Hiermit solidarisieren wir uns mit dem seit 2002 in Griechenland inhaftierten Dimitris Koufontinas und seinem Hungerstreik.
Wir sind empört über die staatliche Willkür, mit der die Haftbedingungen von Dimitris verschlimmert werden, und wünschen ihm Kraft & Durchhaltevermögen in seinem aktuellen und schon lebensbedrohlichen Hunger- und Durststreik!
In Solidarität mit Dimitris teilen wir den weiter unten folgenden Artikel, der durch den “Freitag” veröffentlicht wurde.
Our passion for freedom is stronger than their prisons!
Januar 2021: Griechische Polizisten schirmen das Parlament während einer Demonstration für den Inhaftierten Dimitris Koufontinas ab; Foto: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
Seit Jahrzehnten erleben wir ein „Rollback“ des Neoliberalismus, verbunden mit dem Abbau des Sozialstaats und staatlicher Für- und Vorsorge sowie einer Verpflichtung des Individuums zum Selbstschutz. In der Corona-Krise ist das besonders deutlich geworden. Gleichzeitig gilt auch: Es gibt wenig Widerstand gegen politische Maßnahmen und die sozialen Härten, die mit ihnen verbunden sind, weder durch Streiks oder gewerkschaftliche Kampfmaßnahmen noch auf der Straße, also durch Demonstrationen und Protestkundgebungen, denn die Menschen sorgen sich vor allem um sich selbst. Das verschafft den Regierenden neue Spielräume. In anderen Staaten wird die Situation der Angst vor der Pandemie noch sehr viel mehr ausgenutzt als in Deutschland. Ich will das am Beispiel Griechenlands zeigen.
Lockdown und autoritäre Maßnahmen
Die Lockdowns im Frühjahr und seit Anfang November 2020 bis heute waren und sind in Griechenland schärfer als in Deutschland und den meisten anderen europäischen Ländern. Man darf nur aus dem Haus, wenn man eine SMS geschickt (oder eine entsprechende Erklärung ausgefüllt) hat, in der man den Grund angibt. Die Polizei kontrolliert und erhebt bei Verstößen Bußgelder in Höhe von 300 Euro. Man darf nicht besuchen oder besucht werden. Wird man erwischt, drohen Bußen bis zu 3.000 Euro.
Seit Beginn der Corona-Krise sind eine Reihe reaktionärer Gesetze verabschiedet und Notverordnungen erlassen worden. So bescherte man uns ein neues Versammlungsgesetz – abgeschrieben vom entsprechenden Gesetz der Militärjunta (1967-1974) –, neue Arbeitsgesetze, die Entlassungen erleichtern und den 10-Stunden-Tag ohne Lohnausgleich erlauben, die „Weltneuheit“ einer Universitätspolizei (mit insgesamt 1.000 Polizisten) – um nur einige zu nennen.
Wider die Verfassung erließ die Polizei für vier Tage um den 17. November – Tag des Aufstands am Athener Polytechnikum 1973 und der traditionellen Demonstration gegen die amtierende Regierung, den US-Imperialismus und die US-amerikanischen Basen – ein absolutes Versammlungsverbot, vollkommen absurd begründet mit COVID-Prävention. Ein solches Verbot erging auch für den 6. Dezember, den Jahrestag der Ermordung von Alexis Grigoropoulos durch einen Polizisten 2008, an dem jedes Jahr eine Demonstration gegen staatliche Gewalt stattfindet. Gerade für den 17. November gibt es keine gesetzliche Möglichkeit der Einschränkung der verfassungsmäßig garantierten Versammlungsfreiheit. Trotzdem setzte die Regierung ihr willkürliches Verbot mit dem Einsatz von 5.000 Polizisten weitgehend durch.
Während der Corona-Krise verschärfte die rechtskonservative Regierung Mitsotakis außerdem die Lebensbedingungen für Geflüchtete in Lagern noch einmal dramatisch. Die Lager wurden teilweise für Wochen abgeriegelt, weil Corona-Fälle aufgetreten waren, ohne dass ausreichend medizinisches Personal abgestellt wurde. Die Lagerinsassen wurden einfach sich selbst überlassen. Das Lager Moria II auf Lesbos ist schlimmer als das Anfang September 2020 abgebrannte Moria I. Die Geflüchteten leben im Dreck, haben keine ausreichenden Waschgelegenheiten und ärztliche Versorgung. Viele sind krank und werden mit ihrer Krankheit allein gelassen. Die Pushbacks von Flüchtlingen zurück in die Türkei, sei es auf dem Meer oder über die Landgrenze in Nordgriechenland, haben im vergangenen Jahr weiter zugenommen.
Der Fall Dimitris Koufontinas
Das jüngste Beispiel dafür, dass der griechischen Regierung sogar ihre eigenen Gesetze gleichgültig sind, ist der Fall Koufontinas. Dimitris Koufontinas verbüßt eine Haftstrafe von 11 Mal lebenslänglich zuzüglich 25 Jahre, nachdem er als Mitglied der Revolutionären Organisation 17. November (17N) verurteilt wurde. Der 17N war in Griechenland aktiv von 1975 bis 2002, bevor er nach einem missglückten Anschlag zerschlagen wurde. Er trat zuerst mit der Erschießung des amerikanischen CIA-Chefs für Südosteuropa in Erscheinung. (Später erfolgten noch drei weitere Anschläge auf US-Offizielle.) Seitdem war die Ausschaltung des 17N eine grundlegende Forderung der USA, mit großem Druck auf die jeweiligen griechischen Regierungen. 1989 erschoss der 17N den Politiker und Journalisten P. Bakogiannis, Schwager des jetzigen Premierministers und Vater des derzeitigen Bürgermeisters von Athen.
Dimitris Koufontinas stellte sich 2002 nach der Verhaftung mehrerer Mitglieder des 17N und erklärte, er sei Mitglied der Organisation und übernehme die politische Verantwortung für deren Handlungen. Er verteidigte sich nicht und machte nie Aussagen zu seinen Mitangeklagten. Diese Haltung brachte ihm Anerkennung in breiteren Teilen der griechischen Gesellschaft, nicht nur der Linken, ein.
Ab 2002 war Dimitris Koufontinas in einem speziell für die Gefangenen des 17N hergerichteten unterirdischen Flügel des Korydallos-Gefängnisses (Athen) inhaftiert, bis er 2018 in die landwirtschaftliche Haftanstalt Volos verlegt wurde. Obwohl er seit 2010 Anspruch auf Lockerungen hatte, bekam er sie 2017 zum ersten Mal und in der Folge noch fünf weitere Male. Die Gewährung von Hafturlaub für Koufontinas wurde jedoch von bestimmten Medien, aber auch von Politikern, die mit öffentlichen Äußerungen und Interventionen unter Nennung seines Namens gegen ihn auftraten, intensiv und systematisch bekämpft. Unter ihnen waren auch der heutige Premierminister und Mitglieder seiner Familie. Heftige Interventionen gab es auch seitens der amerikanischen Botschaft.
Infolge dieser Polemik wurden die Hafturlaube ab dem Frühjahr 2019 verweigert mit Begründungen, die mit seinen politischen Überzeugungen zusammenhängen, und seiner Weigerung, Reue zu erklären – was nach griechischem Recht kein Grund für die Verweigerung von Lockerungen ist. Die Frage der Hafturlaube kam bis vor den Obersten Gerichtshof (Areopag), der entschied, dass die Ablehnung der entsprechenden Anträge nicht vom Gesetz gedeckt sei. Das für die Gewährungen von Lockerungen zuständige Gericht in Volos änderte jedoch seine Auffassung nicht und so wurden die Hafturlaube ab 2019 endgültig verweigert.
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Der Präsident der jetzt regierenden Partei Neue Demokratie, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, hatte vor den Wahlen 2019 öffentlich versprochen, dass er diesen bestimmten Häftling, wenn er an die Macht käme, von Lockerungen und von der Strafverbüßung in Landwirtschafts-Gefängnissen ausschließen werde. Tatsächlich wurde im Dezember 2020 das Gesetz 4760/2020 veröffentlicht, in dem eine Bestimmung enthalten ist, die die Gewährung von Hafturlaub für Personen, die wegen „terroristischer“ Straftaten verurteilt wurden, sowie deren Inhaftierung in Landwirtschafts-Gefängnissen ausschließt.
Einziger Verurteilter dieser Kategorie in einem Landwirtschaftlichen Gefängnis war Koufontinas. Während der Gesetzesdebatte im Parlament wurde er namentlich als Adressat benannt. Am 21. Dezember 2020 wurde Koufontinas aus dem Landwirtschaftlichen Gefängnis in das Gefängnis Domokos verlegt, in Art einer Entführung (ohne Ankündigung, ohne Kontakt mit seiner Familie aufnehmen zu können und ohne Zeit zu haben, seine persönlichen Sachen zu packen und sich zu verabschieden). In Domokos wurde er mit anderen Gefangenen in eine erstickend kleine Zelle gesperrt, in der er weder Raum und Zeit für sich selbst hatte und das Rauchen und die anderen Bedürfnisse der Mithäftlinge aushalten musste. So durchlebte Dimitris Koufontinas, jetzt 63 Jahre alt, eine dramatische Verschlechterung seiner Haftbedingungen.
Die Willkür staatlichen Handelns im Fall Koufontinas erkennt man daran, dass diese Überstellung in ein anderes Gefängnis sogar gegen die Bestimmungen des jüngsten nur gegen ihn gerichteten Gesetzes verstieß. Denn nach diesem Gesetz hätte er nach Korydallos zurückgebracht werden müssen, wo er die vorherigen 16 Jahre inhaftiert war. (Das ist übrigens auch das Gefängnis in der Nähe des Wohnorts seiner Familie.)
Das zuständige Ministerium erließ dazu einen Verwaltungsakt mit einer vollständig unwahren Behauptung. Demnach sei er nach Korydallos und sodann mit einer neuen Entscheidung nach Domokos verlegt worden – was nicht stimmt; er kam nie in Korydallos an. Offenbar wollte der Minister der Verlegung in das andere Gefängnis zumindest den Anschein gesetzesmäßigen Vorgehens geben. Dass er dafür dreist lügen musste, war ihm offenbar egal.
Ein Teil der Öffentlichkeit reagierte jedoch auf diese Lügen mit Unverständnis und Nachfragen, so dass sich das Ministerium zu einer weiteren Stellungnahme gezwungen sah. Diese unterschied sich von der ersten nur insofern, als die damaligen Lügen durch neue ersetzt wurden. So ist darin zu lesen, dass die Verlegung nach Domokos auf einem Beschluss des zuständigen Gefängnis-Gremiums vom 4. Januar 2021 beruhe; die Verlegung erfolgte aber bereits am 21. Dezember 2020 (s. o.). Post-truth politics, Trump hat es vorgemacht.
