Down with the government of murderers! Greek left on the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos (+ video, audio; updated Dec. 23)
12 December 2008
December 10-23, 2008 -- Links International Journal
of Socialist Renewal is publishing a number of declarations,
statements, calls and articles from Greek left organisations in response to the
assassination by Greek police of Alexis Grigoropoulos. Please keep in mind that
the translations may be less than perfect, but due to the urgency of the situation they have been posted as is.
The night of Saturday December 20 to Sunday, December 21, the area around the central square of Exarchia and the Polytechnic
University of Athens became again the battlefield between the riot
police and groups of youth. Earlier, Saturday night at 21.00 pm, at the
same hour and place of the assassination of the young Alexis by the
Police, a two weeks memorial meeting was held attended by a thousand
people. The street itself was renamed and new plates were installed
with the name “Alexandros Grigoropoulos Street”. The clashes started
immediately after the memorial and continued until the morning.
Sunday the occupation of the GSEE (General
Confederation of Labor) by the other “GSEE” (General Assembly of Labor
in Rebellion) was called off. Before leaving the building in excellent
conditions, the workers have called the security service of the trade
union bureaucracy and together examined the place and signed a paper
signaling that everything is OK. This was necessary to avoid any
provocation: the planting by the police of weapons, drugs or fake
claims of destruction of the luxurious neoclassical building in marble
where the so-called “leaders of the working class” are sitting doing
nothing and preventing the working class to do something. The workers
occupying the building left it in an orderly manner and marched through
Athens as a powerful group of 500 people shouting slogans for the
release of the arrested, for workers’ self-organization, and for a
The Popular Assembly of Petralona has
occupied for a while the private station 9.89 of the Town Hall of
Athens and broadcasted a political declaration denouncing the
assassination of Alexis, the Police, and the capitalist government of
the murderers, calling for the continuation of the revolt, and for a
Marches and conflicts with police took
place in most of the working class areas: in Kaisariani (famously
called “the Greek Stalingrad” because of the battles from house to
house and from room to room by the Communist Partisans against the
Nazis in 1944), Nea Ionia, Vyronas, Nea Smyrni, Chaidari etc.
The General Assembly of the schoolchildren
took the decision to continue the occupation of the schools. The main
slogan is: “Christmas are postponed but not the revolt!”
Now all the efforts are focusing in the
preparation of the big national march of schoolchildren, students, teachers and workers next Tuesday, on December 23.
The revolt continues in the context of a
deepening political and social economic crisis, as an expression and as
a factor of it. A phony budget presented by the right wing government
and claiming that Greece will not experience a recession (!) or a surge
in unemployment (!!!) in 2009 was voted tonight in the Parliament
despite the fact that everybody, from the government or from the
opposition knows very well that the budget is a fraud, rejected even by
the EU authorities. What was spelled out by former PASOK Prime Minister
Costas Simitis in the discussion is the already known fact that the
country is actually bankrupt, Greece possibly will be evicted from the
Euro-zone and the IMF will intervene.
Two former ministers of the previous PASOK
government, Christos Verelis and Thodoros Pangalos (the ex Foreign
Minister who betrayed and delivered the Kurdish PKK leader Ocalan to
the hands of the Turkish MIT) made a call to appoint a jointly accepted
“supra-party” economic virtual dictator in the Ministry of Finances
and/or to form a Coalition government of the right wing New Democracy
and of PASOK to manage the national bankruptcy. The same Pangalos in an
interview in a Sunday paper, “Elefterotypia”, today, called the revolt
“sheer political hooliganism” blaming the reformists of Synaspismos/SYRIZA, and fully agreeing with Aleca Papariga’s accusations ( despite
his own well known anti-communism or rather because of that). Papariga,
the General Secretary of the Stalinist KKE gave today an interview in
the Sunday right wing paper Real news where, apart from her fervent
defense of Stalin, of the Moscow Trials and of the mass purges of the
’30s, she was repeating that “there is no revolt” and the clashes with
the police is “the realization of a plan organized long ago by the
foreign intelligence services of imperialism”!! It is not a surprise
that the yellow right wing populist paper Avriani had in the front page
the headlines: “The Police are useless- Let ask the citizens or the KKE
to re-establish order!”
This order is now needed by the ruling
class more than ever as the disintegration of the over-indebted
capitalist Greek economy accelerates. Another former Minister of PASOK,
Alecos Papadopoulos proposed to invite officially the IMF or another
international institution of this type to take control and manage the
economy of the country!
Karamanlis is preparing a reshuffling of
his government that will solve nothing. Early elections that appear
inevitable cannot solve the country from a bankruptcy. The current
revolt is a precursor earthquake and not the principal earthquake,
which is coming in 2009!
As the slogan on the wall of the Athens University says in English: Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear!
Savas Michael, Athens, December 21, 2008
* * *
Communist Organization of Greece (KOE)
Merry Christmas in the streets!
December 22, 2008 -- On Friday December 19 the Coordination Councils of occupied schools and faculties organized in the centre of Athens a big concert of support to the rebellious youth, with the participation of many music groups and singers. During hours thousands of people followed the concert, with slogans against the government and the state terror. In Peristeri (the suburb of Athens where the new murderous attempt against the youth took place during the night of 17 December – see 8th Statement) a new march took place with the massive participation of secondary education pupils, teachers and parents.
On Saturday December 20 hundreds of activists “visited” the new Christmas tree in front of the Parliament (the previous one was burned a week ago) and threw many sacks full of garbage on it. The Special Forces attacked the protesters and proceeded to new arrests; the bystanders booed the police and liberated some of the arrested. The Athens’ Christmas tree is now guarded round the time by hundreds of Special Forces and the people of Athens are laughing at the attempt of the government and of the mayor to “recreate the Christmas atmosphere in the centre of the city” – under the protection of the fully armed Special Forces guarding the tree!
On Sunday December 21 many demonstrations took place in neighbourhoods of Athens (Kessariani, Ilio, etc.) and other cities, organized by the forces of the Radical Left, most of them targeting the local police stations. The evening took place in the Parliament the discussion for the national budget. However, the discussion unavoidably focused on the revolt of the youth. The block of “law and order” once more made its appearance: apart the usual government attacks against the youth and the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA), in this exercised excelled again the extreme right-wing, the “socialist” PASOK and the “communist” KKE. The head of the extreme right-wing party LAOS, Georgios Karatzaferis, congratulated once more KKE for its “responsible attitude and exemplary organization”. The general secretary of KKE, Aleka Papariga, declared that “this is not a revolt; in an authentic popular revolt the masses will not smash even one glass” and once more tried to identify SYRIZA with the “provocateurs”. A leading cadre of PASOK, Theodoros Pagkalos, accused SYRIZA for “leading the phenomena of riots and political vagrancy”.
The head of the Parliamentary Group of the Coalition of Radical Left, Alekos Alavanos, in his combative speech declared: “When a frontal confrontation takes place, each political and social force must choose its camp: either with the system or against it. Today, the government party, the party of LAOS, and KKE are claiming that there is no revolt of the youth, and that all this is a conspiracy organized outside Greece. They remind us of the civil war and the post-civil war years, when the right wing was accusing the communists of been Moscow’s spies. Today, they accuse us even of been common criminals and human traffickers [see statement of KOE about KKE]. They remind us of the Sixties, when the right wing was accusing the girls of the left youth that they were prostitutes trying to attract the decent youth. Today, we heard the general secretary of KKE using the same terms with Ms Bakoyianni, Minister of Foreign Affairs. We heard Mr Karatzaferis congratulating KKE, accusing us of petting the rioters and proposing a new draconian law against the youth. All these are examples of how much the government of Mr Karamanlis is worried. That’s why the government party gets into this alliance with LAOS and KKE. They are all afraid of the near future, of the day when all the working people will rise next to the youth. We, the Coalition of the Radical Left, are warning them: They will not manage to make us retreat. We will not retreat even by one millimetre. We will not sign any declaration of loyalty to the system!”
On Monday December 22 the mobilizations continued on local level, while the Coordinations of university students unions and secondary education pupils prepare a new central demonstration in Athens, on Tuesday 23 December. In Peristeri, groups of young workers and students occupied the town hall, asking for the immediate liberation of the arrested and for the exemplary punishment of the murderers and of all the police members who attack the people.
Day 11 of the revolt in Greece: Occupation of state television
Listen to an interview with the author Savas Michael, from the Greek Revolutionary Workers Party (EEK) on Suzi Weissman’s Pacifica radio show Beneath the Surface. (Interview starts at 41:00 minutes into the program.)
December 16, 2008 -- This morning started with a very unpleasant surprise for the riot
police, the special force against popular mobilisations, which is busy
all these days of popular revolt in Greece to attack and brutalise 13- and 14-year-old kids: their central headquarters/caserne in the Kaisariani
area, in Athens, was put under siege for hours by a multitude of young
people throwing to them stones and Molotov cocktails.
During all day, the main roads of the Greek capital, particularly in
points near schools, were blocked by the schoolchildren for hours
stopping the chaotic traffic for hours.
In general, its has to be pointed out that all the schools and all the universities of the country have stopped functioning and their students
are in the streets fighting, protesting, singing, shouting slogans,
clashing with police, putting under siege or occupying public
buildings (town halls, cultural centres etc.)
In the evening, as it was decided previously in a general assembly,
a powerful march of thousands of inhabitants of Exarchia (the area in
Athens where the young Alexis was killed) took place to the local
police station of the murderers, which was pout under siege for hours.
The most spectacular action today, it was the occupation of State TV Broadcasting. When the state TV station was broadcasting the
main 3 pm news, and the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was
addressing his parliamentary group and the Greek people on the recent
huge financial scandal involving the government and an orthodox monastery in Mount Athos (a scandal which just is scandalously covered
up by the government closing now the affair), suddenly the image was
interrupted and another image of a group of 100 militants was
broadcasted with banners against the murderers of the state and for the
liberation of those arrested so far!
It was not the first broadcasting station which was at the hands of
the activists -- the radio station of Ioannina in Epirus (northern western Greece) is already under occupation -- but undoubtedly this
action was the most impressive. The people received it with enthusiasm
and the authorities with hysteria. The Stalinist party KKE found that
the slogans of the activists in the state TV station today “were not
appropriate”. In general the Stalinists are against our call for the
liberation of the arrested that are considered by the KKE as
“hooligans” or possibly agents of the police and of the CIA!!! In two
at least occasions today as our trade unionists report (in the general
assembly of the federation of high school teachers OLME and in the
health sector, held to prepare for the strike of December 18, the
Stalinists voted down our call for the immediate liberation of all
those arrested, who most of them are young adolescents).
In Volos (central Greece), we took the initiative to circulate a
leaflet of MERA (front of radical left which includes EEK) addressed to
the members of the KKE asking them to kick out from their party the general secretary Aleca Papariga and all those collaborating with the
capitalist state against the revolt, and to join us in the common
battle. It created a lot of discussion on many levels.
Translated dimanche 14 décembre 2008, par Gene Zbikowski
this December 9, 2008 interview, Dimitris Papadimoulis, a member of
Synapismos, Greek European Union deputy and member of the EU
parliamentary group GUE/Northern Greens, denounces the role played by
the Greek government.
What is your opinion of what happened Saturday evening in Athens?
