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Hot Summer In Greece – The Lockdown Abates -The Struggle Continues

An anonymous Update from Greece.

Submitted to Enough 14.

The transition out of this lockdown is surreal in itself. It is not certain if one feels refreshed, relieved, or is simply desensitized while continuing along the path of uncertainty the coronavirus has imposed on humanity this last year and a half.

Some measures remain in place, however the broader feeling is that summer is here and we should cherish it while it lasts. The initially failed vaccine rollout is resolving itself as would be expected in the first-world European Union. The Greek administration abruptly opened everything despite consistently high infection rates, despite hospitalization numbers, and regardless of looming variants.

While some may be relieved at no longer needing state permission to leave the home and what is now both a later and barely enforced curfew, it’s hard to not feel that so much of our life this last year was kidnapped to fulfill an authoritarian experiment by the current regime, one that had more to do with political consolidation then public health (and which we have described throughout our reports).

On May 14th, a day with over two thousand cases of covid reported (triple the caseload of early January when lockdown was at its harshest), the requirement to provide the state with a text message or written form to go outside was lifted. There was no mincing words; the lockdown ended in order to open for the tourist season. Tourism last year also determined when we could function again, and likely was one of the most significant contributors into bringing more cases into the country. Whatever the year, we understand that the state will use every opportunity, especially when we are most vulnerable, to push policy and assert power in pursuit of its self-preservation. Additionally, we now understand that it is not the health of the vulnerable that determines the resolution of a pandemic, it is the demands of the business elite and their need to act in the face of a persistent economic crisis– before this facade of an emergency limbo is revealed as a failed system.

We have said time and time again that any pandemic response that re-appropriates hospital and medical funding towards the police and military is not a response concerned with those who may fall victim to the virus, but is a response that looks to preserve the status quo at all costs, heedless of the consequences of the pandemic itself.

We are not surprised in any way, however there is always a subtle feeling of degradation when you watch the AirBnB backpackers gazing at graffiti in Exarchia or German and American tourists flocking to all the “best Greek restaurants” (that are of course only near the Acropolis), and have to tell yourself it’s fortunate they are here, since otherwise we may still all be wondering if we will take the wrong turn home after curfew and get a fine of 300 euros– half of the median Greek salary.

With noting our disdain for the obvious, we have to admit for a moment that there is some element of relief. It is not an inspiring relief that was earned by the courage demonstrated across the country during the hunger strike of Koufontanis, nor when the police took a step back after one of their own was dragged off a bike by a courageous individual in Nea Smirni and beaten while his co-workers left him to the mercy of those whom see all cops as bastard scum. It is just an inevitable relief that we all experience as humans. Where has the time gone, you ask yourself? Why was all this time taken when still so many remain hospitalized? Regardless, we go outside feeling a little more free, and simply as humans there is an inevitable and subtle sense of relief in this. However, one can not forget the cowardly opportunism we’ve reported on throughout the lockdown. One cannot forget case after case of opportunistic terror conducted by the state when the unprecedented became the norm, both those which are known to us and the cases that likely go unknown– across prisons or in refugee camps for example.

Some squats evacuated during lockdown such as Rosa Nera (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmY6_Y4PEhc) in Chania, Crete have been re-occupied since the “re-opening”. A squat in Pssirri, Athens used for autonomous theater known as Embros (https://enoughisenough14.org/2021/05/27/athens-theater-embros-resquatted-day-of-action-may-29/) was briefly evacuated and immediately re-occupied as well following the “re-opening”. A new squat (https://actforfree.noblogs.org/post/2021/04/06/athens-greece-viktoria-area-has-a-new-squatted-social-center-%ce%b6%ce%b9%ce%b6%ce%ac%ce%bd%ce%b9%ce%b1-on-fylis-and-feron-ellinika-english-francais-turkish-%d9%81%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%b3%db%8c/) has also opened in the center of Athens despite the pledge of eradicating them all by December 2020; “we dont die, we just multiply” as the saying goes.