Aus dem politischen Kontext des Falls geht hervor, dass Koufontinas’ Verlegung auf die Rachsucht der Familie Mitsotakis-Bakoyannis und den Druck der US-Botschaft zurückzuführen ist. Mitglieder der derzeitigen Regierung hatten bereits früher angekündigt und sich darauf festgelegt, die Haftbedingungen dieses bestimmten Gefangenen zu verschlechtern. Dafür wurde das „Koufontinas-Gesetz“ erlassen.
Auch dieses Gesetz scheint jedoch der Familie und der Botschaft nicht genug zu sein. Er durfte nicht nach Korydallos zurück verlegt werden, sondern musste nach Domokos, um die Strafe innerhalb der Strafe erniedrigend und unerträglicher zu gestalten. Dafür wurde gegen die Gesetze verstoßen, sogar gegen diejenigen, die sowieso nur erlassen wurden, um die Bedingungen von Koufontinas’ Strafverbüßung zu verschlechtern. Das ist selbst für Griechenland ein wohl beispielloser Fall willkürlichen Eingriffs in das Rechts- und Justizsystem. Besonders widerlich ist, dass dieser Eingriff aus Gründen der persönlichen Rache einer politisch mächtigen Familie und der US-Botschaft erfolgte.
Hunger- und Durststreik
Nach der bewusst unrichtigen Bestätigung des Ministeriums beschloss Dimitris Koufontinas, gegen all diese ausschließlich gegen ihn gerichteten Methoden zu protestieren und zu fordern, nach Korydallos verlegt zu werden, so wie das jüngst ergangene Gesetz es vorsieht. Um seiner Forderung Nachdruck zu verleihen, trat er in den Hungerstreik. Heute (22. Februar 2021) ist der 46. Tag seines Hungerstreiks, er ist völlig abgemagert, kann sich nicht mehr bewegen, kann kaum noch sprechen, kann nicht mehr selbständig trinken und hat teilweises Nierenversagen. Er wurde am 17. Februar in die Intensivabteilung des örtlichen Krankenhauses verlegt.
Koufontinas hat heute erklärt, dass er die weitere Zuführung von Flüssigkeit durch den Tropf ablehne. Da er nicht mehr selbständig trinken kann, bedeutet das den Beginn eines Durststreiks. Das bedeutet, dass, wenn die Regierung nicht einlenkt, Dimitris Koufontinas in drei, vier, maximal fünf Tagen sterben wird.
Natürlich gab es gegen diese Behandlung von Koufontinas Proteste in der griechischen und auch der außergriechischen demokratischen Öffentlichkeit. Es haben sich Politiker, Intellektuelle, Kunstschaffende und Wissenschaftler zu Wort gemeldet. Auch im Fall Koufontinas kommt der Regierung zupass, dass sie Presse, Fernsehen und andere Medien zu Beginn der Corona-Krise weitgehend gleichgeschaltet hat. Das hat sie allerdings nicht durch Repression erreicht, sondern durch viel Geld, mit dem Vorwand, es handele sich um Zuschüsse für die Corona-Kampagne „Wir bleiben zuhause“. (Die Liste der Empfänger mit den auf die einzelnen Medien entfallenden Beträgen ist im Juni 2020 von der Regierung bekannt gegeben geworden.) Es gibt nur noch eine einzige größere regierungskritische Tageszeitung und einen Radiosender, aber keinen einzigen kritischen TV-Kanal mehr. Fast alle Medien sind heute auf Regierungskurs.
Ergebnis dieser Gleichschaltung: Obwohl die Politiker, Intellektuellen, Kunstschaffenden und Wissenschaftler klargestellt haben, dass sie weder mit den politischen Ansichten von Koufontinas und schon gar nicht seinen Taten übereinstimmen, werden sie von den regierungstreuen Medien als Terroristen-Unterstützer gebrandmarkt. Dass dies teilweise nicht zur Isolierung der Protestierenden führte, sondern noch mehr Menschen dazu brachte, die vollständig mit dem geltenden Recht in Übereinstimmung stehende Forderung von Koufontinas’ Verlegung nach Korydallos zu unterstützen, gereicht allen Unterschreibenden zur Ehre.
Das ist umso wichtiger, da die Regierung alle öffentlichen Proteste zu unterdrücken versucht. Protestdemonstrationen auf der Straße wurden und werden entweder gar nicht erst zugelassen, weil die gesamte Innenstadt von Athen voll von Polizei und der Kundgebungsplatz weiträumig abgesperrt ist. Gruppen von Protestierenden werden innerhalb von wenigen Minuten auseinandergeknüppelt beziehungsweise mit Tränengas eingenebelt. Gesetzwidrig, verfassungswidrig – es schert die Regierung nicht. Wie wir schon am 17. November und 6. Dezember gesehen haben, haben wir es unter der ND-Regierung mit Polizeistaatsmethoden zu tun. Die griechische Regierung hat sich viel von Ungarn und der Türkei abgeguckt und kann das Gelernte jetzt während des Lockdowns ohne viel Widerstand anwenden. Sozial- und Rechtsstaat werden mehr und mehr abgeschafft, Polizeierlasse treten an Stelle der sozialen Für- und Vorsorge und der geltenden Gesetze. Die gleichgeschalteten Medien spenden Beifall. So hat sich Griechenland in den letzten Jahren zu einer totalitären (parlamentarischen) Demokratie entwickelt.
Achim Rollhäuser ist Aktivist und Anwalt. Er lebt seit 1990 abwechselnd in Deutschland und Griechenland
Continuing our coverage of the struggle in Greece between the new repressive New Democracy government and the longstanding anarchist movement, we present the following report, drawing on eyewitness accounts from street mobilizations and the defense of several squats. The Greek state continues to throw its full weight behind an all-out assault on refugees, anarchists, and student movements, encouraging gratuitous police brutality against both human beings and their animal companions while seeking to exonerate right-wing murderers including members of the Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn who faced conspiracy charges in the murder of Pavlos Fyssas and the police officer who murdered the 15-year-old anarchist Alexis Grigoropoulos 11 years ago this month.
We hope to inspire international solidarity actions with the movement in Greece and to equip readers for action and analysis in other contexts in an era in which state violence and grassroots resistance are escalating worldwide. The struggle continues.
An Update from an Ongoing Fight
This month the eviction of three inspiring squatted spaces in the Koukaki region of Athens has driven me to compose this urgent update. I aim to keep the struggle in Greece alive in international dialogue—not only in discussion but also in the actions taken to demonstrate international solidarity—in order to remind the Greek state that the foundation and spirit of our struggle goes beyond their borders and to keep this spirit strong and warm in such heinous and cold times.
Many things have happened since the last update; I will do my best to mention them. However, I want to start with the eviction of Koukaki.
The Eviction of the Koukaki Squats
At dawn on the morning of December 18, dozens of police from various agencies attacked the three squats in the Koukaki neighborhood, employing weapons including stun grenades and rubber bullets. These three occupations—45 Matrouzou Street, 21 Panetoliou Avenue, and Arvalis 3—were well-known and widely loved spaces helping to preserve an anarchist presence in one of the most expensive and rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in Athens. While some property owners in the neighborhood considered these spaces threatening, many Koukaki locals appreciated them for maintaining free clothing and food distribution projects and for maintaining a significant voice against Airbnb and similar capitalist efforts.
Located very close to the Acropolis with a predominantly upper-middle-class population, Koukaki has been one of the neighborhoods most impacted by Airbnb. The squats evicted represent immediate opportunities in real estate speculation; this may have helped to push their eviction to the top of the state’s priorities.
Police invaded the two smaller squats (21 Panetoliou Avenue and Arvalis 3) following a short but courageous defense effort ending in four arrests at Panetoliou and two arrests at Arvalis. The arrestees were later released pending trial on charges including damage to property, disobedience, resisting arrest, and assault on an officer; in addition, police are attempting to use the same laws typically applied to gun possession to prosecute the arrestees after finding ordinary kitchen knives, bits of rock, and a crossbow on the premises.
One of the arrestees sustained a shot impact from a plastic bullet at close range and required two hospital visits during imprisonment. Despite this, the arrestees remain resilient. From inside the cells of Athens’ main pre-trial prison, they managed to send out the following statement:
Today, December 18, the state and its army attacked our community, evicting all three of our homes. Crowds of EKAM, Delta, and MAT scum assisted in the eviction of our homes. We were hit by a flash of lightning, and our companion was shot by a plastic bullet at close range. At the same time, neighbors of the M45 were beaten and tortured when they refused entry to the cops, as there was no public prosecutor. At the time of writing this text, we do not know where and how our companions from the occupation M45 are. This comes as part of a larger campaign to assault all those who resist power and fight for freedom. This is a time where the state is spreading its tentacles of repression against squats in order to meet the needs of tourists, replace permanent homes with Airbnb, and continue a violent campaign of gentrification. We do not recognize the notion of property and ownership that the state protects. We have used these empty buildings to foster a community of revolutionary desire, beauty, and the rejection of capitalism.
Solidarity to the squats!
We will spread across all the land!
Power to everyone who resists state violence!
Repression does not scare us, it persuades us to continue our struggle for a world of solidarity, equality, and self-organization.
[For background, Delta police are designated for beating demonstrators at close quarters; MAT police are riot squads; EKAM are Greece’s SWAT and the most “organized” police department.]
Nearby, at 45 Matrouzou Street, a great battle took place in which people stood up to the state for an hour. Cops were covered in paint and faced a hailstorm of debris while blinded with the smoke of fire extinguishers. The police equate the protective measures those inside the squat took to defend themselves to attempts on the lives of the officers who attacked their home. These measures included reinforced doors, windows, and other typical security mechanisms. Any sensible person will recognize such measures as simple self-defense.
Amazingly, all the occupants of Matrouzou succeeded in escaping after this battle, despite all the forces and resources the state had mobilized against them. Embarrassed by this, the invaders punished the immediate neighbors.
Hoping to capture the escaped squatters, officers knocked on a neighbor’s door, expecting to be welcomed. The mother of the household demanded that they present a warrant in order to enter; as she was requesting this, she heard other officers illegally entering her balcony and rooftop. When she and her husband demanded a warrant once again, the police beat her husband and their two sons, handcuffed them, put black bags put over their heads, and detained them in the cold outside on their roof. While the police did not present a warrant, they claimed they had done this with the supervision of the prosecutor in charge of the raids. The sons and father of the family were both arrested alongside the squatters from the other two occupations.
The police justified the brutality they inflicted on the family on the grounds that the family members were aiding the squatters in their escape. Yet in searching their home, the police found no evidence to support this claim. Grasping at straws, representatives of the state claim that they will test DNA found inside the squat and the DNA of the family members they arrested to prove there was a connection. An anonymous statement from Matrouzou following the raid claims that this family did not help them in any way. The father who was arrested also happens to be a prominent director who has received a lot of media attention. He has made his disdain for the police apparent, but his distance from the anarchist movement is also obvious.
