Domino of university occupations in Greece, in midst of turmoil

occupied Deans' offices in Athens

The decision of academic authorities to evict Dean's offices occupation in Thessaloniki leads to a domino of university administration occupations across Greece. At the same time protest marches paralyse Athens in the final run-up to the Thursday's general strike.

Submitted by taxikipali on March 31, 2009

The decision of the Dean of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Manthos, to evict the occupation of the University administration headquarters by students and radicals who are demanding the immediate end of all university contracts with subcontracting cleaning companies in solidarity to K. Kouneva and the cleaner's struggle was hailed by conservative media as a pioneer tough measure against the rising social movement. Earlier this week the Dean had called on academic staff to stage a counter-demo against the occupation, but nobody turned up in his support. Instead declarations of support to the occupation's cause were made by dozens of academics. During the assembly called by the Dean on Tuesday morning 31/1 to discuss the occupation and its demands, university authorities were overwhelmed and heckled by hundreds of students. The assembly ended after an egg landed on the Dean.

Moreover, threats of lifting the academic asylum (claiming it was being violated by the occupation, a dirty and unprecedented trick believed to be a test for further repression) and allowing riot police forces on university grounds in case the occupation was not dissolved by Tuesday noon backfired when Deans' offices and university administration headquarters were occupied in a domino of solidarity across the country: Athens University Dean's offices, a salient building in the center of the city, were occupied with a huge banner dropped on its entrance reading: "hands off the occupations!". Similarly the Dean's offices of Panteios Social Sciences University of Athens, and the Dean's offices at Patras were occupied by students demanding immediate end to subcontracting of cleaners and respect for occupations as a means of struggle.

In the last weeks the persecution authorities of both Athens and Thessaloniki have launched an attack on squats and occupations of university premises, demanding investigation of the status of occupied buildings and legal charges against their owners who fail to evict the squatters. Athens and Salonica are home to dozens of political squats, a nail in the eye of state authority.

The developments in the campus come at a time when the Greek state and its lackeys are trying out all their propaganda arsenal and legal tricks to stop the rising social movement on the eve of the General Strike that will immobilize the country on the 2nd of April.

Tension around the country is high, especially after Monday night's barrage of attacks in both Athens and Thessaloniki against state and capitalist targets. Five banks, a car expo and several state and diplomatic vehicles were torched in Athens, while in Thessaloniki a simultaneous gas-bomb attack rocked the center of the city targeting the political offices of government ministers and MPs, leading to a general cordoning off of the high street by the police.

At the same time, labour strife in the final run to the General Strike is also high, rendering the Athens in standstill on Tuesday 31/1 as weavers and herders took to the streets

Hundreds of workers of Lanaras weaving factories had been camping outside the Ministry of Economics since Monday demanding State intervention to avert the collapse of the industry and the immediate payment of their salaries. Last year similar mobilisations by the Lanaras workers had led to clashes around Syntagma square.

At the same time hundred of herders gathered before the Ministry of Agriculture and marched to the Greek Parliament demanding support for their sector. Earlier the same day the herders had occupied the Ministry of Agriculture and had surrounded the Minister of Agriculture in his car, leading to the violent intervention of riot police forces.