From a distance, we cannot pretend to report fully on events as they unfold in the occupation of the Exarchia neighbourhood of Athens. What we are endeavouring to do is to translate and share as much as we can with English speakers, in solidarity with those who must struggle on the ground.
From Yannis Youlountas, from Exarchia (31/08/2019) …
Given the daily police violence that has intensified since the beginning of the occupation of the rebel and solidarity neighbourhood of Athens:
“We will soon have deaths in Exarchia”
This sentence is repeated by many this morning, in a corner of the neighborhood where we have lunch with a few inhabitants, taking stock of the situation. An old anarchist companion is convinced that we are going to relive 1985 or 2008. In those years, a young activist was murdered by a policeman, and with each act of violence provoking very important riots. In December 2008, power shook. More than 300 banks and luxury stores burned. Parliament was besieged.
Today, the atmosphere is not the same in society, but weariness is at its height. Something is smoldering. Like a pain in the belly.
The occupying forces of the district are multiplying the daily violence against the migrants, local activists, people showing solidarity from other countries and, more recently, a gay couple. In the north-west of the neighborhood occupied by the police (see map), the situation has become very complicated, especially for the squat Notara 26 which is in the middle of the area in question, almost surrounded by police stations. It is in this area that a gay couple was beaten by surveillance police. It is also in this area that fascists have been spotted next to the cops, for example with t-shirts of the neo-Nazi supporters of Rome and the identitarians of Defend Europe.
But what is happening around Exarchia Square is not better. The tear gas grenade that was thrown into the K * Vox self-managed social center, where a lot of people were, could have killed someone. It is also an illegal act, even in times of war, to gas a closed space. It is a criminal act theoretically punished by international tribunals.
It happens that inside K * Vox, we sometimes have the visit of an old companion suffering from respiratory insufficiency. If he had been with us that night, he might be dead, the toxic smoke was so thick inside the place, while exits were blocked by the uncontrollable police. Worse still, one of the members of the group has recently given birth and sometimes passes with her baby: what would have happened?
That is not all. As confirmed by Giorgos Kalaitzidis (co-founder of Rouvikonas) relayed by the self-managed media of the social movement, one of the police officers unsheathed his handgun while threatening. The witnesses are not lacking, members of K * vox and visitors, almost everyone saw this, even if we have unfortunately no photo of the gesture. And if the policeman had fired, what would have happened in Exarcheia and beyond in Athens?
Last night, Giorgos Kalaitzidis, who knows the neighborhood and its history, wrote on his Facebook page:”It will happen. It is very likely that we will soon have deaths in Exarcheia. “
Given the evolution of the situation, the violence of the police occupation and the large number of fascists and counter-insurgency forces who frequent each other in the wake of the cops, many of us think the same thing. This morning, a little before 9:00 (Greek time), shots were fired in the east of Exarcheia. Moments later, military police were sighted. For now, we do not know exactly what happened. To be continued.
Almost every night anarchist and revolutionary groups in the neighborhood attack police detachments. The day before yesterday, some 50 insurgents attacked the police station located at the intersection of Tositsa and Spirou Trikoupi streets. The police statement speaks of a rain of fire and evokes the figure of “80 thrown Molotov cocktails” in a few seconds. The police reinforcements failed to catch the attackers who disappeared very quickly into the streets of the neighborhood.
NEW IMMINENT ATTACK OF THE POLICE AGAINST 11 SPACES, INCLUDING THE NOTARA 26 AND THE K * VOX!
Instead of controlling its police and dismissing the fascist militia that hang out at its side, the Greek government has decided to toughen up the situation in Exarcheia! Last night, television news, including the Ant1 TV channel (equivalent to TF1 in France), announced a change of State strategy: increased repression because of resistance and an imminent and simultaneous attack against 11 squats, justified on the grounds of the mobilization that is growing day by day and that the authorities wants to move quickly against. According to rumors, Notara 26 and K * Vox would be on the list.
There is is talk of an attack on Monday at dawn or one of the following days. Given the number of places targeted by the operation, their distribution scattered around the neighborhood and the strong symbol they represent for the social movement, the state would need a real police armada, much larger than last Monday.
This running, headlong strategy shows that Kyriakos Mitsotakis has only to draw the consequences. He wants to seduce the hard right and finish with this area that is a stain on the Athenian gentrification project. He also wants to satisfy the demand of some of his European counterparts who are worried about this symbol of resistance and utopia on the continent. There is not and there must be no alternative: we know the music.
Prepare yourselves comrades. The coming hours will be decisive. We will need your support, your relay, your protest, wherever you are. The challenge is not only the defense of a unique neighborhood in Europe, for its concentration of self-managed places, for the extent of its resistance to all powers, for the beauty of its solidarity with the precarious and migrant. No, the stakes are greater than that.
Defending Exarcheia is defending our right to show that other ways are possible, out of the current impasse.