Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Neither escalating nor de-escalating the anti-government protests in Greece continue to simmer against a backdrop of fiscal crisis and the need of the ruling 'socialist' party PASAC to renege on their promises to Greek workers, the better to serve their international financial masters. Here's an update from the LibCom site about what happened yesterday.
Marches against repression in Greece:
Marches against the hideous police repression unleashed in the days commemorating the assassination of A. Grigoropoulos took place in Greece after two days of clashes.

Marches against state terror unleashed in the last few days against the movement took place in Athens and Salonica on Tuesday 8/12 amidst government lies and bragging of its ability to detain more than 800 citizens out of which 13 have been charged during the marches in memory of Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

In Athens the protest march called at Propylea at 19:00 found the university asylum grounds once again blocked by long triple chains of riot cops in utter breach of the 16th article of the constitution. Faced with intensifying challenge by the gathered protesters police officers in charged claimed this was done under the demands of the rectorial authorities, leading the crowd to chant "cops, TV and rectors all the scum work together". Despite the overwhelming police forces and the tiredness of two days of continuous confrontation, the 2,000 strong march took to the streets of Athens in high spirits towards the Parliament and then to Omonoia chanting anti-police slogans all the way. There were no clashes during the march. At the same time the administration headquarters of the Technical Schools of Athens (TEI) have been occupied by protesters against police brutality and the breach of the asylum. Student organisations have called a new protest march against police brutality and breach of the asylum for Friday.

Earlier the same day pupils marches took place in many Athens' neighborhood against state terror. In Chaidari pupils clashes with police forces which were piled with oranges and other projectiles; 3 pupils were detained during the clashes. Tension also built up during a pupil protest march in Kamatero with pupils throwing projectiles to cops and during a pupil march towards the central prisons of the country in Koridalos with children lighting fires around the penal premises. Finally pupils of the Grava complex once again marched to the Agias Lavras police station that had come under attack in the previous days.

In Salonica, the protest march took to the streets of the city a 18:00 fueled by the recent breaches of the university asylum by delta-team thugs. A similar protest march took place in Rethymnon, Crete where the police was supported in its work of intimidation by local fascists.

On the legal front all 22 comrades of Resalto have been released with extortionate monetary guarantees (amounting to around 40,000 euros in total). The trial will be held in March.

The recent days of unrest have led to a head-on confrontation of left wing parties with the government. In a hideous gesture of propaganda, the attacker of Ms Koutsoumbou - the elderly woman who was hit by a delta-team motorbiker who then proceeded to beat her up causing brain injuries and internal bleeding - visited her at hospital claiming that it was all an accident. EEK, the Workers' Revolutionary Party whose member is Ms Koutsoumbou held a press conference today denouncing the visit as hypocritical and stressing that not only the policeman targeted and then hit the veteran anti-junta struggler, but after dismounting and beating her on the head with a glob, he also attacked a doctor who tried to give first aid to the woman. The police even refused to call an ambulance to her assistance claiming its a trick so that the protesters can burn it. EEK claims this amounts to an assassination attempt by the policeman. The government insists it was all an accident, infuriating other parts of the left which have come out openly against the government they were flirting with only a month ago. The Radical Left Coalition has accused the Minister of Public Order of being a right wing-fascist hybrid. The typically delirious Mr Chrisochoidis has retorted attacking both the local council of Keratsini for its support of Resalto and the occupiers of the local city hall, and the radical left as covering "nazis" and "vandals". The notoriously FBI decorated minister claimed he will abolish use of tear gas and replace it with Operation Motorman type water cannon-barricade breaking street tanks which were abolished by the first Socialist government in 1981.
And here, also from Libcom, is an addendum as to what has been happening today.
On the morning of 9/12 pupils attacked the police department of Alexandria in Amathia with molotov cocktails. Meanwhile street cleaners and garbage collectors have renewed their strike for another 48h. Athens is currently plunged in piles of rotting garbage half blocking the streets.

On the legal front 3 of the people arrested in Salonica have been imprisoned pending their trial. Legal processes of the other people arrested during the last days unrest continue in various Greek cities. In Mytelene, Lesbos island, 4 radio stations were occupied by protesters who broadcasted communiques demanding the immediate release of all the arrested. Manolis Glezos the Resistance veteran known for lowering the Nazi flag from the Acropolis during the Occupation has denounced the detentions as state terror against the people and the movement, while the Lawyers Association of Keratsini has joined in denouncing the Resalto arrests are political repression. In an audacious incident characteristic of the ethics of the Greek state, a boy was released in Salonica after the police admitted to the interrogator that it had "planted him" with a bag filled with molotov cocktails. The officers have not been suspended or charged.

