Saturday, December 13, 2008

Riot Info #4

Today I'm doing some work to take my mind off things & rereading excerpts from Matthew Collin's "This Is Serbia Calling" - the similarities between Belgrade's Winter of Discontent ('96-'97) & the current situation in Athens are surprisingly striking - not because they go deep (they don't), but because they even exist. (No one can or should even try to forget the serbian tanks, the fact that S. Milošević was a dictator having stolen the public's vote repeatedly, the fact that the country was at civil war at the time, & a number of other things - no reason to be naive here.)

Everybody's body clock seems to be running on double time here, too; people get flamed up just by talking about how to raise awareness in the public - the public, not just those politically involved! - about what's happening in greece at the moment.

Some translations will follow in the course of the day.

[A translation already appeared here - I just touched it up a little.]

The 15-year old Nikos R., Alexandros Grigoropoulos' friend that was with him [, Alexis, on the night of the murder] in Exarchia square, shoots down one-by-one the special guard's, Epameinondas Korkoneas, arguments to the effect that the tragic event was, presumably, an accident. "They didn't kill Alexandros. They murdered him in cold blood..." ha says at the end of his statement.

Nikos describes how they had gotten to Tzavella street & that they were not part of any other group, nor did they hurl the plastic bottle [to the patrol car/the special guards]. &, what's even more important, that the policemen aimed at the two kids using both hands which were having a bite in the pedestrian street. They were shot simply because they happened to be there.

The entire testimony of the 15-year-old, who miraculously survived, is the following:

I attend the first grade of high school at the Public High School of Psychiko. I knew Alexandros, or Gregory, as his nickname was, [deriving] from his last name, since the fourth grade of primary school. We used to attend the same school. We were not close friends until the first grade of junior high school. Since then, however, & until yesterday that they killed him, we were tight.

- Were you with Alexandros yesterday, on December 12, 2008 ?

Yesterday, at around 17:50, I went visited a friend [living] next to Larisis [train] station. Before going there, however, I had spoken to Alexandros. He had told me that he was going to attend a [water-]polo match... I told him to call me up when the game was over, so that we could meet at Mesologgiou street, in Exarcheia. He was going to attend the match with his friend Nikos F. and P. H. We used to meet there at regular intervals. We were intending to go to Faros Psychikou later on, to find our friends from our old schools, and entertain ourselves because as I was celebrating my name day yesterday.

- In the long run, Alexandros did call you when the game ended. Where was he going to go?

Yes, he called me and told me to get going and he'd set out as well from the athletic field [down to the city]... As far as I can see on my cell phone, the call from Alexandros came at 19:10.

- When did you meet Alexandros at Mesologgiou street in Exarcheia?

I can't exactly recall. About 45 minutes before the incident. I walked from my friend's house. I went up Ipeirou (if I am not mistaken), then took a right at the Museum, a left at Stournari until the square to the right, and Mesologgiou is 10 meters further down. I waited for him 3-4 minutes.

- What did you do when he came?

When he came, we went to a convenience store 10 meters further up and bought something to eat and two soft drinks... We went back to the sidewalk on Mesologgiou streeet to eat and discuss.

- Where exactly did you sit?

We sat there, by the entrance of an apartment building at the intersection of Mesologgiou street and Tzavella street, at the left side where one sees Zoodochou Pigis street. There exist, there, three railings on the walkway where you can sit. We sat there. (At this point, they show the witness a printed map of the area.) We ate what we had bought and suddenly, as we were talking, we heard a somewhat loud bang. Near enough to hear it, but far away enough to not understand what had happened. We didn't pay any attention...

- Did you see light accompany the bang that you're describing to me?

No, we didn't have eye contact with where the bang came from, as there was a wall in between... In order to see what happens on Navarinou Street, you have to get to the middle of the Tzavella Street's walkway.

After a minute and a half we heard, from 4 or 5 passers-by, that "the cops are coming, something happened...". So, out of curiosity, Alexandros and I went to the middle of Tzavella Street to see what had happened. A distance of 2-3 meters away... When we got to the middle of the walkway, we saw two police officers at a distance of 15-20 meters.

They were exactly at the intersection of Zoodochou Pigis and Tzavella street. One was taller than the other. Subsequently, they stopped at the intersection of the two streets... In front of us there was nobody else. Alexandros was in front of me and I was behind them and to the right. When the policemen stopped at Zoodochou Pigis and Tzavella street, they had their hands, left or right I don't remember, on their weapons which were in their holsters hanging from their belts. Someone from behind me tossed an empty plastic bottle which, naturally, did not reach the policemen. I forgot to tell you that, as soon as I saw the policemen, they started cursing at me and Alexandros, saying "We will f... your Virgin Mary [classic heavy-weight greek obscenity], come here and I'll show you who's tough around here" and things like that. The guys behind us were yelling "get back" and "go to hell..." at the policemen...