The family has no formal connection to the squat, though they had witnessed the brutality involved in prior evictions, as the squat was also evicted in 2018—under Syriza—only to be re-occupied shortly after. In view of what they had already seen police do, it is not surprising that the family did not feel comfortable allowing police officers into their home if they were not legally obliged to do so.
Evidence of torture and brutality against the family is widely available via the mainstream media. The police continue to make conflicting statements, even claiming that the family members went for a gun—a desperate lie which has slowly disappeared from their narrative. Despite this, the father and sons are facing charges of resisting arrest and disrupting a police operation.
This assault on the neighbors has hit the mainstream press harder than the evictions themselves, in ways that are significant in light of Greek history and the current political polarization of Greece. Like police everywhere, Greek police perceive themselves to be heroes, regardless of how most people see them. Lacking maturity or self-awareness, they tend to lash out when rejected. So when a family that does not resemble the image of their target asserts that officers are not welcome without a warrant, they become aggressive. This incident has generated a dialogue reminiscent of the days of the Greek Junta.
Police have gone so far as to argue that the family’s balconies and roof are public spaces, so they do not need to present a warrant to enter. Imagine what would happen if people tried to enter the pools on the roofs of the rich in the upscale neighborhood of Kolonaki! Much of the right-wing media is attempting to blame the woman for defying the police, regardless of the laws. We see this in a discussion between the mother and a condescending anchorman in which he explains that what the officers did was wrong, but it’s actually her fault for defying their demands.
The polarization of Greece is playing out in the mainstream media. The proponents of the Junta whine that under the dictatorship “we slept with our doors open”—others joke that “we slept with our doors open because we didn’t want to have to wake up to open them for police raids.”
In any case, the three evicted spaces that provided a voice for the residents of Koukaki who celebrated community over profit are now boarded up with bricks. It is fortunate that many of the occupiers escaped; all of them demonstrated remarkable courage. They published a statement which is available below.1
While many of the non-human animals residing at the three occupations in Koukaki were also able to escape, it is unclear whether some of the cats that lived at Matrouzou remain boarded up inside. The police have taken to intentionally trapping animals inside evicted squats as a way to terrorize squatters; they did this during the eviction of the Vancouver squat on November 2. Considering that the residents of Matrouzou escaped, it is not surprising that police would contain animals inside the building until they die of hunger in hopes of luring the escapees into a trap or, failing that, tormenting them.
We should also mention that Dimitris Armakolas, the comrade who died in a tragic accident while raising a banner in solidarity with prisoner Marios Seisidis, was also a resident of the Koukaki squats before his passing.
Immediately after the eviction, a small solidarity demonstration took place. Police kettled the demonstrators, arresting five of them, then attacked the subsequent gathering at police headquarters to support the arrestees. That evening, after an emergency assembly, a surprise mob appeared in the heart of Athens’ shopping district in Monistraki, a well-known hang out of the rich and comfortable. While the beneficiaries of capital sipped their drinks, over 200 people marched disruptively through the area throwing flyers, painting graffiti on various stores, and smashing out the windows of a bank, a corporate grocery franchise, and a Starbucks. The police could not carry out any arrests and were forced to issue a public warning.
This action demonstrated that the movement does not only exist in squats and in Exarchia; it can arise and strike anywhere.
Targeting Animal Companions: A New Tactic of State Terror
As remarked, it is becoming a pattern for police to target the animal companions of squatters. This bears more comment.
In the Vancouver squat, for example, the squatters kept dogs and cats carefully separated in order to avoid the possibility of a violent dispute between the creatures. Signs on doors informed people of the dangers of letting certain dogs or cats out of the rooms they lived in. When the police raided Vancouver, they handcuffed and beat those who were defending the squat. While in handcuffs, one of the detainees begged officers to keep the animals apart for their safety. The officer replied by elbowing this person in the face. In spite of this person’s requests, the cops intentionally placed the two dogs in the room occupied by four cats and closed the door—at a time when all of the animals were extremely distressed. One of the cats died as a consequence.
The closest companion of the cat who died learned of the death while inside prison. Absurdly, the cops claimed that the cat had been dead for two weeks, alleging that the squatters were lying in order to gain access to the squat again in order to reoccupy it. This broke the heart of the cat’s closest companion, considering they had spent time together just recently.
Following the cat’s death, animal control took the two dogs; the police threw the deceased cat in a dumpster and denied that the surviving three cats remained inside, claiming that no animals were left on the premises. Only after a bricklayer who was sealing up the entrances of the building was attacked by a cat to such an extent that it necessitated a visit to the hospital was anyone permitted to enter to search for the remaining cats. Then the state allowed animal welfare officials in for one hour, but they found only one of the three remaining cats. Vancouver is a very large building and cats are highly skilled at hiding, especially from police that they recognize as lethal antagonists.
Finally, with two cats remaining inside, an animal liberationist conducted a hunger strike outside Vancouver. At first, police attacked and threatened the hunger striker; when a prosecutor sent an order to allow for a proper search for the remaining cats, the police chief denied the request, claiming there were not enough police to safeguard the search—the same day that hundreds of police poured into Exarchia following an attack on a motorcycle belonging to a Delta cop. After a week of hunger strike and the spreading public accusation of animal cruelty, the cops finally gave in and allowed people to find and release the remaining cats. According to comrades from Vancouver, if not for the mainstream attention resulting from a social media campaign to get the cats out, they are certain that the prosecutor would have never called for their release. It is all too easy to torture and kill the voiceless in order to torment those with more “rights.”
Shortly after the raid of Vancouver, in the course a string of raids against the group Revolutionary Self-Defense, police raided a home in Exarchia. The cops found nothing to charge the residents with. The cops conducting the raid were the same ones who had attacked Vancouver. Leaving in frustration, they attacked a cat that lived there, breaking the cat’s front legs and smashing the cat’s jaw. When asked what they were doing, one responded, “Are you gonna do a hunger strike too?”
In another home invasion in the same string of anti-terror raids, officers kidnapped all the dogs on the premises—apparently for no reason other than to cause pain to their human companions.
Police in the United States often murder animals—for example, shooting dogs; maybe this news will not surprise many readers. But it is important to record the brutal cowardice of the police carrying out these evictions and to emphasize that the free hand that New Democracy has given them amplifies the cruelest and most sordid aspects of humanity.
Coddling Golden Dawn
Meanwhile, the state prosecutor has suggested dismissing conspiracy charges against the Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn in the case of the 2013 murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, aka Killah P, while at the same time charging two individuals for alleged attacks against the offices of Golden Dawn. Such attacks have happened repeatedly in the last few years, usually claimed anonymously by communiqués signed with the names of victims of Golden Dawn—for example, the Pavlos Fyssas brigade and the Sahzat Luqman brigade. (Sahzat Luqman was a Pakistani laborer murdered by members of Golden Dawn.) According to corporate media, police allege the suspects to be linked to a November 1 attack on Golden Dawn’s office on Deligianni Street in downtown Athens as well as an earlier attack on May 23 in the West Attica area of Acharnes. Both attacks used makeshift explosives that damaged the premises but caused no injuries.
If the state allegations are pushed forward, it is likely that the prosecution will attempt to charge the two under new anti-terror measures, with the possible result that both of them could receive longer sentences than any of the murderers convicted for killings Golden Dawn has perpetrated, not to mention all the Golden Dawn murders that have never even been investigated. If Killah P had not been a white Greek citizen, his case likely would have never have made headlines—a tragic reality in Greece and around the world.
To the surprise of many people, the two arrestees were not remanded into custody on the day of their arraignment. Typically in cases involving terrorism, the state will hold those accused until their trial. Most likely, they are being allowed to await trial outside of jail as a result of a calculated effort by the state to moderate outrage. In view of widespread domestic and even international outrage against police brutality in Greece and the outcome of the Golden Dawn conspiracy case, the theatre of Greek politics will appear to remain in accordance with the laws of neoliberal democracy. But despite the flimsy evidence, the two comrades still have to report to the police four times a month and pay 15,000 euro bail, and they cannot travel abroad until the trial begins. If their case proceeds as others have, their trial could be delayed for years—using bureaucracy to punish the unconvicted.
It is not a coincidence that the state is dropping the conspiracy charges against Golden Dawn while cracking down on their enemies. New Democracy attempted to distance themselves from Golden Dawn during the elections, but they continue to make it clear that they are allies of the openly fascist group, even if somewhat wealthier and better mannered. When Killah P’s mother left the courtroom after the conclusion of the prosecution at the end of six years of traumatizing trial, she said “Today, you have stabbed Pavlos.”
Now Golden Dawn stands to be awarded 8 million euros as compensation for the case. This is a substantial amount of money in Greece for a political group. Political parties in Greece’s parliament are entitled to state funding. However, when the trial began six years ago, the state froze this funding. If Golden Dawn receives this large sum at once now, we will no doubt see them attempt to make up for their recent setbacks in the 2019 elections; it will also dramatically increase the resources available to support fascist street violence.
As an anarchist, I never expect justice from the state. I won’t use my limited voice to demand that anyone be imprisoned, not even fascist murderers. However, it is necessary to point out that a great deal of evidence was presented in the case against Golden Dawn. Beyond the obvious evidence of their Nazi connections and politics, investigators presented an array of intercepted phone calls and messages in the court, as well as written instructions explicitly organizing fascist violence. In view of the hierarchical organization of Golden Dawn, it’s very difficult to imagine that autonomous actions would take place without the approval of higher party members. Despite this, all 65 accused members of the conspiracy were acquitted of their charges. Only the individuals accused of actually stabbing Killah P will face any punishment, despite the large number of Golden Dawn members who coordinated throughout the neighborhood to converge on him, threatened him, surrounded him, and attacked him on the night he was murdered.
Now let’s back up and start earlier, to cover what else has happened this month.
From November 20, when the government announced that it would evict all squats, until the deadline of December 5 that they set for the occupiers to gain legalization or vacate, squats across Greece organized daily events and coordinated demonstrations across the country to show the strength of our movements and solidarity.
On the day of the deadline, anonymous comrades reclaimed 15 new squats across Athens to be used if existing squats were evicted. Anarchists also boarded up an office of New Democracy with bricks the same way they have assaulted our spaces. This is one of many recent actions against the offices of New Democracy across the country.
On December 6, demonstrations took place across Greece in memory of Alexis Grigoropoulos, the 15-year-old murdered by police in 2008, and the insurrection that followed; Greek anarchists have observed this date for ten years now. Clashes occurred in Patras and Thessaloniki.
In the morning of December 6, an autonomous demonstration of anarchist students set out, surrounded on all sides by the police and isolated from other left demonstrators. This clearly illustrated which movement the state recognizes as a threat to its power. That night, a huge demonstration marking the anniversary of the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos took place with thousands of anarchists attending.
At the end of the demonstration, many took small actions, destroying advertisements on bus stations, pelting banks and state offices with paint bombs, and attempting to remove the barricades at universities, which are aimed at preventing public use of campuses. While these actions were fairly limited, once the demonstrators began to make their way back to Exarchia, where the memorial to Alexis is, without provocation or direct confrontation against the cops, police attacked brutally, beating people at random. Video footage shows the violence; even the state has been forced to pretend to investigate its own brutality, though we can be sure this will come to nothing.
