Monday, December 15, 2008

Riot Info #5

A necessary remark before you get down to reading: this is not all that's happening in greece right now! (For example, I've not covered at all the many occupations of mass media which have been taking place the last few days.) I've work to do which cannot very well wait until "change has come," so I'm coping as best as I can with the continuous stream of information coming from whichever way. For more info, please visit some of the webpages linked below & ask people there to post translations of what they deem important - TVXS, athens.indymedia, & indy in particular is your best bet. & keep checking the UK indymedia central for english content.

& check out this (latest) summary report, too!

GSEE [General Confederation of Greek Workers] occupied by insurgent workers (athens.indymedia, Wednesday morning)
[the translation may be found here]

New Provo proofs of fascists and Police under cover pretending to be Rioters
[follow the link to the video; a similar version of the video has been uploaded here]

Witnesses tell of Greek police 'brutality'
[find it here & be outraged as well]

[This is] the end of what even they call democracy.

It's very hard to me to describe, much more digest, what happened in Syntagma square at midnight. That's where a bunch of people & school students were demonstrating. At some point, it seemed like they had even decided to camp out on the square, in front of the [statue dedicated to the] unknown soldier. They carried some tents to that spot & sat down quietly. Suddenly, platoons of blue[-clad] & [green-]clad [riot cops] started assuming battle positions. Some people who were there went to them to talk, to tell them to assume no ction, this this is a peaceful protest... The kids were doing absolutely nothing, this was one of the most peaceful actions of the last days. The blue[-clad cops] started spraying the kids simply sitting there with chemicals. An unbelievable scene. They pushed & cornered people at the opposite side, by the steps leading to their burned [Xmas] tree, & at some point the people started singing "Pote tha kanei xasteria" [a song with clear political liberatory connotations] & to yell "Junta." Till this point, 03:00, there are a lot of kids there & an unbelievable amount of platoons lined up throughout Syntagma square. To everyone in the region: be careful, they're arresting people.

(another account of the same events)

After the cops had surrounded the people (about 500 of them) from three sides, & when they saw that people were getting fewer & fewer, they started in a coordinated manner, provocatively, & unprovocated to march forwards [thus] forcing the kids to the stairs on the square. The Riot Squad occupied the entire street & they sealed off the people from the stairs &
on. All this was committed to tape by the camera (here).

Subsequently, people showed no intention of leaving. They sat down & were yelling slogans in front of the Riot Squad [human] chain. With pulse, at one moment "junta, junta," at another "democracy, democracy," yet another "burn this brothel of a Parliament," & sung "Pote tha kanei xasteria." There were about 300 people left.

Some isolated people were attempting to get back to the statue & the cops were pushing them off. Apparently, the cops wanted to go home, since their plan didn't wuite work out they way they wanted, since the kids are still there.

It's indeed typical of a junta mentality to force people sitting down, & in fact peacefully so, to leave a public spot. It's a gathering ban typical of a junta.

"Go home you fucking kids before I fuck you up," said &, a few minutes later, he kept his promise. The helmeted Riot Squad needed only 5 minutes - that's the time it elapsed since they showed up - to destroy what, earlier that day, some colleagues of theirs from YMET [another police team aki to the Riot Squad]. To initiate a dialog with the school students & to listen to them.

They turned the situation upside-down in Alexandras avenue, in front of the General Police HQ of Attiki, they beat up violently kids 13, 14 & 15 years old & sprayed chemicals on them manically, revengefully, on their face, yelling: "& this one is from me."

& that's how the sit-in for the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos turned into a problematic demo of exasperation & outrage with slogans against the police & stone-hurling until Kifisias avenue, only to break up in the back alleys of Mihalakopoulou street.

