A political account of the court-martial against total objector to military service Dimitris Chatzivasileiadis (June 2nd 2016)
[Original statement in Greek here — scroll down to hear audio excerpt from the military courtroom; in the end comrades shout the slogans “Trials will become condemnations upon the State itself” and “Solidarity is the weapon of the peoples; war against the bosses’ war!”]
In April 2016, the total objector to military service Dimitris Chatzivasileiadis made a public statement in view of his coming trial at the court-martial: “on the 2nd of June, when I will be tried for the second time on appeal for refusing to enlist for military service, I will stand once again in front of the military judges and I will articulate the polemic of the ones below against the State and its privileged castes. But this time I will not give in to buying off the sentence. Conviction will mean imprisonment; and prison brings us face to face with a situation of real war, politically, objectively and as a lived experience. And even if the generals of militarist repression give me the chance by setting a usual sentence of a few months, I will go on hunger strike so that the might of the extortionate and larcenous measures against Total Objection is once and for all overturned…”
Following an open meeting on the 4th of May in Athens for political briefing and organisation of actions called by a collective [the Anarchist Collective for the Combative Proletarian Reconstruction] where the comrade & total objector participates, the Assembly of solidarity with the total objector to military service Dimitris Chatzivasileiadis was formed. The main cohesive position of the Solidarity Assembly was that it is imperative for the movement as a whole, for collectives and individuals to take initiatives from which would emerge the collective struggle and response to the intensified onslaught of the State and Capital. We deemed that the stance of the persecuted comrade contributed to this direction. And so we mobilised immediately bearing in mind that the true answers are contained within the struggle, within its questions and its stakes.
Across the country an array of actions that took place conveyed the stance of the comrade, communicated the rallying at the military court, the antimilitarist struggle and the total objection to military service and propagated the militant struggle against modern military rule. We ought to note certain actions with particular significance: Mass intervention by collectives in Thessaloniki at the local schools (23-29 May). Class/ social/ antimilitarist collectives from the northern city of Ioannina announced a collective call for mobilisation at the court-martial and organised a propaganda solidarity event (31st of May). Intervention by the Solidarity Assembly at the military recruitment offices located inside the military camp in Rouf, Athens (30th of May). This action exemplified that the state-military institutions are not unassailable; thereby propagating the determination of solidarians vis-à-vis the repressive practices of the State. There was also an intervention at the governmental radio station “Sto Kokkino” in Thessaloniki on the day of the trial. Targeting the specific propaganda mechanism served to stress the intensification of the nationalist, racist, militarist and repressive strategy by the present government.
The political discourse of the actions in solidarity highlighted the lines drawn by the total objector regarding the specific trial on the 2nd of June, and it defended his demands: Immediate end to the consecutive persecutions of total objectors; abolition of the administrative fines (6,000 euros each); abolition of military service; an end to persecutions.
When a wide front is formed to engage with what is at stake each time in the struggle our force is multiplied. Already before the trial on the 2nd of June, the solidarity mobilisation made clear that what was at stake was not an individual case of repression, but the intensification of repression of total objection to military service as a whole. The response of several collectives to the call for action is of even greater significance when bearing in mind the reservations and objections raised regarding tactical or organisational questions, which though they may originate from different political interpretations of the current reality or different “philosophies”, nonetheless they did not stand in the way of our common struggle.
On the 2nd of June comrades from the Solidarity Assembly and other solidarians marched from the nearest metro station to the court-martial just before the trial and arrived there as one body shouting antimilitarist slogans. On arrival the planned gathering was already underway. Comrades shouted slogans in the court room as the procedure finished. Afterwards the gathering departed as a march and the guard house of the court-martial was attacked with paint bombs.
On commencement of the trial the total objector stated that even though the prosecution against him cannot be legally founded, he wished for it to go ahead, demanding the legal precedent for the abolition of consecutive persecutions against those refusing to serve. The military judges immediately announced the postponement of the trial. The comrade insisted that he refuses the postponement, that had he wished he could have asked for it himself, just as he could have relieved himself of the penal and financial punishment by abandoning the struggle for total objection.
Despite this, the court decided the indefinite postponement of the trial, implementing in this way a political decision for tactical retreat on the side of the State vis-à-vis the antimilitarist movement, by invoking a recent regulation.
The trial has been postponed until at least the end of 2017, which is the time limit of the particular regulation. In addition, the court-martial’s decision did not contain any other reference besides this regulation, which concerns all those who do not show up for military service. No reference to the particularities of the case of the specific total objector, or to any circumstantial factors. Therefore, the postponement on these grounds is a precedent for all those persecuted for refusing to serve.