Dimitris Papadimoulis: It was a pure crime committed
by a policeman against a 15-year-old youth for no reason at all. You
heard me right: for no reason at all. One of the problems is that
there are far-right groups within our police force, groups with a very
violent attitude. This isn’t the first time that we’ve had to deal with
such cases. Already, last year many violent affairs involving police
occurred in Greece, without either the government or the police chiefs
imposing any sanctions. That’s why we think that this is a political
question and why we hold those who head the government for responsible,
the people who leave unpunished the crimes of these far right groups
that act within the police force itself. Moreover, together with all
the forces of the left, we call for demonstrations against this mad
What is the social context?
In Greece, the social crisis is
very serious, especially for the young generation. The unemployment
rate among young people is particularly high (it’s almost double the
European average), there is a lack of perspectives for these same young
people. The government has created an explosive mixture for the
majority of the population and for the young people of this country.
What is going to happen in the coming days?
For Monday, we have organised a
massive and peaceful demonstration in Athens and in many other cities.
We are reacting in a radical way, but, and this has to be emphasised,
peacefully. We are not just demanding that the government change its
social and economic policies, we are demanding that it step down. On
Wednesday there will be a general strike. It was planned long ago, but
obviously, with the murder of this young man, it will take on an
additional dimension. We will not only say `no’ to the government’s
neoliberal policy, which creates bigger and bigger inequalities, which
are more and more unbearable, but we will also say ‘no’ to the criminal
and aggressive attitude of the police towards young people, towards the
social movement, and towards the left.
AMY GOODMAN: Protests, riots and clashes with police have
overtaken Greece for the sixth straight day since the fatal police
shooting of a teenage boy in Athens Saturday night. One day after
Wednesday’s massive general strike over pension reform and
privatization shut down the country, more than a hundred schools and at
least fifteen university campuses remain occupied by student
demonstrators. A major rally is expected on Friday. And as solidarity
protests spread to neighboring Turkey, as well as Germany, Spain,
Italy, Russia, Denmark and the Netherlands, dozens of arrests have been
made across the continent.
On Wednesday, two police
officers involved in Saturday’s shooting were arrested, and one was
charged with murder. But anger remains high over the officers’ failure
to express remorse at the student’s death. The police officers claim
the bullet that killed Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fired in
self-defense, and the death was an accident caused by a ricochet.
unrest this week has been described as the worst since the end of the
military dictatorship in 1974 and could cost the already weakened Greek
economy an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s also shaken
the country’s conservative government that has a narrow one-person
majority in Parliament. The socialist opposition has increased calls
for the prime minister to quit and call new elections, ignoring his
appeals for national unity.
I’m joined now on the
telephone by a student activist and writer from Athens. He’s with the
Greek Socialist Workers Party. He’s a graduate student in political
philosophy at Panteion University in Athens.
We welcome you to Democracy Now! Can you lay out for us
exactly when this all began and how the protests have escalated and
what they’re about right now, Nikos Lountos?
NIKOS LOUNTOS: Yes, Amy. I’m very glad to talk with you.
So, we are in the middle of an unprecedented wave of actions now
and protests and riots. It all started on Saturday evening at around
9:00 p.m., when a policeman patrolling the Exarcheia neighborhood in
Athens shot and murdered in cold blood the fifteen-year-old schoolboy
The first response was an attempt to cover up the killing. The
police claimed that they had been attacked. But the witnesses all
around were too many for this cover-up to happen. So, all the witnesses
say that it was a direct shot. So even the government, in just a few
hours, had to claim that it will move against the police, trying to
calm the anger.
But the anger exploded in the streets. In three, four hours, all
the streets around Athens were filled with young people demonstrating
against the police brutality. The anti-capitalist left occupied the law
school in the center of Athens and turned it into headquarters for
action. And on Sunday, there was the first mass demonstration.
Thousands of people of every age marched towards the police
headquarters and to the parliament. And the next day, on Monday, all
this had turned into a real mass movement all around Greece.
What was the most striking was that in literally every
neighborhood in every city and town, school students walked out of
their school on Monday morning. So you could see kids from eleven to
seventeen years old marching in the streets wherever you could be in
Greece, tens of thousands of school students, maybe hundreds of
thousands, if you add all the cities. So, all around Athens and around
Greece, there were colorful demonstration of schoolboys and
schoolgirls. Some of them marched to the local police stations and
clashed with the police, throwing stones and bottles. And the anger was
so really thick that policemen and police officers had to be locked
inside their offices, surrounded by thirteen- and fourteen-year-old
boys and girls.
The picture was so striking that it produced a domino effect.
The trade unions of teachers decided an all-out strike for Tuesday. The
union of university lecturers decided a three-day strike. And so, there
was the already arranged, you know, the strike you mentioned for
Wednesday against the government’s economic policies, so the process
was generalizing and still generalizes.
AMY GOODMAN: Nikos Lountos, when you have this kind of
mass protest, even with the beginning being something so significant as
the killing of a student, it sounds like it’s taken place in like a dry
forest when a match is thrown, a lit match, that it has caught on fire
something that has been simmering for quite some time. What is that?
NIKOS LOUNTOS: Yeah, that’s true. Everybody acknowledges
that even the riots, the big riots—you may have seen the videos—they
are a social phenomenon, not just the result of some political
incident. There were thousands of angry young people that came out in
the streets to clash with the police and smash windows of banks, of
five-star hotels and expensive stores. So, that’s true. It was
something that waited to happen.
I think it’s a mixture of things. We have a government that’s—a
government of the ruling party called New Democracy, a very right-wing
government. It has tried to make many attacks on working people and
students, especially students. The students were some form of guinea
pigs for the government. When it was elected after 2004, they tried—the
government tried to privatize universities, which are public in Greece,
and put more obstacles for school students to get into university. The
financial burden on the poor families if they want their children to be
educated is really big in Greece. And the worst is that even if you
have a university degree, even if you are a doctor or lawyer, in most
cases, young people get a salary below the level of poverty in Greece.
So the majority of young people in Greece stay with their families ’til
their late twenties, many ’til their thirties, in order to cope with
this uncertainty. And so, this mixture, along with the economic crisis
and their unstable, weak government, was what was behind all this
AMY GOODMAN: Nikos Lountos is a Greek activist and
writer. Nikos, the protests have been picked up not only in Greece, but
around the world. We’re talking about the Netherlands, talking also
about Russia and Italy and Spain and Denmark and Germany. What does it
mean to the workers and the students in Greece now? How significant is
that? Has that changed the nature of the protests back in Greece?
NIKOS LOUNTOS: It’s very good news for us to know that
many people around the world are trying to show their solidarity to us.
And I think it’s not only solidarity, but I think it’s the same
struggle against police brutality, for democracy, against war, against
poverty. It’s the same struggle. So it’s really good news for us to
hear about that.
I think you should know that the next Thursday will be the next
day of action, of general action. Every day will have action, but next
Thursday will be a day of general action. The students will be all out.
And we’re trying to force the leaders of the trade unions to have a new
general strike. So I could propose to people hearing me now that next
Thursday would be a good day for solidarity action all around the
world, to surround the Greek embassies, the consulates, so generally to
get out in the streets and express your solidarity to our fight. And I
think workers and students in Greece will really appreciate it.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the issue of civil liberties overall in Greece? Has this been a matter of controversy over time?
NIKOS LOUNTOS: Yeah. This government has a really awful
record on civil liberties. It all began during the Olympics of 2004,
aided also by the so-called anti-terrorist campaign started by George
Bush after 9/11. During the Olympic Games, we had the first cameras in
the streets of Athens. And there are now proofs that many phones were
tapped illegally at that period, among them the phones of the leaders
of the antiwar movement here in Greece, such as the coordinators of the
Stop the War Coalition.
And then came the biggest scandal of all. In 2005, tens of
Pakistani immigrants were abducted from their homes by unknown men.
They were hooded and interrogated and then thrown away after some days
in the streets of Athens. The Greek police, along with the British MI5,
had organized these illegal abductions in coordination with the
then-Pakistani government of Pervez Musharraf.
During the student movements and the workers’ strikes all these
years, hundreds of beatings and more police brutality have covered up.
Just one month ago, a Pakistani immigrant called Mohammed Ashraf was
murdered by riot police in Athens when the police dispersed the crowd
of immigrants waiting to apply for a green card. And the immigrants in
Greece in general are mainly from regions hit by war—Iraq, Afghanistan,
Somalia, Pakistan. And they are treated in awful conditions by the
Greek state and police. Many people have died by shells in the borders
or in the Aegean Sea, trying to get into Greece and then Europe. So
it’s really an awful record for the government on civil liberties.
AMY GOODMAN: Nikos Lountos, finally, as we travel from
Sweden to Germany, one of the things we’re looking at is the effect of
the US election on the rest of the world. In a moment, we’ll be joined
by the editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel, the largest magazine in
Europe. When President-elect Obama was elected, their headline was
“President of the World.” What is the effect of the election of Barack
Obama on people you know in Greece? What has been the reaction?
NIKOS LOUNTOS: Well, you know, all these years we had a
slogan here in the antiwar movement and the student movement that
George Bush is the number-one terrorist. So, many people were happy
when they learned that these will be the final days of George Bush and
his Republican hawkish friends like John McCain. But, of course, people
in Greece have experienced that having a different government doesn’t
always mean that things will be better. If the movement doesn’t put its
stamp on the changes, changing only persons will have no meaning. But
people have appreciated the change in the US administration as a
message of change all over the world.
AMY GOODMAN: Nikos Lountos, I want to thank you very much
for being with us, Greek activist and writer. He’s with the Socialist
Workers Party in Greece and a graduate student in political philosophy
at Panteion University in Athens.
* * *
Day six of the Greek youth revolt
Rustbelt Radical, December 11, 2008 -- Six days after the murder of the young boy Alexis Grigoropoulos by a
policeman triggering the biggest revolt of the last six decades in
Greece, the rebellion of the youth continues, with the schoolchildren
in the vanguard. More than a hundred of schools and faculties are under
occupation. Demonstrations of school children erupted in the morning in
most of the neighborhoods of Athens, police stations were attacked, and
public buildings were occupied. The provocative attitude of the
murderer and of his infamous lawyer Kouyas attempting a character
assassination of the victim, presenting him as a hooligan with a
disturbed behavior etc., and the attempt of the police to present the
crime as an accident gave anew impulse to the mass revulsion and
rebellion. In the afternoon a new demonstration of thousands of youth
took place in the center of Athens, and another one will follow
Outside Athens, the revolt is engulfing the entire country;
demonstrations take place even in regions traditionally conservative
such as Laconia in the South.
News for actions of international solidarity from Moscow to Buenos
Aires, and from Tokyo and Istanbul to Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Bologna,
Paris, Grenoble, Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc. is received here with
enthusiasm. The European bourgeoisie, on the contrary and its press
show great concern and fear for the contagious effect of the Greek
revolt to other European countries. Particularly the French bourgeoisie
and Sarkozy himself expressed their fears. The paper “Minute” wrote
that there is a danger for a new May 68 starting this time from the
revolt in Greece. Financial Times wrote that the rebellion in Greece is
an anomalous situation for the European Union”…
As the Greek schoolchildren say “Let’s make real ‘their’ worst nightmares!”
organisations of the anticapitalist left that sign this text, want to condemn
the murder, in cold blood, of 16-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police
special guard in the evening of December 6. We salute the demonstrations
against the government of murderers all over Greece. In our opinion the reason for what
happened is not the “extreme zeal” or the “loss of temper” or
the “lack of training” of a police special guard but the whole policy of
the New Democracy government.
