Saturday, February 14, 2009

Greece: update #2

  • A demo had been announced for Saturday, February 14 to express solidarity to those on trial for December's events (18 of which will be tried under the anti-terrorism law). It collected 1,000-1,500 people according to athens.indymedia, a somewhat-far cry from the demos one-two months ago. The cops made sure that nobody could get close to the parliament; no idea whether the demo intented to in the first place, of course... meanwhile, the following is a communique by people who suggested that as many people print it out & distribute it in Psyrri on Saturday night (Psyrri plays a central role in athenian entertainment; all the more show on valentine's day, I guess...).

Everything was in place

Everything was in place! The starving in Africa. The "specialists" on TV. The "bad ones" in prison. The "anarchists" in Exarchia square [according to a slew of greek governments, Exarchia square is the Greek Anarchist HQ; more importantly, essentially all anarchists are supposed to be contained in that region... see also the article 'Exarchia square is everywhere' here]. Those deciding in the parliament. Our money on loans. The police around the next corner. Our houses to the banks. Our enemies in Turkey & Macedonia. Our parking spots in the parks [a reference to the recent events in Kyprou square, where the municipality of athens cut down the trees in the neighborhood's last park so as to commence construction of an underground parking].

Our entertainment in the bars. Our kids at school. Our friends in Facebook, Art in museums & galleries. Our desires in advertisements. Our trees in Syntagma square in Christmas [a reference to the mayor of athens's decision to protect the city's Xmas tree at all costs, including by surrounding it with a riot squad - the surrealistic video can be found here]. Beauty at dieting institutes. Love on 14 February. We in between four walls.

The End Of Discipline. [The Beginning Of] Magical Life.

Those starved in the parliament, the specialists in Exarchia square, the bad ones in dieting institutes, the anarchists in museums & galleries, those deciding on 14 February, our money in Syntagma square on Xmas, the police in Africa, our houses in the parks our enemies in Facebook, our parking spots in the banks.

Our entertainment at school, our kids in the bars, out desires around the corner, our art on the loans (I'm not gonna pay, I'm not gonna pay),

Our trees on the streets
Beauty on the streets
Love on the streets

In between four walls?

december's love children

  • Meanwhile, unemployment is raging - especially in the north, it seems. Recently, 200 workers descended from Naoussa to Athens & camped outside the ministry of economics for about 32 hours. They represented a total 1,200 of workers employed in the local spinning mills (run by the Lanaras family) who have not been fired but have nevertheless left unpaid for 6 months. (Unemployment in the region is skyrocketing, what with textile businesses moving out of the country & into neighboring balkanian countries.) They had been "assured" that the ministry will resolve the issue twice before; this time around, they got in print that they'll be paid for their labor (meaning they labor they have already put in, of course). Meanwhile, further increases in the prices of basic foodstuff seem to be coming; the ministry of development made public a list of a dozen or so companies that are profiteering - a boycotting movement followed suit, the scale of which I cannot assess. Amidts all these events, a group of people in Larissa (the city where people apprehended in December will face charges according to the anti-terrorism law) entered a super market, topped up a bunch of carts, exited the super market as it entered it (&, needless to say, without paying), & distributed the contents of the carts to people at the open air market nearby (information in greek here). Such actions have become more & more frequent in the last year or so; here also, as in many previous cases, the response of the people has been reported to have been positive. But, 4 people were apprehended; they will be reportedly charged with aggravated theft & are facing incarceration for up to 10 years... The following is the leaflet distributed at the open air market.

"Find it impossible" to remain apathetic in front of inequality, injustice, the pain & poverty that the capitalistic system gives birth to, we assume action that defies it. Today, we decided to expropriate items pertaining to survival from the Galaxias super market & to distribute them in the nearby open air market. That is, to reclaim the goods from the bosses by returning them to the workers, the unemployed & the retired citizens.

The goods on the super market's shelves are products of the workers' labor & not of the bosses'. These products belong to those producing them. To those sentenced [to work] in the work dungeons where they are blackmailed, terrorized, labor & occasionally murdered for a piece of the bread that they themselves make in the whole & which is snatched away by the bosses.

