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Down with the government of murderers! Greek left on the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos (+ video, audio; updated Dec. 23)

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.

We’ll add more as we receive them. Thanks to ESSF and Rustbelt Radical for the initial compilation.

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From Rustbelt Radical

Day 16 of the revolt in Greece

December 22, 2008
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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 General Strike.

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 General Strike.

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! 

 

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Savas Michael, Athens, December 21, 2008

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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.

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From Rustbelt Radical 

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.)

Original audio source
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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.

La Luta continua!

Savas Michael Matsas, December 16, 2008

Greece: `The police have been infiltrated by the far right'

From L'Humanité

Translated dimanche 14 décembre 2008, par Gene Zbikowski

In 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 violence.

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.

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From: Democracy Now! and Rustbelt Radical

Day six of the Greek youth revolt

December 11, 2008

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.

The 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 Alexis.

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 explosion.

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.

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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 tomorrow.

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!”

Savas Michael 11 December 2008

Common statement of anti-capitalist left organisations

Down with the government of murderers!

Our answer will be to resist and to keep fighting to overthrow the policy of police oppression, austerity and racism

Demonstrate: Sunday 7/12/2008, Assemble Museum, 13.00 Monday

We, the 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.

- Down 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

8/12/2008

The 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 Radical Left).

Greek Social Forum

Down with the government of murderers!

15-year-old 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.

School pupils 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.

A general 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.

On Wednesday 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.

The government of austerity measures, of complicity in land development of huge proportions in collaboration with some Holy Mountain 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.

Greek 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.

The Greek Social Forum
Monday 8-12-08

Press statement of Neolaia Synaspismou (the Youth of Synaspismos)

The state is killing. We have to stop them!

The 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 PASOK.

Enough!

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 of murderers

The Anti-imperialist Component (Greece) informs the progressive public opinion:

1. Yesterday 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".

6. Since 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!".

8. Yesterday, 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
Anti-imperialist Component.

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 December

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.

Yesterday 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 December

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.

The Communist 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 themselves.

(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.

The Communist 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 corruption.

Everyone to the streets! Everyone to the struggle! We shall prevail!

Athens, 9 December 2008

Communist 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.

Revolt in Greece

By Savas Michael Mastas of the Greek Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK)

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 South.

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 Emergency.

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 Strike.

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.

UPDATE

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 Syntagma Square.

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 Stalinists.

9 December 2008, Savas Michael

Revolt in Greece, Day 5

By Savas Michael, December 10, 2008 of the Greek Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK)

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

By Editorial board of Marxistiki Foni

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.

The 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 students.

The first political conclusions

After 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
Students protesting in front of police station

This 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.

The 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.

Students protesting
Students protesting

Apart 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.

The 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
Students attacking a police station

However, 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 youth movement.

In 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
Big general strike in Greece yesterday

In 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.

In 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.

Many 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.

Day 9 of the revolt in Greece

Savas Michael, Athens, December 14, 2008 

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 neighborhoods.

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 response.

An important week of struggle starts tomorrow!

The communists must have their eyes and ears open

“I 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

“There 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?

In 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 situation”.

But, 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!

When, 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”?

The 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 “institutional frame”.

Three 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 “revolutionary” verbalism…

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”!

Are, 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?

The 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”.

We 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?

 

We 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”?

We 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 reactionary plans?

The 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.

 

In 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!

15 December 2008

Communist Organization of Greece (KOE)

 

 

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