3 deaths in Athens

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Ariege
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May 5 2010 12:33
3 deaths in Athens

I just caught this on the BBC news of a bank being fire bombed in Athens....... people were trapped inside and it is being reported that 3 are dead......

The guy interviewed on the BBC said "....probably anarchists but I can't be sure because I didn't see..."

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LeftResistance
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May 5 2010 12:47

That sucks but to be honest by the looks of it wouldn't suprise me if thats really what happened - with all the senseless smashing shit something is bound to go wrong eventually.

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Entdinglichung
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May 5 2010 12:48

the conservative german daily "Die Welt" speaks, that "enraged demonstrators" who had set the bank on fire, the centre-right swiss daily NZZ mentions "young demonstrators", there is nothing so far on the english-language page of the (conservative) greek daily http://www.ekathimerini.com/

guadia
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May 5 2010 13:45

„groups of anarchists which usually try to get respect by throwing molotov coctails attacked a building of a bank owned by one of the richest greeks in the center of athens. i saw it all. there were people inside who were normally working there, who did not participace in the strike. the fire imprisoned them on the second and third floor but when firefighters came it looked like they were rescued all – but after that free bodies were found. (…) journalists who were also in ther strike slowly start to interrupt it now so we will know more details soon,“ greek journalist katerina economakou told to czech daily „hospodarske noviny“.

taxikipali
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May 5 2010 13:51

Please be a little patient until facts are verified. This is a terribly serious case that could mean a historical turning point in Greece.

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Entdinglichung
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May 5 2010 14:33

Fire brigade statement: http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/05/05/278-fire-brigade-statement-three-dead-in-athens-protest/

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Rob Ray
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May 5 2010 14:46

Taxikipali you know whether the Athens indymedia server has been overloaded or has it been brought down?

seth
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May 5 2010 14:55

According to a Greek Fire Department press release, 3 people are confirmed dead (2 women, 1 man) inside the bank, 5 other rescued and in hospital. Would attach Link but site keeps going down.

Friends on the ground have stated 'Athens is a war zone' with clashes spreading throughout the city as the state steps up its repression using these tragic events as justification.

taxikipali
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May 5 2010 15:01

athens.indymedia is down probably due to overload

tsi
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May 5 2010 15:04

I'd still suspect cops or golden dawn agents first.

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smg
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May 5 2010 15:29

From the Occupied London blog:

"#278 | Fire brigade statement: three dead in Athens protest
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

According to a statement issued by the fire brigade in Athens, three bank employees suffocated and died in a private bank torched alight on Stadiou Street in Athens.

The ambulance service (EKAV) is so far (16.41 GMT+2) not confirming the news.

More info as it comes."

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jef costello
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May 5 2010 15:38

French newspapers are reporting 20 people trapped in a bank building with at least three killed.

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Riot_Queer
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May 5 2010 16:24

I am really not shocked by this but what my question is, is why the fuck was the bank open during a strike?

This was going to happen at some stage and it was going to be a result of action taken by any side in this uprising...I am calling it that because that is what it looks like from an outside view.

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Rob Ray
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May 5 2010 16:37

Alternative to Athens indymedia

Patras

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Rob Ray
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May 5 2010 16:41

According to one blog, the bank workers had been locked in, the portcullis was down and there was no emergency exit. While some managed to get out via a skylight, the other three didn't have time before the smoke caught them.

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D
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May 5 2010 17:25

A reporter from the BBC is claming the anarchists will be the main suspects and that the state (or protestors?) will retaliate

"But the deaths are going to make the protesters pause. And there is going to be a backlash against the anarchists who are going to be the main suspects in this."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8661385.stm

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oisleep
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May 5 2010 17:42

a guy on urban75 who was at the scene is saying that they attempted to smash in the doors of the bank to try and let the workers escape (as they were locked in and the bank didn't have emergency exits) and were pushed back by the cops, same thing happened when they tried to put the fire out as well

Inhousejoke
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May 5 2010 17:42

to be honest it could have easily been some idiots who didnt think their actions through, or didn't think that there would be people inside the bank. tragic

taxikipali
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May 5 2010 17:49

Like vultures greek politicians and church leaders have fallen on the bodies of the three bank workers trying to capitalise politically on their death. It is incredible how cold blooded these reptiles are. True to his fascist ideals Mr Kaklamanis, the mayor of Athens, has even gone as far as demanding from the government to annihilate anarchists within 24 hours.