Just a day or two before sitting down to write this, an EU- and city-sponsored walking tour of artists through Exarchia was cancelled due to fear of anti-gentrification riots that would greet such a heinous event (https://www.efsyn.gr/efsyn-city/synantiseis/298105_walking-stories-mia-diaforetiki-bolta-sta-exarheia); the so-called artists planning it were hectored and threatened by the community during a “rehearsal walk” through the neighborhood they’d planned to speak for. We are meeting each other once again in the squares and in the streets with a little less weight on our shoulders.

Riots broke out just recently on the Agrafa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c30nRpTGbdU) mountain to block construction and development of habitat destroying wind turbines, letting the builders know that no-one was sleeping during lockdown, only navigating restraints.

Mutual aid efforts with refugees (https://actforfree.noblogs.org/post/2021/06/15/greece-solidarity-support-lesvos-mutual-aid-and-solidarity-network/) and prisoners remain indispensable and active as ever as the situation remains brutally precarious and under the target of the current state’s bureaucratic tools intent on torturing those deemed its enemy. But we all are re-discovering life after lockdown in our own ways. Isolation, defeat, and the general feeling of disempowerment that loomed throughout the lockdown had longterm effects not only on the individual but the movement. We are all coming out of this in different states, and for most who may have struggled with mental illness prior, the last months were in no way helpful.

While we note this petty relief we are almost embarrassed to recognize, we write relief with the lowest standard in mind. This won’t last, especially as we all wake up to a more reformed Greece. Just this week the state has coordinated and passed an entirely new anti-union and anti-labour bill to better resemble the American free-market, stripping workers of rights and further molding Greece into the modern neoliberal minion of the European Union. So many policies and precedents under the guise of lockdown remain intact, even as we can kind of “move again,” that the word relief will undoubtedly reflect a very short honeymoon period.

We write from the comfort of a cafe in Exarchia, however we not only remember the array of terror and repression that the lockdown granted the state and economy but recognize the suffering that continues to this day.

We think of the woman ticketed for leaving a flower to remember the students murdered by the Junta at the polytechnic on November 17th, 1973. We remember the flowers riot police stole from an elderly woman and then then smashed meters away from the memorial for Alexis Grigoropolous on the 6th of December. We bear in mind the reign of passive torture and systematic terror that prisoners, refugees, and immigrants both in and out of camps endured throughout the lockdown as police found the mandates a new opportunity to detain and punish whomever they did not welcome to Greece. We remember the speeding bulldozers rushing for the mountains and forests to destroy and develop when resistance and blockades were at a new level of complication in organizing due to the extra layers of risk from both the lockdown and the virus itself. We remember the beatings, the constant police beatings of anyone who dare take to the streets. The war waged on Nea Smirni after the neighbourhood stood up to police assaults. The girl in Nea Smirni who took on the police herself to courageously protect her friend, only to face threats of sexual assault and torture for hours following her interrogation (https://twitter.com/kinimatini/status/1370459969359917058). So many violent episodes of police hunting us without fear of judicial punishment, while we risked it all to prevent the state’s lockdown experiment from forcing us into irrelevancy. We remember the games played with the life of Koufantinis, and the symbolism the state calculated in their responses to his heroic struggle. We remember the homeless fined, the parties of the rich, the scandals prioritized to distract us, and the absurd inconsistencies that would have been laughable if they weren’t so degrading to our humanity. We remember the police threats of rape against women, the stranded migrant workers who likely continue to struggle for their pay, kidnapped comrades, and unprecedented punishments under the guise of a new era of law and order in Greece that follows the path of America’s “war on terror.” We remember the million euro Christmas lights no one could see because of the curfew. And while the lockdown is all but lifted now, we can’t stand but to remember the temporary opening for Christmas shopping and Easter praying. The memories persist as we write, while a vile taste continues to grow in our mouths.

