Just one month has passed in the new year and it already casts a grim shadow over the months yet to come. Blow after blow, new atrocities occur, and the government issues one fascist decision after another. Public outcry is absent.
Still, almost every day people set out on the dangerous journey across the straits between Turkey and Europe. Forced by a system that criminalizes and negatively stigmatizes migration, people unsafely have to board boats and leave everything behind, in the hope of a better, normal life – and for the EU (and within it the Greek government) no effort seems too big or too expensive to crush said people, no matter the cost.
The numerous shipwrecks in this month alone shows yet again how dangerous the crossing is. The Turkish coast guard rammed a rubber dinghy, 4 people drowned, one person went missing – and the excuse of missing safety precautions on board is accepted without comment. A fiber boat broke, 11 people died, of whom 8 were children – but the outcry is absent.
Driven in desperation by a dehumanizing and exclusionary system, a man finds himself during the first days of January in prison. He is locked away in solitary confinement, out of sight. He is a man with known psychological problems and he is left alone. Nobody will take responsibility for him. Death appears to him as the only way out of this hell.
In response to this, approximately 150 people took to the streets to protest against Moria Camp and the conditions in its prison. In a public statement (in several languages), the violent methods, which are de facto torture, were criticized, and the release of all prisoners demanded, as well as the closure of Moria camp and freedom of movement for all.
Towards the end of the month around 300 women protested in the streets of Mytilene with slogans such as “we want to be free, we want to be human”. They criticized the horrible living conditions in Moria camp and the ongoing violence. Meanwhile, another hundred women were prevented from participating in the protest and were blocked at the streets entering Mytilene. More than ten non-refugee women that attended the demonstration were removed and taken to the police station. The police were of the opinion that it was they who organized the rally, based on no evidence and only prejudice, the racial prejudice that the refugee community were unable to organise the demonstration themselves, and that it must have been done for them.
Women have to live under constant fear of assaults and rape. Medical help for pregnant women is barely existent. General medical support is scarce. Children grow up in a hostile environment. They are denied their childhood. But the outcry is absent.
Over 20,000 people are currently stuck in and around Moria camp, having to call it their home. Basic needs are not even close to being met. The ideal environment for violence has resulted in several attacks. Already more than 10 people have been injured and hospitalized since the start of the year. Among those, two men were killed. Some no longer dare to stay in the camp and see themselves forced to endure the cold winter nights in public places. But the outcry is absent.
On January 22nd, with the slogan: “we want our islands back!”, thousands of Greek civilians went on strike and protested the government’s refugee policy. The general strike was supported by the broad public, and a poster with their inflammatory demands could be seen in countless shops and stores of Mytilene, resulting in the largest protest in the history of Lesvos. Thus, domestic politics evaporates, and the belief that those who have newly arrived are to blame for the old, structural problems of the country spreads.
This is a perfect example of the recently formed government confirming its desire to show hardness and “strength” by implementing xenophobic policy. Championing the ideal of “out of sight, out of mind”, the first closed camp is already being built on the island of Samos, afar from any civilization. Men, women and children are to be imprisoned there on a general basis, their only “crime”: they came to Europe. They shall be imprisoned for 25 days. Within this time, it is supposed to be decided who is allowed to stay and who will be deported. The new law, however, provides for numerous possibilities to extend detention – up to 18 months if the asylum application is rejected. In addition to this, the time limits for appeals has been shortened, and any appeal must be submitted by a lawyer. This gives rise to the fear that under these circumstances many will not find a representative in time to appeal against a negative verdict.
But the government cannot wait for the completion of the closed camps to achieve their goal. Thus, on the last weekend of January, 55 people, most of them families, were locked up in a wing of the prison on Kos island. EU law ubiquitously requires a case-by-case assessment of whether there is a reason for imprisonment, and the Greek government flagrantly shows a clear disregard for such legal principle. If even legal principles are so publicly ignored, how are we to believe that any moral or ethical principles, such as a basic human right such as migration, will ever be followed?
Help and support will never be close at hand. The dehumanization continues. Imprisonment of the innocent, even children, is legitimized by our xenophobic system. But the outcry is absent.
The closed camps are intended to accelerate and intensify deportations. By the end of 2020, the government wants to deport 10,000 refugees to Turkey – five times greater than the total number of deportations since the EU-Turkey deal was made. So far, in accordance with former practice, many deportations have been prevented (or at least delayed) with the argument that the horrific conditions in Turkey classify a return as unsafe. However, the Greek government has installed a new judiciary for decisions in regards to deportation, and hopes they will decide differently. But the outcry is absent.