On the other hand, in a move of collaborationism unheard of since the junta, the rectorial authorities of the Athens Law School have announced measures ousting and disallowing entrance on non-students in its premises. In Chania an investigation has started on the collaboration of the police with fascist groups during the latest unrest after the publication of photos of the police commander of the operations openly coordinating the thugs. Fascists have attacked immigrants in Chania twice since the end of the troubles.

The latest developments come in a climate of extreme economic tension as Greece's Fitch borrowing status was downgraded yesterday amidst international estimations that the country cannot pay off its debts. The downgrading has led to a collapse of the stock market to a 10 year low. The PM has announced that the country is for the first time in a "crisis of national sovereignty since 1974" adding most dramatically that "the motherland is in intensive care". The government fears that structural reforms demanded for the upgrading of the country's borrowing status would lead to a social upheaval that will make the December Uprising look like a Saturday night riot.
Meanwhile a debate rages, fueled, of course, by the government, about the right of "university asylum" in Greece. Since the overthrow of the military dictatorship in 1973 universities have been "no-go zones" for the police, in recognition of the leading role that students played in that revolution. The Greek government is doing its best to promulgate as much bad publicity as it can in preparation for an eventual move against this safe base from which the anarchists and others can sally forth to do battle. The 'University asylum' has, as the above article pointed out, already been violated in some minor ways. The government, trying to out-conservative the conservatives no doubt plans further, much more serious, breaches of this right. Here's an article from the New York Times about certain incidents that are being played up as part of this campaign. With more or less approval on the part of the NYT.
Debate Rages in Greece About Right of Police to Enter University Campuses:
Published: December 9, 2009
A new wave of violent attacks against academics is sweeping campuses in Athens and Thessaloniki, leading Greek professors ( or at least a few of them-Molly ) to question a law that bans police officers from entering university grounds.

The law exists nowhere else in Europe, but it has been sacrosanct in Greece since the fall of a military dictatorship that bloodily suppressed a student rebellion at the Athens Polytechnic in 1973 in which at least 23 people were killed.

Last weekend saw a peak in the violence, which has spiraled in recent months along with general social unrest, a spike in crime and a resurgence of domestic terrorism.

Hundreds of anti-establishment protesters stormed university buildings during demonstrations being held in memory of a teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer a year ago, an event that sparked some of the worst riots ever in the capital.

The rector of the University of Athens, Christos Kittas, was sent to intensive care Sunday, after being beaten by assailants using iron bars and then thrown out of his office. Mr. Kittas, who was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday after recovering from a heart attack, called on fellow academics and politicians to tackle the problem on campuses. He said he “felt dead inside watching young people who could be my grandchildren or students commit crimes and vandalize the shrine to free thought.”

Last week, a professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, Gerasimos Sapountzoglou, was targeted by extremists who beat and throttled him when he refused to stop a lecture. Several other academics have suffered similar attacks in Athens and Thessaloniki in recent months.

Anastassios Manthos, rector of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, who was knocked unconscious in a similar campus raid last year, said things had gotten worse. “The violence in universities, and in Greek society in general, is explosive and unprecedented,” he said.
He cited the worsening economy and an inadequate education sector as key reasons for the discontent that has also fueled crime, terrorism and assaults on authors at parties for book signings in Athens cafes.

Mr. Manthos blamed the violence at universities on “members of anti-establishment and anarchist groups and a tiny portion of the student population.”

“It’s a type of terrorism,” he said.

The gangs behind the attacks range in size from 10 to 50 people with the assailants usually vandalizing university property. The ensuing occupations on campuses last for a few hours. During the attacks, which occur every couple of weeks, slogans are usually spray-painted on walls or banners hung on buildings condemning “state oppression.”

A self-proclaimed anarchist who participated in protests over the weekend said the unrest was the only way disaffected young people can make their point. “What’s a poor kid with no prospects supposed to do? He’ll pick up a stone and throw it at police or he’ll force his way into the spotlight,” said Yiannis Anagnostou, 37, an agronomist who calls himself a Communist and anarchist sympathizer. ( Quite the mixture-Molly )

As for the violence against academics, he was unmoved. “They should know better than to play the role of guard. When you see a crowd of angry people, you get out of the way,” he said.
Rectors agree that the so-called university asylum law, introduced in 1982 to protect the freedom of expression that had been championed by the fallen students, is being exploited by extremists to suppress the views of others. “It is not just about organized attacks — there is a general climate of fear in universities,” said Yiannis Panousis, a prominent criminologist at the University of Athens who was hospitalized in February after being set upon during a lecture by extremists with iron bars and sledgehammers.

