Greece unrest: the story so far - TPTG

Athens Parliament Square Christmas tree burns
Athens Parliament Square Christmas tree burns

A detailed updated summary of the recent events in Athens, from the perspective of some proletarian participants. (Updated 2 Jan 2009)

Submitted by Red Marriott on January 2, 2009

A shooting by police on Saturday 6th of December has triggered off in cities all over Greece the fiercest riots in decades. What follows is a first –and incomplete– presentation of the recent riots in Athens based on our own experiences and on what we have heard of. On the one hand, the fierceness of the riots and the determination of the rioters and looters and on the other hand, the unfolding strategy of the state certainly need more time and closer attention to be adequately estimated, something that we are honestly not in the position to do at the moment, because we still participate in several local activities, demos and assemblies.

Saturday, 6th of December
At about 9.10pm, a police special guard shot dead a 15-year-old boy, Alexis-Andreas Grigoropoulos, in cold blood, in a quite usual bickering near Exarhia Square. Immediately after that, lots of people –mainly anti-authoritarians– gathered in the area to find out what’s going on and to express their rage against police brutality. Hundreds of policemen attempted to seal the area in order to suppress any reactions, but with no result. Spontaneously, people started to attack the police in the streets around the square with every means possible. In less than two hours, more than 10,000 people had taken to the nearby streets to communicate the event and clash with the police. Some anarchist groups occupied the historical building of the National Technical University, which lies a few blocks away, and the Faculty of Economics, which is situated 1km away to use them as centres of struggle. The same was done by leftists at the Faculty of Law, less than 1km from the point where the murder took place. At this district, clashes with the police and attacks against banks and stores lasted until 4am, as far as we have witnessed.

The news concerning the murder spread rapidly to many people through mobile phones and the internet. As a result, about 150 people, who already were at Monastiraki Square, spontaneously attacked and looted almost all the stores at Ermou Street, the world’s 11th most posh street. There, lots of passers by joined in from nearby pubs and clubs. In the centre of Athens that night, some people attacked the police station near Acropolis causing severe damage.

It has to be noted that the news concerning the murder of the young boy immediately spread to several cities (Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Irakleio, Volos) where attacks against banks, police stations and stores also took place.

Sunday, 7th of December
The Faculty of Law squat called for a demonstration at 2pm outside the Archaeological Museum which is right next to the also squatted historical building of the National Technical University in Patission Avenue. Many people gathered and at about 3.30pm the demo towards the Athens Police Headquarters begins. We already knew that the police would never let us approach their Headquarters, but we were determined to arrive as close as we could. Bank-smashing and stone-throwing against the cops started immediately after we had left the square. As we turned right to Alexandras Avenue standing at the end of the demo, we realized that the participants amounted to approximately 4.000 people, of all ages. There were attacks against every store in sight, mainly luxury car shows and banks. At the beginning, police stood at a safe distance from the rioters and didn’t let themselves become a target. Then, as they came closer, the rioters attacked them mainly with stones. The police made a first attempt to break the demo with teargas near Argentina Square, but with no result. After ten minutes, at the corner with Ippokratous street, they made a second fiercer attempt with lots of teargas which finally proved successful: the demo broke into several parts and its main parts headed to the right towards Neapoli. Attacks against stores and banks kept going on, also accompanied by car-smashing. Lots of people chose to keep on marching towards Police Headquarters by a parallel street, but after some time it became clear that there was no way through: a small street perpendicular to Alexandras Avenue is the spot that the already famous photo with the gun-holding riot policeman was taken. Tension was high. We decided to move back and return to Exarhia Square to see what was to be done next. At the way back, clashes with the police were still taking place but to a lesser extent. Some people attacked the 5th police station which is located nearby and the police responded with plastic bullets.

Later in the evening, there began clashes with the police again –and to a lesser extent attacks against stores– around the National Technical University and the Faculty of Economics, which would last until late at night.

Monday, 8th of December
In the morning, youths from several high schools gathered spontaneously in front of the Police Headquarters to protest. Many youths from the northern, east and western suburbs moved to the city centre making a spontaneous demo. Youths from the schools of Pireaus (a port at the south-west part of the city) attacked the central police station overturning police cars.