The European Union continues to fully support and implement the entire system. They don’t only demand more “effective (frequent)” deportation but also demand the doubling of EASO (European Asylum Support Office) staff officials to carry out the heinous act. It is not the only staff increase. The cruel, so-called “defenses” continue. The government announced to have 1200 more border police officers in the coming months. Already 400 jobs are advertised for the borders at the river Evros, and 800 are to be added on the Aegean islands.
Now they also want to install a floating dam system on the water. How exactly this is supposed to keep boats away is unclear to everyone. Considering that Lesvos is roughly 70km long, the 2.7km long barrier with blinking lights does not invoke an effective approach to the “issue”. The half a million-Euro project seems even more senseless when one takes in to account that people who are stopped by the barrier have already reached Greek territorial waters, and would therefore have to be rescued and taken to Greek soil under maritime law. But the outcry is absent.
As well as this, Stage 2 was closed on the 31st January. Stage 2 was the short-term transit camp to ensure people who land on the northern coast can access safety and receive medical aid and shelter. Over half of the total arrivals on Lesvos are on the northern shore. With closing Stage 2, people arriving will be left waiting for hours on beaches, by the side of the road, or in remote rocky areas, with no access to immediate shelter, protection or medical aid; some may even attempt to walk for hours to the south. But the outcry is absent.
Irony screams out, with all of the events aforementioned taking place in the same month in which the liberation of Auschwitz was remembered during the 75th anniversary of it’s closure, with politicians from left to right wing parties proclaiming: “never forgive, never forget!”. But they do forget. They forget all people who are not wanted in Europe because of their country of origin. They forget the tens of thousands of people who lost their lives because of the current EU policy. They forget the children who have experienced nothing else in their whole life than war, conflict zones and flight, and now are forced to live in hostile environments which provoke child suicide attempts. They forget all the young people who are condemned to do nothing, full of potential – potential Europe desperately needs, but apparently would be provided by the “wrong” people. They forget humanity in view of their own political and economic interests. They forget that fascism is in our midst and again the majority is not only watching but willfully ignoring. Thus, new atrocities take place over and over– but, once again, the outcry is absent. Deafeningly, forever absent.
United we stay- divided we fall.
Solidarity will win
The European Union must stop the arbitrary incarceration of refugees and migrants
We express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar who are currently being held in pre-trial detention in Komotini, Greece. Both are facing long prison sentences because they are being wrongfully and arbitrarily accused of “smuggling”.
Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are Moroccan citizens who fled their country searching for protection and better living conditions, Hamza Haddi in particular is a known political activist who was hoping to be granted political asylum in Europe. In Morocco, he is facing political persecution for his activities during the Arab Spring as well as for his engagement with the Moroccan Human Rights Association L’Association Marocaine Des Droits Humains AMDH. He has been imprisoned three times and, together with his family, been constantly targeted and intimidated by Moroccan authorities. Hamza is a political refugee.
With Europe’s ever-increasing closure of borders and the impossibility for refugees to legally enter Europe and claim asylum, they were forced to embark and risk their lives on a makeshift boat. Hamza, who had fled from Morocco together with his brother Yassine went on to meet two companions on the way; Reda and Mohamed in Turkey. There, they spent only a few days before attempting to cross the Evros river that marks the border between Turkey and Greece in July 2019.
In Greece, the four arrived, only to be immediately arrested by Greek border police. But not enough. Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar are now accused of and are facing trial for the “smuggling” of two persons – one of them being Hamza’s own brother Yassine!
The accusations against Hamza and Mohamed are clearly unfounded. They are refugees, not smugglers.
Their companion Reda was coerced into signing a testimony that is now being used to wrongly accuse Hamza and Mohamed as being the smugglers. Reda can neither speak nor read Greek and later confirmed that the written document does not match his statement.
Consequently since July 2019, Hamza and Mohamed have been held in pre-trial detention in Greece and are facing more than ten years of imprisonment each. The basis of their trail is placed upon a testimony signed under pressure and without an interpreter.
We are calling for their immediate release!
