above: A solidarity banner for Thodoris Iliopoulos
Two Greek anarchists have written a short overview of the struggles that are continuing to engulf Greece in the summer after their December revolt. Exploring, in brief, the state’s counter-revolt and the continuing attacks on migrants and Thodoris Iliopoulos, it is an interesting account of the past few months. A more substantial piece will be appearing on Last Hours in the near future, and in Last Hours issue 18 after that.
How can one begin to describe what has been happening in Greece since December? At first thought, this is a daunting task: the Greek state’s “migration policy” now includes torching informal migrant camps; neo-nazi groups, encouraged by the presence of people of their sect in positions of power (the current minister of public order was first installed in a public position by the military junta) are creeping into the public, trying to take over squares, beating and chasing migrants as they go along.
At the same time, the scandal-ridden mainstream political scene seems unable to grasp what is happening on the ground – not only the implications of what it would really mean to let their nazi dogs lose, but also, what the response of the children of December would be, and what it has been so far to all this darkness.
More buildings have been squatted in Athens, opening up bases for the movement that gave birth to December; an abandoned parking lot a stone’s throw from Alexandros’ point of assassination has been liberated and converted into a public park. Grassroots solidarity mobilisations have sprang up in a few cases, making December’s slogan (“leave nothing unanswered no more”) a concrete reality.
Perhaps two of the most visible solidarity campaigns have been those to the migrant grassroots syndicalist cleaner, Konstantina Kuneva, attacked with sulphuric acid by employer-hired thugs in late December and to Thodoris Iliopoulos, the last prisoner of December’s revolt, denied bail on the grounds that he was “a threat to democracy, being an anarchist”. The day of action for Thodoris is set for August 24. Many think that what happens in his case will be very important for the coming winter. A winter that is bound to be eventful!
The movement that has sprung up since December has been quick to realise that the main field of contestation with the state at the moment is over migration: In response to police units howling “burn down their houses”, the solidarity movement responds: “No Borders!” – and will be meeting at the island of Lesvos in late August to put this in action.
Solidarity to Thodoris, and to migrants being attacked by the state, seem to be the two main points of focus for the anarchist, anti-authoritarian and leftist scenes in the country, so it is worth looking at them a bit closer.
The case of Thodoris Iliopoulos
The vast majority of the people arrested during the December revolt had been released by the summer of 2009, even if only on bail. Thodoris Iliopoulos is the only one remaining in the prison of Korydallos, in Athens, after his latest bail application was rejected: For the prosecutors, Thodoris “assaulted democracy” and under this pretext, on July 10, they decided to extend his detention for six more months. Revenge against a person who openly defended the December revolt.
Thodoris himself denies the charges brought against him and speaks of, “A theatre of the absurd” that has lasted the past eight months. The charges are entirely based on cops’ testimonies. But in Greece pre-trial detention in Greece can last 18 months and the state is using it all to take revenge against Thodoris for the days and nights of December when its peace, security and order were shredded to bits. The detention of Thodoris is a paradigm, a sign that the state and its lackeys are organising their own counter-revolt: the attack against Thodoris is most definitely a part of it.
Thodoris writes letters from prison. In one of these, he announced that he was going on hunger strike on July 10 (the day when his bail application was rejected), because his body was now his only weapon with which to assert his freedom.
His health has deteriorated rapidly, but the medical complications have been met with the murderous indifference of the state. A transfer to hospital is vital but to date he remained without hospital care until August 24th, when on the day of international solidarity with him, he was finally transferred to an Athens hospital.
As a gesture of solidarity to Thodoris his fellow prisoners abstained from their meals when he started his hungers strike. Whilst more recently on August 24 there was a day of action for Thodoris, demanding nothing less than his immediate and unconditional release. Demonstrations were held across the globe; in San Fransisco, London, Vilnius, Hamburg, Moscow and across Greece.
But if Thodoris is locked up in prison, other arrestees of the December revolt never even made it there. The migrants arrested during the days and nights of December were convicted without interpreters and deported from the country almost immediately.
Since December the repressive actions against migrants has intensified, with both the state and neo-nazis becoming more vociferous and vicious in their attacks.
In July, the authorities of Patras, a city in the west of the country, showed its barbaric face by demolishing the final refuge of the migrants in the city. It was an action that materialised thanks to the fascist-leaning media propaganda and the supposedly enraged citizens who wished to see the city “cleaned”.
Beatings and unbearable living conditions were replaced by the eviction and fire as the migrant camp was burnt to the ground: A fine example of warm Greek hospitality. But not the only one.
No Borders camp
During the past twenty years it is estimated that more than 1,100 migrants have drowned in the Aegean sea en route from Turkey. Adjacent to the borders, where most of the migrant detention centres are also positioned, is the island of Lesvos. From August 25-31 a No Borders camp will take place there as a minimum response to the monstrosities committed against migrants in the past few years.
Many are hoping (and others might be fearing) that the movement growing around Thodoris and the migrant solidarity actions are signs of December’s revoltees going out on the offensive again, having faced the wrath of the state for the past few months. What will happen in these cases and in winter is very hard to tell; what by now seems almost certain is that we have a very long, intense winter ahead of us.