One of the important pieces of evidence is a video showing police beating an unarmed man screaming “I surrender.” While they beat many people that night, this video caught mass attention not only due to the cowardly assaults carried out by officers, but also because, intent on humiliating him, they were stripping him of his clothing. This, too, has become a common police tactic aimed at humiliating arrestees and detainees, reported by many individuals who have been kidnapped by the riot police around the center of Athens. It is reminiscent of the kidnappings and torture done under Greece’s Junta.
One reporter from a mainstream television station was compelled to comment on the brutality live on the air on the night of December 6. A reporter from the mainstream channel Kontra couldn’t help reacting to the beating he witnessed of a person filming with a phone near the events. The reporter said, “People were beaten for truly doing nothing,” and that if he hadn’t had a professional camera crew, he would have been beaten as well. Shocking many people, he added that “While many take to the streets, we must chant the chant that unites us all: ‘cops, pigs, murderers.’”
Dozens were arrested across the country on ridiculous allegations by the state. A deliveryman delivering food near the assault by police was beaten and arrested; while he was identifying himself, police asked him why he was running. All arrestees have been released and are currently awaiting trial.
At the same time as the demonstration in Athens, people carried out clandestine actions outside of Exarchia in thirteen other Athenian neighborhoods. Communiqués claim that people attacked approximately thirty state and capitalist targets in solidarity with the spirit of the day and against new state measures.
As of now, the deadline for squats to seek legalization has passed. All remaining squatted social centers and residences are in open war with the government. Yet our solidarity and the spirit of the anarchist movement here is rooted too deeply to be vulnerable to any material attack they could make on anarchist infrastructure.
Numerous counterattacks have taken place since the last update. People have targeted expensive cars specifically in affluent neighborhoods to remind those benefiting from the displacement of anarchists and immigrants that they are not safe. The movement is getting hit hard, but we are not out of action. On the contrary, many more people have passionately woken up.
The Eviction of Kouvelos Squat
On December 17, 2019, police evicted the Villa Kouvelos squat in Marousi, a northern district of Athens, in the early morning hours.
The empty and dilapidated building was occupied by anarchists in April 2010 and rapidly renovated it into a regionally-known social center that enriched the district with concerts, lectures, discussions, and political events. The neighborhood of Marousi is known more as a bland middle-class district of Athens. Kouvelos was important to many youth as a safe place to explore revolutionary ideas.
Being close to one of the offices of Golden Dawn, the squat was a frequent target of fascist attacks. However, many locals in the surrounding neighborhood appreciated Kouvelos as a friendly and safe space offering an alternative to Marousi’s bland normalcy. As of now, there remains no fabricated reason for the eviction—there are no plans to use the building or sell the land. The eviction was most likely prioritized because state officials perceived it to be an easy operation on account of its location.
When the cops began the evacuation, at 7:30 am, many local residents gathered outside to voice their opposition to the operation and solidarity for the occupation. Later that day, a demonstration of 300+ people took place in Marousi, smashing many banks and spraying graffiti for Kouvelos around the neighborhood.
The weekend after the evacuation, a spontaneous demonstration of 300+ anarchists converged in Marousi to re-enter Kouvelos. They asserted the resilience of our movements, hung a banner, and reclaimed the squat for a period of time, during which they surveyed the damage done by the EKAM (Greek SWAT police), documented the investigations police were carrying out (such as marked DNA samples), and noted what will be needed in order to fully re-occupy the squat in the near future.
Exiting the squat, the demonstration took the streets, attacking some local corporate franchises and the metro station of Marousi, where the glass turnstiles were smashed. While the participants had not intended to battle the police, riot police attacked the march, and demonstrators defended themselves against asphyxiating tear gas and riot police assaults. During the demonstration, some people identified an undercover police officer taking pictures and video of the demonstrators. A demonstrator confronted him and punched him.
In response, corporate media outlets flexed their muscles of deception. Due to the perceived old age of the undercover officer, media claimed that anarchists attacked an old man wearing a hearing aid without reason. Quickly, it became clear that the hearing aid was actually a device to communicate with other officers and the supposedly old man was an active-duty police officer. However, the press turned this lie into prime time news, solely focusing on the footage, playing the attack on the cop over and over again and purposefully neglecting to remind viewers of the original point of the demonstration.
Still, an action like this occurring with so much strength in a neighborhood such as Marousi underscores the resilience of our movements. Those resisting on behalf of Kouvelos emphasize that the squat will be re-occupied, stating that their revolutionary desires will outweigh any campaign of repression.
No Gentrification for Christmas
Leading up to Christmas, the state has also targeted Exarchia Square with surreal efforts to “normalize” the area. Police raided and surrounded the square to hose down the sidewalk and install a Christmas tree. The tree was burned twice the first day. The police did the same thing the next day; the tree was burned again. These highly symbolic efforts to “clean up” the area indicate the way the state hopes to use Exarchia to send a message to its base. On top of this, the Mayor of Athens is discussing organizing state events in the square. If this happens, the festivities will only take place surrounded by the police who protect them; the real point is to provoke the defenders of Exarchia and to send a message to those who never go there that the state has recaptured it.
The burning of the Christmas tree recalls the famous event during the 2008 insurrection when demonstrators burned the iconic Christmas tree in front of the Greek parliament to convey a willingness to continue fighting even as many Greeks returned to their villages for holiday festivities.
Advancing Technology in Repression
The Greek state is also continuing efforts to modernize its surveillance methods. While they have always been open about their ability to monitor classic phone and SMS conversations, they are looking to move forward in the digital world, openly mentioning their efforts to get consulting in the UK for the purposes of investigating Viber and Whatsapp users. This effort to collaborate with foreign tech-spy agencies follows the formal incorporation of drone technology into Greek policing.
Further Attacks on Refugees
While all this plays out, New Democracy is hurrying to meet its promise to relocate 20,000 refugees to mainland Greece. They aim to move refugees off islands such as Lesvos and further from the public eye. Over 50,000 refugees remain in camps on various Aegean islands across the water from Turkey, in conditions so appalling that NGOs and human rights groups have publicly called out the state for them. Local fascists frequently attack these camps. The numbers in these camps are slowly increasing again as more immigrants arrive in Greece. However, the government passed new laws to limit and deter asylum requests in November; they aim to define refugees as migrants in order to weaken the standards of protection that are due to them. Additional new measures to slow the already drawn-out asylum procedure have gone into effect in order to deter refugees from following proper procedure as a way to lower the acceptance rates of asylum requests.
Alongside all these measures, new cuts will go into effect in 2020 that will leave refugees without the support programs that have helped them to survive; they will be expected to fend for themselves during their application processing. The existing support programs were never enough to begin with; in many cases, a refugee awaiting asylum was expected to survive on 150 euros a month, while being unable to seek legal employment. Now they will face even worse challenges.
All these measures are intended to deter refugees and immigrants from coming to Greece and to torture those who already live here, having made the daring journey across the Aegean Sea. If people are pushed to work illegally, or forced to steal to eat, or if they travel abroad hoping for better opportunities, all of these are grounds that can be used to reject their applications and deport them.
This month, heinous overcrowding and institutional degradation set off an inspiring uprising on Samos Island, a short distance from Turkey. According to No Borders, a refugee camp on this island originally designed for 650 people is housing 8000. That means roughly one toilet per 300 people and one shower per 500 people. Camps like this are spread across other islands near Turkey. This month, residents of the camp came together to spark an uprising against the police. Facing tear gas and brutality by local riot forces, they demonstrated their humanity despite a terrible situation and harsh winter. This follows another uprising in October, when a massive fire necessitated the eviction of the over-crowded camp. Both uprisings have resulted in the shutting down of schools and other major institutions on the island. Riots and resistance in these camps are ongoing; they account for some of the reasons the new government prefers to move them out of sight rather than being forced to meet the demands of the migrants.
Here two videos about the situation in refugee camp on Samos:
Entering the holiday season, we wish to bring to mind the hunger strike of political prisoner Kostas Sakkas, a Greek anarchist charged with belonging to a terrorist group and with aggravated possession of weapons after his arrest at a warehouse. He is accused of participating in the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, though both he and the CCF deny this. Throughout his imprisonment, he has conducted frequent hunger strikes. His hunger strikes became so frequent and so effective under the prior administration that they considered releasing him under the same bill that led to the release of anarchist prisoner Nikos Romanos. New Democracy has dismissed his struggle, suggesting that “the law should never apply to anarchist terrorists” while using that same law to release the murderer of Alexis Grigoropoulos as soon as they took power.
Many of Sakkas’s hunger strikes have been aimed at winning the option to work or gain access to education. His most recent hunger strike was intended to compel the government to transfer him from the Nigrita prison in northern Greece to Korydallos prison in Athens in order that he could be closer to his family. After going into a hypoglycemic shock and facing other life-threatening health issues, he won his demand and will be transferred to Korydallos prison. His courage should be an inspiration to us all.
May the names of fallen comrades, such as Alexis Grigoropoulos, and those struggling behind bars, such as Kostas Sakkas, resound around the world during this cold time of the year. May our struggles demonstrate that our passion for freedom is stronger than any prison, inspiring others to connect their struggles with ours.
The following is an online statement of 45 Matrouzou St. regarding the escape and defense, entitled “From the Koukaki Occupation Community.”This is a statement by comrades who defended the Matrouzou 45 building and escaped the MAT, OPKE, and EKAM police forces of repression. While facing a police raid, we were informed to the fate of the other houses in our squatted community.
We immediately fortified the house and entered conflict with the forces of repression. Furniture, electrical appliances, boilers, paint, fire extinguishers, everything and anything in the house fell upon their heads. They responded by shooting and injuring us with plastic bullets as well as with stun grenades thrown directly into our home. We shouted “Here we live, here is our home, here we will die!”—”Fuck your development and Airbnb.”
When they finally did get in, completely chaotic factors and a survival instinct offered an escape path. The memories that push us forward were awakened as inspiration by the forces of repression. These mercenaries could not accept that those who resisted them had escaped. We assume they were sad they couldn’t catch us to beat and torture us. In response to this embarrassment, they turned to accuse random neighbors of arranging our escape. Like true mercenaries, the cops targeted the first house they found in front of them. They carried out an armed invasion, beating and capturing an entire family, concluding by arresting the father and both sons.
The state that claims to protect the institutionalized Greek family and the sanctity of private property lost their focused target. Not having captured those resisting, they took to beating people at random.
We send our respect to the woman and her family who refused to let the cops enter their home illegally, paying the price for their choices.
We send infinite love to our companions and to every person who supported us.
Solidarity with those arrested in the occupation of our community.