The case of Hamza and Mohamed is unfortunately not an isolated case but paradigmatic for yet another facet of Europe’s policy of closing borders and deterrence. While European supporters or so-called “human rights defenders” such as Carola Rackete or the iuventa10 have recently received a lot of attention and support after having become the target of increasing criminalisation, there is hardly any information nor support for those without a European passport facing the very same accusations. However, it is them who constitute the majority of those being arrested and imprisoned in Italy and Greece on grounds of alleged “smuggling” and “aiding illegal immigration”. Arrested immediately upon arrival, a lot of them disappear unknown and unheard of and with no access to support from outside.
The basis for this is Greek legislation that considers any person found to have driven a vehicle across Greek borders, entering Greece without required documentation, as a smuggler.
The arrests as well as trials that follow these often-unfounded accusations of smuggling are arbitrary. Police officers might accuse the person holding the tiller to steer the boat, or the one who communicated with the coast guard to call for help or simply someone who speaks English, to be a smuggler. In Greece, the average trial lasts only around 30 minutes, leading to an average sentence of 44 years and fines over 370.000 Euro. Suspects, or what we would deem ‘victims’ of this unjust legislation, usually have limited access to legal assistance, most of them relying on public defenders. Observers voice concerns about a “shocking lack of deep processing”, reporting that judgements are pronounced despite lack of evidence and poor quality of translation.
This statement is to express our solidarity with Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar and all those criminalized and deprived of their basic rights in the European Union’s proclaimed fight against “smugglers”. We call on everyone to condemn the arbitrary application of anti-smuggling laws against people on the move, who are often already in fear of their lives. We denounce the exploitation of the vulnerable situation of asylum seekers by the EU member states, leaving them without the means to properly defend themselves.
Together with the Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar support committee we demand:
• The immediate release of Hamza Haddi and Mohamed Haddar.
• All charges against them to be dropped, and their innocence to be recognized.
• Hamza’s asylum application to be accepted and his asylum granted.
• Regularisation of the situation of Hamza and Mohamed, and freedom of movement for all.
We further demand:
• Freedom for all those that are suffering the same fate, being imprisoned in Greek and Italian prisons because they were looking for a better life.
• A change in the Greek and Italian law in order to remove the legal grounds for these arbitrary arrests and convictions.
– ADIF Associazione diritti e frontiere, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, Italy
– Adopt a Revolution
– Alarm Phone Watch the Med
– Prof. Dr. Annita Kalpaka, University Hamburg
– Antina Plath, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, Germany
– ARCI Porco Rosso, Palermo
– Prof. Dr. Astride Velho, Germany
– borderline-europe e.V., Germany
– Borderline Sicilia Onlus, Italy
– Carola Rackete
– Centre for Peace Studies, Zagreb
– Clandestina Thessaloniki, Greece
– Christian Peace Maker Team Lesvos, Greece
– Délinquants solidaires, France
– Demokratische Juristinnen und Juristen e.V., Germany
– Esc-Infomigrante, Rome
– European Civic Forum, Switzerland
– European Democratic Lawyers – Avocats Européens Démocrates
– Harald Bauder, Ph.D., Ryerson University Canada
– Il Comitato di Base No Muos di Palermo, Italy
– Institute of Race Relations, Anya Edmond-Pettitt, United Kingdom
– Judith Gleitze, borderline-europe, Palermo
– Kontakt- und Beratungsstelle für Flüchtlinge und Migrant*innen e.V., Germany
– La FASTI, Fédération des associations de solidarité avec tou-te-s les immigré-e-s, France
– L’Association Marocaine Des Droits Humains, Morocco
– Loubna Messaoudi, CEO Founder BIWOC* Rising, Berlin
– Marie Amoyi, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, Germany
– Migreurop, Observatoire des frontières, France
– mediale pfade, Germany
– Mobile Info Team, Greece
– Münchner Flüchtlingsrat, Germany
– Observatory of Solidarity, Milan
– Refugee Law Clinic Berlin, Germany
– Republikanischer Anwältinnen- und Anwälteverein, Germany
– Rete Antirazzista Catanese, Italy
– Sea-Watch, Germany
– Seán Binder
– Seebrücke, Germany
– Solidarité sans frontières, Switzerland
– Solidarity Watch, Belgium
– Statewatch, United Kingdom
– TPC Maison Solidaire, France
– You Can’t Evict Solidarity, Germany
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. ↩
The following report is cross posted from the blog: Bordermonitoring; you find the link here: https://dm-aegean.bordermonitoring.eu/2020/01/23/three-arrested-after-protest-against-deadly-violence/
The situation in Moria Camp is escalating. The size of the hotspot has grown drastically so that the barbed wired camp is surrounded by a slum-like city of tents. More than 19 000 people are currently trapped there. Many have already built small huts, knowing that they will be trapped there for months. Among them live about 1000 unaccompanied minors and many of them do not get any support because safe zones for minors are overcrowded and about half of them are forced to struggle on their own to find a space in a tent in the olive grove surrounding Moria Camp.