At 6pm, the Faculty of Law squat called for a demonstration at Propylaia, a central Square of Athens. Our estimation is that more than 20.000 people, mainly young people, participated in that demo. Lots of them, maybe more than 1.500, were walking "in and out" of the demo smashing banks and destroying the luxurious shops of the city centre. They started to destroy or loot the commodities almost from the first moment of the demo. The youths destroyed banks at Omonoia square and attacked more than half of the shops of Stadiou Avenue and Filellinon Avenue. Also, severe looting took place at the shops in the first blocks of Piraeus Avenue. People were walking slowly and nobody really tried to stop neither the attacks nor the looting. Some even stood by and cheered the attacking youths. At the same time, youths were also attacking the cops, the banks and the shops in various parts of the city all the way down to Syggrou Avenue, a street leading to the south of Athens. Up until now, the real extent of the damage caused to private property that night has not been estimated. The media says it amounts to 10 billion euros, which could be true since dozens of stores were attacked, looted or burnt down mainly by greek and immigrant “uncontrollable youths”.

Although one could say that the greek youths (students and precarious workers) had the initiative and the immigrants followed by, we have to admit that it was very difficult to distinguish the one from the other in the streets. As far as immigrants are concerned, Albanians of second generation participated mostly in the attacks against cops and buildings and immigrants of other origin –mostlyAfghans and Africans- confined themselves to looting. Riots and looting covered approximately half of the city centre. Although the police made several arrests that evening, it would be untrue to say that they could even think of controlling the situation, because there were so many people in the streets, acting in small groups of ten or twenty people.

Tuesday, 9th of December
Teachers of primary and secondary education went on strike that day against police brutality. At noon, the demonstration began from Propylaia Square and headed towards the Parliament, but there were no more than 3.000 participants. After the end of the demo, and despite the fact that they were small in number, 150 youths hurled firebombs, rocks and other objects at riot police.

The so-called Communist Party (KKE), scared by the prospect of a generalized riot, showed once more its counter-revolutionary, reactionary nature. They declared the rioters and looters as secret agents of ‘foreign dark forces’ and called the ‘people’s movement’, an imaginary subject of which they are supposedly the rightful representatives, to stay away from the fight. History repeats itself: this party for the last 35 years has been chanting the same, monotonous and dangerous mantra about ‘provocateurs’; in 1973 they had done the same against the students and workers who had occupied the National Technical University; a riot that had led to the overthrow of the dictatorship. Once again, they are trying to save the state and restore public order.

At 3pm the funeral of the dead boy took place in the cemetery of Palaio Faliro, a suburb in the south of Athens. More than 5.000 gathered there to bid Alex the last goodbye and to shout once more against police murders. During the funeral, about 200 young people were involved in attacks against the riot police, who stood a few blocks nearby. This confrontation lasted for more than an hour, in the course of which some stores and banks were attacked; stones were also thrown against a police car. After an hour, young people headed towards the Palaio Faliro police station, but the police stopped them a few blocks away. During this riot, three police motor bikers shot more than ten times in the air to “scare” the rioters.

During the night, fascists appeared in the streets around the National Technical University and the Faculty of Economics where fierce clashes with the police were taking place. At Victoria Square, immigrants attacked the police and tried to loot 3 stores, but undercover police and “civilians” brutally arrested one of them. Generally speaking, this was the day that the state unofficially pushed forward the so called “social automation” and encouraged the collaboration between shop owners, fascists, “civilians” and the police against the rioters.

Wednesday, 10th of December
This day was a day of general strike, and its aim had been predetermined over a month ago: it was mainly “against the state budget 2009”. Due to the ongoing riots, the chief unionists spoke against police brutality, separating at the same time the “rioters” from the “responsible quiet demonstrators”. More than 7.000 people attended the gathering at Syntagma Square. Some protesters threw fire bombs at police during a general strike which paralyzed Greece and piled pressure on a doddering government.

Small scale riots took place at Panepistimiou Avenue. After the demo, many people attended the assembies at the National Technical University and the Faculty of Law to talk about what is going to be done in the next days. Later on, there was a big assembly of the anti-authoritarian milieu at the Faculty of Economics. Earlier in the morning, high school students attacked the local police station in the suburb of Kaisariani. At night, clashes with the police took place at Tritis Septemvriou Avenue, in the center of Athens.