We may have lost all our belongings, we remain without clothes and shelter, they may have temporarily erased from the map three houses and three years of continuous and painstaking work for social solidarity and resistance; but we know they are afraid, our momentum and power is uncontrollable.
Solidarity with the occupation of the Villa Kouvelos and all squats.
Let the evictions of squatters become the reason for the escalation of the struggle on every social front. ↩
An article from our comrades from Bulletinmag in Greece:
No holidays in Petrou Ralli: A LETTER FROM DETAINED WOMEN
On December 19, 2019, was our last visit to Petrou Ralli Detention Center. Once more the number of detainees had increased and reached no50 50 women from 15 different countries. Indonesia, Ethiopia, Albania, Afghanistan, Georgia, Iran, Italy, Cameroon, China, Tibet, Belarus, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, and Turkey. In our effort to talk with them, some police officers were in such close proximity that prevented women to express themselves freely about situations they experience. The behavior of some officers was also provoking towards us.
A characteristic testimony: “When we came here they forbade us to wear our headscarves and told us:” Out of here you can be Muslim, here NO! Here you are Christians… ”
Another testimony: “A police officer invaded into the shower room, while a prisoner was bathing, and made her pull the towel…” At the time, the health of several of them was very bad. Despite our own pressure for two women to be transferred to a hospital as emergency cases, nothing really changed. Τhese women are still very sick. Also, there are no doctors during weekends and during the night time, at Petrou Ralli. On Christmas day we were informed by relatives of prisoners for possible initiation of a few women on hunger strike. The day after our visit they started writing their experiences in the following denunciation letter, where they describe them with their own voices. Experiences that we can simply only imagine. Women from six different countries asked their will for their letter to be publicized. When you have lost everything you do not fear anything.
Their voices should be heard in the whole world. You can discuss it in your assemblies. The organizations and institutions that talk about human rights should stop fooling us and playing with the plight of migrants and refugees, who are led to extermination.
We stand by and admire these women for their bravery and solidarity they show to each other…
No person illegal, no person invisible
Our Rebel sisters are right for the abolition of detention centers and opening of Borders
for stopping illegal racist & misogynist behaviors
for smashing verbal, physical and mental torture
The passion for freedom is stronger than all kinds of prisons
In streets, in squares and prison cells, migrant women you are not alone
The House of Women, for the Empowerment & Emancipation
That so-called-immigration office is such a hideous and villainous place that makes anyone forget his/her humanity. Nothing is legal here. Lies, molestation, sexual abuse, diseases, neglection, squalidity, ill-treatment, beating, insult…You literally face with all of these.
Above all, how can they dare? If Europe doesn’t know, how come they dare? Maybe it is a conspiracy! Here we are locked into wards 3-4 times a day which are filthy and full of lice. Only after hitting the iron fences over and over, a policewoman asks «what», by shouting and insulting. They treat us as if we are animals. (not even animals should be treated like this). They took our mobile phones on the first day and didn’t give it back to prevent us to take pictures or videos. Even the lawyers can’t come inside. When the volunteers of organization companies come we are locked. Volunteers are told a lot of lies. For example, they are told we stay here 2 weeks maximum. Most of us are here for 1,5 months. There are people here who stay for 4 months without being told anything.
We are being taken to airing twice a day like herds. When the time is off, they shout ‘Inside’, and lock us inside the wards. When people need to go to the toilets, they have to shout, punch, kick the doors. Sometimes, only sometimes, a policewoman comes after 15-20 minutes. Other times no one comes. Even if one of us dies at those times, no one cares.
Ceylan Pinar Kanli, Turkish. Everybody is sick. Everybody has wounds because of the filth. Some of us even have cysts. For example, I have cysts all over my body. After 5 days, they took me to the doctor inside the immigration house. He said “you should go to the hospital immediately. You need a blood analysis. It is urgent.” Despite that, they make me wait. It has been 5 days.
We do the cleaning ourselves. We have neither shampoo nor soap. Nothing… The ones who have visitors are lucky, what about the others? They ask the ones with visitors to buy things for their needs if they have money. Our friends without money, they either ask to share or they smell.
There is no word to describe the toilets. No detergents, no soaps, nothing! The toilets changed their color because of the dirt and filth. The ones with wet handkerchiefs wrap their noses and face to be able to enter the toilets. The ones without handkerchiefs mostly vomit.
And the policemen! Under the pretext of distributing food, they touch and harass women. This is a horrible place.
The ward on the right belongs to men. The inhuman beating by the police (the victim was a man called MECIT) shouldn’t be ignored. 4 cops kicked him to death barbarously. I can’t forget his ashamed looks because he was beaten in front of all of us.
The food they give both cold and smells! Tomatoes and oranges are rotten. Even to drink water we have a timetable. Water drinking time… We have to drink that disgusting, smelling water. When I said ‘I can’t drink this water. May I buy from outside?’ the policemen laughed a lot and said ‘You have to’. There are a lot of things to say about that place… The sentences on the walls, relentless tears, and continuous supplications.
All are here in that hell.
Alla from Syria, whose headscarf is pulled from her head
Aisha from Somalia, who can’t walk because of the cysts, who is taken to hospital in the middle of the night and when the inflammation gets a bit better, taken back in prison.
And us, who are insulted every day, 1 Iranian, 3 Albanian girls who were abused.
That place is not an immigration office, it is a torture house. I believe I will be able to go out but it’s not only me. After me, there are lots of women who haven’t got any money, a lawyer. They have no one. There are children hereunder 18 and it is not legal.
Please help us. The women who were on indefinite hunger strike ate for the first time after 3 days. No one cares.
Esraa Kreash (Syria), age 22. Esraa is on medication for her psychological condition under the supervision of a doctor twice a day. However, the police gave her only once at night. For a day, they didn’t give her any. Then, Esra didn’t take the pills at night and the next day she took two of the pills. Because she took two pills in a day (she took one in a day for 20 days before), she slept. When she woke up, she went out airing. The police said that the time was off. She had to go inside, but she knew neither English nor Greek. So she didn’t understand.
After that, the police pulled her arms hard and pushed her. Esra attacked the police’s hair. 4 police came from inside. 2 policemen handcuffed her, 2 policewomen hit her arms. And in front of all of us, they dragged her on the floor and locked her in a cell. They left her handcuffed in the cell without food until night. She cried a lot, knocked the door continuously but they didn’t open it until the night shift. She only knows to say ‘sorry’ in English. She said it tons of times, over and over. Only after that, they opened the door. Her roommates asked food for Esra, but they didn’t give any.
She says ‘I haven’t used psychological drugs before. When I came to this prison, the doctor here gave them to me. She is here for 25 days. She has no visitor, neither money nor a lawyer. She retained a lawyer but because she doesn’t have money, the lawyer doesn’t come. She signed for asylum in Leros 3 months ago. Then she went to Lefkada and she was caught there while going to Italy on the ship and was taken to Allodapon. For 3 months, she has been waiting for the interview. 25.12.2019
Meryen Zare, from Iran who was swindled by her lawyer, hasn’t got any money and a lawyer. Neither translator nor visitor. She asked someone who knows English to write a letter to the police saying ‘Please send a translator or I will kill myself.’ Meryem has been waiting for the answer for 3 days. She is all alone, doesn’t know what to do, without a translator. She has gone on an indefinite hunger strike for 3 days. Today we made her eat.
Glory, from Nigeria, has been waiting to be free although she has been here for 2 months and finished 2 interviews. She is still an indefinite hunger striker! 26.12.2019″
Reading the denouncing letter of these women, in comparison with Article 21, on the rights of detainees, from the Decision: “Establishment, operation, and regulation of the aliens’ pre-removal centers(APC)”, one can easily, and leniently speaking, realize the tragic irony:
Regulation of Pre-removal Centers
The foreign detainees in the detention centers have the right:
a. To medical treatment and to psychosocial diagnosis and support,
b. To unhindered religious practice, as long as the safety rules of the detention center are not violated
c. Not to be subjects of discrimination (…)
g. To access to a lawyer and in case of inability, providing legal support (…)
n. To be informed via newspapers, magazines, and books with which they are supplied during their visiting hours and to have access to the library (…)
L. To receive from the guards of the detention center the necessary things for their personal hygiene and tidiness,
m. To receive appropriate nutrition with the concern of A.P.C., 3 times a day and
n. To be informed via newspapers, magazines, and books with which they are supplied during their visiting hours and to have access to the library
(there is no and has never been a library at Petrou Ralli)
18.12.2019: Nach der gestrigen Räumung der Villa Kouvelos in Marousi erfolgten heute morgen 3 weitere Räumungen in Koukaki, einem Stadtteil östlich der Akropolis. Die Bewohner hatten sich verbarrikadiert und die Cops mussten sich gewaltsam Zugang über die Nachbargebäude verschaffen. Dabei überrumpelten sie Nachbarn und mißhandelten jene, die nicht kooperieren wollten. Ein Anwohner wurde mit dem Kopf auf den Steinboden geworfen, andere Bewohner mussten halbnackt und gefesselt im Hinterhof vor vermummten Spezialeinheiten knien, es gab 10 Festnahmen.
Zeitgleich wurde auf dem zentralen Platz von Exarchia von der rechten Regierung ein Weihnachtsbaum aufgestellt und feierlich geschmückt. All das scheint von langer Hand geplant, denn schon gestern berichteten die informierten Mainstreammedien über bevorstehende “festliche Räumungen”. An Zynismus ist das kaum zu überbieten und jeder der die griechichen Verhältnisse kennt, weiß mit welcher Freude die Planer der “Neuen Demokratie” ihre Aktionen vorbereiten.
Die Bilder die heute entstanden, erinnern an Militärdiktaturen, werden aber in den sozialen Medien von griechischen Nazis zusammen mit Konservativen und anderen Bürgern der Mitte gleichsam als legitime Durchsetzung von “Recht und Ordnung” gefeiert. Ihre “Argumente” berufen sich meist auf den Schutz von Privateigentum, ignorierend dass es sich bei den Räumungen um staatliche Gebäude handelt, die zudem seit Jahren leer standen und ungenutzt waren. Aber egal, denn selbst wenn dem nicht so wäre, würden sie private Spekulations- und Profitinteressen dem Recht auf ein Dach über dem Kopf vorziehen. Man könnte endlose Texte schreiben und versuchen, diesen Leuten den Sinn und Zweck von Besetzungen zu erklären, aber es ist wie überall auf der Welt: Nazis und Rassisten sind Argumentationsresistent und sie interessieren sich nicht für das bessere Leben und die Utopie. Ihre Ziele sind andere als die unseren und wir befinden uns längst mit ihnen im Krieg.
