Thessaloniki: Urgent appeal for international support with Delta squat and imprisoned anarchist immigrant Gustavo Quiroga

Please spread the following statement along with these texts: i, ii and iii

Statement by Delta squat about the events of eviction

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

On September 12th at 6.30 in the morning various different police departments were mobilized for the eviction of Delta squat. EKAM special suppressive antiterrorist units and MAT anti-riot police squadrons bashed into the rooms where the comrades were sleeping, and threw them on the floor when they had already been handcuffed. During this whole operation the comrades suffered both verbal and physical violence. One of them was held so he could be present during the cops’ search of the building though they had his head facing the wall, so he couldn’t see anything. Later on, he declined to sign the search and confiscation report. Some time later all ten arrested comrades were taken to the police headquarters in Thessaloniki.

Meanwhile, outside, some people had gathered near the squat in solidarity with those inside. As they moved towards the building, the cops tried to push them away, resulting in further scuffles. The cops took four of them in and after a long wait they were released.

The ten comrades that were transferred to the police headquarters were led to the basement of the building where they stayed for nine hours. For many hours they didn’t have an idea of the charges they were facing and they weren’t allowed to make their phone call. When they were moved to the offices of the headquarters, they were informed that they were accused of disturbance of the domestic peace, while charges of possession of weapons and perjury were levelled against individual defendants, as well as passport forgery against one of the comrades. Later on, the charges were upgraded by the public prosecutor.

In their plea they denied any collaboration with the cops and declared that they would only speak in front of a court. For the comrades that don’t know the Greek language, the cops hindered the process of interpretation.

Our comrades continuously refused to give fingerprints, and despite the fact that they were held on misdemeanor charges, the public prosecutor ordered explicitly that their fingerprints be taken by any means, using any violence deemed necessary, as long as the cops didn’t break the comrades’ hands. One of the comrades wrote in the relevant report that his fingerprints were taken with the use of violence. There is no law providing for the use of violence to get fingerprints, however the public prosecutor and the cops used the excuse that they made a proportional application of the provision on compulsory acquisition of DNA samples.

In the same day, outside the walls, a solidarity assembly was called for, which decided on a PA’s rally later that afternoon—where 150 people were gathered, handed out leaflets regarding the eviction, and read texts through speakers—before a gathering outside the police headquarters, that was made impossible by the police, who had given orders to stop the circulation of public buses almost in the entire city centre, thus preventing easy access.

The next day, the arrestees were transferred to the courthouse where the cops were ordered by the prosecutor to deny entrance to comrades that were assembled outside in solidarity—on the grounds that they are anarchists—as well as to relatives of the accused. Nevertheless, a great number of people gathered in front of the court expressing their solidarity in shouts and chants. The comrades’ request for a typical three-day postponement of the trial was rejected, and they remained detained until the next day. That night a gathering took place outside the police headquarters, attended by 70 people that stayed there for twenty minutes shouting slogans continuously. The ten comrades responded with the same means from the cells, along with the other common prisoners, causing unrest inside the building.

The day after, the trial began at 2.30pm. The general secretary of the Alexandreio Technological Education Institute of Thessaloniki, abbreviated as ATEI, falsely testified that in 2007, when Delta building was occupied, there were service desks of the ATEI (previous owner of the building) inside the premises that we allegedly obstructed. But when he was asked by the defense which services were there and for which explicit dates, he changed his testimony saying that there were no services at the time, but the property was undergoing maintenance. The next prosecution witness was a cop that wasn’t even in the building at the time of the eviction but came in later. While he didn’t have any relation with the immigration department, he declared with certainty that the passport of our comrade Gustavo Quiroga was forged, which is a lie. Later on, the comrades made a collective political statement and after some interruptions the presiding board pronounced the guilt of the accused, handing them the following charges: joint disturbance of the domestic peace, joint possession of weapons, perjury, forgery, insubordination, violation of the law on fireworks. The suspended prison sentences are as follows: extenuating circumstances of post-adolescence were recognized for two female comrades, and they were sentenced to three months’ imprisonment; four of the comrades received eight months; one of them eleven months and ten days; another one was handed eight months and ten days, and two others received nine months and sixteen month’ imprisonment, respectively. The total sum of fines amounts to 7,950 euros and all of them were given a three-year probation.