Our action is symbolic, as three carts [filled with] pasta, rice, & oil solve no problem once & for all, but we urge the citizens to stop accepting everything, to stop being alone & to pass on to the attack through collective actions.

- Let's reclaim what belongs to us
- Let's turn all we dream about into action
- Life without bosses


  • On a related note, & in order for people outside the country to understand what the political crisis in greece entails, in terms of the prevailing corruption, here's a list of recent facts:
  1. First, Panayotis Tzanikos, the former mayor of Amaroussion (Maroussi), got convicted recently by a final judgement to 12 months of incarceration for unlawful actions pertaining to the construction of The Mall. The name says it all - a mega-complex of shops which totalled about 12,000,000 visits in its first year, as detailed here - & which many Maroussi residents & some members of the municipal council opposed due to the environmental reasons from the very first moment. Those debating the complex's construction took their claims to the Council of State, which decided that the construction would be an uneven burden on the residential area; subsequently, the Hellenic Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning & Public Works brought forward a specific law that legalized everything needed for the complex to be constructed. Residents debated the law & took the issue to the State of Council, which decided that the law is unconstitutional & has delegated reaching a final judgement for May of the current year. (Further reaing - in greek - may be found here; The Mall has been constructed meanwhile, see above - a demo in The Mall related to the December uprising took place in 29 December, the video's here). &, what do you know - it has been claimed, by people active in this, battle that the Tzanikos trial & decision went largely unreported by greek mainstream media...
  2. The Thessaloniki Prefect, Panayotis Psomiadis, has just been convicted to a year of incarceration by the Three-Member Appeate Court (report in greek here) - apparently, the Prefect reduced a fine imposed on a gas station owner - issued by the former municipal administration for dilutting the gas in the station - from 89,000 euro to 5,000 euro. The question now is whether he'll step down & how, as greek law seems to be rather explicit on this point. (I vividly recall that, to collect my scholarship from the greek state while in university, I had to provide the department with a copy of my criminal record - which had to be blank. It'd seem rather strange to be able to head the Prefecture with anything but a blank criminal record, especially when you've been convicted for abusing your own authority as Prefect...) Psomiadis is clearly no Blagojevich, but still - so long & thanks for all the fish?
  3. The third bullet point relates to the ongoing Konstantina Kouneva ordeal, & it will be covered in detail in the next update. To keep the bitter suspense of insanity going, I'll just mention that OIKOMET's owner (OIKOMET being Kouneva's employer) is Nikitas Oikonomakis, a member of PASOK, the country's very own socialist party...
That's it for now, more coming this weekend hopefully.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Greece: update

Yes, back to popular demand & all that cheesy stuff. I'll keep doing this for as long as I can/find it meaningful. Also, in contrast to my previous attempts, I'll insert - possibly extensive - comments in between the translations to fill the gaps. So, here we go; my own comments will always appear in between square brackets ('[ this...]') - if you repost anything anywhere, please mention this simple fact!
  • The biggest battle waged right now is that of the solidarity movement to Kostadinka Kouneva - if you're not familiar with the specifics of the story, read up here (there's more info elsewhere & in other languages - use a search engine or follow some links around). Kostadinka has been in the intensive care unit for a month & a half now; the following is an interview with the psychologist who's been in touch with her while Kostadinka is hospitalized. (The psychologist's name is Katerina Matsa; she's the scientific director of the program '18 Ano,' a rehabilitation program for drug & alcohol abusers, & apparently a respected figure in the greek left.)

- This was a deadly attack. Not only did they throw acid on her [face], they also forced her - immobilized her & forced her - to drink it. & there are severe damages in [her] internal organs. The fact that she survived is linked to the force [of will] of this woman, of her decision to make it. As she herself said, the first victory is that she didn't die, as they would have wanted [her to]. The next step is that the truth surfaces - & to get to the bottom of this. & the third step, which she considers equally important, is that a mobilization of such [magnitude] occurs that no other people like[/in] her [position] exist, living in those conditions, being subject not just to exploitation but [in fact] to slave trading - & not to bow their heads [in submission]. That's what she wants, that no one bows their heads [in submission], that this horrible state of terror reigning in these professions does not call the shots any more.