Not only did they provoke unrest, they also arrested school students demonstrating peacefully
Because, when the kids saw once again plain violence & a colleague of theirs being mercilessly beaten up by the Riot Squad men who were dragging him around & beating him up despite the fact that he did not resist in the least, they forgot what some men from YMET had told them earlier, that "not all are alike", that "if they could, they'd throw their shields & join the other side" etc.. They tried to help their colleague, from the Metaxourgio school, & to remove him from the hands of the platoon who had snatched him from the crowd. In vain. The school student found himself on the asphalt... gripped by the Riot Squad man who had achieved a headlock around the student's neck. & as soon as those who tried to help him were pushed back with chemicals & shields,he got sprayed in the face once again,whereas a girl got wounded in the head, presumably by a stone.

This was one of the two arrests yesterday noon in Alexandras avenue. The second one occurred a few meters before the Thon estate, on the traffic stream towards Kifisias avenue, & once again from among the crowd. There, where the platoons were pushing the school students.

"Excuse us for demonstrating for what has happened & we're not sitting [on our asses] like you do," some school students were yelling. At the same time that colleagues of theirs were setting trashcans on fire & were responding with stones, fruit & water bottles [hurled] at the police force who was swearing, spraying [chemicals], threatening & upturned everything in a peaceful demonstration just 15 minutes... before it was [scheduled to be] over, before the school students withdrew to discuss with their coordination committees.

Earlier, school students distributed flowers & smiles to the policemen outside theGeneral Police HQ of Attiki
"Why are you provoking? WHy aren't you stepping back? The kids will leave momentarily," a teacher was explaining earlier to the Riot Squad platoons who appeared & cordoned off the demo. To receive an offensive reply in the singular & ending with "re [common greek swearword]" by a Riot Squad cop. "Sir, I use plural & you reply in the singular & use 're'," the teacher reply to receive a "It's [people like] you who've been fucking with their minds." "We educate them. We teach them to be democratic citizens. To demonstrate peacefully sir," he added. But it was as if he had never said a thing... "They've never learned to talk. They only know how to beat [people] up," a student said to himself. At the same time that another teacher was screaming at the top of his voice "Dialooooooooog!"

Because throwing flour & yoghurt on the platoons was the excuse the "immobile soldiers" [another golden page in the V. Polydoras book of slander] - with a huge mouth - were looking for to make their threats true & break up violently a peaceful sit-in. That of the hundreds of... Alexis's who distributed flowers & some smiles to those who had cordoned off the General Police HQ of Attiki building - with their bodies, but also with police trucks - as if they would have been attacked by hordes of barbarians.

During the last few days, members of PASOK [the "center-left"/"socialist" party which is alternating with Nea Deimokratia (ND), the right wing party currently governing] have been overjoyed. The gallops had shown their party leading the race, even before...

... the revelation of the total inability of the government to manage the latest dramatic events. With ND on the verge of collapse, PASOK will win the popular vote in the next elections &, either in the first or the second round, will form a government.

Nevertheless, the current situation beras no relation to the "right-wing parenthetical remark" of the period '90-'93, when A. Papandreou's party [a.k.a., PASOK] got back on power following [then leader of ND] K. Mitsotakis' interlude. Not only because this is[, now,] a different country but because this time around the citizens will not vote for PASOK. They'll just vote against ND.

Today's tragic situation in which the country finds itself (her financial credibility is currently compared to that of african countries) has two sources. First, ND's management as a government; when the greeks realize how much harm was done in these last 4.5 years, they'll literally be flabbergasted. & it's not only because hospitals have no bandages & the therapists in psychiatric wings haven't ben paid in 6 months.

The tax-collecting mechanism has been fully disassembled: it could be that, in a few months, the state will have no money to pay the salaries of its civil servants. For example, the mass media have concealed or only minimally explained that last year's disastrous [forest] fires are neither due to the "general [as in the military rank] wind" nor to "disproportionate threat" [both of them are among then-minister V. Polydoras' most surrealistic moments; it could be funny, if it were not so criminally irresponsible as to deserve a good flogging], but to a paradigm-setting impotency which we saw in rerun during the last 10 days & in full swing.