Reports that there was no fire exit or fire extinguishing apparatus in the bank and that the bank had locked the workers in are being broadcasted in the greek media. The bank workers union has blamed the police and the bank bosses for the deaths and is calling a strike tomorrow.

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oisleep
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May 5 2010 21:05

some more from occupied london, apparently from an employee of the bank

Quote:
The fire brigade had never issued an operating license to the building in question. The agreement for it to operate was under the table, as it practically happens with all businesses and companies in Greece.

The building in question has no fire safety mechanisms in place, neither planned nor installed ones – that is, it has no ceiling sprinklers, fire exits or fire hoses. There are only some portable fire extinguishers which, of course, cannot help in dealing with extensive fire in a building that is built with long-outdated security standards.

No branch of Marfin bank has had any member of staff trained in dealing with fire, not even in the use of the few fire extinguishers. The management also uses the high costs of such training as a pretext and will not take even the most basic measures to protect its staff.

There has never been a single evacuation exercise in any building by staff members, nor have there been any training sessions by the fire-brigade, to give instructions for situations like this. The only training sessions that have taken place at Marfin Bank concern terrorist action scenarios and specifically planning the escape of the banks’ “big heads” from their offices in such a situation.

The building in question had no special accommodation for the case of fire, even though its construction is very sensitive under such circumstances and even though it was filled with materials from floor to ceiling. Materials which are very inflammable, such as paper, plastics, wires, furniture. The building is objectively unsuitable for use as a bank due to its construction.

No member of security has any knowledge of first aid or fire extinguishing, even though they are every time practically charged with securing the building. The bank employees have to turn into firemen or security staff according to the appetite of Mr Vgenopoulos [owner of Marfin Bank].

The management of the bank strictly bared the employees from leaving today, even though they had persistently asked so themselves from very early this morning – while they also forced the employees to lock up the doors and repeatedly confirmed that the building remained locked up throughout the day, over the phone. They even blocked off their internet access so as to prevent the employees from communicating with the outside world.

For many days now there has been some complete terrorisation of the bank’s employees in regard to the mobilisations of these days, with the verbal “offer”: you either work, or you get fired.

The two undercover police who are dispatched at the branch in question for robbery prevention did not show up today, even though the bank’s management had verbally promised to the employees that they would be there

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waslax
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May 6 2010 00:34

I also saw this statement elsewhere and it had the following paragraph following what is posted above.

Quote:
At last, gentlemen, make your self-criticism and stop wandering around pretending to be shocked. You are responsible for what happened today and in any rightful state (like the ones you like to use from time to time as leading examples on your TV shows) you would have already been arrested for the above actions. My co-workers lost their lives today by malice: the malice of Marfin Bank and Mr. Vgenopoulos personally who explicitly stated that whoever didin’t come to work today [May 5th, a day of a general strike!] should not bother showing up for work tomorrow [as they would get fired].

- An employee of Marfin Bank

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May 6 2010 16:17

This news story has been circulating by e-mail today and I was wondering if there's any further information. Any comments from comrades in Greece? I suspect its accuracy, being that it's from an agency of the bourgeois media.

Quote:
Greek bank workers strike over deaths

By ELENA BECATOROS (AP) – 1 hour ago

ATHENS, Greece — Greek bank workers walked off the job in a 24-hour strike Thursday to protest the deaths of three colleagues trapped in a bank torched by protesters during massive demonstrations against the government's new harsh austerity measures.

Wednesday's deaths — the first such fatalities in protests in nearly 20 years in Greece — have shocked the public in a country where violence during demonstrations is frequent but rarely results in casualties.