It is a policy
that not only reinforces police oppression and legitimizes the use of lethal
weapons against demonstrators, but also privatises the ports and Olympic
Airlines, attacks social security and the rights of students.
It is the policy
of police beatings of students, of the kidnappings of immigrants from Pakistan, of illegal interceptions of phone
communications and of racist attacks that lead to the death of refugees that
came here looking for asylum and a better future.
It is the policy
of special “antiterrorist” legislation, of full compliance to the measures
adopted by the EU against democratic liberties and against immigrants.
It is the policy
of the new legal framework for the Universities, of legalizing Private
Universities. It is the policy of lower wages and rising taxes. Amidst an
economic crisis the government is trying on the one hand to offer billions of
euros to the Banks and on the other to find scapegoats either in radical youth
or in immigrants.
After the brutal
murder the government has chosen the path of police repression. That is why
police anti-riot squads attacked those who were demonstrating. The Socialist
Party, PASOK, has offered its consent to this policy. The message is simple:
the government will enforce its policy at any cost, a policy that will make the
workers pay for the economic crisis, by means of austerity, flexible work,
privatisations, implementation of the EU policies.
The anger of the
demonstrators is fuelled by the policies of the government, of the forces of
capital, of the EU. That is why the protest must grow stronger. We must meet in
the streets with the struggling workers, farmers and students. We will not pay
for their crisis. Today anger is not enough. What is needed is collective and
militant struggle in every workplace, every neighborhood, in order to transform
them into places of resistance and overthrow the government and its policy.
with the New Democracy government of murderers and its policy Capital
must pay for its crisis, not the workers and youth. Let’s
escalate the struggle for our rights The
ministers that are responsible must resign The
police must be disarmed, police forces must keep away from demonstrations, and
Police Special Forces must be disbanded. Release
all people arrested during the demonstrations. Repeal
“antiterrorist”˙ and authoritarian laws
organizations of the Greek anticapitalist Left: ARAN (Left Recomposition), ARAS (Left
Anticapitalist Group), EKKE (Revolutionary Communist Movement of Greece), EEK
(Workers Revolutionary Party), OKDE, OKDE-Spartacus (Fourth International), SEK
(Socialist Workers Party ), NAR-N.K.A. (New Left Current-Youth Communist
Liberation), K.O. Anasyntaxi (Communist Organization Regroupment), K.A.
(Communist Renewal), EN.ANTI.A (United Anticapitalist Left), ME.R.A. (Front of
Greek Social Forum
Down with the
government of murderers!
pupil shot dead by policeman
Rage and mobilisation
all over the country for the cold-blooded assassination by a firearm bullet in
the stomach of the 15-year-old school boy, by a policeman, on Saturday 6th of
Dec. 9 p.m.
This is the
extreme expression of police brutality spreading in the last few years across
mobilisations of any description, of students, workers, migrants, peasants,
women, antifascist, ecological movements.
As from Saturday
night mobilisations spread all over the country, from Crete in the South to
upper northern cities, especially around universities, attacking police
stations and banks.
The Greek Social
Forum participated massively in the Sunday midday demonstration in Athens, of about 20.000, called at a few
hours notice by left wing organisations and parties, which was soaked in
chemicals and teargas in quantities heavier than ever in the last few years. It
also participated in all the cities in mobilisation.
have been demonstrating everywhere today Monday, in the centre of the cities
and in neighbourhoods, mainly by encircling police stations and dropping books
and pencils in a symbolic disobedience move against the repression forces.
closure of all grades of education for tomorrow, Tuesday, has been announced by
pupils-students and trades unions and a big mobilisation. At 6 o’clock today, Monday, the Greek Social Forum
together with left-wing organisations and parties have organised a radical
protest expected to be massive and disobedient. We opt for disobedience and not
for indiscriminate smashing of property, as some antiauthoritarian forces do.
there is a general strike by the General Confederation of Labour, organised
independently and before the assassination against the government policies, and
the workers are called to take part in it massively, as well as in the rallies
of the unions. The rallies will be followed by marches, despite the shameful
announcement of the Trades Unions Leadership that they do not sanction marches
for the fear of “trouble makers” and damage of property.
of austerity measures, of complicity in land development of huge proportions in
collaboration with some HolyMountain monasteries, of selling-off everything
in the land (from ports and air companies to telecommunications and public
education) must be overthrown by this huge movement of people’s rage.
communities in Europe are carrying out activities of protest outside Greek consular
authorities. We consider this movement in Greece to be a part of all European movements,
thus we ask the comrades everywhere to find ways to align their forces with us.
Social Forum Monday 8-12-08
Press statement of Neolaia
Synaspismou (the Youth of Synaspismos)
is killing. We have to stop them!
assassination of a 15-year-old today in Exarhia square, demonstrates in the
most extreme way the criminal face of the Greek police and the government of
Nea Dimokratia. The government is the one that armed the hands of the killer
policeman and hold all the political responsibility of the murder.
For years when
the Greek police was left unregulated and uncontrolled for capturing and
torturing students, workers and immigrants, when in any demonstration we are
faced with the most brutal violence and state authoritarianism when incidents
such as “jardiniere” remain unpunished, today murder can only be seen as a
premeditated crime, and the guilty are the Greek state governments of N.D and
If some think we
will be afraid to walk on the street, with the risk to get any bullet they are
mistaken. Our response to authoritarianism and repression will come through the
mass struggles of youth and workers, through our collective resistance to the
authoritarian government, in defending and expanding the rights and freedoms of
all of us.
The press office
of Neolaia Synaspismou.
Down with this government
Anti-imperialist Component (Greece) informs the progressive public
evening, Saturday 6 December, a member of the Police Special Forces shot in
cold blood and killed a 15 year old boy in the center of Athens.
2. Dozens of eye
witnesses who came forward and spoke to the Media confirm that this was a cold
blood murder, as there were no incidents going on. The attempt of the Greek
government to lie to the public opinion, claiming that the kids attacked the
police, finally failed: Tonight, Sunday 7 December, even the mainstream Media
are openly calling the government’s claims "a blatant lie".
3. The police
murder comes after years of increasing state terror against the youth and the
working people, who goes always unpunished and is always covered and justified
by the neoliberal government of K. Karamanlis. During the last year, dozens of
demonstrators and other citizens or immigrants have been arrested, tortured and
wounded by the police.
4. The Greek
government tried to disorientate and calm the people by organizing a theater of
"resignations" of the Interior Minister and the head of the Greek
Police, who were right away "refused" by the Prime Minister.
5. Thus, the
Greek government bears the full political responsibility for the murder of the
15 year old boy, which was anything but an exceptional incident. The Greek
government armed the hand of the murderer. It is the Greek government who
trains the policemen and teaches them: "You are the State and you are untouchable,
you are over the laws".
yesterday evening thousands of youth and working people are expressing all over
Greece their indignation and their fully justified anger against this
government of thieves and murderers. Dozens of demonstrations are taking place
almost continuously in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra and many other Greek cities.
7. All the left
organizations (with the shameful exception of the Communist Party of Greece,
which only issued a statement...) are taking part in this revolt under the
slogan: "Down with this government of murderers and thieves!".
Sunday 7 December, the demonstration organized in Athens by the Left forces gathered
thousands of people. It was attacked by the police with exceptional brutality,
but the state terror did not manage to smash the march. Today afternoon we are
organizing a new demonstration. The protest continues everywhere. Similar is
the situation all over Greece.
9. The murderers
and their instigators, the neoliberal government of K. Karamanlis, shall pay
dearly for all their crimes! The state terror shall not pass! The people’s
struggle shall be victorious!
Athens, 8 December 2008
Statement of the Communist
Organization of Greece (KOE), 09/12/2008
The state terror
cannot stop the fully justified and generalised protest
(a) Monday 8
Yesterday was a
day of protests all over the country. The secondary education pupils gathered
in their schools and then headed to the centre of the cities in their dozens of
thousands. They demonstrated their anger in front of the Athens Police General
Headquarters. They threw eggs and stones to the Special Forces in front of the
Parliament. They reversed police cars in Pireaus. They attacked police stations
all over Greece. The whole day the youth and the
masses made clear their anger against the government of murderers. The
government answered by unleashing a huge wave of state terror. Dozens of people
were arrested and wounded by the Special Forces. In many cases the cops kept
beating and torturing barbarously 14 and 15 year old boys and girls after
arresting them. But this only increased the masses’ wrath.
afternoon in Athens took place one of the bigger and
most combative demonstrations of the last years, called by the Left parties and
organizations: 40.000 people got to the streets. Younger and older, students
and working people marched in the centre of the city for hours, shouting
slogans against the murderers’ government. The demonstrators bravely resisted
the repeated attacks of the Special Forces, which unleashed tons of chemicals,
gas bombs etc. against the people in a (failed) attempt to break the march. For
the second consecutive day the repressive forces attacked directly the massive
block of the Communist Organization of Greece, throwing chemicals right in the
middle of it; but they failed to break the block, which regrouped rapidly and
continued the march.
More and more
people are coming in the demonstrations prepared to face the repression,
“armed” with masks and liquids that limit the chemicals’ effects. Similar was
the situation (massive participation, combative spirit, huge repression) in the
other demonstrations all over Greece. The government and the mainstream
Media are vainly trying to focus on the “destruction of public and private
property” and divert the attention from the murder and the popular will to
bring down this government.
(b) Tuesday 9
Today is the day
of the funeral of the murdered boy, Alexis Grigoropoulos. It will take place
this afternoon. Before that, in midday, will start in the centre of Athens the new demonstration called by the
secondary education pupils and the teachers. The protests and marches continue
all over the country. In the neighborhoods we are in the streets, calling the
people to participate actively in the General Strike that will take place
tomorrow, Wednesday 10 December.
Organization of Greece and the Coalition of Radical Left condemned the sold-out
“leaders” of the trade-unions, who decided to change the place of tomorrow’s
central meeting in order not to make a demonstration. This attempt to break the
unity and the combativity of the movement, undertaken by the “liberal” and “socialist”
central leaderships, will fail. We are calling upon the youth and the working
people to gather in the initially fixed place and to march towards the
Parliament. The sold-out bureaucrats will not be able to gather even
(c) The character
of the protest, our orientation
The people are
for the fourth consecutive day in the streets. They are punishing this criminal
government, the government of the bankers, of the big business, of the
reactionary church, of the corruption and of the state terror. The youth are
punishing this criminal government that kills their future and privatizes the
education. The working masses are punishing this government that generates
poverty and unemployment, sells-out the national richness and provocatively offers
billions to the bankers and the big business.
Organization of Greece says: It is not enough that the Left participates in the
protest. The Left must lead the people! Now it is not time for hesitation and
“institutional” politics. We must transform the generalized anger and the
combative spirit into a popular revolt. It is time that the popular outcry
“Down with this government of thieves and murderers” becomes a sea that will
drown the criminal government of K. Karamanlis.