This particular regulation (article 12, par. 1, 2, 3 of a bill enacted into law on January 28th 2016) reflects the tactical moves of the left-nationalist government (until the 2nd of June). The new regulation left unaltered the status quo regarding consecutive persecutions and cumulative fines. Furthermore, it introduced an element of blackmail: the regulation relieves all those who will enlist until the end of 2017 from any penal, administrative and financial punishment. This is essentially the carrot at the end of the stick, which may be quite attractive as long as the whip of militaristic repression keeps on counting months and thousands of euros in fines. The national goals of this legislation are clear: to curb the widespread refusal to serve, which undermines the might of the military and the national spirit, to increase the number of conscripts albeit paying the price in decreased earnings from fines.
While the total objector stated clearly that there is no chance he will enlist now or in the future, the military judges insisted on invoking this regulation as an opportunity for the accused, which they ought to provide thereby postponing all trials for refusal to serve! Their irrationality is evident here. Whilst their aim is said to be the change of stance of the total objector, they effectively weaken their bait. One more conviction would be an extra motive for someone to enlist, surely not for the total objector on trial on the 2nd of June, but the decision applies to all draft evaders. This court-martial restricted the effectiveness of the regulation. In individual cases, leniency could be explained on grounds of encouraging intentions of an accused to comply. However, the easing of the repressive tools when faced with resolute fighters is clearly a retreat on the side of the State.
When the State evades or backs away from a battle, it does so in order to find us again down the road weaker, less organised and fewer. However, this postponement was not an insignificant maneuver. It is a legacy for the entire antimilitarist movement. All trials of draft evaders and particularly of total objectors, where the battle with militarism is condensed, are put on hold for the next year and half. The State saw behind the stance of the comrade Dimitris Chatzivasileiadis and the solidarity movement, a serious peril. It recognised a bolstered antimilitarist movement and a barricade that can be broadened.
The one sided ceasefire is partial and temporary. The repressive armory of the State has not been contained yet, since the State evaded the dilemma that was posed on the 2nd of June. In addition, the administrative fines are still in effect. Whether the tactic of the State which led to the decision of the 2nd of June will include the sum of its repressive tools, by freezing consecutive draft calls, persecutions, and the imposition or activation of fines or whether it will remain on the minimum of concessions, by postponing the trials, will depend on our collective vigilance.
This tactical retreat with all the characteristics that we have described, aims at slackening the struggle around total objection of military service, so that the army may smoothly go about its dirty work. We are at a point in time when the army is called to take on a multiple and active role in repression, in the economy, in the socio-political field on a European scale, based on the pretext of states of emergency, such as the bombings that took place in European cities and the numbers of migrants moving towards capitalist centers fleeing war and poverty.
The army, as a mechanism of domination for the management of the masses, for the repression of our revolts, for the pillaging of new territories and the control of the land, is a structural ingredient of every State. The practices and methods of the military against the “external enemy”, essentially aim at curbing class and social resistance, since they target all those who fight against the interests of the masters or all those who are superfluous for the needs of the labour market (military management of mass migration). Fighting the State entails standing combatively up against militarism, which promotes the subjugation of the entirety of social life into military structures and goals.
We combatively and uncompromisingly oppose militarism, not from an abstract anti-war position, but from a position of joining the war against authority and exploitation. Total objection to military service constitutes the assertion of one’s ability to determine consciously and freely determine one’s life, but more importantly it constitutes the refusal to participate in the monopoly of violence of the State. Precisely because total objection disarms in deed the State’s repressive and counter-revolutionary mechanisms. At the same time, the monopoly of violence breaks, when the oppressed arm themselves and attack their masters and the military institutions and mechanisms.
For all the above reasons, we strive for an antimilitarism movement, part of a broader, diverse revolutionary procedure, which will go beyond assertion, to the abolition of the exploitative system which necessitates and maintains the state armies, mercenary or otherwise, in its entirety.
THE STRUGGLE AGAINST STATES, THEIR ARMIES AND BORDERS GOES ON
LET’S SMASH EVERY SERVICE AND COOPERATION WITH THE MURDEROUS MECHANISMS OF THE STATE
NOT ONE HOUR IN THE ARMY
SOLIDARITY TO TOTAL OBJECTORS
Assembly of solidarity with the total objector to military service Dimitris Chatzivasileiadis
German translation here.