The social struggle in Keratea-Lavreotiki

A brief chronicle (11 December–22 March)

Keratea is a town of 16,000 residents in Lavreotiki municipality, situated in southeastern Attica, 40km from Athens, near Lavrion. The site has an ancient history that has left many remains, an amphitheatre, parts of the ancient fortification, etc. As many parts of Attica, it has also a strong Arbanitic tradition, which highlights values such as extended family solidarity and social cohesion against a usually alienated authority, as well as a sense of pride and putting head to a cause. Most residents are small farmers (wine, olives, etc.), workers and/or unemployed, retired. During the last decade, after the construction of the international airport at Spata (2001), and also Lavrion and Rafina ports development to unburden Piraeus’ heavy traffic, eastern Attica suffered a sort of gentrification with Athens recreational, touristic and construction firms moving eastern (this movement can be tracked by almost annual forest fires, taking care of what’s left of Attica’s ‘unexploited’ space). Of course, infrastructure and any kind of social services (even proper sewage systems) remain significantly inadequate. The suggested creation of a huge open dump would be the top of the iceberg – or the mountain of garbage – to the complete subjugation of the territory and its people to private profit, as a dangerous and typically illegal ‘solution’ to the garbage disposal problem of all Attica is proclaimed against the will of those that will have to suffer it, and once they make clear their disagreement, they are violently repressed. No time for the old days’ ‘negotiations’ in the socialist government’s ‘fast track’ capitalism. The issue of dump constructions and garbage disposal in general has given birth to diverse militant struggles held in different parts of Greece these last years, with most significant the ones in Grammatikon (northern Attica), Neraida-Serres, Varnavas, Naxos island, Karvounari, Elliniko-Ioannina, and of course Leukimmi, Corfu, where a small village manages to block the construction works and confront the police by all means for three years now, having one woman dead to the police violence, and many facing charges.

On Saturday, 11 December, at dawn, residents of Keratea resisted against riot police’s and the prosecutor’s attempts to break their defense in order to establish landfill construction machines in the area (at a place sited since 2003). The residents clashed with police squads by stone throwing, slingshots, melee, barricades and Molotov cocktails. For the first time the cops responded with blasts from water cannon, against the protesters. Shootings were heard, and many citizens were injured. Five residents of Lavrion were arrested after they barricaded the Vromopousi node. In the surrounding areas, all schools were occupied; many pupils attended the blockages giving militant battles.

The media regime tried to misinform the ‘public opinion’, corresponding that in the clashes non- locals were involved but professional helmeted people… Since the beginning, the government blatantly ignored the mobilizations of the residents of Keratea and Lavreotiki. In fact, there was an order for urgent preliminary investigation, on the occasion of the clashes of the early days, after the request of the Athens First Instance Court chief prosecutor, Helen Raikou. Urban media reported that she ordered an investigation about the crime of attempted murder against police officers and against the prosecutor that was there! On 15/12, the cops arrested seven people in Lavrion Avenue in Keratea, including an underage, accused of 2 felonies, 2 misdemeanors, while one of them has been charged with the burdensome provisions of the ‘anti-hood’ law. On 20/12, they were called for apology at Evelpidon court and were released on bail.

Struggle for the rescue and liberation of O(m)vriokastro
21 Dec.

The beauty of nature and its protection is not a negotiable value of people and its local needs today; it’s a liability for future generations. Already the ‘development’ of this civilization has plundered much of the land, and the disaster on a large part of the environment by the human intervention is irreparable. The earth is neither a tool nor a domain of contemporary man to serve his needs and activities. Neither the residents of Keratea nor the locals of other regions of the globe decided to erase the natural beauty of a mountainside such as Ovriokastro to repeat the wretchedness of another dump. The only reason was the bosses of the political system and the financial sharks of construction companies. With only the rule of profit against a society that [they] continue to rob and terrorize, capital and the bosses found yet another nice place to destroy to gain wealth. They won’t have it their way; we will not let them have it in their way. Enough! The only dump that would be built, it will be the one where state and capitalism will be buried in, the only source of litter on the planet.