The riots have spread to some 42 prefectures of Greece, even in towns where not even demos had taken place before. The pattern is the same: mainly students and young people attack police stations, banks, stores and state buildings. They gather spontaneously, after communicating with each other over mobile phones. Anarchists and politicos are just a small part of the rioters and in many cases they are taken aback by the fierceness, the spreading and the duration of the riots.
It is mostly in Athens and Irakleio (Crete) that a big part of the rioters are immigrants and so this riot can be rightfully called a multinational one, the first of this kind in Greece. Against this totally new situation, the media have tried to change their propaganda and talk of ‘greek protesters’ and ‘foreign looters’, in an effort to flare up racism.

Up until now, about half of the arrested people in Athens are immigrants and the main charge against them is looting. The vast majority of the arrested throughout the country is young people.

Thursday, 11th of December
On Thursday, high school students abandoned their schools and gathered outside police stations all over Athens. Some of them were attacked with rubbish bags and stones and the police threw tear gas and in some cases …stones back. All in all 35 police stations were blockaded in Athens and at some places other people participated as well, mostly parents. The entrance of the prison in Korydallos was also attacked by students.

The media said that 4500 tear gas canisters have been used by the police these 5 days. They are running out of tear gas and think of importing some from Israel!

In the morning a group of libertarians occupied the Town Hall in Agios Demetrios, a suburb in the south of Athens. A lot of people from the neighborhood participated in the evening assembly and the municipal workers who supported the occupation issued a communique which can be found in the appendix of this chronology. The Town Hall has been used since then as a gathering place and a counter-information centre.

In several universities assemblies took place and university occupations spread. Militants from the student organization of the Communist Party (PKS) tried to block assemblies in order to prevent the occupations (Panteion University, School of Philosophy in the University of Athens). Their attempts were unsuccessful as occupations expanded throughout Athens and Greece.

Early in the evening there was a big demo (maybe 5000) in the centre of Athens called by an assembly of mainly leftist trade unionists and organizations who gather at the occupied Faculty of Law. At the end of the demo there started clashes with the police in the centre of the city and around the occupied Faculty of Law which lasted for some hours.

In Komotini, a town in the eastern-north, near Turkey, a demo of mostly university students was attacked and chased into the university by many fascists and far right thugs who infest the area to protect …national security.

There is a general feeling of hostility towards cops and fedding up with everything. Police brutality in an increasingly police state after the 2004 Olympics, lousy wages and working conditions, high school student overwork and pressure, university students’ discontent with a life that is increasingly characterized by insecurity and fear, government and church high officials’ corruption, immigrants’ overexploitation and a society torn apart by deepening class divisions: a explosive mixture where the murder of the kid was just the fuse.

The publication of extracts from the testimony of the cop who murdered the kid caused general outrage. He ‘accused’ the student of having ‘deviant behaviour’ because ‘he was expelled from the private school he was attending’ (which is a lie, to say the least). His lawyer, a notorious TV celebrity, made an even more provocative statement: ‘It is now only up to the Greek justice to decide whether the young boy was justly killed, or not’. The ballistic examination report was expected today. “Leaks” in the media the previous days have been suggesting that the report will claim Alexandros was killed by a ricochet and not a direct shot (which is against what every single eye witness says). However, such provocations are at least answered in the streets. Among other things, new imaginative slogans are invented every day: ‘We did not throw stones; they were ricocheted’, ‘The right thing is for the lawyer to be killed by ricochet’.

Friday, 12th of December
Seven hundred high schools and one hundred universities are occupied and their number is expected to jump up. A big student demo was called in Athens (10,000 or more). Students and other demonstrators attacked the police and some banks were smashed. During the demo two hundred anarchists trashed the lawyer’s office. The riot cops arrested several students (some of them are 13-14 years old).

Saturday, 13th of December
A sit-in was organized in Syntagma Square at noon by the coordinating committee of student university occupations as well as by political groups. More than 1,000 people of all ages participated: university students, high school students as well as workers. The sit-in went on until the end of the night. After midnight the police attacked the peaceful protest with tear gas and dispersed the gathered crowd. Protests and demos were also organized in suburbs around Athens: Nea Smirni, Peristeri, Zografou.

In the evening the Ministry of Environment and Public Works in Patission street was attacked by a crowd of two hundred people. At 9 o’ clock about a thousand of people gathered in Exarhia to protest against the murder of Alexis-Andreas Grigoropoulos near the spot he was murdered. Some people attacked the local police station whereas others clashed with the riot police. There was a demo heading for Monastiraki and Gazi, neighborhoods where many people go clubbing on Saturday night. The demo was attacked by the police and few people managed to continue. The conflicts went on in Exarhia but the attacks of the police forced the people to disperse into various directions. A large part of the crowd was pushed into the premises of National Technical University. Riots continued in the streets around National Technical University during the night.