We anticipate another failed tourist season. We anticipate the country to continue to hide its crisis behind the stimulus of the EU. We anticipate a distracted middle class handed candy at the expense of those deemed excluded and undesirable. We anticipate harsher repression and the continued consultant campaign to “modernize” Greece by the New Democracy administration, in line with the standards and pogroms of neoliberalism, ethno-nationalism, and the European Union. Despite all that, the movement’s presence remains quite strong. Solidarity actions with political prisoners and various struggles here and around the world still happen in the night and manifest in graffiti and banners across the country. Clandestine actions continue and demonstrations remain relentless despite them being essentially criminalized. Some universities are being used again, despite the lifting of political asylum, for events, skill shares, and parties to fund our movements and support those whom remain imprisoned by the state. We are here. We are coming out dazed, but we are very much here, and will never die. As always there is so much to write, but unlike the last months, we are confused as to where to place our focus as there’s an inevitable delerium that comes with such a harsh lockdown and then so-called return to “normalcy.” Having noted our selfish relief, the common confusion and disorientation many face, and this kind of summer feeling that has arrived with the end of lockdown, we will try to keep our newest report focused and discuss some of the current cases of repression, political prisoner statuses, recent verdicts, and ways to support those whom remain behind bars and do not share such a relief. We hope this report will help remind the reader of various cases of repression that continue and are in need of international solidarity and support. We also will include various links and ways to further keep up-to-date with the situation here until our next update.

REVOLUTIONARY SOLIDARITY REGARDLESS OF “SUMMER”: AGAINST A NEW ERA OF REPRESSION
There are so many instances of ongoing repression, incarcerated prisoners facing a new prison system intent on emulating the worst of America’s prison industrial complex, and dozens upon dozens facing fines and trials for courageously acting despite the state’s intimidation during this last lockdown (and before). Many still face trials and charges that last for years or continue to be postponed due to covid, so that whether or not a conviction is ever made, people continue to endure restrictive measures that seriously affect their lives. We believe that with the verdict against Golden Dawn last year (and very similarly to what we’re seeing in the states with the Biden administration’s response to the Capitol riots in January) the state is using the facade of “judicial fairness,” meaning the verdict against Golden Dawn provides a pretext to actually clamp down on anarchists, immigrants, and all whom the state sees as undesirable. Mutual aid efforts continue with immigrants and refugees, noise demonstrations outside prisons and solidarity actions. The proactive preservation of our movement will not be deterred despite this escalating repression and a state looking to re-create society with a more draconian system of repression that hides behind the rhetoric of neoliberal modernity.

While many of the firefunds attached to some of what is described here have been fulfilled, there is still an urgent need for funds. Tameio, which provides monthly and consistent support to long-term incarcerated prisoners, is specifically in need of constant funds, and following the lockdown and the lifting of university asylum it needs support more then ever:

The Conviction and Sentencing of Vangelis Stathopoulos
Statement by Vangelis Stathopoulos:
Solidarity is judged on my person with the heaviest accusations, because I helped an injured comrade. My prosecution and trial are based solely on political criteria, on the attitude of dignity and solidarity that I have consistently followed throughout my life. I have nothing to dispose of but my own life; I have nothing to defend despite the constant struggle against the murderous rage of the State and capital! If my practical solidarity is the crime for which I am convicted and imprisoned, I declare myself unrepentant!