In these circumstances, where people are forced to live in a place without any protection, violence and exploitation escalate, establishing the ground for criminal structures – groups that are able to enter the camp from the outside. Exploitation ranges from forcing people to pay in order to be able to enter the asylum office to forced prostitution.
Stabbed to death in the EU’s migration camp
There have been three deaths within one month. On 1st January, a 20-year-old man from Congo was stabbed with a knife when he refused to give his mobile phone to a gang trying to rob him. His two friends were injured, while he died in hospital two weeks later. On 6th January, an Iranian asylum seeker was found dead, hung, in a cell of the pre-removal detention centre in Moria camp. On 16th January, a Somali-Yemeni 20-year-old man was violently stabbed to death. According to witnesses, again a group of perpetrators wanted to rob him. On 20th January, an 18-year-old woman was stabbed with a knife and is still in a critical condition in hospital.
Fighting injustice – Self-organized protests
The deaths sparked a number of demonstrations. On 16th January, a big demonstration of people of many nationalities took place in the town of Mytilene, where migrants from all nationalities, Greeks and people from other European countries marched under the motto “Prisons kill: another state sponsored murder”, demanding the abolition of Moria prison in which a person was found dead.
The next day, members from the African community in Moria – who are increasingly affected by violence – also demonstrated in front of Moria camp, making speeches explaining that they do not feel safe. Among them there were many women. They carried signs like “No More Killing” and “Moria is not Safe”, and blocked the road.
Arrest and detention of protestors
While the few riot policemen present during the Moria demonstration stood back at the beginning watching the protest, they eventually built a barrier and shot teargas at the protestors. Then, they picked out three men who were among the protestors and arrested them. The three men were all from Somalia and were brought to court the next day for a hearing, where they were accused of disturbing public order, threatening the police and resistance against the police. They will have a trial on 27th February in Mytilene Court. Although the accusations are not felonies and the judge did not order pre-trial detention, the three men will be held in Moria pre-removal centre until the date of their trial.
The repressive arrests of the protesters, who mobilized to draw attention to the unbearable situation of their friends and relatives, killed in front of their own eyes, shows the inability of the Greek state and the European Union to deal with the political situation that they have created. Their confinement policies are creating spaces where people can be killed without any accountability. It is not enough to arrest migrants who the police consider as perpetrators of the killings. The line of deaths in Moria camp is not a coincidence. Guilty are those who set up the Greek hotspot camps and keep them running, no matter the human costs. Again, the arrests do not solve the problem. Instead, people who are already marginalized and affected by violence have to pay for it with imprisonment while the situation in Moria camp only gets worse.
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.
This was not an accident!
They died because of Europe’s cruel deterrence and detention regime!
Yesterday, on Sunday 29 September 2019, a fire broke out in the so-called hotspot of Moria on Lesvos Island in Greece. A woman and probably also a child lost their lives in the fire and it remains unclear how many others were injured. Many people lost all their small belongings, including identity documents, in the fire. The people imprisoned on Lesvos have fled wars and conflicts and now experience violence within Europe. Many were re-traumatised by these tragic events and some escaped and spent the night in the forest, scared to death.
Over the past weeks, we had to witness two more deaths in the hotspot of Moria: In August a 15-year-old Afghan minor was killed during a violent fight among minors inside the so-called “safe space” of the camp. On September 24, a 5-year-old boy lost his life when he was run-over by a truck in front of the gate.
The fire yesterday was no surprise and no accident. It is not the first, and it will not be the last. The hotspot burned already several times, most tragically in November 2016 when large parts burned down. Europe’s cruel regime of deterrence and detention has now killed again.
In the meantime, in the media, a story was immediately invented, saying that the refugees themselves set the camp on fire. It was also stated that they blocked the fire brigade from entering. We have spoken to many people who witnessed the events directly. They tell us a very different story: In fact, the fire broke out most probably due to an electricity short circuit. The fire brigade arrived very late, which is no surprise given the overcrowdedness of this monstrous hotspot. Despite its official capacity for 3,000 people, it now detains at least 12,500 people who suffer there in horrible living conditions. On mobile phone videos taken by the prisoners of the camp, one can see how in this chaos, inhabitants and the fire brigade tried their best together to at least prevent an even bigger catastrophe.