For this reason,
each and every member and sympathizer of KOE all over Greece goes over the top in order to bring
even broader masses to the streets and to punish the government. We are
organizing and supporting the strike in schools, in universities, in working
places, in neighbourhoods. We unite our action in order to chase away the
government of the rich and of the murderers. We work to transform the General
Strike into a Popular Condemnation of the murder, of the poverty and of the
the streets! Everyone to the struggle! We shall prevail!
Athens, 9 December 2008
Organization of Greece (KOE)
PS: We are
obliged to condemn the shameful position of the Communist Party of Greece
(KKE), which takes “equal distances” between the government and the “rioters”
and dares to accuse the Coalition of Radical Left and the Communist
Organization of Greece that we “cover the provocateurs”. They should be ashamed
by the fact that Ms. Petralia, Employment Minister of the criminal government
of K. Karamanlis, yesterday evening congratulated them for their “responsible”
attitude… One more time, the “big revolutionary words” go hand-in-hand with the
“realistic responsibility” and, again, they tend their helpful hand to the
government of K. Karamanlis.
Athens and all Greece are
in flames from last Saturday night. The cowardly murder of a 15 years young boy
by a member of the Special Guard of the Police in Athens on Saturday, December
6th was the immediate cause for a popular revolt, particularly of the youth,
which embraced not only the Greek capital but the entire country. It is,
undoubtedly, the biggest revolt from the time of the civil war of the 1940s and
the Polytechnic School uprising in 1973 against the military dictatorship.
Immediately after the news
of the death of the young boy the area near the site of the killing, near the
Polytechnic University of Athens, was full of people, mainly young. Clashes
with riot police have started and barricades were erected in the streets. The
Polytechnic was occupied and a call for a demonstration next day was issued.
Similar mobilizations took place the same night in Thessalonica, Ioanina,
Crete, Patras and other Greek cities.
Sunday, December the 7th at
least 20.000 people joined a mass demonstration towards the Police Central
Headquarters in Athens, which soon took the dimension of mass riots, continued
during all night.
Monday, December the 8th,
from early morning tens of thousands of very young schoolchildren of 15 years
or less marched through Athens and occupied the forefront of the Police Central
Headquarters. Youth attacked or occupied police stations and/ or town halls all
over the country, from Corfu to Rhodes, from Evros in the North to Crete in the
Early in the evening a mass
demonstration in Athens, double from that of the previous day, was transformed
to generalized clashes with the riot police all over the capital. The Faculty
of Law of the Athens University, the Athens Economic University and the
Polytechnic, are all occupied and general assemblies are discussing and
deciding the course of action.
Today( December 8), it was
announced and then denied that the right wing Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis
will meet the president of the Republic and the leaders of other Parties in
parliament to explain the necessity to declare the country under a State of
The mass media try to
cultivate hysteria among the middle classes against the “social hooligans” who
“exploit the unfortunate death of the boy” and “destroy private property and
put on fire the banks”. The x- Minister of Education Marietta Yannakou, who had
to resign because of the mass student movement of 21006-2007, has accused
“middle aged (!!) Trotskyites and anarchists who lead the riots through the
occupation the Law Faculty in Athens”"!!
The revolt, of course, is
not manipulated by anybody. It manifests the explosive situation produced by
the world capitalist crisis. The rebellion is an expression of a mass anger
accumulated the last period when the young generation lives without future, in
a present of misery under the worst conditions of labour flexibility,
unemployment, and continuous police harassment. Thousands of young boys and
girls have identified themselves with the innocent victim, the young Alexis
Grigoropoulos, and his tragic end. Sometimes the explosion of their anger takes
the form of blind violence, as in the 2006 revolt in the Paris neighbourhoods-
and this is why that many representatives of the ruling class call for a “Greek
Sarkozy”. But both in Paris and in Athens, the real causes are deeply social,
actually class issues.
The pseudo socialist PASOK
official opposition condemns the riots and their members in the leadership of
the General Confederation of Labour voted together with the Right to cancel the
march in Athens next Wednesday, December, 10, the day of a 24 hours General
The official left takes
also a dubious stand. The Stalinist KKE the first days did nearly nothing,
apart sending a delegation to discuss with the leadership of the Police, i.e.
of the killers. It does not take part in the common demonstrations, organizing
separately its own, and “guarding the social peace from the anarchists and
ultra-leftists”. The reformist Synaspismos (ex-Eurocommunists) try to play the
role of the “mediator” between the mass movement and the State.
The far left, mainly the
forces of two fronts, of MERA (Front of radical Left, where also our Party,
EEK, participates) and of ENANTIA (United Anti-capitalist Left), some Maoists
and the Anti-authoritarian Movement (anarchist), coordinate their actions. We
issued together a Call for a continuous struggle and a General Strike to
overthrow the Government of the Killers and put an end to its capitalist
policies, which try to make the exploited pay for the crisis of the system. We
decided the following actions:
Tomorrow, December the 9th,
a mass demonstration of schoolchildren, students, and University professors
will take place in Athens. A delegation of the march will participate in the
funeral of the young Alexis. In the afternoon, demonstrations and agit-prop
actions will be waged in all working class neighbourhoods.
On December the 10th, the
day of the General Strike against the decision of the leadership of the GSEE
(the General Confederation of Labor), we organize a march in Athens and in all
main cities of the country.
EEK intervenes in all the
main cities of the country fighting to transform the strike into an indefinite
General Strike on a program of transitional demands for a workers socialist way
out from the crisis, against the murderous capitalist State and its government,
for workers power.
December 9: Day 4 of the
revolt in Greece
Today at 15.00 pm took
place in Palaion Faliron, in a suburb cemetery of Athens, the funeral of the
unfortunate 15 years old boy Alexis Grigoropoulos murdered in cold blood by a
policeman on December the 6th, a State crime that triggered the
biggest revolt on a national scale from the end of the Second World War.
Thousands of people, young and older, participated in the funeral raising the
left fist in revolutionary salute. But at the end of the funeral, the riot police
attacked the crowd, targeting the youth. Clashes erupted. The big scandal now
is that the Police used again guns, shooting at least 15 bullets apparently on
the air to disperse the crowd!
Before the funeral, at
noon, thousands of schoolchildren, students, teachers and University professors
demonstrated in Athens and violent clashes again took place in Syntagma Square,
in front of the parliament, with the riot police attacking savagely 13-14 years
old young boys and girls.
The time of the funeral,
protest marches took place in all the main cities of Greece which ended
invariably to violent classes with the State repression forces. In Patras, the
city with the harbor connecting Greece with Italy and Western Europe, behind
the police were forces of the “Golden Dawn” fascist paramilitary group and
goons of the New Democracy youth organization( that have assassinated in 1991
the left wing teacher Temboneras). Important clashes took place also in
Thessalonica, Volos, and Crete. In many occasions very young schoolchildren
stormed the Police headquarters of their respective town.
The Prime Minister Costas
Karamanlis met with the President of the Republic, the leaders of the
Opposition parties in parliament, and the Chairman of the Parliament. Although
he did not succeeded to receive their direct endorsement for the declaration of
a State of Emergency, the government is moving towards this direction, namely
to declare a ’state of exception” using the article 11 of the Constitution to
forbid demonstrations and occupations. The hysteria campaign of the bourgeois
mass media against the “hooligans” is a part of these preparations.
Tomorrow is the day of the
long ago announced 24 hours General Strike against the government budget. In
collaboration with the Right, the PASOK leadership of GSEE (General
Confederation of Labor) has cancelled the rally in front of its headquarters as
well as the march. In replacement it will held an “all democratic memorial
meeting” in Syntagma Square.
The PASOK leadership of
George Papandreou limits itself to verbal criticisms that “the government does
not use effectively the police to protect social peace, the property of the
citizens and the public buildings”…
The Stalinist KKE
leadership goes farther to the right, by denouncing together with the
government and the far right … Synaspismos (the ex-Eurocommunists) as
“protector of the hooligans and provocateurs”. The General Secretary of KKE,
Aleca Papariga described the young rioters as “Talibans” created by the secret
services of the State under the governments of PASOK and of New Democracy and
now becoming uncontrollable!! She received an enthusiastic praise by the right
wing government and the fascist anti-Semite leader of the far right.
The KKE organizes its own
separate meetings, in other place and hour, absolutely respecting the social
peace that the current government of boy killers wants to impose.
Synaspismos, forming with
its allies in the extra-parliamentary left the “Alliance of radical
Left”-SYRIZA, calls for “the democratic re-organization of the police” and
other mild reformist economic measures to raise the living conditions of a
young generation with a miserable present and without a future. Being under
constant pressure from the right, Synaspismos/SYRIZA cancelled its previous
decision to hold the rally in front of the GSEE headquarters and then
participating in a popular march of the strikers. It will hold a rally nearby
So, the only march tomorrow
in Athens will be that organized by a number of far left organizations,
including EEK, from the Polytechnic University to Parliament. The situation, of
course, is precarious, open to all dangers for a police attack, but we will not
yield to State terrorism and the cowardly pressures by reformists and
While the clashes between the riot police and the
people, particularly the youth, five days after the killing of the 15
years old Alexis Grigoropoulos continue without interruption, a General
Strike called by GSEE (General Confederation of Labor) and ADEDY (National Federation of Public Employs) for December the 10th took
successfully place. The strike was particularly successful in the public, education, health and transport sectors.
The Prime Minister Karamanlis made a public call and
sent an official letter to the leadership of the Confederation to
cancel not only the march, which traditionally follows the central
rally the day of the General Strike, but the rally in Syntagma Square
as well and the strike itself “because of the tense situation”. The
trade union bureaucracy had already cancelled the march and transferred
the rally from the traditional place in front of the headquarters of
GSEE to Syntagma Square, in front of the Parliament “in support of
parliamentary democracy”… But the GSEE leadership dominated by PASOK
did not dare to cancel the Strike or the rally, as Karamanlis demanded,
fearing that the mass workers movement will mobilize independently and
against the bureaucrats.
Under the combined pressures of the New Democracy
government, of PASOK, and above all, of the Stalinist KKE which accused
the reformist Synaspismos and its allies in SYRIZA to cover up for the
“hooligans destroying social peace and private property”, SYRIZA
cancelled its march and transferred its rally near Syntagma Square.
The Stalinists of KKE( who recently rehabilitated
officially not only Stalin but also the verdict of the Moscow Trials
and the purges of the ’30s in the Soviet Union) have become the main
slanderers of the youth revolt calling the young rebels “Talibans”,
“gangsters”, “drug dealers”, ” prostitution dealers”(!!), “police
agents” etc. Today in all mass media, the Right and particularly the
fascists of the far right party LAOS praised, quoted approvingly, and
repeated ad nauseam all the despicable slanders of the Gen. Sec. of
KKE, A. Papariga against the revolt.
For the General Strike, they organized their own
separate rally in Omonia Square and then they moved two blocks in the
other direction and dispersed! They were less than 4.000.