In October 2019 an expropriation attempt of a state-owned gambling facility was made in order to gather funds for revolutionary purposes. The action has since been claimed by the anarchist fugitive Dimitris Chatzivasileiadis (https://athens.indymedia.org/post/1601299/) multiple times since his arrest. Due to a tragic mistake during the attempted expropriation, a gun used in the robbery went off, and Dimitris claimed to have shot himself. Bleeding profusely, and obviously not being capable of going to a hospital, he turned to a long-lost friend who allegedly helped him in order to prevent his death. Following the action, an anti-terror campaign of raids brought this friend, Vangelis Stathopolous, into custody. He was held in pre-trial detention for over a year and a half. Now, based on little to no evidence apart from Vangelis being a long-term anarchist known to the authorities and his allegedly helping an old friend in medical need and, he was sentenced in April to 19 years without the possibility of appeal (https://enoughisenough14.org/2021/04/28/anarchist-comrades-sentenced-in-case-of-revolutionary-self-defense-in-greece/). Dimitris was sentenced to sixteen years in absentia, and a third individual to ten years. While in the USA aiding and abetting has significantly broad definitions and judicial punishment especially in so called “anti-terror” cases has no bounds, Greece historically has not inflicted punishments so comparable to the USA – the USA, where you have political prisoners from the ‘60s and ‘70s still serving sentences, and in some cases remaining in solitary confinement for decades and decades. However the right in Greece, and specifically the current administration, very much strive to replicate such a judicial system here, especially when penalizing their opponents. There is essentially no evidence against Vangelis in terms of perpetrating the crime beyond him helping a friend, completely separate from the crime’s actual occurrence. Additionally a known anarchist fugitive has repeatedly taken responsibility for the crime, and the organization “Revolutionary Self-Defense” that Vangelis is accused of belonging to (and is being sentenced under the anti-terror law for being in) has been defunct for years. His 19-year sentence marks a brutal precedent for the Greek state. He was made an example of, and our solidarity must match their ferocious and cruel repression.

Since the verdict a relentless campaign of solidarity with Vangelis has taken place regardless of covid lockdown. Grafitti and banner campaigns have happened across the country. Huge fundraising efforts have taken place, including taking over a university campus (despite the asylum law being lifted) to hold a giant event supporting him. Solidarity actions have included the burning down of a tax office near where the “anti-terror” raids originally took place (https://actforfree.noblogs.org/post/2021/05/11/athensgreece-attack-on-tax-office-in-solidarity-with-anarchists-sentenced-in-revolutionary-self-defense-trial-in-cholargos-area/). Donations of support to Vangelis can be made at the firefund included below. Despite it reaching its original goal, more is always appreciated and needed! https://www.firefund.net/vangelis

“Freedom for V. Stathopolous.”

The Calculated Torture of Giannis Dimitrakis and the Legacy of Domokos Prison
On May 24th, 2021, anarchist fighter Giannis Dimitrakis was attacked by a prison Mafia gang which demanded he succumb to their rule (https://athens.indymedia.org/post/1612980/). He refused and was beaten profusely, ending up in critical condition. Amazingly, he has survived this assault on his life inside the notorious Domokos prison.

Giannis, who has been active even behind bars, continues to refuse to cooperate with this prison gang and remains strong. This is the same prison is where Dimitris Koufontinas is held following his hunger strike (https://crimethinc.com/2021/02/25/greece-the-ghost-of-junta-past-returns-the-hunger-strike-of-dimitris-koufontinas). In Korydallos prison in Athens, anarchists have clout and respect, and a greater ability to survive, with attacks from gangs less likely. Therefore the state is trying more and more to move anarchist or political prisoners to Domokos prison. This is order to isolate them and subject them to generally harsher conditions, as this prison is by far the most maximum-security in the country and generally inaccessible in terms of its location, but the state is also intending to subject them to potential violence by prison gangs who may have fascist leanings, relationships with guards, and little or no sympathy for the causes a political prisoner would be incarcerated for. While far from identical, some comparisons can be drawn to the case of Eric King in the USA. (This mainstream press article refers to Eric as an anti-fascist activist; while he is anti-fascist, he is an anarchist not an “activist”: https://theintercept.com/2021/05/28/bop-prison-white-supremacist-anti-fascist/) Eric’s transfer was deliberate in order to isolate him from supporters and tear at his roots in prison, subjecting him to attacks by fascists and guards more easily without broader attention or local support. This falls in line with the new state of repression and calculated punishment of Greek political prisoners by the New Democracy regime and the fascist minister of prisons Sofia Nikolaou.