The coincidence of the strike of ‘journalists’ fends for the obscurity of this struggle from publicity, and the viewfinder of political analysts are always trying to shape and mold the facts to the effect that raises their own individual political and economic interests. Misfortune and fortunate at the same time because the same mechanisms of information displayed on popular resistance operate as a mechanism of repression and undermining any social event. If the dogs of suppression of resistance fighters mercilessly beat the blockade of Keratea, imagine how they would act if we take our trash and throwing in Ekali, Filothei, and Kavouri (posh suburbs of Attica).

Conversely, the distribution of information to the people here and the rest of the world should be part and tool of this struggle and every social struggle, as a counter-information to media misinformation. While tens of thousands went to Athens to protest, the occupation forces cripple them with violence and chemicals; the front of Keratea detained in a repressive manner, but this time with a new-but memorable by the junta-method AVRAS! What the people all over the world was informed of was that a former minister was beaten without any provocation; a former minister who left thousands jobless families and sold out for pennies a huge infrastructure as the Olympic airways, to the jaws of capital and profitability. What else should a minister do to provoke the anger?
We are not just in solidarity with the struggle of locals who will be affected by the looting of Ovriokastro, we are all in struggle for the defense of nature that will meet the next generation of repression against the state and capitalists.

That and other works are hypocritically wrapped with the label of green development, landfill / sanitary landfill, eco-energy and other bubbles, when in fact they charge us all for hundreds of years, reduce our revenues and benefits, increase funds under management bosses growing the proportion going into the pockets of an elite of industrialists, manufacturers and banks. The fighters are called terrorists and thugs and treated with murderous campaigns, people are terrified to not participate in any resistance, provocation undermine the movement, while the junta of robbers pimp IMF and the EU feeding us chemicals – banned by international treaty even to war as inhumane and toxic!

If there was democracy, albeit a long shot, the battlefield would actually be the parliament and the courts. In Ovriokastro upset by and suspicious of it, defied the court and the prosecutor while the soldiers of the junta continue the war. War will be continued here and everywhere. Our grandchildren will gather poppies on the hill of Ovriokastro and wash their faces in the crystal waters of Mouzaki that crosses the area. This land belongs to future generations and not to us to negotiate with the junta contractors. Without brokers, agents and leaders, we will all fight on the same side of the barricade against the pillage of nature!

This System cannot be cleaned; it can only be overthrown!
Its overthrow starts from Lavrion Avenue’s barricades!

All these days, 20 squads of the riot police and at least 600 police officers were making excessive checks in the area on passing vehicles. Tons of chemicals and rubber bullets were fired against the residents, while the repressive forces did not hesitate to revile underage children and elderly people. Meanwhile, there was an injunction by the magistrate to stop any project: on 30/12 the protective measures submitted by the municipality and the residents of Keratea that are against the landfill construction went on a trial. By decision against the contractors, the county court of Lavrion recognized the right of the residents and the municipality, by prohibiting the start of any project in the region until:

a) the forced expropriation of the land for the execution of the first phase of the landfill construction in Keratea is carried out,
b) the studies, provided by the building contract, with which the promoters of this project were set, are undertaken,
c) the relevant archaeological services decide if there are archaeological finds in the same place and
d) the relevant permissions for the implementation of the project of the contractors are issued.

Although the above decision was communicated to the chief officer of the riot police, the cops remained in the area. On 26/12, the residents and people in solidarity symbolically blockaded the international airport Eleftherios Venizelos. Later, in Keratea, the riot police attacked the residents that were gathered near the contractors’ machines. They threw so many flash bang grenades, that caused a fire, and the intervention of the fire department was needed!

