was only a matter of time before a social uprising would break out. Already in April of 2007 the brutal beating of anarchist Yannis Dimitrakis –held in Malandrino prison– triggered a nation-wide prisoners’ revolt. Resistance intensified in another 10 prisons, from Komotini to Alikarnasso, and spread to the streets of many cities. Solidarity rallies were actualized for the prisoners’ just requests, and for the destruction of every prison. Before this were the prisoners’ mass mess-abstentions and hunger strikes of 2004 and 2006. Afterwards came the most massive of such mobilizations in 2008, each time with almost exactly the same requests, and cause: The wretched conditions of internment, the mistreatment of prisoners with constant humiliations, threats and beatings by the guards – and the solidarity amongst the prisoners – often trigger rebellions and uprisings in the prisons and detention centers of Greece. As the hunger strike in 2006 began with the murder of 3 people who burned alive in their cell, as the massive uprising of 2007 (and many smaller ones) began with a beating, so in 2009 a revolt broke out in Elaionas Thebes prison, where Katerina Giouloni was detained: She publicly denounced the torture of vaginal examination in prisons and was murdered a few days later during her vindictive transfer via boat to Crete.
The violence of authority, police arbitrariness and the numerous racist pogroms loaded the gun held by special guard Epameinondas Korkoneas. Together with his accomplice Vasilis Saraliotis, he murdered in cold blood the 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos on 6 December 2008 in the neighborhood of Exarcheia, Athens. This murder, in a center of anti-authoritarian activity, was the drop that overflowed the cup for everyone. The rage of a multitude of people, of all ages and different nationalities, became an unrestrainable river. It turned against all the symbols of global capitalism and state terrorism. Political resistance clashed with dominant propaganda and institutional violence all over Greece. Hundreds were detained and tortured; the university asylum law was breached. However, thanks to the countless counter-information networks, the massive solidarity movement spread inside and outside the borders. Many unions supported the December revolt calling for strikes and demonstrations. In the meantime, the mass media, political parties, Church, businessmen and union fat-cats disdained the social uprising, striving to present the cold-blooded murder of a teenager as the result of a ricochet bullet, in order for the state murderers to be left unpunished. However, everyone realized that Alexis is one of us.
On December 23, 2008, Konstantina Kouneva –a Bulgarian migrant, unionist and general secretary of the Panattic Union of Cleaners and Domestic Personnel– was attacked with sulphuric acid by two men in the neighborhood of Petralona. They were the minions of her bosses at OIKOMET (company with which she had labor-related disputes). To this very day they are protected by the spurious bureaucratic Judiciary, while the case rots in classified files, preserving the bosses’ strange appetites.
In Athens, New Year’s Eve 2009 found us gathered outside of Koridallos men’s and women’s prisons, in solidarity to the state’s hostages. We all knew that police patrolling would increase. After the December events, the state wants to restore its wounded prestige at all costs. The ruling right-wing party recruited new means and officers to rehabilitate order and security. It was succeeded by the “socialist,” but essentially most conservative and neoliberal government of late years, PASOK. Constituents rejoiced. They had already hoorayed the recent finding of the supposed “safe-house” in Halandri [a northern suburb of Athens]. Washed-out leftists, sold-out intellectuals, ruthless media agencies and pasok labor fat-cats give their full support to the use of huge quantities of banned chemicals against demonstrators, illegal pre-trial detentions, attacks against squats and social centers, exorbitant bails and also to the unprecedented setting of a price on the heads of the “robbers in black” and the enactment of the hoodie-law. As usual though, they loaf in front of far-right thugs. Soon, the new “democratic” law on granting greek nationality to migrants was ratified, which essentially preserves the nationalist ideology.
We are infuriated by the racist pogroms, the concentration camps for migrants and the upsurge of fascism (evident in neighborhoods such as Aghios Panteleimonas in Athens.) Attacks by para-state thugs, labor “accidents”, assassinations of “dissidents”, deplorable working conditions and every-day employer terrorism target all those who resist the contemporary conditions of labor slavery. On March 11, 2010 one of the biggest general strikes of recent years was actualized. Angry citizens of all ages took to the streets, demonstrating against the measures that would supposedly “get us out” of this recession (large-scale cutbacks, changes in the social security system, a dramatic reduction in social benefits and more). At last, workers chased out the union leaders of GSEE (General Confederation of Greek Workers) and ADEDY (Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants) trade unions.
Lambros Foundas, a comrade that had always been at our side ever since the 1995 movement, was shot down by cops in the neighborhood of Dafni on March 10, 2010. The “Conspiracy of Cells of Fire” (an organization which appeared after December 2008 and has actualized a series of bomb attacks) claimed the responsibility for the firing of explosive devices in the offices of the Nazi organization “Golden Dawn” in Athens, outside the house of the President of the Greek-Pakistani community and outside the Petrou Ralli Detention Centre for Migrants, on March 19-20, dedicating this triple operation in memory of the fighter Lambros Foundas.
A flood of terror-frenzy scenarios in the media cultivated the climate for a series of arrests, pre-trial detentions and search warrants for comrades’ houses, on the grounds of the alleged crack-down on the urban guerrilla group “Revolutionary Struggle”. The state made public appeals in search of informants, while the media vilified their personal lives and deprived their political actions of meaning. Bonds of friendship and comradeship, as well as family ties were targeted. An unprecedented diversion, the moment when the crucial bills on tax and social security are amended, and the country is placed under IMF monitoring.
The passion for freedom, the need to self-organize in our neighborhoods, to fight for solidarity, to intensify social struggles and help them grow, to take action against fascism and all forms of wage slavery constitute the foundation of social struggles. The recent revolt and the present social tension cannot be seen as separate events in contemporary Greek history and scorned as direct results of the current recession. Their characteristics were shaped through the actions, marches, demonstrations, occupations, assemblies, conflicts and social movements of years and years: 1985, 1991, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009… Collective memory does not forgive cold-blooded executioners: from the cop who shot Michalis Kaltezas in the back on November 17, 1985, to the murderers of Alexis Grigoropoulos, the pistoleros-in-uniform that killed Nicola Toddi and those who executed Lambros Foundas. We do not forgive state murders.
Not a step back. Everything continues.