"I have difficulty in finding the words to express my distress and outrage," President Karolos Papoulias said late Wednesday. "Our country came to the brink of the abyss. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we don't step over the edge."

The deaths came as an estimated 100,000 people marched through Athens during a nationwide strike against additional austerity measures imposed to unlock a euro110 billion ($142 billion) rescue loan package for debt-ridden Greece from the International Monetary Fund and the other 15 countries that use the euro.

Deputies were debating the measures Thursday and were to vote on passing the draft bill on Thursday night. Prime Minister George Papandreou's Socialists hold a comfortable majority of 160 deputies in the 300-seat Parliament, and the bill is expected to pass easily.

Greece urgently needs the first installment of loans from the rescue package if it is to avoid defaulting on May 19, when it has euro8.5 billion in bonds maturing. The measures slash salaries and pensions and hike taxes, outraging many Greeks.

Wednesday's demonstration — the first since the new measures were announced Sunday — quickly turned violent, with hundreds of protesters breaking away from the march and trying to storm Parliament, shouting "thieves, traitors."

Demonstrators ripped up paving stones, hurling them and Molotov cocktails at buildings and police, who responded with repeated barrages of tear gas that lingered in the city's central Syntagma Square late into the night. They smashed shops, hotels and car rental stores along their march, burning at least two buildings — the bank and a branch of the Finance Ministry — as well as several vehicles.

Police said Thursday that 41 police were injured in the riots, as were 15 civilians. A total of 70 people were detained, of which 25 had been arrested by late Wednesday night.

A senior fire department official said lives could have been saved but that demonstrators prevented firefighters from reaching the burning bank.

"Several crucial minutes were lost," the official said. "If we had intervened earlier, the loss of life could have been prevented."

The bank workers' union, OTOE, called a strike for Thursday to protest the deaths of their colleagues — two women and a man, aged between 32 and 36 — condemning the violence but saying that the deaths were the result of the government's move to impose austerity measures.

Many banks in central Athens remained open despite the call for a strike, however.

"OTOE categorically condemns those who carry out such acts of violence," the union said. "But this tragic event that took the lives of three of our colleagues ... is the sad consequence of the anti-popular measures which stirred up public rage and the protests of hundreds of thousands of people."

The union blamed politicians, the police and bank management for being "morally responsible" for the deaths.

"But serious political responsibility also lies with the government, which appears not to have calculated the size and the extent of the consequences" of the joint IMF and EU rescue package, it said.

Still, the government has little choice but to implement the harsh measures, which even IMF officials have called draconian. Greece has seen its borrowing costs on the international market soar to unsustainably high levels, reaching interest rates of above 10 percent — four times those of Germany's. Without the eurozone and IMF rescue package — under which Athens will receive loans at interest rates of about 5 percent — the country will be unable to refinance its debt.

However, there are fears that the bailout won't stop the debt crisis from spreading to other financially troubled EU countries like Portugal and Spain. On Wednesday, credit ratings agency Moody's put Portugal on watch for a possible downgrade.

dinosavros
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May 6 2010 20:09

Things are looking very difficult in greece.

Can someone suggest atext that explains the 'strategy of tension', use of provocateurs & manipulation of the media, with historical precedents, something brief and in *simple language* that could be translated into greek and read by someone not familiar with marxist & situationist terminology?

Black Badger
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May 6 2010 20:32

False flag operations (named for the old naval practice of flying a flag not of the country that operated the ship) are provocations through state intervention, whether by creating a pretext for a declaration of war against another country or an excuse to crack down on domestic dissidents.

Several examples from modern history:
The Wehrmacht staging an attack against a German radio station on the border with Poland in 1939, creating a pretext for the Blitzkrieg.

Italian neo-fascists carrying out a series of bomb outrages blamed on the Left beginning in 1969; this was the original Strategy of Tension, used to provoke the Italian state into more drastic laws against Leftists and other dissidents. The idea was to create a situation of chaos and popular fear that would lead to a highly centralized and authoritarian police state. The culmination was the kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro by the completely infiltrated Red Brigades.