The following post is originally published on September 25, 2019 byInfomobile: information with, for and about refugees in Greece, published here: http://infomobile.w2eu.net/2019/09/25/refugee-squats-in-centre-of-athens-under-attack-by-new-government-while-thousands-housed-in-state-run-camps-are-dumped-in-tents-and-containers-under-inhuman-conditions/
In a wave of sweep-operations against refugees and migrants the new right-wing government of Nea Dimokratia (of July 7th) within the last month has evicted five refugee squats and announced more will follow. Meanwhile, nothing is done to improve reception conditions in the official camps – in contrary things get worse. The state literally denies dignified housing and integration to thousands of refugees and their kids. New camps built; old camps re-opened or expanded; more tents set up… this is how the state deals with protection seekers. Not to mention, the undocumented who are threatened by arrest, detention and deportation.
“They are trying to bury us but they forget that we are seeds, that we are more than just a number, more than an occupied building, we are a community.”
5th schoolOn 23 September, 143 refugees and migrants were evicted from 5th school in Exarchia. During the sweep operation Photoreporter Alexandros Stamatiou got arrested for “breach of domestic peace” during his professional news coverage, as the Greek Union of Photoreporters denounced, “a fact that does not remind anymore of a democracy”. The raid in the building housing many families with kids was based on a complaint filed in 2016 by neo-Nazi and former parliamentarian I. Kassidiaris from Golden Dawn, as EFSYN newspaper uncovered.
“It was this that triggered the prosecutor’s intervention and the recent sweep operation during which nothing was found. As it turns out, the “law and order” doctrine even takes advantage of the neo-Nazis’ racist actions.”
The Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (B-ELME) denounced the violent sweep and the arrest of the photoreporter. As they state, many of the 56 kids residing in the 5th school squat had been visiting public schools in the neighbourhood of Exarchia and have now been once again uprooted and out of the educational system since their transfer to distant refugee camps. According to the Federation, the 5th school was closed and left empty for some years by earlier governments, until being turned into a refugee housing space, after the fusion with another school – a procedure which in the year 2013 led to the closure of three schools alone in this area.
“The State must provide decent living conditions within the urban centres for refugees and migrants, the vast majority of whom are victims of imperialist wars, with equal access to health and education. Children – without any exception – have the right to education in public schools. We are opposed to the long-term entrapment of thousands of people who were forced to get uprooted from their countries, through the flagrant EU Turkey “Deal”. We are opposed to the totally unacceptable living conditions in the hot spots on the islands and in the camps in mainland Greece. The “law and order” that the new government is trying to impose on human souls, trampling on labor and trade union rights, is targeting universal human values and achievements.”
Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (B-ELME)
Also the parents association of 35th and 36th primary schools publicly demanded their kid’s school mates back.
“In recent days, buildings in downtown Athens have been evacuated where refugees had found shelter, waiting for what law, what government, what bureaucracy will proceed their asylum procedures. Their children were enrolled in the schools of downtown Athens, trying to integrate, learn the language, make their lives a normal one even under these conditions. But while it is the state that should ensure that all children are enrolled and attending school, while having ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is the state that most violently deprives them of their rights, it pushes them to the margins, it does not respect their fundamental rights, it does not respect their existence. Because the school year has begun and children are removed from their schools without any notice, without even registering them and transferring them to other schools.
We want our children’s classmates back. Because it is the obligation of all of us to finally ensure a safe environment for them. Thanks to them many of the city center’s schools were actually not closed. Because political games cannot be played on the backs of children and oppressed people!”
Parents Association of 35th and 36th primary schools
On 19 September already 269 people (46 families) had been evicted from the two refugee squats Jasmin School (also known as 2ndschool) and Acharnon22. These raids followed earlier evictions of Spirou Trikoupi 15 and 17 on 26 August where in total another 143 people had been residing. Following the raids, the former “homes” got sealed up with barbed wire; windows and doors locked with bricks and cement and people taken away from their neighbourhoods.
Mostly families with kids but also many homeless single men fleeing from war and conflict areas to Europe to find safety, have been attacked during these raids and were taken away their homes and communities. Protection seekers already traumatised found themselves in early morning hours waking up by the shouting and threats of armed special forces, the massive police presence invading their temporary “homes” supposingly in order to “combat drug trade and lawlessness” – as government and mainstream media propaganda frame it. Refugees and migrants were transferred first to Petrou Ralli Aliens Police Directorate for hours of control. The ones with papers from Trikoupi Squats were temporarily transferred to an empty building, to Schisto camp and then spread to different camps. In Schisto they stayed outside in small tents for days. In Eleonas eight persons shared one room in a container “piled up like animals in a farm”. Many rejected a transfer to distant camps such as Katsikas in the Northern Greece or Koutsochero near Larissa (also to Eleonas, Skaramangas, Thiva and Lavrio) and are homeless again today. The ones from Jasmin school and Acharnon22 were brought to the newly established state-run tent camp in Corinth from where they will be reportedly divided likewise the others to other camps all over mainland Greece.
People transferred to Corinth reported of miserable conditions as they were placed on a dusty field with 16 rub halls (big tents). Some already returned back to Athens, as they couldn’t follow their daily lives from such distance, with their kids being subscribed in downtown schools, medical cases being followed by doctors in the capital, people having found jobs there and legal cases being proceeded in Athens asylum service and the diverse embassies located in the city. Also residents of 5thschool residents were brought to Corinth. The undocumented from all squats were arrested and brought to the pre-removal detention centre Amygdaleza. (10 from Trikoupi Squats, 14 from Yasmin and Acharnon 22 while two families and 19 persons from 5th school remained in Petrou Ralli for their papers – information by 24. September) Reportedly, some of the detainees in Amygdaleza started a hunger strike.
„Most of us had to move to places around Thessaloniki, over 400 km from here. We don’t want to do that. They are playing with us. They have evicted us from our house and they have destroyed it, but they will not also take away the life we have managed to create here in Athens. Our children are going to the school in Exarcheia and we refuse to make them leave it and have to adapt to a new place once again. We want to stay here. We answered them that we will not go anywhere against our will. We keep strong.“
“We are scared about our lives and our freedom and some of us have chosen to stay on the streets to avoid being chased and arrested one more time. They have tried to divide and separate us, but we continue to struggle together. They destroyed our home, but the family that we have created in Trikoupi’s community remains united. Against their repression, solidarity is our weapon!“
The governments attacks against refugee squats have to be understood in the broader frame of a (re-)introduced anti-migratory policy, increasing police repression, institutionalised racism and right wing populism which is used against any from of solidarity.
With more than 29.000 refugees and migrants trapped in the Aegean Islands, of which 12.000 alone try to survive currently in the hell of hotspot Moria / Lesvos and a 5-year-old boy just lost his life there while playing in a carton box (24. September)…
With 5.000 who could actually officially leave the islands but have nowhere to go…
With more than 88.000 refugees and migrants currently stuck in Greece most of which are dumped in overcrowded camps far from local society and under squalid conditions…
The focus of the state is to impose “law and order” in a hypocritical fight against “crime and lawlessness” while actually sacrificing what has been hardly achieved: peoples’ freedom, dignity and respect.
We denounce the attacks on refugee squats in Exarchia and elsewhere! No Pasaran!Solidarity will win!
Employ teachers, not police officers!
Close the camps! Open homes!
For freedom of movement of all and the right to stay!
Artikel zuerst veröffentlicht auf enough is enough 14 am 27. August 2017:
Greek territory: #Exarcheia under police occupation!
Athens, August 26. Alert! What we have been announcing to you for a month and a half has just begun this morning (yesterday morning, Enough 14), just before dawn. Athens’ famous rebel and supportive neighbourhood is completely surrounded by huge police forces: many riot police buses (MAT), anti-terrorist untis (OPKE), police on motorbikes (DIAS), members of the secret police (asfalitès), as well as a helicopter and several drones.
Originally published by BlogYY. Written by Yannis Youlountas. Translated by Squat Net.
A unique place in Europe for its high concentration of squats and other self-managed spaces, but also for its resistance against repression and its solidarity with precarious and migrants, Exarcheia has been in the sight of the right-wing government since its election on 7 July. The new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had made it a personal affair, especially since he had been mocked in early August for failing to achieve his goal of “cleaning Exarcheia in a month” as he had announced with great fanfare.
This morning, 4 squats were evicted: Spirou Trikoupi 17, Transito, Rosa de Foc and Gare. The offensive currently concerns the north-western part of the district, with the notable exception of the Notara 26 squat, which is considered better guarded and very symbolically important for the district as the first historical squat of the “refugee crisis” in downtown Athens.
There are currently about 100 arrests, including than brutal attacks on people trying to film. Only the mass media in the service of power are allowed to cover the event.
In total, there are 23 squats in Exarcheia plus 26 others around the district, for a total of 49 concentrated in a relatively small area. 49 squats to which other types of self-managed sites must be added, including some rented (Espace Social Libre Nosotros, free shop Skoros, etc.) as well as dozens of private homes groups of activists, often near the terraces to allow access above the streets.
On the squats that are precisely inside Exarcheia, 12 are accommodation squats for refugees and migrants and the 11 others are squats of anarchist and anti-authoritarian collectives (although most refugee squats are also obviously very political, starting with Notara 26 and Spirou Trikoupi 17 with direct assemblies and many links with the rest of the movement).
In the squats of Spirou Trikoupi 17 and Transito (on which servants of power are now bricking up windows), more than fifteen children have been torn from a peaceful and happy existence in order to suddenly being sent to camps. These sinister camps are unhealthy and overcrowded, migrants are malnourished and suffer from temperature variations, humiliation, and sometimes torture, and Mitsotakis also demands that they all be well closed and, in the future, completely cut off from the rest of the territory.
The face of Europe is constantly hardening, the same process is happening in other continents. This evolution increasing authoritarian capitalism leads us to question what the coming times will bring: the offensive against the pockets of utopias coupled with the confinement of the scapegoats reminds us of the dark hours of History.
The whole world is becoming fascist and Greece is once again one of them, one of the laboratories.
But nothing is over. September is coming soon. Seasonal jobs are about to end. The social movement gathers and organizes itself again. Places like Notara 26 and K*Vox are under high surveillance. Answers are being prepared, as well as several major events mobilizers. Autumn will be hot in Athens.
Yannis Youlountas, August 26, 2019
Today, Tuesday August 27, there wull be several protests and solidarity actions:
Today! At 11am a call to support the GARE arrestees
‘FOR THE RIGHT TO A SAFE HOME’: Four refugee squats evicted in Athens
Within just one week Greek police forces in April 2019 have evicted four refugee squats in Athens all located in Exarchia area leaving around 200-300 refugees homeless. While authorities are politically framing the operation as ‘a step forward in an anti-drug campaign’ in the area, their efforts have hit the ones in need of protection instead and criminalize the refuee squats. Refugee families, many with kids, are left ever since on the streets. They are now not only again unprotected and with empty hands but also (re–)traumatized. Around 60 refugees are protesting since two days at Syndaghma Square.
On 18 April 2019 two refugee squats in Exarchia (Athens) got raided in the early morning hours around 5am. People residing respectively in Clandestina and Cyclopi squats got evicted with a massive police presence. In total 68 refugees (among them 25 kids) were arrested and after more than 4 hours released to the streets of Athens. Among the homeless are refugees from Afghanistan, Iran and Eritrea amongst others. There are many families, single mothers and small children. A pregnant lady had to be transferred to the hospital after the terror of the eviction. She is in danger to suffer a miscarriage. Sick refugees lost track of their medicines, prescriptions and attestations.
