High-School occupations snowball in response to repression in Greece

pupils guarding occupied school's gate

The decision of the State Persecutor to press charges against pupils occupying their school in Salonica has led to a snowball of occupations of high-schools in northern Greece.

In the last month, there has been a silent wave of high-school occupations across Greece. Given the national elections and the the urban guerrilla saga in Athens, these have been grossly undereported and generally overlooked as an endemic start-of-the-school-season phenomenon.

This general public disregard of high-school pupils actions and demands is what has led the State Persecutor of Salonica, Mr Papageorgiou, to believe it was the right time to implement one of the most reactionary legislations of the last Socialist government (2000-2004), which allowed the persecution of pupils for the occupation of their schools, a long established practice of struggle in relation to educational reform in the 1990s. The penalty amounts to maximum 5 years imprisonment.

During the last two weeks more than 35 high-schools in Salonica alone, and an unidentified number in the cities of Volos, Pyrgos, Ptolemaida as well as smaller towns of the mainland and the islands have been occupied by pupils with various demands concerning the operation of their schools. The media blackout on the subject has been quoted by the Nuclei of Fire urban guerrilla group as a reason for bombing the house of the ex-Minister of Education last week. Moreover, several occupied schools in Salonica came under fascist attack by parastate elements last week, with no human injuries reported.

The legal persecution of the pupils has been oposed by OLME, the teachers national union, while even policemen ordered by the State Persecutor to arrest the accused pupils have publicly refused to do so, claiming that this "would only inflame the situation, leading to an automatic reaction on the part of pupils at the mere sight of policemen".

As a result of the persecution warrant, a dozen more schools have been occupied in Salonica, as a warning by pupils that the implementation of persecutions will be faced by a mass pupil movement, the prospects of which trouble the State after the struggle experience gathered by 14-17 year old pupils during the December Uprising.

At the same time, at the 17th lyceum of Athens, pupils have staged a successful abstention from class in response of a pupil being disciplined for not standing at attention at the sound of the national anthem during a national holiday last week. The pupils gathered in protest at the schools gates refusing to enter the premises and thus forcing the school director to reverse the disciplinary measures. In the words of the pupils "The results of our mobilisation have encouraged us, as they proved that with collective action nobody can beat us".

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Nov 4 2009 16:05


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Nov 4 2009 17:42

I guess a lot of these kids will have been involved in occupying their schools during the uprising last December.

Would a lot of them have links to the anarchist movement? Or is this just something that has been taken up very widely?

Nov 4 2009 19:06

There were no mass occupations of schools in December due to the Christmas holidays. However, school occupations have been a consistent practice since the early 1990s with mass pupil movements practically freezing education for entire years in 1990-1991 and 1998 in response to reactionary educational reforms.

Generally speaking, pupils have direct links to the anarchist movement in vague ideological but no concrete organisational terms. This however has radically changed since December, with protest marches, squats etc attracting big numbers of 15-17 year old pupils. The fear on the part of the police to go and arrest them is indicative of the general climate in the country.

Nov 4 2009 20:43

Thanks for the informative article!
Could you give some details to WHY the schools actually are being occupied?
In protest to the recent elections, the educational system, solidarity with the Austrian occupations of universitys? What are the demands being made?

Nov 4 2009 21:04

Most schools are occupied by pupils demanding a series of practical changes in: a) infrastructure (such as heating, insulation etc), b) provision of free books (as entitled by the free education scheme of the country), c) staff (too few teachers for too many schools). A few high-schools are occupied as a move of total negation of education (to these refers the Nuclei of Fire communique that has caused a sensation in the national media).

Nov 9 2009 10:43

Is there a translation of the Nuclei of Fire communique available online?

Nov 10 2009 09:07

I dont believe the particular communique has been translated online.

You could also search under the name "conspiracy of cells of fire" as sometimes the name is translated in english [in greek pyrines is nuclei and cells], as for example in http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2009/09/06/85-“the-unanimity-of-the-fearful”-communique-for-the-bomb-at-the-ministry-of-macedonia-and-thrace-in-thessaloniki/