The second source of the current crisis is, though, that most of the problems rotting right now were created or amplified during [the] PASOK [governments]. Starting from the occurrences of corruption (as far as the Siemens scandal [search for Siemens below] is concerned, [a PASOK] member shamelessly admitted that he was receiving money [from Siemens] on behalf of the party), passing to the miserable state of a paranoid, authoritarian, mock-for-free education (PASOK's [current] leader [G. Papanderous] is familiar with these, as he was minister of Education for a while), & ending with the anachronistic mess between the church & the greek state or [even] the health [system]: was not it Mr. Simitis himself [then PASOK leader & prime minister] that put the reforms in the public health system on hold which could offer citizens a decent hospitalization?

The deregulation of the social security system & the precarious working conditions, the crafting of the "700 Euro generation" all have their roots in the PASOK period. "In the events of the last few days, the range of the outrage & anger surprised us all," as G. Papandreou admitted in his yesterday talk. Normally speaking, he should have admitted that the outrage & anger were also directed against him & his party.

PASOK will receive a timebomb, which can only be inactivated through brave initiatives & radical break-ups with his own past. But, up to now, there has been no critical review of this past with all the positive & negative [elements] it contains. To the contrary, & independently of its leader's intentions, PASOK includes enough people which are dreaming about putting into effect the same old techniques qhich created the problems in the first place. This is the most certain way to hell.

Because, what with the the size of the[se] problems, the grace period of any government will last way too little: it will soon find face to face with a generation of young people which has only received serious education in a very specific direction: that of tear gas & stone hurling. & [also against] a society which neither wants nor can it be governed in the same way it was governed for 34 years [i.e., after democracy being reinstated in the country following the colonels' junta]. Are the people in PASOK justified, then, to be overjoyed? As much as somebody ready to receive a timebomb which may explode while in their hands is [justified to be overjoyed].

The recent events & the continuing mobilization in greece continue to be covered by the international press. [A] common axis [of the international publications] is that the unrest will go on & that the reasons behind the current events lies in chronic problems & weaknesses of the greek society which the current government has not managed to address.

The spanish newspapers cover the greek events extensively.

El Pais hosts statements made by the Rector of the [National & Kapodistrian] University of Athens Christos Kittas, who underlines that the youth is absolutely right to be demonstrating since the political forces ignore them.

La Vanguardia hostes statements made by Stelios Kouloglou [of TVXS], who estimates that the youth will rise globally & that greece was [solely] the first country to experience this. [He cites as a] reason the neoliberal model which marginalizes the youth.

ABC is also attributing responsibility for the recent events, remarking that the government is paying the price for the absence of reforms in education, [the] health [system], justice & the civil servant sector which[, neverhteless,] the government had promised in 2004. Regarding the fact that the first week from the death of the 15-year-old [Alexis] Grigoropoulos has been completed, it emphasizes that the government could have regained control of the situation if it had communicated its devastation officially to the youngster's family & [it it] had asked the police to simply be present without getting involved in violent activities.

La Razon estimates that the crisis will endure & suggests, as a solution, the resignation of the Karamanlis government. It also treats the subject of the repercussions that this situation will gave on the country's economy &, in particular, on the touristic sector.

[Some] characteristic excerpts:

Observer: «In Athens, the demonstrators of the middle-class are buying stones [to hurl, presumably]. Chaos has not ended.»

The paper's observer in Athens, following a 22-year stay in our country, states that the outrage expressed through the violence present in the [events of the] last days has impressed her. Her youngsters are far away from the characterization "extreme elements" that the prime minister has attributed to them & they offer a first-rate example for the entire planet, as it's pointed out in her article. The middle class children, which fight against a corrupt system without prospects, form the lubricant of the [mobilization] machinery.

"Even fanatic ND [Nea Dimokratia - the governing right-wing party]," Helena Smith who is signing the article points out, "called me to tell me they're deserting the [sinking] ship." Nevertheless, what with a prime minister who's refusing to announce elections, the country is doomed to remain strapped to the chariot of a "lame" government.