On 30/12, at Prolylaea, a protest and sound system in solidarity to the people of Keratea and Lavreotiki was held. The residents went in the area where the machines are installed for New Year’s omen to the ‘security guards’ hired by the contractor. Specifically, on 2/1 at 4pm, about 80 people, passing through streams managed to arrive at the contractors’ machines. They broke the machines’ windows, before the cops realize it. The riot police fired tear gas and flash bang grenades, that fell upon them cause of the opposite direction of air! Stone throwing followed. At the same time, more than 300 people marched from the blockade of the Industrial Park (VIO.PA.) to the blockade of the riot police at the entrance of Ovriokastro.

On 4/1, just after 22.30, there was tension at Lavrion Avenue, at the node of VIO.PA, between the police forces and the residents that protest against the construction of the landfill.

Once again, in the evening of 12/1, the residents of Keratea were there to fight against the repressive forces. The clashes lasted until 2 in the morning, giving the message that the civilization pollution is not cleaned, it’s overturned. On 16/1, in the morning, a concentration-demonstration was called in Keratea, mainly by the members of the extra-parliamentary left-wing groups.

Counter-information actions were held from about 400 people in solidarity, despite the adverse weather conditions. The same evening, clashes between the residents and people in solidarity with the cops, followed.
On January 18th two people were arrested in the region of Keratea and then were released with the restrictive condition not to leave the country. Outside the court, dozens of Keratea’s residents had gathered in support. The two persons were accused for 3 misdemeanors and 3 felonies: According to cops charges, the two young people were members of a 100 people group who threw objects on them in order to kill them…

On January 30th at night, police ‘occupation’ forces once again made extensive use of chemicals. From short distance, cops were shooting with a teargas bullet gun, targeting demonstrators’ heads, resulting in a resident’s injury. After this, dozens of residents attacked the riot cops squad. On the same day, a solidarity event was organized in the self-managed Navarinou Park, Exarchia. Earlier residents of Keratea who had come to Athens for the same event, visited the immigrant workers hunger strikers at the Ipirou & Patission road building and expressed their solidarity with their struggle, also by bringing them basic necessities (blankets, water, etc).

On the night of February 1st, Lavreotiki residents began to symbolically ‘build’ the entrance of the building that houses DOY (tax office) and Lavrion IKA (insurance fund). Then, 2-3 police and secret cops’ cars appeared, encircled the residents and arrested 3 of them, including a youngster. The news of the arrests was instantly spread to Lavrion and Keratea barricades: Immediately, dozens of people besieged the police station of Lavrion in support to those arrested, demanding their immediate release. About an hour later, the two arrested were released – the child had let free earlier. The people gathered were directed to the building of the tax office and completed the ‘building’ of the entrance.

Many incidents followed our previous coverage of the events on February 8-9th:

The repression forces, supported by the government, never left the landfill spot and never stopped guarding the machines and terrorizing the residents, although there was a judicial decision for prohibition of the works on March 1st that justified the residents! Nevertheless, the residents never give up and continue resisting by all means.

On March 9th at 3 a.m., during a snowstorm, 25 residents surprised 20 cops who guarded the machinery with four police cars, made them clear that they were not their target, and then smashed the windows of a truck and machinery with axes and hammers, threw gasoline and set them on fire resulting in their complete destruction. Then they left without any clashes with the cops.

On March 16th, the same night of the yogurt throwing to the government’s vice-president, Keratea’s residents clashed with the riot police as they do nearly every day.

On March 20th at noon, after a riot police attack near the road barricade, residents attacked and completely burned down a ‘hut’ that cops use, 1 police car and 1 police van full with ammunition, tear gas, flash bang grenades etc! Cops will remember the explosions of their burnt equipment for a long time.

The struggle continues.

There is immediate need of solidarity gatherings at the blockades of Keratea!

'Fate mas to muti': Eat our shit!

There will be more updates as they come.

Sources: athens.indymedia / ovriokastro / radio98fm /actforfreedomnow /

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