Squatting constitutes a social practice of radical claiming. The building of the squat has a long story as such. The workers of the old ‘Delta Hotel’ proceeded in an occupation of the building when its administration put the business to a halt. After their struggle, they took some positions as official personnel of the ATEI. Later on, during the period that the building was used as student dorms, the ‘Praxis’ student internship association occupied it in 2004 with the following demands: admission of more undergraduate students, immediate maintenance of rooms and their installations (hydraulics, sewage, heating and painting), and a transparency committee for all admissions. The ATEI, disregarding the demands of those interns and intending to privatize the dormitories, decided not to admit any new students, got its residents to move out temporarily, with the promise of an accommodation fund. It the end that fund was not given to them in full.

From 2005 to 2007 the building was abandoned by the ATEI after the student struggle for the legislation on education that was being passed at the time, and after grand assemblies, it was decided by fighting students and individuals of the libertarian and anarchist space to re-operate the building through a squat, that would take it a step farther. It would not only accommodate their needs but their desires as well. After abandoning the building for seven years the ATEI accused Delta Squat of damages which the students had denounced so many years ago. The ones who abandoned the building to decay accused the squatters, who not only repaired the damages of the building and made it viable, but also accommodated political undertakings, creative workshops and stood next to the lower classes. It had become a space that promoted social solidarity as an opposition to social cannibalism, with anti-hierarchical and anti-commercial characteristics, fighting against capitalism and its State.

Therefore, since Delta squat was a political undertaking with multilayered initiatives, and as part of the radical movement, it constituted a critical enemy for the State. Through the eviction, the State found a way to show how well it could play the game of disorienting the society, by setting up a ‘cheap’ but very well-paid show. A spectacle marked with videos of the invasion of every kind of cop in the squat, footage which was uploaded onto the official site of the police; with anti-riot squadrons that guarded the perimeter of the building for many days. A spectacular police operation without the anticipated results, as the cops presented as weapons various objects that had a specific use in the building, like the axe that is featured in the list of the confiscated items which was used to cut firewood, something that is obvious through the pictures that the cops have taken, an axe among sawdust and dirt.

All this circus of the absurd went through the squat, breaking most of the stuff and taking plenty of the utmost ridiculous items to later present them as evidence. This police operation kidnapped our comrades and brought them to trial under the command of the Greek prime sinister, Antonis Samaras, promoting the doctrine of zero tolerance and the impression of combating lawlessness. For our part we have to say that we shouldn’t be preparing for totalitarianism; totalitarianism already exists in its wildest form. If the prime minister declares zero tolerance towards anyone that objects to the interests of his reputable capitalist bosses, corporations, tax-evading sharks and the rest of his masters, we declare zero tolerance towards the conditions of wretchedness, brutal impoverishment and death that this totalitarian capitalism and the State hole-handedly delivers. We declare zero tolerance to the suppression that squats and self-organized anarchist projects are undergoing, and lawlessness in our actions towards defending them.

We are not willing to bargain for the most basic of things; people’s right to housing remains non-negotiable regardless of the current turbulent times and their enforcers. When so many people are pushed to suicide out of poverty, when so many homeless die every winter, and so long as these conditions deteriorate, it’s unthinkable to have empty buildings that stand and rot in the middle of the city, in the midst of this crisis, aka rampant wealth redistribution from the bottom to the top. We must seize the occasion of the socio-political conditions that this crisis brings forward, on the basis of class solidarity among the oppressed and the marginalized across the world. We must self-organize, take our lives into our hands, and build true relations that will become a menace for the existent, for the system we live in. This is the challenge that stands before us: to take our lives into our own hands, but also to be able to place them into the hands of our comrades. Squatting is a socially legitimized practice, and when you are not trying to house just your head, but also your ideas, it turns into a way to charge at the painful reality of capitalism.

(Who said anything about a political trial…)
To us, the trial of our comrades was the beginning of a new vengeful period of opposition between the State and those who march against it, trying to smash its social façade. Without shame, the lawyer appointed by the ATEI asked for the strictest sentences, so that they could serve as an example against any similar initiatives. If we keep in mind the socio-political framework in which all this took place, it is no surprise to us that all the heads of police of northern Greece were present in the courtroom, and that other comrades were banned not only from the room but from the building. The cheap excuse of a statement the prosecutor gave, saying that this was not a trial of political beliefs, in spite of the fact that she proposed the weapons charge should be common for all—‘since they shared everything in common, and took decisions in common…’—showed us yet another time their abhorrent indignity.

We are guilty for smashing the walls of estrangement, for the zest that springs from self-organization and collective living, and for our serial crime of marching into the uncharted paths of freedom. And this burden of guilt we shall bare and move forward.

Whatever they say, Delta squat will stay!

Delta squat, Thessaloniki

Greek original / in Spanish

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