Italian undercover cops pretending to be Black Bloc in Genoa.

These are the only ones for which there is evidence.

Anyway, what all these things have in common is that THE STATE is the culprit. The more spectacular the better; the more popular fear generated the better. The attack on the bank in Athens does not look as though it qualifies as a false flag operation, just a fuck up by the boss and the tacit cooperation of those who tossed the Mollies. An accident but the blame clearly lies with the bosses.

joselito
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May 6 2010 21:24
Quote:
At last, gentlemen, make your self-criticism and stop wandering around pretending to be shocked. You are responsible for what happened today and in any rightful state (like the ones you like to use from time to time as leading examples on your TV shows) you would have already been arrested for the above actions. My co-workers lost their lives today by malice: the malice of Marfin Bank and Mr. Vgenopoulos personally who explicitly stated that whoever didin’t come to work today [May 5th, a day of a general strike!] should not bother showing up for work tomorrow [as they would get fired].
- An employee of Marfin Bank

While this is clearly an important information, to the degree that this is being used to take the blame off of those who threw the molotov I think it is a bit disengenous.

Samotnaf
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May 7 2010 06:25

I posted this on taxikipali's thread, but it's also relevant here :

After the vicious attack on Kouneva, some people attacked, in solidarity with her, a train and station which had been using the company she had gone on strike against, after making sure that all the passengers had left; the fire caused several million euros worth of damage. This, in a sense, was an attempt to unify solidarity with strikes and "marginal" violent action. To separate violent attacks from strikes is just what the ruling class wants. Of course, the difference, in this instance, with the bank deaths here is obvious: the March 09 Kouneva solidarity action involved making sure nobody was hurt (it seems they even attacked a station terminal to make sure that nobody's journey was interrupted); however, the communique they issued was kind of ridiculous in its arrogant dismissal of "commuters", still reflecting the separation between "marginals" and working proletarians. This separation has been exploited by our enemies throughout the history of class struggle since the post-68 period, and people who want a revolution should seriously consider how to practically and theoretically overcome this Grand Canyon in the movement to abolish present conditions. Neither "macho militarism" nor traditional workerism helps at all.

taxikipali
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May 7 2010 08:50

Good point Sam - the deaths might have been a tragic accident, but the growing arrogance of some sections of the anarchist/ revolutionary scene reflected in ridiculous texts like the one you mention and even more in the communiques by the urban guerrilla groups are a systematic ailment - and by systematic I mean it is not only ideological, it is through and through organisational in functionalist terms, i.e. a problem of power. Naturally this is exploited by the ruling class and its administration.

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May 7 2010 11:23

Statement by the From Occupied London Blog:

What do we honestly have to say about Wednesday’s events?

What do the events of Wednesday (5/5) honestly mean for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement? How do we stand in the face of the deaths of these three people – regardless of who caused them? Where do we stand as humans and as people in struggle? Us, who do not accept that there are such things as “isolated incidents” (of police or state brutality) and who point the finger, on a daily basis, at the violence exercised by the state and the capitalist system. Us, who have the courage to call things by their name; us who expose those who torture migrants in police stations or those who play around with our lives from inside glamorous offices and TV studios. So, what do we have to say now?

We could hide behind the statement issued by the Union of Bank Workers (OTOE) or the accusations by employees of the bank branch; or we could keep it at the fact that the deceased had been forced to stay in a building with no fire protection – and locked up, even. We could keep it at what a scum-bag is Vgenopoulos, the owner of the bank; or at how this tragic incident will be used to leash out some unprecedented repression. Whoever (dared to) pass through Exarcheia on Wednesday night already has a clear picture of this. But this is not where the issue lies.

The issue is for us to see what share of the responsibilities falls on us, on all of us. We are all jointly responsible. Yes, we are right to fight with all our powers against the unjust measures imposed upon us; we are right to dedicate all our strength and our creativity toward a better world. But as political beings, we are equally responsible for every single one of our political choices, for the means we have impropriated and for our silence every time that we did not admit to our weaknesses and our mistakes. Us, who do not suck up to the people in order to gain in votes, us who have no interest in exploiting anyone, have the capacity, under these tragic circumstances, to be honest with ourselves and with those around us.

