Earlier this week, the mayor of Athens announced a crackdown on “lawlessness”.
On Wednesday, a successful re-occupation of Villa Amalias was evicted within half an hour as police poured chemical weapons into the building, then raided an hour and a half later, arresting the 93 who were in the building. A solidarity action to occupy the offices of the Democratic Left – one of the parties participating in the Government coalition saw another 40 detentions. At the same time, the squatted theatre Empros had its entire water system removed. While people were still reeling at the police violence and arrests, at 3pm, Skaramanga squat was raided, with another seven people detained. A massive demonstration was held that night at the police headquarters, followed by a march to the polytechnic, which drew thousands to express their solidarity with the squats with less than 12 hours notice.
With a total of 152 people detained or arrested through the day, this is the biggest police operation against anti-capitalists in over 15 years. Those arrested as part of the Villa Amalias raid have now had their charges raised from misdemeanours to felonies, and are still being held until court tomorrow. A statement released from those arrested states…
We knew that we will come under attack and obviously that we would be arrested. We will do it again as many times as it takes, for this and for any other social space of resistance of those from below that comes under attack. Neither weapons, nor their slandering scare us…
Against the hurricane of repression, let’s pit the storm of solidarity
The raid on Skaramanga was apparently planned for several days later, however brought the raid forward apparently to combat “situations of lawlessness”, as the police leaked a plan to evict 40 squats across the country. These raids came at the same time as evidence emerged that three relatives of Papaconstantinou – the economics advisor of Papandreou, the former Prime Minister of Greece – had been erased from the Legarde List of wealthy tax avoiders. As outrage was growing and calls came for a full investigation into the scale and extent of the continuing cover-up, a distraction was required. And what better than a clampdown on lawless baby-eating anarchists?
The Huffington Post reports this week on the illegal prostitution and drug use which is gripping Athens society as the austerity measures take it toll on ordinary people. This “lawlessness” is caused by the policies of the Troika as people are thrown from their homes, forced into prostitution to feed themselves and their children and get addicted to hard and dangerous drugs in the police managed drug trade. These aren’t hardened and violent criminals, but ordinary people who are suffering directly from the policies being imposed by the Greek state, exploited sexually and/or financially as the vultures circle
For there is money to made in the prostitution and drugs trade. What does it matter if HIV skyrockets through the sexual abuse of women and the slow death of addicts denied any form of support. What does it matter that people directly profit from this exploitation, so long as the police get their cut. This form of “lawlessness” is worth money so prostitution rises and drug addiction skyrockets as the pimps and the dealers keep the state sweet.
Villa Amalias, Skaramanga and Empros have all been at the forefront of fighting the emergence of fascism in Greek society, both practically and culturally. Running anti-fascist events, getting information out on what was happening in Greece, and providing a base for anti-fascist activists to organise, in a state which appear to be quite content to nurture its emergence in its midst. The misnamed Operation Zeus has seen 65,000 people stopped, detained and checked, as one policeman comments…
There are so many illegal immigrants we don’t have time for anything else. It takes all our manpower just to round them up.
Less than 10% of those detained, 4,000 in all, are found not to have the necessary documentation for residence in the country, but the police crackdown adds to an atmosphere where fascist supporters terrorise Black citizens with impunity. Stabbings, beatings and even murders of immigrants are becoming more and more frequent as a government which has started to lose control of civil society resorts to populist measures and racist narratives to provide some kind of cover for its illegitimacy.
Greece is rapidly becoming an international pariah state. as the Greek police in their zeal to eradicate immigrants arrest and beat tourists, prompting international incidents and repeated visits from foreign consulates as those attracted by its image of pure sands and clear skies find themselves detained, verbally abused and beaten while the police defend their actions. The situation has become so bad that in November the US consulate issued a warning to potential Black travellers that they may become caught up in police sweeps or targeted by racist elements. For a country whose economy relies so much on tourism, this is disastrous
Even visiting academics may find themselves handcuffed and dragged off, as the country that is renown worldwide for its history of commitment to learning and establishment of democracy, raids academic departments. In the face of the clampdown on academic freedom and the cuts to schools which sees children trying to learn with tattered books and supplies drying up, so desperate for resources that they consider donations made on the back of the sexual exploitation of women, the education and cultural input that places like Villa Amalias, Skaramanga and Empros provided – with ‘ facilities, educational programmes and cultural activities went some way to filling the gaps that the Greek state were perfectly prepared to let people fall through. Yet all this is considered “lawlessness”.
The lawlessness of the police, of the politicians and of the fascists is swept under the carpet, the lawlessness of pimps and drug peddlers is tolerated as an inevitable, but profitable, result of Troika policies, while 92 people who simply wanted their home and the centre from which they seek to build an alternative to the racist, violent, corrupt entity that is the Greek state are arrested and held in prison…for “lawlessness”.