So the only march in Athens in the day of the
General Strike was that organized by the far left organizations of
MERA( Front of Radical Front, which includes EEK) and of ENANTIA(
United Anti-capitalist Left), joined by two Maoist groups and the
Anti-Authoritarian Movement (anarchist). Some class struggle sections
of the trade union movement, particularly in the Public sector, Health,
Education, technical engineers etc., including the Federation of the
high schools teachers refused to go neither with the PASOK-led GSEE or
the Stalinists and joined us putting themselves in the first ranks of
our march. It was the most impressive march of the Greek far left for
decades: about 25.000 people! EEK had its strongest contingent for all
its recent history. The Italian TV( which took also an interview by
Savas Michael of EEK) as well as other foreign TV channels have showed
our march- but not the Greek State TV, which nevertheless showed the
tiny rally of GSEE in Syntagma and the Stalinist gathering in Omonia…
There were only small clashes with the riot police
during the march, which, of course, geometrically escalated after the
end of the march, and still continue this hour (around midnight, Greek
time) around the Polytechnic University under occupation. The police
use there tonight also goons of the paramilitary fascist group “Golden
Dawn” - as they already did yesterday in Patras injuring with a knife a
young girl- and threaten to attack also our Independent Action Center
in the occupied Law Faculty in the Athens University.
In the Law Faculty under occupation, after the
march, two General Assemblies took place: a Workers Assembly joined by
hundreds of class struggle trade-unionists and a Student Assembly
joined by representatives from nearly all the student unions of the
Athens University. The traditions of the 1973 Polytechnic uprising
against the CIA junta are revived: at that time too there were a
Workers’ and a Students’ Assembly coordinating their actions as we do
today. The Independent Action Center is precisely this Coordination.
A statement was drafted and voted with a series of
demands (for the abolition of anti-trade union, anti-pension, police
state legislations, for wages increases, against privatizations, for
nationalizations under workers control etc.), a call for an indefinite general strike to overthrow the government, and a solemn decision for
civil disobedience, demonstrations, strikes etc. against the State of
Emergency prepared by the New Democracy government. The Statement, of
course called also for the immediate release of all arrested, whose
number until now is higher than 150 people, most of them young boys and
girls around 15 years, the first target of this horrendous capitalist
government of kid killers.
Another provocation became public today: the Medical
-Legal Department of the Police wants to issue a verdict declaring the
killing of Alexis …an accident. At the same time the two police
murderers in their deposition in the Interrogator, made public by their
lawyer (a notorious lawyer of the mob), accused their young victim to
be “a nasty hooligan with a disturbed behavior”, “kicked out from his
school” (the school rejected officially the slander). This character
assassination- the Second Murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos- undoubtedly
will provoke a new wave of explosions, keeping in mind that in the
forefront of the struggle is 14-15 years schoolchildren.
Tomorrow there will be another student and
schoolchildren demonstration. The same, the day after tomorrow. The
mobilization will not stop until victory.
On December 18, the government budget is voted in parliament and another General Strike is planned for that day.
Greece: Combative general strike, counter-attack of the establishment
The 24-hour general strike met great success, much bigger than previous strikes, even in the private sector. Meetings and demonstrations took place all over Greece, with the participation of dozens of thousands of employees, workers, youth, unemployed and pensioners, despite the “personal plea of the Prime-minister not to hold public meetings in order to avoid further destruction”. The central demonstration in Athens took place from 10 am to 2 pm, despite the decision of the trade-union federation leadership to limit itself in a meeting. The blocks of the Communist Organization of Greece marched from the initially fixed meeting place towards the parliament, uniting during the demonstration with the other allies of the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA). The blocks of SYRIZA composed the bulk of the whole meeting.
During the demonstration there was no police presence, so no incidents took place. The slogans put forward by KOE were: "Resign now!" (addressed to the government), "ND and PASOK (the government party and the "socialist" party) shut up, you are both thieves and killers!".
After the conclusion of the demonstration and while thousands of people were still returning from the march, the Special Forces started provoking the people once again. The confrontation with the police continue until the moment we are writing these lines.
Report from Greece of Dec 9 and 10, 2009 Communist Organisation of Greece (KOE)
* * *
Down with the criminal government of Karamanlis!
In these critical moments, the “unholy alliance” of “law and order” takes shape, the composition of the two opposite camps gets clear. On the side of the “order” stand the big bourgeoisie and the government of Karamanlis, with their employees: the mainstream media, the police, the gangs of “angry citizens who protect their property” (composed by extreme right-wing cadres of the government party and by neonazis). Hand in hand with them goes the supposed “opposition”: the “socialists” of PASOK and the “communists” of the KKE, with their calls for “responsible attitude” and their open, calumniating attacks against the radical left. This “opposition” receives the congratulations of the government and of the establishment, who is only very happy to repeat again and again their accusations against the Coalition of Radical Left. Even the leader of the extreme right-wing party LAOS accused A. Alavanos, head of the Parliamentary Group of SYRIZA, that he “protects the rioters” adding: “It is not me who says that, Mr Alavanos. It is your kindred spirits from the KKE who affirm that”.
On the other side, the camp of the movement is composed by the revolted youth and by the forces of the Coalition of Radical Left and other left organisations, those of the extra-parliamentarian left. The combativity of the youth and the work of the communist current within the coalition, represented by the Communist Organization of Greece, have until now succeeded to keep this alliance within the protest and armed it with a correct demand: “This government must go!”. The position of our organisation is crystal-clear: We participate to the revolt with all our forces. We learn by the revolt and we try to develop it further and arm it with the necessary perspective.
Report from Greece of Dec 11, 2009: Communist Organisation of Greece (KOE)
Greece: teenager uprising, big general strike, but the left parties refuse to give a political solution
December 11, 2008 -- Yesterday
we witnessed a big general strike in Greece which expressed the strong support
of the workers for the struggle of the school students and the widespread
abhorrence at the government's police terrorism. The general strike was bigger than
the previous one of October 21. This was reflected in a rally of 40,000 people
in Athens' Syndagma Square, under the banner of the GSEE and ADEDY with the
participation of many school students. However, the KKE's trade union front,
PAME, organized a separate rally in Omonia Square with about 8,000 taking part.
The liveliest of the two rallies was the one in Syndagma Square organized by
the unions, while the other was more of a party rally than an authentic rally
of the workers and the youth.
students set the tone in the Syndagma rally with their huge enthusiasm and
fighting spirit. Unfortunately, the leaders of the GSEE limited themselves to
giving three speeches that lasted 45 minutes in total, without announcing any
programme of struggle for the immediate future. As a result the workers left the
rally with the feeling that their leaders were pushing them to go home and
leave the ground free for the police to attack and terrorize the students. In
fact, just 30 minutes after the last trade union leader had finished speaking,
the police attacked the students once more but the students fought back with
rocks and stones. The battle with the police continued until the late evening.
Today the school students are once again continuing to mobilize in front of the
police stations all over the country. And tomorrow morning another
demonstration is planned in the centre of Athens together with the University
The first political
four days of struggle we can now start to draw some first clear conclusions.
Without any doubt this movement deserves the title of "teenager uprising". We
have here a new generation of tens of thousands of school students erupting in
a huge explosion, the biggest for 20 years, if not even more, in Greece. We have
clear symptoms of an instinctive revolutionary spirit, and a clear tendency to
target not only the present bourgeois government but also the bourgeois state
and the capitalist system as a whole.
Students protesting in front of police station
movement is the result not only of the criminal killing of a young school
student - which was the trigger of course ‑ but it is also the result of the
big pressure the Greek bourgeois has been putting the working people under for
some years, on the basis of the crisis of Greek and the international
capitalism. Once again we see how the youth is moving as that sensitive
barometer of society and is indicating that even bigger class battles are being
prepared in the near future.
massive participation of the youth and workers in these events together with a
fighting spirit against the system is one side of the equation. The other side,
however, is ‑ for the moment ‑ the complete absence of clear demands and of any
serious coordination. The bureaucratic "coordination committees" promoted by
the KNE (Communist Youth) which have controlled the school student movement
since 1999 are playing a completely secondary role within the movement and in
reality they are being dragged behind the movement, rather than giving it any
lead. That is why the Marxists are proposing the immediate coordination of the
movement with the creation of elected student committees in every school which
will send representatives to a coordination committees at town and national
level. These committees should then build a united front with the University
students' movement and above all with the trade unions.
from this weakness, the main problem that this movement is facing is the
political attitude of the leaders of the workers' parties and of the trade
unions. We already have pointed out that the trade union leaders do not want to
do anything concrete to help the movement, apart from a few speeches at
rallies. The PASOK leadership completely abstained from the general strike. For
the first time Papandreou ‑ although he is raising the demand that the
government "must resign" - did not gave any indication to party members on
whether they should participate in the struggle. The "official" PASOK
leadership is making a clear strand that they are outside the present movement
and this is normal because the last thing that the right-wing reformist PASOK
leaders want is to come to power on the back of a militant mass movement.
leadership of Synaspismos, on the other hand, is trying to invest politically
in the movement, which is good, but from their behaviour it is clear that they
do this mainly as a way of staying high in the opinion polls. This is explained
by the fact that as the ND government becomes ever more unpopular, the majority
of the workers are turning electorally to the PASOK, as the easiest road to
remove the Karamanlis government. The leaders of Synaspismos in practice are
taking no concrete initiatives that could give a clear political expression to
the movement and also they do nothing to clearly separate themselves
politically and organizationally from the anarchists and their
counterproductive hooligan methods.
Students attacking a police station
what is even more unacceptable is the attitude of the Stalinist leaders of the
KKE. They have started a public conflict with the Synaspismos leadership by
accusing them openly of "coordination with the lumpen and para-statal elements",
which the reactionary pro-government mass media are exploiting in order to
present the Left as a whole as simply fighting each other over who will take
more votes among the leftward leaning voters. At the same time, the leaders of
the KKE are not trying to deal with the real movement, preferring to call party
rallies and demonstrations, separate from the rest of the working class and
spite of all this, for the moment, the youth movement continues to grow.
Objectively the struggle is a political one. This government must fall and this
is the main task that the workers and the youth understand and accept
massively, although their leaders are not giving a concrete political
expression to the movement. As the movement continues to grow, centred on the
schools and Universities and with the active sympathy of the working class, the
crisis of the government will become evermore deep.
Big general strike in Greece yesterday
these conditions, what is required is to coordinate the mass movement and
strengthen it, thereby putting pressure on the leaders of the Left parties and
force them to take on their responsibilities. There is in fact a huge gap
between the objective potential of the movement and the passive stance of the
official leadership of the Left parties.
the last analysis, the only way out of the present political impasse is through
a generalized mobilization of the working class and youth for a genuine
workers' government with a socialist programme. Only such a government could do
justice to the present struggle and achieve a real victory. The task is to put
an end to the present barbaric bourgeois power both politically and
economically. This is the final solution that we must fight for within the working
class movement and the Left.
workers and youth will be drawing important conclusions from the recent events.
From these will come the forces to transform the mass organizations from their
present state and turn them into genuine fighting parties of the working class.
That is what the Greek Marxists are struggling to achieve.
During the night from Saturday until early morning on Sunday December 14
violent clashes with the riot police took place in Athens, in Exarchia,
near the place where the young Alexis has been killed on December the 6th.
Saturday night, at the place and the time of the assassination a week
ago, thousands of people gathered in a moving memorial meeting. The
appearance of a unit of full dressed riot police in few meters from the
gathering provoked the anger and the clashes. An important thing to note
is that the majority of those who clashed with the police this time and
marched against the police station nearby( it is the police station to
which the two killers belonged) were not as usually the very young but
adult and middle aged inhabitants of this neighborhood infuriated by the
Police violence and harassment.