As we're speaking, the situation has improved, the severe damages remain, [but] the implantations have started, they're being successful, but no one can say anything with absolute precision, although the prognosis seems to be positive.

There are permanent damages, but a fight will ensue to overcome all this. Because she herself wants it & because science had advanced. Once we've secured, as a movement, the material conditions for the best [possible] scientific treatment, I believe that this human being will be rehabilitated to a large extent. & she deserves it.

- Let us discuss further the psychological aspects. How did she react & is reacting to this whole situation?

- Admittedly wonderfully. That is, she's an immense force of will & [she] wages this battle with a lot of bravery, a lot of courage, a lot of heroism. She hasn't talked about fear, she mostly talks about her anger - why should this unfair attack, this barbaric attack, happen - & that inflates her decisiveness. She's very determined not to give up.

Yes, first off, she's being informed extensively & on her own initiative about what's happening, about the solidarity movement, for the large demonstrations but also the events organized in [various] regions. She's being informed about how many unions support her. Besides hers, the call for the large demo which took place in 22 January & brought together a crowd of 8,000-10,000, was extended by, how many, 60 unions. She herself knows this, she knows that there's an attempt in France also, [&] because [petition] signatures from well-known people - intellectuals, unionists - have started flowing in, she feels that finally the time has come for this slave trading to stop, for no more terrorized colleagues of hers, & for her to become a paradigm of someone who doesn't bow her head [in submission]. That was the first thing she told me: I want to be the paradigm of a human being that not terrorized.

- Does she realize that the has become, in a way, a symbol for this movement that has come into existence & how does she react to this?

- Yes, yes, yes, yes, she realizes it & we discuss this, & she herself considers this [turn of events], from a certain point of view, as a form of vindication of a struggle which didn't start now, which has had a large duration during which - before the attack - her life was being threatened & she wasn't stepping back. The threats, the anonymous phone calls were [along the lines of] 'if you stop bugging us, there'll be no consequences for you.' As the crisis[/credit crunch] is getting bigger, there will be plenty slave trading occurrences of this sort, & we have to resist this before it assumed terrifying dimensions. She also gives me courage for the daily battle, for the everyday struggle that needs to be waged by me & by everyone else. Thus, she's not a psychiatric patient in need ot psychiatric help, but this is [instead] a relation based on a common struggle for the same issue: the human being.

Those [cleaning] crews cannot do what they were doing in the past.

A demand of the solidarity movement for Kostadinka Kouneva is that the entire truth surfaces & the guilty party is identified & blame is distributed, no matter how high up [the social/hierarchy ladder] this blame goes.
  • The Opera House in Athens has been under occupation since the end of January [update: the occupation ended, read the final communique further down]. Their blog (in greek) has extensive info on what's going on; a communique in english can be found here.

(My own opinion is that we should estimate when this situation's limits are exhausted & leave (for the first time) without [bestowing the role of] fellow protagonist [to] the cops. We will be the ones who are the protagonists of this play. They don't interest us because... we have an aim & are focusing on it. Because they will delay us & disorient us, as always.)

I am optimistic.

I'm not afraid that, if we leave the Opera House, we''l "be lost." I've the feeling that we've changed since December... & we cannot turn back. I've that particular feeling saying that there's a heightened "physical" need for collectivism at all levels in people. Thus, irrespectively of whether we stay or leave the Opera House, we'll continue meeting, organizing discussions, reactions, actions, that is, we'll continue to EXIST.

Because, before December, we DID NOT EXIST.

& if we EXIST, we'll be led somewhere. At the first stage... success would be a daily life such as the one we've been living since December. An awakened daily life with interest towards public issues & [with] creativity. I am optimistic as [a result of] a rational process directed by feelings & not vice versa. & my simple rationale says that we have the basic elements to shape our bourgeois life, to make it better, & to [be the ones] defining it as much as we can. We have the need (or, in other words, faith), we have a large participation, we have momentum & we have endurance. But we need a space (house) to give shelter to our new self, who is still maturing, & to make our plans, to decide - without haste, democratically, in a focused manner, & successfully.