People who managed to follow the demo passed from Monastiraki, Thisseio, Gazi and then they tried to return to the centre marching on Piraeus street. Some banks and surveillance cameras were attacked by the demonstrators. The police attacked again the demo near Omonia square and there were more than 50 arrests. The arrested people were let free without any charges.
During the day several banks were attacked throughout Athens.

Sunday, 14th of December
There were demos in several suburbs in Athens as well as in many cities and towns in Greece (Thessaloniki, Corfu, Volos, Xanthi etc). Earlier in the night, a peaceful demo at Syntagma square called by bloggers was dispersed by the riot police with tear-gas.

In the central square of Nea Smirni, a south-eastern suburb of Athens, a deserted big cafÈ called “Galaxias” owned by the municipality was occupied at noon by about a hundred people (antiauthoritarians, members of a municipal party and several residents) in order to be used as a counter-information and action coordination center. The occupation of public buildings is a new form of struggle coming out of the riots. As we saw, it initially appeared in the suburb of Agios Demetrios, with the occupation of the town hall. The occupation of “Galaxias” adopted the name “Eleftheros Galaxias” (which means “Free Galaxy”) and calls for an open neighborhood assembly later in the afternoon.

During the day four radio stations were occupied. The radio stations were used for broadcasting statements and communiquÈs that called for the generalization of the insurrection.
In the afternoon, the Residents’ Committee in Exarhia called for a rally at the spot where the murder of Alexis took place. In spite of the rain, a significant number of people participated and discussed about the events in an open air assembly. When the riot police appeared, the people kicked them away by shouting and insulting them.

The mayor of Athens announced that the new Christmas tree in Syntagma square will be erected on Wednesday since the previous one was flared up by Molotov cocktails in the night of 8th of December. For the state, this tree symbolizes the consumerist spirit and the return to normality while for the insurgents its burning down means that the riot is still going on. Several attempts to set it on fire again have been taking place during demos so far.

Monday, 15th of December
At 5 a.m., the occupation of the old town hall of Halandri, a north-eastern suburb of Athens, was attacked by a handful of villains who allegedly had mafia connections with local shop owners. One of them forced the protesters to leave the building threatening them with a shotgun and a baseball bat. Nevertheless, the people managed to reoccupy the building after two hours.

In Agios Demetrios the popular assembly of the occupation tried to cooperate with the municipal clerical workers in order to restart some municipal services without the mediation of the municipal authorities. The plan was to satisfy only urgent social needs, such as issuing green cards for the immigrants as well as paying wages and extra allowances. The mayor and the municipal council intimidated the workers trying to prevent them from providing these services.

In the morning about a hundred high school students and a few workers and militants gathered outside the courts in Evelpidon street to express their solidarity towards those arrested during the clashes with the riot police the previous week. The youths entered the courts marching, bypassing the controls. At the same time a demo was organized in the suburb of Korydallos by more than a thousand youths from nearby schools. The youths headed for Korydallos prison (the biggest prison of the country) and attacked the police with rocks and firebombs. Elsewhere, in Pagrati district, high schools students demonstrated outside the police station. At noon, more than a thousand youths from local schools gathered outside the Police Headquarters in Alexandras Avenue and attacked the police with eggs, flour and rocks. Two students got arrested after being badly hit.

In the afternoon about 150 demonstrators participated in a musical demo at Propylaia square. The demonstrators blocked Panepistimiou Avenue while singing and dancing but faced a fierce attack by the special police forces. At the same time about 100 people made an intervention in the underground metro station of Propylaia. Leaflets were distributed expressing a critique of the capitalist circulation of the labour power commodity, calling for free transport for all and promoting the violation of zero tolerance policies inside metro stations. The intervention ended with a sabotage of all the vending machines, the writing of slogans on the walls of this sterilized environment and the spray-painting of surveillance cameras. Special police forces entered into the metro station and the merry participants attacked them verbally and made fun of them from the top of the stairs at the entrance of the station. At the same time, the same action took place in the metro station of Dafni organised by the popular assembly of the occupied Town Hall of Agios Demetrios.