Everything I had is in that locked building now: My tax number, by social insurance documents, medical papers… I am at zero again. They didn’t let us take anything.
In the early afternoon of the same day mothers, fathers and children from different countries started together a protest in Syndaghma Square in the centre of Athens demanding dignified housing and safety from the Greek state. Despite the strong cold, they remained over night in a dozen tents set up in opposite side to the Greek parliament. The only ‘offer’ by the police until now was to find ‘shelter’ in the pre-removal detention centre in Amygdaleza, which refugees denied to accept.
I suffer from psychological problems. My doctor instructed me to not stress myself. Yesterday in the morning we woke up by the sound of shouting and suddenly a lot of police entered the place we were sleeping in. Some of us got pushed. I had two panic attacks the last two days. Half of my body got paralysed from the fear. I am still under shock. Where should we go now?
I was sleeping with my children, when I suddenly woke up with guns being held in front of my eyes. There was police everywhere. I tried to collect our most important belongings. The police was shouting: ‘Fast, fast!’ Two of my kids have heart problems. One of them has Asthma. … It is six months I am trying to call the asylum service from Skype without success. Without the asylum seeker card, I can not apply for housing.
Only a few days earlier, on 11 April 2019 Azadi squat and neighboring Babylon had also been raided by the police. Around 200 cops were reported on site that day. Refugees stated, that the police forces evaded the place suddenly at dawn. Approx. 90 persons got arrested and transferred to Amygdaleza pre-removal detention centre. The buildings were locked while their personal belongings were thrown on the street.
On 19 April the evicted families are remaining in Syndaghma square. They prepare to sleep one more night in the cold lacking any alternative. Authorities still have not found any solution for their accommodation. The protesting refugee stated, there were 20 kids among them and they would stay until there was a real solution found for them all.
We just demand a safe place for us and our kids!
Meanwhile, more than 70,000 refugees are estimated to live in Greece currently. Approx. 23,000 are sheltered in flats by UNHCRs’ ESTIA program (March 2019), another 28,000 are being provisory placed under deplorable conditions in temporary accommodation sites in mainland Greece (15,000) or the six infamous ‘hotspots’ on the Aegean Islands and in Fylakio (in Evros region) (13,000) and 6,000 stay in short-term housing provided by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in 54 hotels all over Greece.
At the same time, an unknown number of protection seekers remains without an official shelter sleeping rough in public spaces or staying unofficially in the states’ refugee camps. They remain without access to the monthly allowances provided for by the Cash-Card system of ESTIA housing scheme or the Social Solidarity Fund (KEA), which people with refugee status can apply for along with Greek citizens. Without a roof over their head, without money to buy food or medicines, they would be exposed to life-threatening conditions, if not their self-organisation in around 12 refugee squats in Athens and other solidarity spaces would create the ‘welcoming and protective spaces’ that the state fails to secure.
Two days ago we experienced the second act of operation “target refugees to harvest votes”. Heavily armed squadrons of MAT and EKAM riot police units invaded two refugee squats in the neighborhood of Exarchia. As with the previous police operations, no links were found between the refugee squats and the local mafias. In addition, no refugee was arrested for any criminal act. Drugs displayed by the police were found in another irrelevant apartment.
But the government’s goal was achieved. That is to say, a large quantity of “law and order” style TV show material was produced. Refugees were once again targeted as criminals. SYRIZA sent out the message that there is no need to vote for New Democracy since they too can act out the role of a police state.
The fact that some dozens of refugees have nowhere to sleep is a minor detail which politicians and the media couldn’t show any less interest for.
The police operation that took place 2 days ago in Exarchia, against the two refugee squats was not directed against the mafia in the neighbourhood. Despite the propaganda, they did not find anything in the squats to link them with mafia. The goal of the government and the police was a show of power. Refugees have been turned into scapegoats for pre-election purposes. Refugee targeting does not harm mafia, but it strengthens the racist stereotype of identifying “foreigners/refugees” with criminal activity and of course, opens the way to fascist violence.
We remind them that the squats are the voices against the failed policies of the state on “migration management”. The housing problem is more acute than ever, for both refugees and locals. Instead of finding solutions for the housing problems, government and the oppositions are turning against those who have no shelter and hope. The recipe is classic: Instead of limiting poverty, targeting and criminalising poverty.
Do not let them impose the policy of fear and hatred.
Refugees Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza
This morning, 2 migrant squats in Exarchia, Athens were evicted violently by 200 cops. They broke in the building around 5 am in the morning. After the eviction, they closed the doors with metal constructions.
The squats Babylon and Azadi are housing, shelter- and social projects
run by a community of international people, among them many migrant
In rage and solidarity, we stand with the people, who lost their home
this morning. The eviction is especially cruel, facing that end of
march, the Greek authorities proclaimed that they will kick out migrants
out of the official accomondations, who stayed there more than 6 months.
Those people have few other options but living on the streets, while
lots of buildings in the cities are empty and abandonned due to the
economical crisis in Greece.
Squatting those builings offers people shelter, giving them the option
of selforganizing their lives while at the same time fighting against
the vacancy rates in the cities.
Inside the fascist core of the greek state: A conversation with the 8 of Petrou Ralli
Following is a series of testimonies from several different voices with
common experiences. It is the result of conversations between eight
ex-detained migrants from Algeria – known from the case of the “8 of
Petrou Ralli” – with female comrades from the Community of Kukaki’s
Squats. The purpose of the text is to give visibility to the reality
that the migrants imprisoned in the centres for administrative detention
and camps face every day. Those who delivered these testimonies, do no
want to serve the spectacle through which many westerners, in greece and
elsewhere, consume the migrant’s situation. It is not written from the
position of a journalist or an academic researcher. On the contrary, we
fought to take these people out of the prison, we live together, in a
community struggling against the same threat. It is the outcome of their
political will and trust, products of a long term communication that was
created by the Coordination of Collectives and Individuals Against the
Detention Centres (SSAEKΚ) since the moment they were in greek prisons
until today that are hosted in the structures of the movement. Political
will to share their experiences and uncover fascism for the next. Trust
in the ability of the movement to break the system that invisiblises
them. These testimonies enable us to perceive better the structures we
fight against, fascist structures of confinement that operate as
businesses. In order to understand what it means to encage people, all
the horror had to be laid bare. The horror of the greek, white supremacy
and its concrete reality, that humans live in their flesh and through
First-world colonialism enforces migration to populations and sells them
the new european dream. From the moment one takes the decision to escape
a country due to its financial and political actuality finds himself,
herself struggling to pass the borders and avoid the prisons of the
various fortress states, as part of a crowded mass. Imprisonment for
migrants in europe and in greece can take many forms. One of them is the
administrative detention. The free transportation of a person is decided
on the base of hers, his papers. Ifthey are not accepted, they violently
transfer the arrested to the nearest detention centre. The cops through
a horrendous control try to tune the bodies in order to respond to a
torturing frame, a situation that is extended to the irrational time
realm of bureaucracy.But the bodies react to this dystopic reality. They
shout to demand their rights. They act. They set mattresses on fire.
They organise hunger strikes. They reach to suicide. During solidarity
gatherings, they try to communicate their word with their voices and
throw messages in bottles over the fences.
The police is really afraid of the these acts of revolt. They fear an
organised migrants’ resistance. So, they violently suppress them with
any means possible. It is usual to isolate them from the outside world,
blocking any kind of external encouragement to reach them. They want to
prevent their information and their co-organisation.On 2017, eight
detainees in Petrou Ralli, all from Algeria, were requesting to meet the
director of the prison to obtain accurate information about the reasons
of their imprisonment. Their request was met by fierce beating and
severe wounds (broken arms, skull fracture, etc.). They accused them for
revolt and escape attempt and dispersed them in different prisons around
greece. They awaited trial for over a year.
A multiform struggle arose as the needful reaction to the situation.
SSAEKΚ, in which comrades from Squat’s Community of Kukaki participate,
was in a constant, direct communication with the detainees, conducted a
counter-information campaign, organised solidarity gatherings, events in
open spaces and interventions.
In May 2018, even though the court found them guilty, allowed their
release. We offered them housing in the structures of Kukaki’s Squats.
We are a community, liberating our needs from state’s and capitalism’s
exploitation and organising our lives without hierarchy. In our spaces
they were able to stay together, rest and recuperate from the jail time,
stay away from the mafia and thepolice abuse of the peoplein the
streets. They are able to take time and explore all the available
options on how to continue their lives from now on.
As the time passed, we bonded more, building friendship and comradeship.
We lived together for more than three months. In those months, some left
for work or found other places to live, some chose to visit us
periodically. But we extended a family and our abilities to support the
struggle of those who try to reach europe and establish common ground
for actions against imprisonment, state borders, police brutality and
In their words..
We are all from Algeria but each of us have a different story of how we
reached to greece. Four of us came through turkey and arrived in Chios
island, to a very miserable camp managed by certain NGOs. Food was not
provided and we were housed in tents. Fascists attacked us. Around 80
individuals defended the camp against them. When the police entered, two
hours later, they only arrested the Algerians.
We ended up in the detention centre of Korinthos, imprisoned for seven
months. Cops are also fascists. They don’t like Arabs and they treated
us very badly in the prison. One of us was sick and also has asthma but
they never transferred him to the hospital. This is a hardcore jail.
Food is not enough, you have to buy everything and a lot of people get
sick because of the bad hygiene. People there, self-harm as a way to get
out and numerous attempted suicide. We did some demonstrations inside
the prison because the cops weren’t accepting asylum requests. We also
organised mass hunger strikes. We managed to do four strikes of four
days each. The police responded by beating us with their sticks. During
our stay there, we were constantly itching, scratching and having
serious skin conditions. We were asking the cops to bring us to the
hospital every single day but they never cared. One of us managed to
cure himself of the infections by buying his own medicines, only a year
after when he was in Domokos prison. Before Petrou Ralli, the sent us to
other detention centres without any explanation. In Nafplio, in Tripoli…
There, the police had a lot of problems with us and they finally sent us
to “Alodapon” detention centre in Athens. We met with the others that
were already in the cell and together we became “the 8”.
The first that you see when you arrive in Alodapon is the face of the
police. A hard face “welcomes” you, especially if you are Algerian. They
push you until in the entrance of the building. “Mesa, mesa!” (Inside,
inside). They treat you badly from the beginning, they try to provoke,
they always make racist comments: “Go back to your country!”, “Why did
you come here?”, “What are you doing in greece?”. From the first moment,
we started communicating with the other prisoners. We asked questions
like: “Why are you here?”, “How is the situation in here?” and “When are
you getting out?”. But no one knew the answer for the last one.