Citizen Of The World - Civil Servant Black Sheep - Citizen Of The Occupation

  • Next, a good piece of writing from the same occupation, posted here as a decent retrospective of certain things that have happened recently in Athens + for suggesting an ingenious way of communicating your message.

(The following document was inserted in at least 10,000 [copies of a] free press publication, naturally without requesting permission from its editors.)

Dear readers,

the publication you're holding in your hands is free of charge. This doesn't mean that it doesn't have a price. It seems, in fact, that the 'free-er' of charge something is, the larger the price. In this publication's pages, you ca find out which whiskey is the best, a new car, a good movie coming to a theater near you, the biggest super-spectacle that you must not miss, a restaurant, a popular theatrical play, a free of charge prognosis of your future, your financial situation, & your love life, & a lot of culture - & all of this, free of charge. [In it] you [can] find free of charge texts, free of charge opinions, free of charge ideas, free of charge nudity, free of charge fashion. Thus you can sit back on your couch, on the seat you found in the subway, or even better on your toilet bowl & "be informed" - free of charge. It's the easiest & cheapest way to find out what's going on in the city & to be[come] ready to consume the best whiskey, the new car, a good movie coming to a theater near you, the biggest super-spectacle that you must not miss, a restaurant, a popular theatrical play, & a lot of culture. But that's where the 'free of charge' ends. While you were being, free of charge & willingly, trained as a consumer, you thought you were just being informed.

The price you will pay is not only announced when you discard the publication & get out there, where consumption lives. The largest price derives form the illusion that you're now certain you know well what's going on in your city. But the things you'll find in this publication's pages is not everything happening in this city. There are some things happening in this [same] city which you'll never learn about from this publication.

In the weekend of 6 December, a 15-year old student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, was killed in this city's center form a cop who simply aimed at his chest & got it. In the center & in the neighborhoods of this city, as well as of every city/town, nearby or far away, thousands of people took to the streets to express their outrage for a life unfairly lost but also for thousands of other [lives] which are being lost unfairly [&] daily in the neverending hours of work-related slavery, behind school desks, at war, on TV, in a prison, at the [national] borders. The publication you're holding in your hands devoted one of its issues to "informing" you. It showed you free of charge photos, free of charge opinions, free of charge prognosis of your future. Even if it didn't succeed in divining your future, it never told you that nothing has ended.

It didn't tell you that, since those days belonging to Alexis, at least 300 persons are being charged because they protested for their life which is in the process of being lost. That, among them, at least 63 are still in prison, in between them underage people & immigrants which will face terrorist charges because they removed a cell phone from a smashed storefront.

No one told you that, since 23 December, Kostadinka Kouneva is being hospitalized in the intensive care with grave injuries in her visual & respiratory system following an attack with sulphuric acid as she was getting back home form work. She was yet another easy target & a paradigmatic target [at that]: she was a woman in the patriarchical society, an immigrant & a unionist in the cleaners' field who was fighting for christmas bonuses, insurance & humanitarian working conditions for her & her colleagues. In the society of exploitation, some women must be wounded or killed for something to be cheap or free of charge.

& it won't tell you that none of the above is alone. That more than 600 people celebrated New Year's Eve outside the Korydallos Prison Complex, with fireworks & slogans for the immediate release of all prisoners. That, in 27 December, ISAP's [Athens Piraeus Electric Railways] HQ [-] where Kostadinka Kouneva was employed [-] were occupied & that, since then, we often take to the streets to express our solidarity to any woman among us that goes on fighting.

But even if you find such a news item in the publication you're holding, it'll simply be [there] to keep you "informed" & apathetic on your couch, on the bus seat you found, or even better on your toilet bowl. Because it won't tell you that there are also things happening in this city which are being done by us. Which simply won't happen if we don't do them.