BBC: "The young generation bares its teeth."

Greece could've been the most successful country in Europe, if the country's social structure did not prevent personal value from being shadowed by personal relations. The paper also discusses the financial situation, on which the article's editor comments "Greece is a country with european prices & african wages." Malcolm Brabant, the editor, cranks it up a notch by attributing responsibility to [K.] Karamanlis for lack of reforms. "The bullet that killed Alexis also touched Karamanlis," he writes in particular.

Sunday Telegraph: "Why did violence & outrage shake the birthplace of democracy?"

Nick Squires, the newspaper's editor, characterizes the prime minister as an attorney [ahem - with a 6-month experience, may I add] without prior ministerial experience & points out that the Nea Dimokratia government, what with the scandals & the wrong moves, has managed to turn the euphoric picture of its early time as government on its head.

The [same] article hosts statements made by [greek well-respected journalist] Alexis Papahelas, according to whom the country is "undergoing a nervous breakdown" & is being led to self-disaster.

The newspaper also hosts statements made by demonstrators but also by store owners who saw their stores being wrecked.

Reports also [appeared] in turkish newspapers:

Ηürriyet publishes an article in which it's reported that groups of young people continuing to occupy the Polytechnic school released a communique in which they used an excerpt from a poem by Nazum Hikmet. In particular, "If I don't burn, if you don't burn, if we don't burn, how will light erupt from darkness?".

According to the newspaper, the unrest in Athens will not prove easy to quell down.

The Sunday edition of Zaman, in an article titled "Being a teenager" reports the recent events in greece on account of the 15-year-old's death & writes that, although the turkish right wing is also happy for greece's problems, while the left wing is envious, turks in general & irrespectively of political beliefs, sympathize with the greek youth which dares to revolt.

An opinion that the greek phenomenon might prove to be the catalyst for a world-wide domino od mobilizations is expressed in another article titled "Deflection." It also connects the recent tension with the global financial crisis.

The Committee for the Coordination of the Struggle of School Students in Thessaloniki decided, on December 14, to continue the mobilization this week. These include marches, occuptions, absence from schools, & the occupation of central avenues.

Tomorrow, on Tuesday, the school & university students will demonstrate at 12:00 noon starting from the [E.] Venizelos statue. The schedule for Wednesday includes the occupation of central avenues & a march of PAME [] at 18:30 from the same starting point & which will be joined by parents & workers. Each school will decide on the shape of its demonstration through assemblies of the committees responsible.

The schools of Thessaloniki assume the initiative on Thursday & are putting on a concert at 12:00 at the [E.] Venizelos statue.

The official opinion of the Committee, as it was communicated in a press conference, is that it's against both the violence and [subsequent] murder of the student [Alexis] & the terrorism imposed by the "hooded ones" & is distancing itself from the disastrous unrest.

Marios Athanasiadis, who's in charge [of the Committee], states that the school movement has nothing to do with this unrest, as the marches are always well-guarded, & that the unrest is used as a alibi for the reinforcement of the repression imposed by the state.

In the spirit of mobilization, Aristotle University & a certain school at the Technical University of Thessaloniki have been occupied.


panole8riambos said...

you can watch it here, live:
the tv stations returned to their normal programs...

tapes gone loose said...

Thank you! I linked it up.

Simon Baddeley said...

I value your thoughtful analysis. Trying to follow and understand what's happening is perhaps less difficult than ever - given the web. But it could never be the same as being there. I'm a 66 year old English academic involved in local politics in Birmingham but also living with my family in Greece in Kerkyra. Xerete Simon

tapes gone loose said...

Thank you Simon, I'm also an academic (albeit half your age) who has a soft spot for Kerkyra (but more so for Zakynthos!), so we seem to be sharing a couple of things. The sole purpose of the content here is exactly this - to inform, not to indoctrinate; I'm glad if I helped a tiny bit in that direction...