A huge banner was hung on the university building at Propylaia square depicting Kugias, the killer cop’s lawyer, with the slogan ‘Go ricochet yourself, you creep’. Shortly after the intervention at the metro station, a demo called by the assembly of the occupation of the Faculty of Law started from this square. About 2,000 people participated in it heading for the Parliament and then they returned to Propylaia square.

In the suburb of Nea Filadelfia the municipal cultural centre was occupied in order to be used as a gathering place and a counter-information centre.

Occupations of municipal buildings and radio stations as well as university departments continued to spread throughout Athens and other cities.

On this day, 14 immigrant communities representatives issued a statement trying to keep their distances from the riots and the lootings in particular: ‘We are not looters, immigrants have public voice and dignity… We declare that the vast majority of immigrants are neither looters nor criminals’. Adopting a quite different stance, people from Athens’ Haunt of Albanian Migrants distributed a leaflet at the student picket outside the police headquarters in the morning, declaring their class share in the riots, ‘These days are ours, too’. The whole text can be found in the appendix.

Tuesday, 16th of December
A group of 50 people managed to enter the studios of NET, the national, state-run television channel and interrupted the news bulletin of 3 pm for about 1 minute. The cameras were turned to the protesters who carried banners calling for “Immediate release of all the prisoners of the insurrection”, “Freedom for all” as well as urging spectators to “Stop watching TV and go out in the streets”. The group that organized this action issued a communiquÈ which can be found in the appendix of this chronology.

At noon, a group of about 70 militants attacked the central police station of Ilissia which also serves as the headquarters of a unit of the special police forces (YMET). A police van and four police vehicles were burnt and 2 policemen were injured.

In the afternoon, gatherings and demos were organized in the suburbs of Petralona, Dafni, Agios Demetrios with the participation of high school students, workers and other residents. Also, about a thousand people gathered in Exarhia and marched towards the local police station where they were stopped by strong police forces.

The occupation of the Town Hall of Agios Demetrios ended with a demo of about 300 people.
At another place of the city centre, an intervention was organized at the metro station of Victoria square in the afternoon. Vending machines were destroyed, slogans were written on the walls (“Let’s bring the insurrection underground” was one of them) and surveillance cameras were spray painted.

Wednesday, 17th of December
The central offices of the General Confederation of Labour of Greece (GSEE) which resides in the junction of Patission and Alexandras Avenues were occupied early in the morning by a group of about 70 workers. The aims of the occupation were described in the first communiquÈ of the occupation which can be found in the appendix. About 50 bureaucrats with their thugs tried to evict the squatters at around 3 pm but they were pushed back by the people with the help of squatters from the ASOEE occupation which is located nearby. An assembly was called at 6 in the evening and was attended by 800 people.

From the beginning it was obvious that there were two tendencies inside the occupation –no matter how clearly articulated: a workerist one, that wanted to use the occupation symbolically in order to criticize the trade unionist bureaucracy and promote the idea of an independent of political influences base unionism; and a proletarian one, that wanted to attack one more institution of capitalist society, criticize syndicalism and use the place for the construction of one more community of struggle in the context of the general unrest. The leftist trade unionists that were present in the assembly did not really know what to do with all these insurgent workers and left.

In the morning, university students hung two giant banners on the Acropolis rock with slogans calling for mass demonstrations on 18/12 across Europe and resistance. The workers in the archaeological site supported the action. In the previous days, the workers on the Acropolis were on strike because of a reduction of their wage due to a cut down of a special allowance. Later in the day the ministry promised to satisfy the demands of the strikers and the mobilization was suspended.

In the evening the occupation of the old Town Hall in Halandri organized a demonstration that headed for the police station. At least 400 people participated and attacked the police station with eggs, rocks, bottles etc; 30 minutes earlier, the same demo had thrown eggs and paint at the local Court of Justice. Another demo marched through the suburbs of Kesariani, Pangrati and Vironas. 300 people took part in it and headed for the police station where they engaged in short conflicts with the police. Then, the demo marched towards the Town Hall of Kesariani which was occupied for a few hours.

Sabotage of ticket vending machines and surveillance cameras was repeated in the evening at 5 metro stations: Attiki, Ano Patisia, Kato Patisia, Tavros and Monastiraki.

Another high school student was shot by unknown people at a youth meeting place in Peristeri, a western suburb of Athens. Fortunately, the student, whose father is a well known trade unionist and a member of the so-called Communist Party, was not injured seriously.