Today, Sunday, in the afternoon, despite the very strong rain and bad
weather nearly 1000 people gathered in the same place after a call by
the Initiative of the Exarchia Inhabitants Committee. The same Committee
called for another march next Tuesday early evening towards the police
station of the killers.
Police stations and banks are the principal targets of attacks by the
youth in rebellion. Public buildings are occupied in many popular
More than 400 schools are under occupation. Tomorrow, December the 15th,
students and schoolchildren will held another demonstration at the
center of Athens.
Similar activities take place in the main cities of the country
(Thessalonica, Patras, Larissa, Volos, Crete etc.). In Volos today, during a meeting of the local Trade Union Council to
celebrate its 100th anniversary from its foundation (Volos is the cradle
of the Greek workers trade union movement), our comrades of EEK and MERA
did an important intervention calling the trade unionists to declare a
strike on December 18th, day of national mobilization against the new
anti-working class budget of the government, and in defense of the youth
in revolt, against the government of kid killers. The call found a warm
An important week of struggle starts tomorrow!
The communists must have their eyes and ears open
asked the political leaders to explicitly condemn the acts of violence.
It is the responsibility of both the government and of all the
political forces to immediately isolate, socially and politically,
those who promote violence, illegal actions and antidemocratic
attitudes” -- Declaration of Prime-minister Kostas Karamanlis, after his meetings with the leaders of parliamentary parties
“The leadership of the Coalition of Radical Left must cease petting the rioters” -- Declaration
of Aleka Papariga, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece
(KKE), after her meeting with the Prime-minister
are political forces who display responsible attitude, and there are
others who are petting the rioters, as I heard someone saying a while
ago” -- Declaration of Georgios Karatzaferis, head of the extreme right-wing party LAOS
“Tell me who praises you, so I can tell you which errors you fell into” -- V. I. Lenin
Why so much loyalism?
times of social tension and political instability, the duty of the
communists is not to stabilize the system. On the contrary, they try to
further wound it and to limit its power, thus creating the
preconditions that are necessary in order to topple it. The KKE
leadership has divorced from this practice. Even more, it became a
repeating relay of the government’s claims about “the new asymmetric
threat against Greece
and public order”. The KKE leadership stood by the side of K.
Karamanlis when he demanded the political parties to “display
responsibility and consent in order to get out of this difficult
since when the “difficult situation” for the government is also a
“difficult situation” for the people and the Left? The “difficult
times” for the big bourgeoisie are perhaps “difficult” for the workers’
movement as well? Suddenly, the “pure class analysis” of the KKE is
taking a stroll!
on Wednesday 10 December, the government asked the trade-unions not to
organize a march towards the Parliament, the KKE leadership obeyed:
“PAME”, the trade-union fraction of KKE, “demonstrated” to the other
end of the city, outside the old building of the Employment Ministry
(which is nowadays located elsewhere!). When, on Friday 12 December,
dozens of thousands of students became a sea that filled the Constitution Square
in front of the Parliament, the KKE leadership sent its members
strolling in small alleys, kilometers away. And then, there is also the
violent and arbitrary attempt of the members of KNE (the KKE Youth) to
get under their control the Universities buildings, in order to prevent
the students entering and holding General Assemblies! Definitely, the
“uncompromising class struggle” waged by KKE becomes quite problematic…
The Party of the Working Class? Or the Party of “Law and Order”?
KKE leadership talks a lot about the working class, the class
consciousness and the class struggle. But its practice proves once more
that it is the party of “responsible attitude”, the party of “loyal
goodmen”. A party that wishes to keep everything within the
years ago, the daily organ of KKE “Rizospastis” made the revolt of the
youth in the French suburbs a central issue. At that time, KKE was
writing in “Rizospastis”: “The French government and all
those who talk of gangs of rioters are trying to diminish or sweep
under the carpet the reasons and the content of the revolt, as well as
the despair of the rebellious youth”. And also: “The KKE expresses its warmest solidarity to the contemporary Miserables of Paris and of whole France”.
That’s what KKE was saying then – when the revolt was taking place in
another country. Now, all this proves to be (once more) cheap
Now, that the explosion of the youth takes place in Greece,
what is the KKE leadership doing? They are accusing us that “we pet the
rioters”! An MP of KKE, a certain Ioannis Gkiokas, arrived to the point
to accuse SYRIZA during an interview in the state radio station that
“this party may cover common criminals and human traffickers”!
all these, results of KKE’s spite against SYRIZA? Are, all these,
results of KKE’s will to continue the “civil war” within the Left
movement? No! What is central in the practice of KKE is not its
hostility towards SYRIZA. It is the role that the KKE leadership has
undertaken, as “guardian of the social peace and stability”. Its
practice is the result of its role as right hand of the government and
of the government’s manipulations.
This government should be chased away by the movement? Or not?
KKE leadership does not support the demand “Down with this government
of thieves and murderers”. And, of course, it has not a policy that
would lead to this result. The permanent, supposedly “pure” position of
the KKE leadership is: “We do not want to change manager”.
ask: Since when, in which theoretical works, in which practice of the
Communist Movement, they discovered that it is a bad thing to have a
rebellious movement obliging a government to resign? Since when the
“Party of the Working Class”, while it can demand the resignation of
the bourgeois government, does not do so? Especially when this demand
is in the lips of the broad progressive masses of the revolted youth
and of the people?
ask: Why don’t they put in practice the big words (“Insubordination and
Counter-Attack”) that they use in their propaganda? Especially when the
so called social-democratic “opposition” of PASOK not only does not put
any pressure on the government to resign but, on the contrary, it is
asking from the right-wing to “rise up to its responsibility and
exercise its governmental role”?
ask: In case this government falls under the pressure of the social
unrest and of the youth rebellion, which can become a mass political
movement in schools, universities and workplaces, wouldn’t that be
(irrespectively of whom has less or more electoral gains) a great
achievement for the people’s movement? Wouldn’t that be a confirmation
of the people’s power and ability to break down governments and
KKE leadership defames once again communism. It did it in the past when
it was uncritically supporting the (in)existent socialism, and when it
formed “national unity” governments together with the right-wing party
and the social-democratic PASOK. It does it again now, by slandering
the youth rebellion, thus pushing the youth away of the Communist Left.
order to change the things, we all need a Left and a Communist Movement
that is dedicated to the overthrow the actual situation. We do not need
those who excel in verbalism, yield to the bourgeois blackmailing,
declare their loyalism, and do not try to become a force of revolt!
Greece's riots are a sign of the economic times. Other countries should beware, says Peter Popham in Athens.
After firing 4,600 tear-gas canisters in the past week, the Greek police have nearly exhausted their stock. As they seek emergency supplies from Israel and Germany, still the petrol bombs and stones of the protesters rain down, with clashes again outside parliament yesterday.
Bringing together youths in their early twenties struggling to survive amid mass youth unemployment and schoolchildren swotting for highly competitive university exams that may not ultimately help them in a treacherous jobs market, the events of the past week could be called the first credit-crunch riots. There have been smaller-scale sympathy attacks from Moscow to Copenhagen, and economists say countries with similarly high youth unemployment problems such as Spain and Italy should prepare for unrest.
Ostensibly, the trigger for the Greek violence was the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, Alexis Grigoropoulos. A forensic report leaked to Greek newspapers indicated he was killed by a direct shot, not a ricochet as the policeman's lawyer had claimed. The first protesters were on the streets of Athens within 90 minutes of Alexis's death, the start of the most traumatic week Greece has endured for decades. The destructiveness of the daily protests, which left many stores in Athens's smartest shopping area in ruins and caused an estimated €2bn (£1.79bn) in damage, has stunned Greece and baffled the world. And there was no let-up yesterday, as angry youths shrugged off torrential rain to pelt police with firebombs and stones, block major roads and occupy a private radio station.
Their parents grope for explanations. Tonia Katerini, whose 17-year-old son Michalis was out on the streets the day after the killing, emphasised the normality of the protesters. "It's not just 20 or 30 people, we're talking about 1,000 young people. These are not people who live in the dark, they are the sort you see in the cafes. The criminals and drug addicts turned up later, to loot the stores. The children were very angry that one of them had been killed; and they wanted the whole society not to sleep quietly about this, they wanted everyone to feel the same fear they felt. And they were also expressing anger towards society, towards the religion of consumerism, the polarisation of society between the few haves and the many have-nots."
Protest has long been a rite of passage for urban Greek youth. The downfall of the military dictatorship in 1974 is popularly ascribed to a student uprising; the truth was more complicated, but that is the version that has entered student mythology, giving them an enduring sense of their potential. So no one was surprised that Alexis's death a week ago today brought his fellow teenagers on to the streets. But why were the protests so impassioned and long-lasting? "The death of this young boy was a catalyst that brought out all the problems of society and of youth that have been piling up all these years and left to one side with no solutions," said Nikos Mouzelis, emeritus professor of sociology at LSE. "Every day, the youth of this country experiences further marginalisation."
Although Greece's headline unemployment of 7.4 per cent is just below the eurozone average, the OECD estimates that unemployment among those aged 15 to 24 is 22 per cent, although some economists put the real figure at more like 30 per cent.
"Because of unemployment, a quarter of those under 25 are below the poverty line," said Petros Rylmon, an economist at Linardos, the Labour Institute of the Greek trade unions. "That percentage has been increasing for the past 10 years. There is a diffused, widespread feeling that there are no prospects. This is a period when everyone is afraid of the future because of the economic crisis. There is a general feeling that things are going to get worse. And there is no real initiative from the government."
For Greek youngsters such as Michalis Katerini, job prospects are not rosy, but without a university degree they would be far worse, so he and his mother are making serious sacrifices to get him into further education. So inadequate is the teaching in his state high school that he, like tens of thousands of others across the country, must study three hours per night, five nights a week at cramming school after regular school, to have a hope of attaining the high grades required to get the university course of his choice. His mother, whose work as an architect is down 20 per cent on last year, must pay €800 a month to the crammer for the last, crucial year of high school.
She believes the government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis faces more turbulence if it fails to grasp the reality of the past week, and pass it off as a spontaneous over-reaction. "The government has tried hard not to connect what is happening with the problems of young people. The government says one boy died, his friends are angry, they over-reacted then anarchists came to join in the game. But this is not the reality."
Vicky Stamatiadou, a kindergarten teacher in the rich northern suburbs with two teenage sons, agrees. "Until now, our society was full of dirty but calm water; nothing was moving, nothing improving, all the problems of our society remained unsolved for years. People pretended that everything was going well. But now this false picture has been broken and we are facing reality."
Greece's official youth unemployment statistics are not far removed from the rates in other European countries with a history of mass protest, such as France, Italy and Spain. With the graffiti "The Coming Insurrection" plastered near the Greek consulate in Bordeaux this week, the warning signs to the rest of the continent's leaders are clear.
Simmering social and material tensions
in Greece were detonated by the police killing of 15-year-old
Alexandros Grigoropoulos earlier this month on December 6th. The past
three weeks have seen daily and nightly tumultuous clashes between
those rising up and the Greek state. Demonstrations, protests,
barricades, and riots have rocked the streets. TV stations,
universities, high schools, workplaces, and city halls have been
Last Saturday was an international day
of solidarity with the Greek uprising. Labor and student demonstrations
are scheduled to continue early in the new-year.