What the greek anarchist movement is experiencing at the moment is some total numbness. Because there are pressurising conditions for some tough self-criticism that is going to hurt. Beyond the horror of the fact that people have died who were on “our side”, the side of the workers – workers under extremely difficult conditions who would have quite possibly chosen to march by our side if things were different in their workplace – beyond this, were are hereby also confronted with demonstrator/s who put the lives of people in danger. Even if (and this goes without question) there was no intention to kill, this is a matter of essence that can hold much discussion – some discussion regarding the aims that we set and the means that we chose.

The incident did not happen at night, at some sabotage action. It happened during the largest demonstration in contemporary greek history. And here is where a series of painful questions emerge: Overall, in a demonstration of 150-200,000, unprecedented in the last few years, is there really a need for some “upgraded” violence? When you see thousands shouting “burn, burn Parliament” and swear at the cops, does another burnt bank really have anything more to offer to the movement?

When the movement itself turns massive – say like in December 2008 – what can an action offer, if this action exceeds the limits of what a society can take (at least at a present moment), or if this action puts human lives at danger?

When we take to the streets we are one with the people around us; we are next to them, by their side, with them – this is, at the end of the day, why we work our arses off writing texts and posters – and our own clauses are a single parameter in the many that converge. The time has come for us to talk frankly about violence and to critically examine a specific culture of violence that has been developing in Greece in the past few years. Our movement has not been strengthened because of the dynamic means it sometimes uses but rather, because of its political articulation. December 2008 did not turn historical only because thousands picked up and threw stones and molotovs, but mainly because of its political and social characteristics – and its rich legacies at this level. Of course we respond to the violence exercised upon us, and yet we are called in turn to talk about our political choices as well as the means we have impropriated, recognising our -and their – limits.

When we speak of freedom, it means that at every single moment we doubt what yesterday we took for granted. That we dare to go all the way and, avoiding some cliché political wordings, to look at things straight into the eye, as they are. It is clear that since we do not consider violence to be an end to itself, we should not allow it to cast shadows to the political dimension of our actions. We are neither murderers nor saints. We are part of a social movement, with our weaknesses and our mistakes. Today, instead of feeling stronger after such an enormous demonstration we feel numb, to say the least. This in itself speaks volumes. We must turn this tragic experience into soul-searching and inspire one another since at the end of the day, we all act based on our consciousness. And the cultivation of such a collective consciousness is what is at stake

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May 7 2010 19:31

very well stated.

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Alf
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May 7 2010 19:41

This is a very mature statement, and there have been others as well, by Taxikipali in particular, on the other thread. The movement in Greece evidently expresses huge anger and indignation, but at the moment it seems caught between the radical posturing of the KKE and its unions, whose basic job is to keep the working class under control, and the marginal 'anarchist' currents who may be critical of the control by the official left but are offering a kind of militaristic and substitutionist politics in which violence is seen as radical in itself. The tendency towards the formation of assemblies or other forms of self-organisation seems to be missing at the moment, unless things are happening that we are not hearing about; and as the last statement says, the assemblies, occupation committees and the internationalist and revolutionary statements that came from them were what really showed the radical nature of the 2008 movement. Within the Greek anarchist movement there does indeed have to be a lot of soul searching about the role of revolutionary minorities within a wider movement, and about the real nature of class violence, which can only be effective as part of a self-organised struggle.

Joey OD
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May 11 2010 00:06

it is terrible and tragic when most anyone is killed and my heart goes out to their families. The following does not diminish that in any way.
it is terrible and tragic when working people are murdered by state forces for daring to protest at our slavory.
it is terrible and tragic when our fellow workers choose to scab on us and are used as cannon fodder by our rulers.
firebombing a building with defenceless people inside is amoral regardless of the circumstances as most working people would concur