A bunch of professors (mainly teaching Law in greek universities) launched an Appeal to the Government and the Political Entities to take some measures against the ‘ills’ of the greek society stressing mostly the stricter use of the university asylum and the prosecution of the use of masks during demos. In this way, the intellectuals, although belated, tried to introduce the old Black Act in Greece in 2008 updating its meaning against insurgents.

Thursday, 18th of December
A demonstration began at noon from Propylaia square with the participation of high school students, university students, teachers and other workers. The base union of the couriers had called a one-day strike, whereas the union of the workers in bookstores and publishing houses had called a 5-hour work stoppage. The couriers formed their own block in the demo. Also the confederation of the unions of the public sector workers (ADEDY) had called a 5-hour work stoppage. This gave the opportunity to many workers to participate independently in the demo. The number of the demonstrators was very high. Some estimate it was around 20.000. When the demo reached the parliament, clashes with the riot police began. What the cops mainly did was to protect the newly erected Christmas tree at Syntagma square; they gathered around it, trying to prevent it from getting burned by molotov cocktails hurled at it. It was such a ludicrous spectacle to watch that hundreds of demonstrators stood there shouting and mocking them. The true Christmas spirit: the Christmas tree, (a plastic one, actually), the symbol of the happy consumerist protected by the forces of law and order. The clashes spread to Panepistimiou Avenue, Akadimias Avenue and Solonos Street until evening. Several people were arrested and among them a soldier who was passing by and was badly hit by the cops.

After a similar demo in the city of Patra the local Workers’ Centre was occupied by some demonstrators following the example of the occupation of GSEE.

An antiracist demo with a few hundred people was organized in the afternoon by immigrant and antiracist organizations. Some of those organizations were the ones that had denied the involvement of immigrants in riots and looting, thus demonstrating their role as capitalist mediators.

In the evening, members of the so-called Communist Youth organized a demo in Peristeri to protest against the attempt on the high school student’s life in the previous day. According to some reports, some high school students barracked the members of the Communist Youth.

A group of art students interrupted a classical music concert in Megaro Mousikis, the most important music hall in Greece, distributed leaflets criticizing the role of art and artists in relation with the recent events and chanted some slogans against the cops and the state.

Friday, 19th of December
The French Institute was attacked at noon by 40 people with firebombs and rocks. Slogans were spray-painted on the walls: “Spark in Athens, fire in Paris, insurrection is coming” and “Greece – France: Insurrection everywhere”. This action expressed solidarity with the activists who are accused of sabotaging the railways as well as with the high school mobilizations in France.

In the afternoon a solidarity concert was given in Propylaia square with the participation of hundreds of artists and more than 5,000 people.

At 18.00 a demo was organized in Egaleo, a suburb of Athens by the local anarchist group. More than 100 people participated in the demo which headed for the police station. The demonstrators attacked the police station and broke the windows and cameras of all the banks in their way. At the same place, there was also a demonstration organized by leftist groups which followed another route.
During the day permanent and temp workers, students and unemployed from the occupations of ASOEE and GSEE organized interventions in two call centres: MRB (which is a company organizing public opinion polls) and OTE (which is the national telecommunications company of Greece). The first intervention took place around noon and only a few people participated because of the big distance of the site from the city centre. In the second intervention around 60 people participated and blocked the work process for a few minutes. The temp workers in the call centre responded to the action in a positive way.

At this point 800 high schools were under occupation according to the Secondary School Teachers’ Union (OLME).

Around one hundred people interrupted the premiere of the National Theatre in Athens late in the evening. They took the stage and held out a banner reading ‘Everyone to the streets. Immediate release of all the arrested during the revolt’. The text distributed to the audience and actors read, among other things: ‘now that you’ve deactivated your mobile phones, it’s about time you activated your consciousness’.

Saturday, 20th of December
During the day 3 radio stations were occupied. In the afternoon, demonstrations were organized in many suburbs and neighborhoods of Athens: Gyzi, Peristeri, Halandri, Vironas, Petralona, Nea Smirni. The demonstrations were organized either by local occupations or by local anti-authoritarian and leftist groups. This mobilization took place after a call for an international day of action by the occupations of ASOEE and National Technical University of Athens. Hundreds of people participated in the demonstrations.

Later, a department store in Agios Panteleimonas, a poor neighborhood of Athens where many immigrants live, was looted by a group of militants.

In the evening, the building of Teiresias, an inter-banking company which “processes data that reflect the economic behavior of individuals and companies” was attacked and burnt down.