Nikos Raptis is a resident of Athens
and also a long-time contributor to Z, which happens to be named for
the Costa-Gavras film, also titled Z, that is about resistance and
repression in post-war Greece. Raptis's article, sent in the previous
mail-out, "Greek Teenagers,"
provides background to the uprising. Z collective member Chris Spannos
interviewed Nikos for an update on the current status of the revolt.
The interview took place between December 17-23.
The Greek Populace
Chris: First, moving into the third week of rebellion,
can you give an overview of events this week and into the foreseeable
future? What is the mood of those protesting and of broader society
Nikos: Chris, allow me, before we go ahead with the
interview, to make a few comments on the mood that I [or any other
person] find myself in these days. For example, in the morning of
December 18 I read in the news:
First: In the New York Times of December 17 we read: "Jose and his
brother Romel [two Ecuadorian immigrants] appear to have been
misidentified as gay as they walked home, arms around each other, on a
predawn morning in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Romel managed to
escape the three men who emerged from a passing car wielding a baseball
bat and shouting anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets.
Jose was struck on the head with a bottle, then kicked and beaten into
unconsciousness... and expired last Friday night, one day before his
mother, who was traveling from Ecuador, could reach him".
Second: In today's Greek press we read: Alexis Gregoropoulos, the
15-year-old Greek, was murdered by a Greek policeman on December 6.
Yesterday, 12 days after the murder of Alexis, around 11 am, a group of
about 10 high school kids, members of the Coordinating Committee of
their school, were assembled at an open public space at Peristeri [a
rather downgraded part of Athens] discussing the program for the
demonstrations of the next day. A shot was fired from some distance and
a 17-year-old kid was hit on the palm of his right hand. The kid was
operated upon this morning and a 38-caliber revolver bullet was
extracted. According to the other kids a second shot was fired 10
minutes later from a closer distance.
The government covered up the incident for 14 hours. Whoever did it, he
scared the lights out of the parents of the uprisen Greek teenagers.
The police have already leaked the "information" that it was a "crazy"
[neighbor] that did it. My estimate is that it was done by one of the
neo-Nazis that the government uses to do its dirty work. Again, this is
Third: Again from the Greek press: The policeman that murdered the
15-year-old Alexis and the policeman with him during the act, were not
jailed in the main Athens prison, as there was fear that the other
prisoners might harm them. So, they were imprisoned in a small prison
away from Athens. They were put in the same cell. Yesterday, after
midnight, the murderer cop attacked his partner-cop in the cell,
shouting that he [the partner] was a "demon" and that he [the murderer]
wished to have a religious "confession" [to a priest]. The general
feeling is that this is "theater" aiming to plead insanity for the pig.
Also, as expected, it might be that the cop who did not use his gun is
about to start "singing" and therefore the attack was in earnest.
One can claim that the reference to the existence of murderous assholes
in any society is a truism. That is correct. However, what needs to be
answered is: why these murderous assholes feel that in our
"order-and-security" societies they will [tacitly] have the protection
of the police and of the [by definition conservative] judiciary? This
is not an exaggeration! Any honest observer of what is going on in our
societies will come to this conclusion.
Now to answer your question:
The above items concerning Greece give you the answer for the most
important events up to Wednesday, December 17. The wounding of the high
school kid, in Peristeri, is taken very seriously by the ordinary
Greeks. They are almost certain that whoever shot at the kid was
shooting to kill. There is one eyewitness, who has not testified
officially, yet. He attests that the shooting came from people dressed
in civilian cloths in a car [a white "Citroen"] with a big radio
antenna that sped away in a flash after the shooting. The police used
to have this kind of car and antenna. This event, naturally, has
increased the anger in the populace, especially of the revolted
teenagers. On the other hand, after the shooting the parents will try
to keep the kids out of the streets. Yet, the name of Peristeri, the
site of shooting, is becoming an important word of the uprising.
Already there has been a peaceful but massive demonstration at
Peristeri to protest the shooting.
>From December 17 to this day [Dec. 22] there were demonstrations
but there were no burnings and damage of banks, shops, etc in the
downtown Athens area or other cities, as in the first days of the
uprising. All these days since about December 17 the action has been
precisely targeted and, in general, away from the center.
Chris: What were the targets and how significant were they?
Nikos: The choice of targets is very revealing and of great sociopolitical significance.
The targets were:
The headquarters of the riot Police.
The Police Academy, in New Philadelphia, in Northern Athens.
The French Institute, where the Greek youth acquires French as a second
or third language. My estimate is that it was targeted because of the
A government building where the data for people that have trouble paying, taxes, loans, etc. are stored.
Sit-in by laborers at the General Federation of Workers of Greece. A US "constructed" labor syndicate, since 1947.
Occupation of the law offices of Kougias, the "famous" lawyer who
defends the policeman that murdered the young Alexis, and "tidying-up"
of the establishment. Also, two attacks against Kougias at the city of
Patras, this time the "illustrious" barrister was defended and saved by
the police from possible severe "disciplining" by very angry youngsters.
Attack against the police unit that guards the central complex of court buildings in Athens.
Invasion of the National Theater and stopping of the show.
Pelting of the [perennial] rightist Mayor of Salonica, a former M.D.
and a track and field athlete, with candy, bon bons and castor sugar.
The verbal reaction of the "cultured" mayor towards the young people
that "offered" him the sweets: "You social outcasts!" The bystanders
approved of the act of the...young people.
One of the most important acts of the youths of Greece these last few
days is the "creation" of the saga of the Christmas Tree at the very
center of Athens, the Constitution Square. By the way, the Preamble of
the US Constitution starts with the words "We the People". Article
Three of the Greek Constitution dictates: "The established (used to be
the "official") religion in Greece is the religion of the Eastern
Orthodox Church of Christ. The Orthodox Church of Greece, that
recognizes as its head our Lord Jesus Christ...", and so on. No wonder
that the mayors of Athens, "socialists" or rightists, always strived to
erect the most glorious plastic Christmas Tree in Europe. As most of
the people in the world have seen on their TV screens the huge Grecian
Orthodox Christmas Tree [a.k.a. Tannenbaum] was burned by the Greek
teenagers et al, in the first face of the uprising. The rightist mayor
of Athens, a certain Nikitas Kaklamanis [also an M.D.], with zingy
energy managed to erect a new glorious plastic Orthodox Christmas Tree,
in record time. A few days before that, the personnel [doctors, nurses,
etc.] of one of the most important hospitals in Athens stepped out of
the hospital on the street and started cleaning the windshields of the
passing cars [symbolically] asking for money to buy gauze for the
operation rooms of the hospital as there were none in the hospital
because of lack of money. In the previous rightist government
Kaklamanis was Minister of...Health.
On Saturday, Dec. 20, a group of boys and girls, of the Superior School
of Fine Arts [of University level] went to the central meat market in
downtown Athens and asked the shopkeepers to "donate" to them all the
spoiled meat available. The shopkeepers were more than enthusiastic and
they added a half-boiled pig head to the donation. Then, securing and a
sufficient number of plastic bags full of garbage, they proceeded to
the Constitution Square and the Christmas tree. Where they started
improving the decoration of the tree. The ordinary citizens present at
the time encouraged the students. Finally, the riot police, and the
firefighting trucks arrived, beat the hell out of the students and from
then on the heroic policemen stand guard in full combat-gear all around
the Orthodox Christmas Tree.
The "joyful" saga of the Christmas Tree was accompanied by a
characteristic act of police brutality a few blocks from the Christmas
Tree. A young soldier in mufti walked down a main Athens street with
his girl friend. For no reason at all a group of policemen on the
sidewalk attack them and beat the young man hurting one of his eyes. An
eye-witness, a lawyer, intervenes. He gets rough treatment by the
police. The young man is arrested and he is now accused with very
serious crimes. The "soldier-case" has become a very serious case of
police brutality for the Greeks.
About the foreseeable future. It seems that the present "intifada" of
the Greek teenagers will not end as the youth uprisings of recent
history [May '68, etc]. One new development that corroborates this view
has been the spread of support for the Greek youth all over the world.
My estimate is that the kids are very serious in the pursuit of their
aims. Yet, no one can be certain. The most important future event is
the nation-wide demonstration, on January 9, in memory of the murder of
Nikos Temponeras, the young high school teacher of mathematics in the
city of Patras years ago [in 1991], by the leader of the [rightist]
Youth of New Democracy, the party of the present Greek government, who
crushed the skull of the young teacher. This rather forgotten murder
came back in the forefront because of the murder now of Alexis. My
sense that is that the name of Temponeras, the martyr of Patras, will
play a significant role with the teenagers as things develop. The 9th
of January 2009 is a date to be studied with interest.
As to the mood of those protesting and the broader society, Chris allow me to dwell a bit on this subject.
As I have written in my previous ZNet Commentaries I think that in any
given population, 1/3 of it, for a "strange" reason are people who
consider themselves "conservative", that is "cryptofascist". Whether
these people [mentioned as the "1/3" from now on] are born or "made"
this way is irrelevant. This, naturally, holds also for the Greek
population. These "conservative" Greeks think that the murderous armed
policeman that killed Alexis, was defending himself, in the presence of
half a dozen teenagers, and that he was right in killing the kid, whom
they consider to be a bum. Also, they think that Kougias the "famous"
lawyer is defending the policeman effectively, by claiming that the
death of the kid was the "will of God" and that the "courts should
decide if the death was necessary". If I may add a remark here Chris,
this "1/3" of reactionary individuals might be the root of all evil in
The Minister of Justice, one person named Chatzigakis, or something, in
the Greek Parliament stated that the British Government not only
forgave the policeman who killed the Brazilian youth during the attack
against the London subway a few years ago, "but reinstated him to
active service". Therefore the Greek government should, etc.
In the notoriously extreme rightist Sparta area, in Peloponnesus, there
is a movement to raise money for the family of the murderous policeman!
A group of "intellectuals" signed a declaration that confirms Noam
Chomsky's opinion about them. The tenor of their text was that the kids
were not doing the right thing.
The worst reaction about the uprising of the teenagers was that of the
Secretary of the central Committee of KKE [the Communist Party of
Greece], Aleka Papariga. She insisted that this was not an "uprising",
no matter how many the demonstrating youths. She claimed that
revolutions happen only when the workers revolt under the guidance of
the communist leadership. Also, she insinuated that the "Coalition of
the Radical Left" [a formerly eurocommunist split from KKE] was
condoning the burning, etc. An accusation that is not only incorrect
The most dangerous group in the events of these past weeks was that of
the neo-Nazis. The demonstrations, the burnings, the lootings, etc.
gave them a golden chance to mix with the demonstrators and carry out
their horrid work. [By the way, they call their Nazi organization the
"Golden Dawn"!]. During the first days of the uprising they found the
opportunity to mix with some shopkeeper that tried to protect their
shops at Patras and did what some people called a "Kristallnacht"
chasing people and breaking even into their houses. Similar acts by
neo-Nazis were performed in the northern Greek city of Komotini.