As soon as someone threw that plastic bottle, the policemen, both of them if I am not mistaken, removed their weapons from their holsters, aimed in front of them, that is towards where I, Alexandros, and the other person were, and three subsequent shots rung out. I forgot to tell you that I am sure that one of the two police officers was holding his weapon with both hands. I saw then - and I am absolutely certain - that the policemen were not shooting neither towards the sky nor towards the ground. They aimed at our side and fired!

Alexandros fell on the ground, if I am not mistaken following the first or the second shot, [&] at any rate certainly before the third one... Following that, I didn't quite know what was going on. People were yelling and some people lifted up Alexandros's t-shirt. I saw he had a hole in the middle of the chest and a little towards the heart. There was also blood running from the wound...

Let me also tell you that the policemen who fired, as soon as they saw Alexandros falling, took off. I don't remember towards which direction... Subsequently, EKAB [the ambulance] came and took Alexandros, dead. I say this because he had no pulse and there was blood coming out of his mouth...

- What where the light conditions at the place where the incident you described [occurred]?

Even though night had fallen, there was light from the street lamps on the poles which shed [light] and also from the shops... There was a single non-operational light bulb, to Alexandros' s left...

- Do you want to tell us something else among all that you know?

The only thing I want to tell you is that they didn't kill Alexandros. They murdered him in cold blood...

[Background: here]

From the very first day that the Town Hall passed to the hands of the citizens, members of the "Democratic" municipality board aligned themselves across the street for where the Town Hall is. They aligned - as always - as enemies of the local community, when that latter community is geared into action bypassing bureaucracy. The mayor, after having tried to end the occupation by force, suggested "assuming a respectful attitude towards democratic processes" that we stop by his office to explain to him what it is exactly that we request & that he, in the end, decides whether the occupation will go on or not. Since then, the mayor, board members, & various lackeys camped opposite to the occupied building transferring [the stage where] the valuable profession of sitting [on your ass is played out] in the cafe. Using either their big mouths or force & even ridiculous slanders regarding material damages that, supposedly, the building has suffered or will suffer, they're trying to provoke against the occupation. Meanwhile, the region is chokefull with secret agents on motorbikes which patrol the region or trying to mix themselves - unsuccessfully - with the crowd.

Obviously, they're not scaring us - we can only laugh at the way they drag their decomposition around.

As a reply to the cries about the fact that, unless various services function, the immigrants will be deported, those employed with a temporary contract will be left unpaid &, in general, that the universe will fall apart unless the occupation ends, we offer the following:

- Those employed on a temporary basis under "stage" clocked in as usually, during the first day, & even this didn't have to happen the next day since there's no employee of the Town Hall in it anymore.

- Inside the Town Hall, all the necessary bureaucracy so that those employed part-time get paid was taken care of.

The person "responsible" for the applications of the immigrants, after having accused that is those people will be deported because of us, & after having committed to showing up in order to do her job... never did.

Regarding the course of the children's theater group - the person employed by the municipality didn't even deign to inform the parents that she'll not show up - we suggested that a theater game takes place with the guidance of a theater education export who's participating in the occupation.

The members of the union of those employed by the municipality, which fully understand the reasons behind the occupation of the Town Hall, are the only ones which, through a sincere interest for our municipality, are here to facilitate & to guarantee any communication & understanding we can have with those "across," are being slandered at this moment through the municipal authority's unacceptable phrasing.

The reply to the culture of terror, which they have been trying to cultivate to the residents of the region for days on end, was the [amount of] popular participation in the open assemblies, as the Town Hall is open for the first time to all citizens. This is the first time that so many citizens participate in an essential & self-organized way through direct-democracy practices. Practices which are alive & such that, no matter how many little assemblies or pseudo-festivities they put together, they will not overcome the dynamic environment that developed in the last few days in out municipality.

& to finally put a full stop here: our target are not your storefronts but the storefront & the content of the system itself, of the repression, the exploitation, the subjugation & of fear.

Charged exchanges regarding whether Golden Dawn members participated in the Patra citizens' block during the unrest on Tuesday (night). Sharp missives from left forces.

Where there Golden Dawn members in Tuesday's demo or not? Plain citizens insist that they were not led to react by far-right elements, at the same time that everything points to that there has been a, minimal at least, push for a counter-attack, at a time where terror & outrage were alternating with a telltale frequency.

