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The repression of autonomy: #Exarcheia

The day after November 17, 2019 in Athens: a taste of blood in the mouth. (18/11/2019)

Originally published by Blog YY. Written by Yannis Youlountas. Translated by Autonomies.

Many of our comrades spent the night between four walls after systematic beatings. Others were injured, three of whom were transferred to hospital by ambulance. Others had to hide for a good part of the evening, or all night, not to be picked up and beaten by police who seemed very excited, as if in a full war video game throughout the neighborhood.

In total, more than 5,000 policemen, a helicopter and drones permanently transmitting the position of insurgents resisting from rooftops. Anti-terrorist policemen, riot police, plainclothes policemen, mobile police, tanks with water cannons … The armada in uniform that converged on Exarchia, during two successive demonstrations (1), was much too numerous and over-equipped for the solidarity of the defenders of the rebellious neighbourhood.

Exarchia did not hold out long. Already partially occupied for weeks, it quickly tipped under the control of the soldiery, allegedly guardian of the peace. Few places within it are still safe. This morning, while the sun has not returned yet, Notara 26 is still standing, as well as the K * Vox and the Exarchia self-managed health structure (ADYE). But these places and some others are but the last bastions in an exceptional neighborhood minutely devastated by the Greek state over the last weeks, in order to remove one of the sources of inspiration for social movements the world over.

Even today, blood has flowed, including that of a young woman hit on the head to the point of painting on the ground the true face of the regime. Not only did the junta not end in 1973, but the new government, with its ministers, some of whom are from the far right and its increasingly authoritarian policy, is following step by step the example of Colonel Papadopoulos and his clique.

With the new technological means purchased notably from France, the power monitors, tracks, follows, worries, threatens, strikes and arrests just as well as it sings its own praises. Yes, the demonstration in memory of the 1973 uprising took place, even numerous, but framed by an impressive amount of cops and MAT buses blocking all the side streets.

In the streets of Exarchia, dozens of companions were forced to sit on the ground or kneel, hands behind their heads, under blows, jeers and humiliations. Here, a woman is dragged by the hair. There, a man is hit on the testicles. And then puddles of blood, here and there, at the corners of the central square of the bruised neighborhood.

In the media, it is the concert of praise on all the channels: Mitsotakis has finally reestablished “order and the democracy” everywhere in Greece, including in “Exarchistan”, the zone of lawlessness where a few hundred of Mohicans are still hold up. The breaking news passes without transition, from the victory of Greek Tsitsipras to the Tennis Masters to the police occupation of Exarcheia, completely paralysed after an all too brief resistance. Mitsotakis salutes the victory of his fellow tennis player and promises to finish the last squats very soon. According to him, his mission in this will soon be over.

He also wants to avenge the visit of Rouvikonas, this Sunday morning, to the home of the Minister of Economy: Adonis Georgiadis, a former member of the right-wing party LAOS. Particularly racist, Georgiadis notably declared that he wanted to “make life even harder for migrants” to dissuade them from coming to Greece. By this action voluntarily organised just before the demonstration of November 17, Rouvikonas wanted to show, once again, that if we are vulnerable, those who govern us are also: “We know your personal addresses, we know where to find you!”, threatened the anarchist group in its statement. The outcry of the entire political class was immediate. For example, PASOK and the Union of the Center were shocked that activists would allow themselves to disrupt the privacy of political leaders, regardless of disagreements. “This reinforces our determination to rank Rouvikonas among terrorist organizations,” said a minister on TV. Rouvikonas is the next planned target, “as soon as Exarcheia’s case is completely settled”.

The law is hardening against all forms of resistance. For example, the use of a Molotov cocktails now costs up to 10 years in prison, and no longer 5 as before. To gas demonstrators is now much easier than before thanks to the “neutralisation of sentries on the roofs”, that is to say, groups that, until now, observed and sent a flood of fire from the heights of the neighborhood as soon as that the streets were lost, especially around the central square of Exarcheia. Police positions in the neighborhood continue to progress. Employees of the Athens City Hall are sent under police escort to clean the tags on the walls. Reminiscent of “White walls, dumb people”: one of the slogans against the dictatorship of the Colonels. It was the same at the other end of Europe in May 1968.

In the warm Athenian night, voices wonder about what is to follow, discussion lists are revived, messages circulate to express anger, revolt and solidarity, but also ideas, suggestions, desires. In front of the refugee squat Notara 26, the biggest banner stubbornly announces: “You will not be able to evacuate a whole movement!”

This night, the rebel Exarchia has a taste of blood in her mouth, motionless and silent in the darkness; but she is still alive.


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