& it won't tell you about the orgasmic feeling of doing the things which happen in this city. It won't tell you that we continue being on the streets, sometimes in occupied town halls, sometimes in occupied theaters. That, if you hear a woman speaking to you through the subway PA with a real voice, instead of the usual robotic one, it'll be one of us [-] because we have a lot to say, but we cannot say them through this publication's columns since these things are not free but attached to a very high price. It's about the dreams we have regarding our lives in this city. We have dreams because we're still alive. & we're still alive because we're not waiting for Thursday to come so that we can learn what's going on in the city through this publication's pages.

If, on the other hand, you feel a member of a community of readers which live in this city & share the same things, believe us, it'll be over as soon as you put the publication aside. Then, you'll be left alone on your couch once again, on the trolley seat you found, or even better on your toilet bowl, while some of us continue the attempt of being members of a real community which self-organizes its desires & its actions in a collective manner. It prints texts such as the one you're holding, posters & flyers which are offered to you not free of charge but without a price, because the ones paying the price are us. Through them, we extend calls to self-organized actions which promote another culture rather than the culture of consumption.

We went through the occupations of ASOEE [Athens University of Economic & Business - their blog's here] & of the Polytechnic School, then through the occupation of GSEE [General Confederation of Greek Workers - communique in english here], of ESIEA [Athens Daily Newspaper Journalists' Union or, if you preder, Union Of News Editors HQ - details in english here], & the Irida occupation [blog here], & we're temporarily located at the Opera House Occupation, but don't worry, we shan't perish.

Opera House Occupation

Today, Saturday 7 February, the Assembly of the Rebelling Opera House, decided to depart from the Opera House, having won 9 days & nights of autonomy, liberty, creation, & self-organization in practice.

1st Act
We liberated the Opera House as a response to the straggling of free expression, to the imposition of counterfeit[/fake] desires, to the cementbombing of public spaces & to oppression. When even elementary rights are being trambled underfoot with chemicals, bullets, & sulfuric acid, the time to assume a stance has arrived.

2nd act
We made ours a symbol of status-quo art, redefining the relations between creator & spectator, teacher & pupil. For 9 days, a human mosaic that met each other in December, took shape through direct-democracy procedures & united politics with art, inside & outside the Opera House. We are not divided in artists & non-artists, we are life's budding flower.

Whoever thinks that the end of the occupation means the end of dissent should check their glee. We do not surrender culture to Niarchos, Lamprakis, or any other "specialist" [-] it doesn't belong to them anyway. Our presence & actions in the Opera House shows that not only is the distinction between "high level" & "low level" culture nonexistent, but also that [this assumed distinction] is an expression of authority-related structures which divide us & fence us off. For us, art is a combat field.

3rd act
We continue getting self-organized, expressing ourselves & acting in public spaces, acting & creating in togetherness on the basis of autonomy & self-organization.

This occupation has come full circle once already, [a circle] which contained us all. We'll continue as centrifugal cells, diffusing our common experience & dynamics outwards in every neighborhood, park, or street.

Along the lines of our mobilization, the workers & artists of Buenos Aires's Teatro Colon Opera expressed their solidarity in our experiment during their mobilizations against 500 job cuts &, in essence, the dissolution of the Opera.

Messages of solidarity arrived also from the Universidad National de Rosario in Argentina, from the movement 'Rebellious Women Of Brazil,' from Venezuela, & from the Popular Artists' Union of Ecuador (UNAPE). We stand in solidarity towards all these [people], & we extend a call to every worker to redefine his role inside the dominant relations & structures.

The artists of life are not the jokers of authority, We do not want to become human flashbang grenades in the artillery of psychological repression, but [rather] fireworks of joy & deep feeling on the road towards societal liberation. We invite people to assume the initiative for analogous experiments, to meet & to shape together autonomous experiments.

Solidarity to Konstantina Kouneva & to everyone continuing the struggle. Support those injured during the uprising. Immediate release of those apprehended.

Reclaim the public spaces. [Say] no [to] cement-bombing.

We stand in solidarity to the Palestinian people.

The streets are our theater - the uprising is our art.
Coming up: 4th act.