The mayor of Patras, Andreas Fouras, [& while] speaking yesterday in Radio Gamma stated that, when the citizens take the law in their hands, then society crumbles down, pointing out the following: "We, the community, should be turning the city into a warfield, when[/every time] the state cannot function in the appropriate way. It's obvious that Patras had problems in the last few days, & yet the police cannot solve them. If you look at the pictures of the moment at which citizens initiated their engagement against demonstrators, you'll realize that this concerns an organized core, & it's peculiar, to say the least, that it acted both in front of behind police forces. This does not classify the citizens & store owners of Patras into far-right legions, nevertheless, when any citizen takes law in their own hands, what follows is perilous developments. & this, given that history teaches us that, in similar occasions murders unfold ([Patranews] editor's note: Lamprakis, Temponeras). I ask you, though, what are we going t do tomorrow? Will citizens take law in their hands regarding the immigrant refugee camp or open air markets?" Additionally, Mr. Fouras underlined that the State owes to obtain a just state & a feeling of security which will be putting citizens' rights & quality of life on the frontline. "The message I'm trying to pass is that Democracy suffers when citizens put themselves up front (I do not mean the merchants who were defending their property), because then society crumbles down," Mr. Fouras said. In fact, yesterday morning, the existence of Golden Dawn flyers in the city center with anti-anarchist & anti-immigrant content fueled even further the flames. "The whole city was full of those flyers. The merchants defended their properties in a worthwhile manner, but I saw none of them hurling stones & such slogans as 'Anarchists, you sons of ...[whores].' That's what the organized ones did. Democracy & civilization can only support state authorities defending the citizens' security & property. In the history of this place, every time someone took law in their hands, there have been murders such as hose of Lamprakis & Temponeras," Mr. Fouras stated.

In hiw own statements, the head of the Achaia Prefecture underlined that "when the state, the government & the police are absent, what happened is inescapable. There has been an organized reaction by certain people who grabbed the opportunity, & these are none other than the 'Kalampokas's' & Golden Dan members. But they were not the only ones to react. They just took advantage the unrest to achieve their own goals."

TEDK's president [Regional Union of Municipalities & Communities] Grigoris Alexopoulos underlined the following: "Whoever saw the unrest, saw with their own eyes Golden Dawn members behind the Riot Squad &, subsequently, a large crowd of citizens who were mostly protecting their stores. God forbid someone stating that the citizens & the store owners went all the way to Agias Sofias & to KTEL [the bus station HQ] chasing the hooded ones. Those [who did] were Golden Dawn members." The head of the Prefecture was called up by the PASOK leader G. Papandreou, who asked for a debriefing over the situation in the city after the extensive unrest, underlining that he will inform the Prime Minister regarding the police force's stance.

SYRIZA's Achaia branch points out that "Patras was singled out for the employment of a specific [strategic] plan aiming at stigmatizing the youth movement & at stimulating conservative instincts which the government hopes for - in vain - in order to reverse the climate of total resistance which has come into play. In this attempt, the government cultivated, exploited & put into good use the justified agony of a sector of merchants & citizens, reviving the scarecrows of the anti-demonstrations & of the "infuriated citizens" & disregarding the many & various consequences & perils."

NAR [New Left Current] points out that "Since yesterday evening, the Kalampokas team, the infamous Centaur team that murdered Temponeras, made its appearance felt again with chains, knifes, & crowbars & they pretented to be protectors of the order & security! The serpent's egg is raising its head again!" while the Social Strugglers point out that: "Yesterday, lives were at stake for the coordinated action of the paramilitary, who didn't dare make their presence felt in Patras for years on end because they've painted their hands red with blood. That's why we had Golden Dawn members or other gangs in Patras. Throughout the night, a pogrom took place in the city. They kept ringing bells, sloganeering (communists, we'll turn you into soap etc.), hitting people & turning them into the police," while at the same time they atrobuted part of the blame to the mass media.

Approximately 300 persons have demonstrated on Friday, December 12, in the parisian night [&] close to the greek embassy in solidarity with the "600 euro generation" - a reference to the monthly salary of young greek employees. Responding to the call of organizations related to education & to the left (the students' union UNEF [National Union Of University Students of France - the call's here], school students' syndicates FIDL [Independent & Democratic Federation of High-Schools] & UNL [Natiional Union of High-Schools], MJS [Young Socialists' Movement], JCR [Revolutionary Marxists]...), they gathered in Auguste Vacquerie street (XVIe), a few hundred yards away from the Arc de Triomphe & close to the embassy, which security forces where barring them from accessing.

The demonstrators attempted to advance towards Place de l'Etoile, but they were repelled by the CRS [the french Riot Squad]. They sybsequently descended the Marceau avenue where they set up a barricade it was quickly dismantled by the police. From there, they ascaped to Champs-Elysées, which they blocked by means of construction site-type barricades & b forming a human chain. The traffic got completely back to normal around 19:30, the demonstrators dispersed, mostly getting into the metro.

According to the police, six were [apprehended &] detained, three [of them] for damages & [another] three for hurling items at the security forces. The spokesperson for the LCR [see JCR above], Olivier Besancenot, & the member of parliament Jean-Luc Mélenchon, founder of the party Parti de Gauche (PG [Left Party]), participated in the gathering. "The confluence between youths but also workers which exists dow there [in greece], maybe that's what we're missing at this time of CPE [the infamous 'first-job contract' law in france], we're in need of a new May '68," Olivier Besancenot stated. "We need a social & european mobilization & that's what we're getting at", he added. The militants of NPA [New Anticapitalist Party] which will officially see the light of day in January, held a sign on which one could read: "Down with Greek State terrorism & long live the greek people & [their] fight."

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