This behavior thrives through the protection of the neo-Nazis by the
police. It seems that in the police corps there is a significant number
of neo-Nazis of the "Golden Dawn". One of the most significant events
during these days has been a video showing neo-Nazis [or policemen
dressed as demonstrators] wielding crowbars, etc., walking out of a
group of regular policemen and starting to break glass windows of
shops. One of them using a regular...sledgehammer.
However, what is of greater importance is the fact that the neo-Nazis,
who operate in the fringes of the above 1/3, have managed to enter in
the Greek parliament as an acceptable political party with a percentage
of 3 to 4 % of the votes in the parliamentary elections. Most of the
time in the parliament they try to present a "populist" image using the
language and the arguments of the...communist party! However, yesterday
their leader, bearing the Turkish [!] name Karatzaferis, a former
journalist [and amateur boxer], asked the Parliament to vote for a new
"special act". The history of the "special act" ["idionymo", in Greek]
is one of the most sinister pages of the political life of Greece. This
was a law "constructed", in 1929, by the famous "father" of the Greek
nation, the "great democrat" Eleftherios Venizelos", whose innumerable
marble or bronze statues are dispersed all over Greece. The "special
act" was designed to start a brutal persecution of the Greek communists
and anarchists, who "intended to overturn the established order". This
was the beginning of a pogrom especially against the Greek communists
that included, imprisonment, torture and later, after Venizelos,
executions in the thousands, that lasted up to 1974. When Venizelos was
told that the Greek fascists of that era were intent in overturning the
established order, he declined to include the fascists in the "special
Of course, all this shouting by Karatzaferis, the "representative" of
the neo-Nazis in the Parliament, is simply posturing, because more than
anyone else he knows that if the hoods are removed many of the faces
under them will belong to "Golden Dawn" thugs or policemen.
Chris, here at this point, I have to describe a situation that is of
great importance in the political life in Greece. There are a few
persons that dominate the news in the Greek society almost on a daily
basis. These are the following:
There is an upper level Orthodox Christian priest in Salonica [I don't
know his rank but in his rank they call them "Saint"!] that goes by the
name of Anthimos. For years now he delivers from the pulpit an
incredibly extreme right wing and warlike political preaching that is
very dangerous. For example, he threatens the Macedonians [the name,
etc.] with invasion by the Greek army, or dares them a la W. Bush "let
them (the Macedonians) come!" Who supports him in this kind of behavior?
Again in Salonica, there is a guy by the name of Psomiadis, a rabid
rightist, who plays the role of the prefect, who is the non-cassocked
twin of Anthimos the priest. Although, once he came close to the
black-cassocked priest when he donned a black "Zorro" costume and rode
a horse. For years and years he appears on the TV screens from early in
the morning. What might be his role?
Then, there is Theodore Pangalos, a 70-year-old heavily overweight man,
who is proud of his weight as is attested by the story that once with
the microphones in the European Union[?] forgotten in active state he
attacked Angela Merkel verbally by saying: "Has she ever been fucked by
a fat man?", intending thus to show his prowess as a fat man. Pangalos
is the grandchild of a military general with the same Christian name,
who was a dictator [!] of Greece in 1925. As happens in some cases with
the progeny of dictators Pangalos, the grandchild named himself a
leftist and enter politics. Actually in the 60s he managed to be close
to Mikis Theodorakis, the great composer and heroic figure of the Greek
left. When the "socialists" won the elections in 1981 Pangalos joined
them and for almost two decades he held ministerial positions in the
"socialist" governments, mostly in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
"peak" of his career came when in 1999, as a "socialist" Minister of
Foreign Affairs, he delivered Ocalan, the leader of the Kurds, to the
Turks who is rotting in the Turkish prisons since then. A couple of
days ago Pangalos attacked the "Coalition of Radical Left" as
"political bums" who supported the hooded rioters that burned, etc. The
accusation is so blatantly false that one should ask himself where is
Pangalos aiming, why, and who is supporting him in this provocative
behavior for almost a half of a century? The fact is that for the last
48 hours all are talking about the word "bums" that Pangalos spat out
of his mouth.
The two other persons in the above category of "what-is-their-role" in
the Greek society, are Kougias the lawyer and Karatzaferis the Leader
of the extreme rightists in the Greek Parliament.
There is one more new factor in this uprising in Greece; the
immigrants. At first they did not participate in the riots. They only
did most of the looting. However, in some cases they participated in
the riots. This was a natural and expected thing to do. Most immigrants
that were lucky enough to be dragged to a Greek police station, leave
it as rabid haters of everything Greek. Sodomizing with broomsticks or
clubs is the "mundane" procedure by the brave Greek policemen. The most
tragic "description" of the procedure was offered by a young Albanian
man, who, years ago, after declining to answer to the insistent
questioning by Greek journalists he said that the Greek policemen did
to him "what is done to women". The young Albanian was murdered in
Albania, by the Albanian police, after having commandeered a Greek Bus.
The most recent procedure by the Greek police, captured also on video,
was to have an Albanian immigrant torture another Albanian for the
enjoyment of the Greek policemen, members of a superior race.
Chris: So what about the remaining 2/3 of the population?
Nikos: For the first time ordinary Greeks started
throwing flower-pots against the police from their upper-floor
apartment balconies. For the first time the ordinary Greeks took videos
of the actions of the police from these balconies and distributed them
to the media making public the brutality of the pigs. Actually the
video with the sledgehammer is in black and white, which might mean
that the camera was of an older era. Also, a young woman captured with
her camera the scene of the departure of the two murderous policemen
walking away from the murder scene of Alexis. A bit of information that
is going to be used in court.
The most proper word to describe the mood of the 2/3 populace is:
"participatory". As for the teenagers and the students it is heartening
to listen to them stating that they fight for "dignity", that they do
not approve of barbaric "competition" in society, that they want real
education and not cramming of their minds simply with "information".
Also, it is heartening to see students and teenagers trying to
extinguish fires or prevent destruction of small shops, while the
"disciplined" demonstrators of the KKE were passing by in indifference.
It seems that this time in their struggle is very serious.
Chris: Is there anything particular about Greek society, history, or relations across generations that may help explain the revolt?
Nikos: There is a Greek "particularity" that might
help in this struggle. The Greek family is still a very close-knit
entity. The present teenagers are two generations away from the
generation that experienced the Nazi occupation of 1941-1944 and the
bloody revolt of the Left against the British and the US up to 1949.
Yet in most Greek families there is a "residue" of that experience
which, given the strong bonds in the family, enables the Greek
teenagers to understand quite accurately how the world runs. This was
corroborated, now, by the maturity of their views, as articulated
during the last days.
Chris: Could you outline some of the material
conditions please, the ones affecting those rising up and calling for
rebellion, for the youth, students, workers, migrants, etc.?
Nikos: The most important aspects of the material
conditions are the joblessness, the salaries of what by now is called
the "generation of the 700 Euros" [about US $ 970 per month], the
University degrees that are almost useless, the flight of Greek
companies to neighboring countries in search of cheap labor, the
"flexible" treatment of hiring and firing, the unbelievably high
prices in the Greek supermarkets much above the ones in the rest of the
European Union, the scandalous treatment of the money of the taxpayers
by the Government, the unbelievably bad condition of the National
Health System, the exorbitant profits of the Greek banks, and finally
the "strange" insistence of the Greek governing elite to follow the
"neo-liberal" economic model after what has happened worldwide.
The State and Legal Situation
Chris: Tuesday (Dec. 16) Prime Minister Karamanlis
said he accepted "a share of the blame" in the scandal involving a
monastery which exchanged tracts of farmland in northern Greece for
state-owned property in Athens. How has this affected the credibility
of Karamanlis and his New Democracy party? Is this crisis of
credibility extending beyond the politicians and parties who hold
positions in the ruling apparatus, to a critique of the political
Nikos: Karamanlis has received a savage ridicule from
all quarters, except the "strange 1/3", who have invested in him a lot
[material and immaterial]. However, even his people consider him as a
not very capable "manager", that is they consider him as incompetent.
That has been discussed confidentially even among his ministers.
Almost all scandals in Greece are swept under the carpet. The principal
factor in this rampant dishonesty, beside the politicians, is the
extremely corrupt and reactionary judiciary, originally "constructed"
by the CIA since 1947 [as most institutions in Greece] and undergoing
the necessary "maintenance", ever since. The fact that the judges
"used" by the dictators are still powerful in the judiciary is
indicative of the truth of this.
The "2/3" of the Greeks, as above described, know what is going on, but
a part of them is trapped by the "socialists" in a client-relationship
as voters, for economic reasons and the rest that are on the "real"
left have an animus that has its roots in historical reasons. One way
out of this impasse is for the leadership of the KKE [the "traditional"
communists] to depart and the base of KKE, the ordinary members, to
have the honesty to recognize past faults and join forces with the rest
of the Left. The same holds also for the base of the "socialists".
Personally I think that the teenager "intifada" will play a role, as
the kids have gained a right to a dialogue with the adults in their
families and society in general.
The legal situation has reached the following point: The bullet that
killed Alexis was examined in "Demokritos", the most important research
center in Greece, and the findings show that there were traces of
"silicon dioxide", which might mean the bullet hit some construction
material before entering the body of Alexis. However, all eyewitnesses
insist that the shots were horizontal, not in the air. That the fatal
shot was horizontal has been confirmed by the in situ investigation by
technical experts. The general consensus is that even if the bullet
ricocheted, the use of a gun was criminal.
Kougias, the defense lawyer, continues to provoke the entire Greek
population in a queer way. Many people are really angry against him. It
seems that his bravado is based not on courage but on some unfathomable
As for the policemen in prison, after the violent "theater" or real attack, there is nothing of importance about them.
Chris: The police officer who shot dead Grigoropoulos
has been charged with murder. How has this affected popular
disaffection with the police? How has it affected the broader concern
with worsening social and material conditions, and the need to change
Nikos: The public disaffection of the majority of the
Greeks with the police has been a given for almost half a century. What
is new is the reaction of the teenagers.
The concern about the police during this period is minimal, in contrast
to previous decades when the police could effect the ruining of lives
or could bring about everyday misery for a part of the population.
Chris: The Greek police, as police everywhere, have a
history of violence and brutality. Do you think the Greek state is
holding back repression of the uprising for fear of instigating even
more militancy and revolt, or example, imagine the consequences if
there was a police raid of the Athens Polytechnic University?
Nikos: The state is not holding back repression. The
impression of the first couple of days, that the police acted
"defensively", is inaccurate.
Chris: How far can the uprising go? How is the Greek
ruling apparatus responding? Do you think there is reason for them to
be concerned about losing control? Do elites share a common strategy
for how to deal with the uprising or is there differing opinions and
fragmenting within their ranks?
Nikos: The uprising can go a long way. The crucial
factors are the base of the KKE and the base of the "socialists"
[PASOK]. There is no reason to be concerned about losing control. The
Greek elites have always been dependent on the favor of the White
House. The ones that have reason to be concerned are the people of the
CIA station in the US Embassy in Athens. A strong, united Greek Left
has historically been a nightmare for the US.
Since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, LINKS International Journal of Socialist Renewal has sought to carry a range of views from the socialist left to help understand the significance of this event. Particular attention has been paid to the voices of Ukrainian and Russian leftists who are at the forefront of resisting this invasion.