Later, more than a thousand people gathered in the streets around Exarhia square commemorating the murder of Alexandros. Clashes began with the police forces but the crowd was dispersed and pushed back inside the premises of the National Technical University. The clashes continued around the National Technical University until early in the morning.

The financial department of the greek police force in Nea Filadelfeia was attacked with petrol bombs. Apart from damages to the building 7 cars were destroyed.

Sunday, 21st of December
At noon demonstrations took place in Kesariani-Pagrati (about 250 participants) and Ilion (about 100 participants). In Ilion, the demonstrators threw stones and broke the windows of 4 banks and 1 job centre (OAED).

The occupation of GSEE was terminated in the afternoon with a demo that headed for the National Technical University via Patission avenue. The initial plan for the course of the demo was to pass through nearby proletarian neighborhoods where many immigrants live. But this was changed since there were rumors that the police would violate the academic asylum and evacuate the National Technical University. The last meeting in GSEE, which was focused on the issue of solidarity with those insurgents that are imprisoned or under police persecution, decided to organize a demo on Wednesday 24th of December at 16.00, from Monastiraki square to Syntagma Square through Ermou street which is the most expensive commercial district in Greece.

About a hundred students from drama schools interrupted 15 theatre performances around Athens. The main slogans of the interventions were the following: “Insurrectionary new year, everybody to the streets”, “It is not possible to kill our dreams”.

Monday, 22nd of December
The Town Hall of Peristeri was occupied at noon by about 100 people.

A mafia type gang attacked a migrant cleaner, K. Kuneva, 44, the secretary of the cleaners’ union, as she was returning home from work late in the evening. They used sulphuric acid to burn her face. As a consequence she lost one eye and has been kept in the intensive care ward hospital in critical situation until now suffering serious sight and respiratory system problems. K. Kuneva, was working at one of ISAP’s (the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway) subcontracting companies and she said that she was in constant conflict with her bosses and that lately she had been receiving anonymous threatening calls.

Tuesday, 23rd of December
Early in the morning, shots were fired at a riot police bus in Goudi without any injuries. A group calling itself ‘Popular Action’ claimed responsibility for the attack by phoning an online media centre, without leaving a leaflet explaining the reasons why, which is quite unusual as a practice. This, as well as the place from where the shots came (an occupied small building used as a meeting place for antiauthoritarian students) makes the whole case very suspicious. Shortly after, the Public Prosecutor gave the permission to the police to search the area, thus violating the university asylum.
5,000 people participated in the demo organized by the coordinating committees of the occupied universities and high schools. Before the demo began some demonstrators flipped over a police car but this action was not followed by further clashes during the demo.

Most of the participants in the occupation of the Law school decided to leave the building.
In Nea Filadelfia 200 people made a demonstration from the occupation of the municipal cultural centre to the local police station. The demonstrators threw eggs, paint and stones at the police station.

Wednesday, 24th of December
The occupation of ASOEE was terminated in the afternoon.

More than 1,500 people, mainly from the anti-authoritarian milieu, participated in the demonstration which was organized by the meeting that took place in the occupation of GSEE on Sunday in solidarity with the prosecuted insurgents. The demonstration started from Monastiraki square, passed through Ermou street, reached Syntagma square and then returned to Monastiraki square through Kolokotroni street. Some youths joined the demo which passed through the most commercial part of the city at a time when Christmas shopping was at its peak. The slogans of the demo called for a continuation of the insurrection against the Christmas shopping “spirit”. The occupation of the National Technical University was terminated at midnight.

Friday, 26th of December
About 150 people participated in a demo outside Evaggelismos hospital where K. Kuneva is kept. The slogans called for “resistance against bosses’ terrorism”.

Saturday, 27th of December
At noon, 300 people occupied the headquarters building of ISAP as a first response to the murderous attack on Konstantina Kuneva. The group that organized this action issued a communiquÈ which can be found in the appendix of the chronology.

At 4 pm an assembly took place which was called in order to organize solidarity actions with those insurgents that were imprisoned or are under prosecution. It was attended by 500 people. It was decided that on Sunday people would participate in the actions against the opening of shops. (In Greece shops are closed on Sunday, but the state tries to force a law against it. The previous day the government decided to open the shops “exceptionally” in the centre of Athens in order to compensate the damage the “shop-owners” suffered because of the violence of the insurrection). In the same assembly people also decided to hold a demo outside Korydallos prisons on New Year’s Eve, at 23:00, in order to express their solidarity to the imprisoned insurgents.