To make make more clear the time some of the detained spend in, there is
a very characteristic example. When we firstly arrived in P. Ralli, we
met a man. A year after, when we passed again by Alodapon, to get our
release papers, we found the man there. He was detained for 14 months.
The second is the day you are really experiencing thing, the serious
things. The cops were intimidating us because we were trying to figure
out how it works inside. When you ask them the duration of your stay,
you will see that it is common to bring someone out of his cell, to the
yard or to a desk and beat him. Once, someone came back with a fractured
It’s really very dirty inside. They don’t provide with basic and hygiene
supplies. There are no bedsheets, towels, shampoo, soap or razors.
Everyone shouts to understand what the fuck is happening here. We are
literally like animals in cages, screamed at and beaten up. The water
comes from a dirty stock. They don’t give you water bottles so you have
to drink from there. The food is little and disgusting. They don’t give
spoons for everyone so we were eating with our dirty hands. Like this,
infections are spread fast. The bedbugs, the mosquitoes and the
cockroaches can be life-threatening in the big quantities they are. All
the beds are infected with bed bugs and you can’t sit anywhere without
getting bitten. When the police try to flush the insects out with
petrol, they went everywhere and were bitingus. The mattresses are so
infected that it is impossible to sleep normally. You can never really
The Red Cross brought bedsheets but the police doesn’t give the things
brought by the NGOs. They come maybe once per month and the actual
conditions of the cells are hidden from them. Instead, they clean a cell
up and show them only that. The european union is making a lot of money
to keep people in jails like this. Inside everything is about money
also.They make a business out of telephones, alcohol, medicines and
drugs. If you have money the corrupted cops bring everything for you.
You can get bublecan (benzodiazepines) or shisha (the local name for
crystal meth) for a hundred euros. Many people take Subutex which is a
substitute for heroin and even though it is used for treatment, they get
addicted to it. The Georgians use it a lot.
To punish you, they might put you in the cells upstairs with the drug
addicts. They don’t have money for needles so they share the same and
spread diseases. One prisoner died from an overdose. When his inmates
took pictures with their mobiles, the copswent crazy and entered the
cells to find and take all the phones. Someone refused to give it
andthey broke three of his ribs. He was unable to walk for a month and
no doctor was involved. “Freedom” is a business also. If you bribe the
director 5000€, they will release you, directly. He is free to do as he
likes. He will write a fake report, saying that the prisoner had good
behaviour. A guy from Georgia paid this amount and when they caught him
again without papers he tried to negotiate his release for a 1000€ but
the director didn’t accept.
At the top of the hierarchy is the principal. It’s the one you never
see. He comes once per week to sign papers for deportations and all the
administrative things. Then there is the director. He comes more often
and stays in an office with the officer in charge and make jokes.
Sometimes he comes to talk with the prisoners. He is a hypocrite
pretending to comfort us. He doesn’t speak english or doesn’t like to
speak english. Once he asked for a translator from arabic to greek. When
a guy from Algeria proposed to translate, he told: “Why do you translate
for them? Don’t translate for them again! If you refuse to help them,
next time I will bring one bottle of whisky and I will set you free.”
Under him are the cops. They are divided into groups, following time
schedules. There arethree groups of 15 policemen, under the command of
the officer in charge. Petrou Ralli can keep around 450 prisoners and
sometimes only 15 policemen guard. The first group starts from 06.00 to
14.00, the second from 14.00 to 22.00 and the last from 22.00 to 06.00.
The ones who work one day at 06.00, work the next at 22.00.
There are different groups of policemen. Some of them only come to hurt
you. There is another group that pretends to be “good” cops. It’s a
role-playing game, to suppress you. When you try to get their attention,
with a hunger strike for example, if a cop convinces you to stop or
punishes you, he is job is recognised. On the contrary, if they don’t
work well the principalpressures them. If you don’t want to eat they
might come inside your cell and beat you up. Some prisoners refuse to
eat when certain cops have shift because they don’t want the cop to be
rewarded for making them eat. Their job is to never let us protest. To
calm us when we make too much noise or if we protest, to hit us. They
are drunk most of the day.
One of their main targets is to force the detainees to force them to
request deportation. This is a very hard situation for the refugees that
come from countries in war, like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. Somemay
don’t want to leave without their family or because of the unbearable
and dangerous reality in their countries. Although, they are forces to
sign. On top of that, you are unable to know anything about the news and
the circumstances in your country. There is no TV, no access to
newspapers. The cops say that they will randomly deport a bunch of
people back to Turkey. During the solidarity gatherings in front of the
prison, they forbid us from reaching the windows. They will suddenly
serve food to distract us and punish the ones who will try to
communicate with the outside world. Exactly because of the lack of
external communication, people are afraid and the cops know very well
how to play with this general uncertainty. Everything inside is
uncertain. You have to choose what you believe and that’s how they play
you. They joke, they laugh and threat people with deportation. “Don’t
worry, we will deport all of you”. There is another example withthe
director that was mentioned before. Once he came inside and called
everyone to say there is news. “I will help all of you that came by sea.
I will help you to come back to your country and I will give you a 500€.
You will go back by plane with no risk.” When we denied his “help” he
answered that he will send us all back to Turkey and that the day we
will start crying for deportation will come but he will not deport us.
When the day of their deportation comes, people put shit in their hair
or on their body. Like that the cops don’t touch them, don’t hit them,
and sometimes don’t deport them. They wait at the door and the door gets
full of shit too. Every day something like this happens and shit smells
all over the jail.
One of us drank chlorine in order to be brought to the hospital and
avoid deportation. The other time he drank soap. The director of the
jail visited him in the hospital and he ate the buttons of his shirt. He
answered to the doctors that asked him why he acts like this that he
doesn’t want to go back to Algeria. They sent him back to Alodapon with
a letter stating that he needs to get out of this environment. It was
ignored. Instead, they gave him tranquillizers and sleeping pills.
When sick people request to go to the hospital they don’t care. Since
they don’t see blood, they find no reason for hospitalisation. They
bully you like the visit is a walk and you just want to go there to meet
people and talk with them. One day, a guy from Iran tried to slit his
throat and the cops had to send him to the hospital. One day later they
brought him back to Petrou Ralli. He didn’t have clothes any more
because he let them at the hospital, neither had he something to cover
his throat. It was winter and it is really cold there and they don’t
even give clothes to the prisoners.
They keep this kind of stories hidden. They avoid bringing people to the
hospital because their stories will be heard by the psychologist or the
staff of the hospital. If they believe that someone might kill himself
because of the way he istreated, they would request from the director to
let him out of the jail immediately. But they don’t care if you are in
danger. In many prisons in greece, I’ve said them that I’ll kill myself,
and the answer was always: “Okay, go kill yourself”. Most of the
psychiatrists are also fascists. They mess with your psychology. If you
protest they give you sleeping pills to be powerless and not talk. They
mightprescribeyou three medicinesper day. They even put pills in the
food so as to go to sleep immediately after.
One day we asked to see the director. We made some noise. But we only
saw his assistant. We wanted to know more about our cases. Why we are
closed inside this jail and when we will go out. A cop came and told us
to write the names and the nationalities of some of us who have been
inside Petrou Ralli for more than nine months, in a piece of paper. We
waited but a two days after we found the paper with our names in a trash
bin. So we asked again. This time, the cop who came told us that only
the principal can answer our questions and that he will be back on
Monday, at 07:30. Next Monday, we all asked the police to call him to
ask about our files and everything. They said that they we’ll bring him
in a minuteand they went to an office, changed theiruniforms and wore
MAT (anti-riot police)gear. I heard them when they opened the door.
We didn’t think that they might come for that. We had done nothing
wrong. We just wanted to talk to someone in charge. After they opened
the door, they wanted to throw outside the cell the person in front to
beat him. We grabbed him and pulled him back inside. “After that, they
started to hit me and everyone there with a metal stick. They hit my
head and I tried to protect myself. My face was covered in blood and I
couldn’t see anything. I ran to escape and hide. I heard everyone
getting beaten. I heard my friend screaming. They hit him badly and he
had a wound on his head and a lot of blood”. “The other prisoners in the
first room thought they were going to die inside because they beat them
a lot. After that, they didn’t want to bring us to the hospital. They
just took one person who had very serious and dangerous wounds and the
others stayed until 14:00, until the change of shift. They started to
take us one by one to the hospital without really caring about us”. “I
had my arm broken and a lot of wounds on my head. I had to wait until
16:00 because I wanted the others who had more serious wounds to go
before me”. The doctor said to one of us who had serious wounds on the
head that they brought him too late to the hospital. After waitinghe
hadseven stitches. The other had maybe twelve stitches. “Because I hid,
they started to search for me. They went into the room I was hidden and
the people of this cell did not tell them I was there. I was helping the
other prisoners because I can translate for them and the police don’t
like that. This day, they looked for me specifically because I was the
one to translate and ask for the director in order to help the ones that
stayed a lot of time in Petrou Ralli. I was talking a lot and asking why
they didn’t help this or that one. They didn’t find me because the
people that witnessed everything said nothing.” One of them, from
Georgia, took pictures of us and the police talked with him in greek and
told him: “Let these people down, don’t help them because you will have
problems with us”. But he sent the pictures to his wife. After they
found about that, they filed a case against us, accusing us of starting
a riot to excuse their violence. We were sent to penal jails. Three days
after the cops took all the phones inside Petrou Ralli and deported
around 70 persons. They also hit other people. Every morning since then
the prisoners shouted to the police about what happened. The police kept
Die 8 Geflüchteten, bekannt als die Petrou Ralli 8, wurden alle am 23. Mai in Athen des Widerstands und der Körperverletzung gegenüber Polizeibeamt*innen schuldig gesprochen.Sieben wurden zu 3 Jahren und 1 Monat auf Bewährung verurteilt, eine Person zu 3 Jahren und 2 Monaten auf Bewährung, da sie eine “Waffe” besessen haben soll.
Nach Aussagen von Menschen vor Ort war das Gerichtsverfahren ein lächerlicher Schauprozess. So widersprachen sich Polizeibeamt*innen, die als Zeug*innen gealden waren und verbreiteten ihre Vorstellung von Geflüchteten als “gefährlich”. Die Anwält*innen und die Angeklagten werden in Berufung gehen. Bis das passiert, sind alle frei, dürfen das Land aber nicht verlassen.
Was ist passiert?
Im Mai 2017 gab es einen Protest inhaftierter Geflüchteter im Abschiebegefängnis Petrou Ralli in Athen für medizinische Versorgung eines Mithäftlings und gegen die Haftbedingungen; es folgte ein brutaler Polizeieinsatz gegen die Inhaftierten mit vielen Verletzten. 8 Menschen wurden aufgrund ihrer Herkunft (Algerien) verhaftet und angeklagt und auf Gefängnisse in ganz Griechenland verteilt.
Weitere Infos findet ihr hier auf der Seite der griechischen Unterstützer*innen des Hausprojektes Unbuntu Wahhada in Thessaloniki.