The Four Anarchist facing absurd charges of terrorism for belonging to a fake group known as “the comrades”
We have noted this case in prior reports: the case of the four individuals arrested on conspiracy charges fabricated under the use of the 187a anti-terrorist law continues. The state, claiming that these four individuals are part of a terrorist organization known as “comrades,” has attempted to charge them with every political action that has been claimed with a communique signed as “comrades.” As obviously absurd as this is (clandestine actions have been claimed under the author “comrades” for years and years), and unlikely as it is to result in a conviction, it’s obvious that the state is using this conspiracy accusation as a form of punishment in itself: to torment, inconvenience, and financially drain these individuals whom they consider a political threat. The four individuals, despite neither having gone to trial nor being accused of specific crimes, must pay huge legal fees, report their whereabouts every 10 days to the police, not associate with each other or “political people,” and not enter the neighbourhood of Exarchia or participate in any “political events.” The intention of the state is obviously to use conspiracy charges and the anti-terror law to punish people, regardless of the case’s outcome. This case is one of many setting a new precedent of repression in Greece, where premeditated punishment is possible regardless of evidence or conviction.

The comrades were arrested amidst an anti-terror operation conducted on March 8th and 9th, 2020. After being held for a week in detention they were released under the harsh conditions mentioned above. They are accused of 54 attacks which were claimed by “comrades”. More information on their case and how to support them is available here:
https://www.firefund.net/osa

The Eight facing Felony Charges:Accused of Embarrassing A White Man in a Suit

Eight people currently face felony charges for an action against the dean of the economics school, the one responsible for evicting a local social center and the squat Vancouver. A campaign to support the humiliated dean mobilized New Democracy supporters who were shocked to see a white man humiliated by being compelled to wear a sign that said “solidarity to the squats.” They offered a reward of a hundred thousand euros for information on who might be responsible—a considerable sum, especially in the midst of an economic crisis. The police have rounded up people at random with very little evidence apart from claiming that those arrested have connections to the movement. The way in which people were rounded up solely based on association and reputation rather than actual evidence continues this path of repression via the fabrication of “conspiracy” or “criminal organization.” This trial has been mentioned in our previous reports, however it is ongoing and important to recognize as we note specific examples of this new era of repression in Greece and encourage revolutionary solidarity despite the lifting of lockdown and arrival of summer. Learn more about the case and donate if you can to the firefund: https://www.firefund.net/s8a

The “Indian”:Hooligan, Citizen, or Anarchist; rights don’t apply when Police feel violated

Various individuals face felony and misdemeanour charges (https://actforfree.noblogs.org/post/2021/04/13/athensgreece-we-stand-by-all-who-resist-revolt-in-nea-smyrni-area/) related to the uprising that took place against police brutality in March in the neighbourhood of Nea Smirni in Athens; the last report we have made describes the events in detail and can be viewed here (https://crimethinc.com/2021/04/07/greece-our-hatred-for-the-police-will-bring-us-together). The state’s response was heinously beating and arrest of individuals at random in the neighbourhood, including a woman who was not only beaten but tortured and threatened with rape throughout her detention. The police also conducted an anti-terror operation against a social center to capture one individual, despite having little to no evidence. Someone with little to no connection to the broader anarchist movement remains in prison to this day over this incident, despite clear evidence contradicting the case against him: an Iraqi-born Greek citizen known as “The Indian” in the hooligan scene and mainstream press, known to be a hooligan of the Olympiacos football club. Police raided the home of this individual and attempted to charge him with everything based solely on the absurd and empty testimony given by a relative of “The Indian” who has a long term feud with him. Police also claim as evidence his possession of a track suit which is essentially the uniform of every hooligan on the planet. Him being Iraqi-born both helps to demonize him in the xenophobic mainstream press (Right wing press discussing his further imprisonment despite evidence he was not at the riots: https://www.skai.gr/news/greece/epeisodia-sti-nea-smyrni-paramenei-sti-fylaki-o-indianos
http://coffeeradiogr.com/valtonoun-oi-ede-gia-tin-astynomiki-via-akoma-psaxnoun-ti-egine-sti-nea-smyrni/) and heighten the police and the right’s assault on his life regardless of his obvious innocence.