Sunday, 28th of December
At 9:30 am about 200 people gathered outside a big bookshop on Syntagma square and blocked the entrances. Some of them were members of the bookshop assistants’ union, but most of them were workers and students from the previous day’s solidarity assembly. A lot of the participants decided that they could block more shops and they marched on Ermou str. There, they split in groups of 10 to 20 people and they started blocking the entrances of some main shops of Ermou Str. (like we’ve said before, one of the most expensive commercial streets of Europe). The slogans shouted were: “Freedom to those who have to work”, “They make us work on Sunday, they shoot us, and we live in a war every day”. As time was passing, a mass shopping crowd was flooding Ermou Street and it became somehow difficult to keep on blocking the access. It was interesting though that the shop bosses seemed to be afraid: they turned off the lights and waited patiently for the demonstrators to leave the place. Some left-wing people also participated in the blockings which were taking place at the same time in at least 3 other spots of the commercial centre of the city. 500 members of the so called Communist Party marched up and down the street, more interested in giving a media show than actually blocking the shops. At about 1:30 pm the blockers decided to leave the place marching towards a big bookshop in Exarhia (about 2km away). After making the boss close the shop, they left. Most of them went to the ISAP occupied building to participate in a demo from this building to Evaggelismos hospital where K. Kuneva is kept, thus putting an end to that particular occupation.

Μοnday, 29th of December
At 3pm, about 120 people gathered on the second floor of the commercial centre named “THE MALL ATHENS” –the biggest and most glamorous shopping centre of Attiki region– in Maroussi, a suburb 15km from the centre of Athens, and made a 30-minute demo inside the commercial centre. They were holding two banners, one claiming the immediate liberation of all the arrested insurgents and another one with the motto “I consume, therefore I am”. During the demo, which could be seen by everybody inside the building, some of the demonstrators hung another banner, on which there was written “work, consume, die”, while others distributed leaflets to the hundreds of the people inside and outside the stores. After the demo was over, they occupied the info desk microphones and read their leaflets out. There were writings on the walls and the slogan “work, vote and shut up” was written near the main entrance. Finally, they left the centre playing football with the balls and ornaments of the Christmas tree just outside the main entrance.

In the afternoon, a demo organized by the solidarity to K. Kuneva assembly marched to the offices of the cleaning company (the owner of which is an ex-official of PASOK, one of the two major political parties in Greece) in Piraeus. They went there in order to protect another female worker from being fired. However, the boss had closed the offices and cops were outside guarding the place. The people attacked the police and made them run away, with four police officers taken injured to hospital.

Wednesday, 31st of December
At 23.30 a crowd of approximately 1,000 people gathered outside the prison of Athens which is located at the Korydallos suburb of Athens, demanding the immediate release of the rebels arrested during the uprising of December. The crowd shouted slogans such as “Freedom to all prisoners”, “The passion for freedom is stronger than all the cells”, “Neither common prisoners, nor political prisoners, let all prisons burn”. The inmates set blankets and sheets on fire and they waved them through the windows of the cells. At midnight the gathered crowd lit up fireworks and torches in order to “welcome” the coming of a smashing new year. Then, they marched to the female prison shouting slogans in solidarity with the inmates. Finally, they marched towards the central square of Korydallos assaulting verbally the police and they dispersed.


(This article was originally entitled: Short presentation of the recent events in Athens through the eyes of some proletarian participants.)


There follows a workers’ communique and a chronology of the events in Thessaloniki, written by our Blaumachen comrades.


The Athens workers communique is the first of these two statements:


Blaumachen's chronology of the events is available here:

“These days are ours, too” - available here;
This text was distributed at the student picket outside the police headquarters today by people from Athens’ Haunt of Albanian Migrants. I wanted to translate and upload it here because it shows something very important: that ties of solidarity are being formed and strengthened across different sectors of the Greek society - a wonderful thing!


State-run TV station NET, the Greek equivalent of the BBC, was occupied for a few minutes during the 15:00 news broadcast: Students were shown holding a banner reading “STOP WATCHING - EVERYONE TO THE STREETS!”
Leaflet available here;


First communiquÈ of the occupation of GSEE - leaflet on the occupation of the central offices of the General Confederation of Greek Workers in Athens.



15 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by Steven. on January 2, 2009

N.b., this has just been updated