After the attack on Mr. Panousis, academics avoided publicly condemning assaults because they feared reprisals. Now they are speaking out.

“This can’t go on,” said Konstantinos Moutzouris, rector of the National Technical University of Athens, as the Athens Polytechnic is officially called. “We have to reconsider who we are, where we stand, what we believe in,” Mr. Moutzouris said Monday, noting that “the time has come” to reassess, but not abolish, the asylum law.
Last month the rector of the National Technical University and two other university officials faced criminal charges for “violation of duty” over the institution’s failure to stop its computer terminals being used to update the Web site of the Athens branch of the anti-capitalist, pro-anarchist news network Indymedia. Responding to the charges, the university said it would not engage in any kind of censorship “regardless of the ideological or political gap that might separate it from the opinions expressed.” ( Ah...finally the real target of the state is shown-Molly )

Comments by academics, and the Indymedia affair, have propelled the debate over whether the asylum law should change. Television talk shows have been dominated by the subject, with left-leaning politicians and students mostly objecting to such a move while most with centrist and right-wing allegiances support it.

The new Socialist government appears to be holding back. Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou condemned the attack on Mr. Kittas as “brute and unprovoked fascism” but ruled out changes to the law. She noted, however, that the government was “ready to back the decisions of university authorities,” who have the right to invite the police onto campus but rarely do so because the move is considered provocative.

Although the government is keeping its distance, the Athens Law School on Tuesday took a bold step toward restricting access to its campus, approving a program to issue identity cards for students and to place guards at its gates.

Successive governments have balked at reforming the asylum law for fear of a backlash. Most Greeks are still sensitive to the sight of police officers near universities, too reminiscent of the tanks that rolled onto the campus of the Athens Polytechnic in 1973.

Some say that a full review of the law is not necessary. According to Mr. Manthos, the rector in Thessaloniki, the legislation does not need to be reformed but implemented. “The law plainly states that when crimes are being committed on campus, like the manufacture of firebombs for use in riots, the police can enter without seeking approval,” he said. But he noted that “prevention is better than suppression.”

Mr. Panousis, the criminologist, stressed that the problem cannot be solved by force. “It is not just an issue of policing, it is a social problem,” he said. “We have to start speaking out.”
Finally, here's another item from tghe Occupied London Blog that disputes the story about the attack on the rector of the University of Athens. Now, I have lived long enough to know that "atrocity stories" should generally be given credence, including -and perhaps especially- those that are alleged to have been commited by "our side". One will probably never know the full details of what transpired in the office of the Rector of the University of Athens. I, however, have little doubt that he was assaulted, though obviously nowhere near to the extent that the mainstream press alleges (see NYT article above). If you are "assaulted with iron bars" you obviously and plainly go down for the count, if you are not killed. I also find it incredible that the rector could manage to stagger his way to escape through a large and hostile crowd, particularily if he was beaten by "iron bars". I do, however, think that he was probably the recipient of a few punches and shoves. This, in itself, is bad enough, and it should never have been done. It disgraces the movement, and the perpetrators should be called to account. I am not amongst those who think that there should be a "get out of jail free" card for those on "my side" who engage in foolish, counterproductive and vicious acts just because of their "feelings". Politics is one thing and psychotherapy is another, and the two should never be mixed. OK, enough of my preaching. Here's the story.
Anti-repression demonstration in Athens ends; cops still surrounding the Propylea buildings; attempts to close down the Law school radio station; Resalto arrestees’ bails run into tens of thousands of euros :
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The anti-repression demo that had been called for in Athens ended a few hours ago. Called by far-leftist groups (EEK, Network for Social and Political Rights, and others – sorry if forgetting someone and please add!) the demo was also joined by many anarchists. The cops, for a second concecutive night, were provokatedly standing in front of the courtyard of the Athens University buildings on Panepistimiou Street, blocking the demonstrators’ access to the academic asylum. This, after the fabricated “lethal” attack against the Director of the University of Athens: As we have said already, two Occupied London contributors witnessed the director leaving the area holding his head – but with no sight of any blood, let alone the “heart attack” he supposedly suffered. And yet this “lethal” attack has been used as a perfect pretext for a full-on attack on the academic asylum: Other university directors have openly announced their willingless to reconsider the asylum; already, the Law School’s administration has decided to force-evict the student radio hosted on its premises and to ban the use of its facilities for any “non-academic” purposes.

Meanwhile, the bail for the released comrades from Resalto is running into tens of thousands of euros (18-20,000) and there is an urgent need to raise funds for their support. More info will be published here very soon.

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