An exculpatory video surfaced showing him at work at the time the riot (where a Delta officer was beaten after charging protesters) was taking place. Police claim the video of him being elsewhere at the time is not enough and continue to hold him in pretrial detention, basically until they either find someone else to blame or can sentence prison for a crime he clearly is not responsible for. While personally we support this individual as a wrongfully incarcerated enemy of the police, we should note that we are unfamiliar with his views on the events that took place, nor aware of his politics, if he has any. We want to report on this case to recognize the repression following that night’s inspiring events, but also to highlight the capability of police here to punish without even the facade of proper judicial proceedings if the case at hand involves crime against one of their own.

The Case against Giannis Michailidis, Konstantina Athanasopoulou, and Dimitra Valavani
Giannis Michailidis, whom escaped from prison at one point, was captured along with two women. In the vehicle where he was caught police claim to have found weapons and fake documents. Regardless of the allegations, Giannis claims full responsibility for any crimes being prosecuted in the case against his two co-defendants (https://actforfree.noblogs.org/post/2021/05/22/greece-text-of-the-anarchist-prisoner-giannis-mihailidis-about-the-upcoming-trial-on-31-5-21/). Konstantina Athanasopoulou and Dimitra Valavani  , the two women allegedly present at the time of his recapture, are facing conspiracy and anti-terror charges. Dimitra Valavani, one of the defendants in the case, has given multiple statements detailing assault by police forces, specifically in the matter of providing her DNA as seen here (https://enoughisenough14.org/2021/04/02/dimitra-valavani-trial-for-the-violent-taking-of-my-dna-sample-by-cops/). While Giannis claims full responsibility for weapons found and his own escape from prison, the state attempts again to fabricate a so-called criminal organization that simply does not exist. Giannis and his co-defendants refuse to cooperate and have repeatedly demonstrated remarkable strength despite a vicious assault of repression by the state. The first stage of the trial was postponed repeatedly, and finally took place in June. Various inconsistencies in the statements of police took place then as well as both a formal statement by Giannis accepting responsibility of the allegations made against his co-defendants and a commitment to not cooperate with the absurd trial and proceedings against him and his co-defendants. All three defendants have behaved with a level of courage that humbles us as we write, including conducting a hunger strike with Dimitris Koufontinas, and placed their faith and love in demonstrations of solidarity and support from the broader revolutionary community. They are inspirations to us all and deserve out utmost support in the coming months of judicial proceedings.

In conclusion: There is No Conclusion
Solidarity is indispensable, and while our minds face the surreal transitions out of lockdown, with our movement facing an equally unprecedented escalation by the state, we will prevail, as “our solidarity is stronger then any prison cell”.

Same Voice/ Different Name
This update from Greece is part of a long-term effort to raise awareness of and international solidarity with the anarchist movement in Greece. The authors responsible for this report remain the same as those who have been providing frequent updates throughout the last few years, however the report no longer associates either with the Bad News Report or Radio Fragmata Greece. We prefer to remain anonymous and communicate in order to demonstrate solidarity without associating with any group as we had in the past. This report is read and supported by various individuals in the movement from different backgrounds, facing different obstacles, and engaging in different projects. Both projects do however continue separately, and we encourage you to follow them for updates on movements in Greece and abroad.

We also recommend athens.indymedia.org. The twitter handle @exiledarizonaAbolition media worldwide, and Enough is Enough 14 also consistently post in English about events in Greece. Act for Free recently had its servers stolen by the Dutch state but is back online now.


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