There simply cannot be a functioning emergency plan in a camp that has exceeded its capacity four times. When several containers burned in a huge fire that generated a lot of smoke, the imprisoned who were locked in the closed sector of the camp started in panic to try to break the doors. The only response the authorities had, was to immediately bring police to shoot tear-gas at them, which created an even more toxic smoke.
Anger and grief about all these senseless deaths and injuries added to the already explosive atmosphere in Moria where thousands have suffered while waiting too long for any change in their lives. Those who criminalise and condemn this outcry in form of a riot of the people of Moria cannot even imagine the sheer inhumanity they experience daily. The real violence is the camp itself, conditions that are the result of the EU border regime’s desire for deterrence.
We raise our voices in solidarity with the people of Moria and demand once again: The only possibility to end this suffering and dying is to open the islands and to have freedom of movement for everybody. Those who arrive on the islands have to continue their journeys to hopefully find a place of safety and dignity elsewhere. We demand ferries to transfer the exhausted and re-traumatised people immediately to the Greek mainland. We need ferries not Frontex. We need open borders, so that everyone can continue to move on, even beyond Greece. Those who escape the islands should not be imprisoned once more in camps in mainland Greece, with conditions that are the same as the ones here on the islands.
Close down Moria! Open the islands! Freedom of Movement for everyone!
The source of the following article is the petition in change.org: (https://www.change.org/p/european-court-of-human-rights-free-nour-al-sameh) as well as the picture which is taken from this petition too.
Cases of state repression against refugees arriving with boats on greek islands by criminalizing their act of eventually conducting a boat as human trafficking as written below, are no single cases. It is a systematicly policy of deterrence and arbitrariness. We want to make these cases visible. Nour is an exemplary case for this:
Free Nour Al-sameh!
Nour Al-Sameh is 29 years old ٍSyrian who is unjustly imprisoned in Greece for 4 years now because he flee to Europe for refuge. Just like the Captain of the Sea-Watch Carola Rackete, he acted to save the lives of people on a boat in the Aegean Sea who would otherwise have drowned in the water.
Nour studied Business Management in Syria, he fled his country due to persecution and war that burst in. He stayed in Turkey in an unbearable situation without shelter or job until he managed to leave Turkey, in July 29th 2015. The only possibility for him to seek refuge in Europe was crossing the Aegean Sea in small sailing boat. He was the only person on the boat who could speak English, when the boat was about to sink he called for help using the walky-talky on the boat.
People on the boat were taken by The Greek coast guards accompanied by military forces (according to Nour,this forces were in military uniform, and he thinks that they were speaking in German)
The boat was taken to the harbor of Perya Island in Greece, he was handed to the Greek coast guards. Being blindfolded and handcuffed, Nour was beaten, insulted and humiliated by the Greek police.
He was accused with Human Trafficking and sentenced for 315 years and a fine of 3150000 Euros in June 2016. Similar cases have shown that the court counts prison year by the number of people on the boat. With the support of his friends he managed to get a lawyer and appeal against this decision in November 2017, the judge of Perya court dismissed the appeal. In another attempt for justice Nour’s lawyer brought the case to the highest court in Greece, the Supreme Court, to win the opportunity for an appeal and to explain his story properly. Since the hearing in the Supreme Court in February 2019 Nour is waiting for an answer on his claim.
Nour’s case is not an exception. Many refugees have been criminalized, arrested and are currently detained in Greek prisons simply because they were fleeing. The Legal Center Lesvos has documented https://legalcentrelesvos.org/category/news/).
“The individuals charged are denied the basic rights to a fair trial, guaranteed under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as they are routinely denied adequate interpretation, are denied a fair hearing, and convictions are based on the sole fact that the individual was driving the boats attempting to reach Europe from Turkey” In Nour’s case it was simply making a call to ask for help. The Christian Peacemaker Team also documented a trial against refugees concluding
“No one in the courtroom supported the business of human smuggling of refugees—making immense profits by charging huge prices for transporting refugees in very dangerous conditions, usually crowding too many people in unsafe boats, often not giving them life jackets that actually work, or not putting enough fuel in the motor to reach the shore of the Greek island. It’s a horrendous crime against these vulnerable and desperate people. But the people being tried in this courtroom were not the people running these illegal businesses and getting rich.”
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