The first major repressive attack against Exarcheia by the far-right wing New Democracy Party began on the morning of August 26, as police arrested 143 people from four different anarchist and refugee squats.
Athens, Greece: The Attack Has Begun – First Evictions of Squats in Exarcheia
26.08.19: The first major attack against Exarcheia, the most resistant district in Europe, was not long in coming. The show had to go on somehow. The summer slump is over – concrete results had to achieved, and so it has not just remained as isolated actions against “drug dealing gangs”. This morning four squats were evicted.
The first wave of attack against autonomous life in Exarcheia is part of a massive plan to transform the area into the Montmartre of Athens. In our last article (in German), we explained the individual points of an operation that is scheduled to take five years. At the end of the tunnel is the successful construction of the Exarcheia Metro Station. Intermediate stations along the way to this are the eviction of squats, the expulsion of refugees and the enforcement of full police control over Exarcheia. To support the police actions, an intervention force was formed from various parts of the city administration – from cleanliness to environment to city infrastructure. Graffiti is to be removed, smart lanterns installed and the dismantling of “Anarchy in Exarcheia” organized.
The projects affected by the evictions are Spirou Trikoupi 17, Transito, Rosa de Foc and GARE. Specifically, 143 people from two buildings in Sp. Trikoupi 17 were arrested and taken to the Attica Refugee Department to check whether they have legal residence permits to live in Greece. Of the 143, 57 are men, 51 are women and 35 are children from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Turkey. From the first statement of the evicted squatters: “The fascist State evicted us today at 06:00 and they are taking us to the Petrou Rali police station. They dragged us out of our house. They threw our belongings out of the building and blocked the entrances and the windows. They are trying to bury us, but they don’t realize that we are seeds”.
From another building on Kallidromiou Street (GARE anarchist squat), three people who were present were taken into custody and taken to GADA (Athens Police Headquarters). The fourth building, on Fotila Street, was empty at the time of the eviction.
The operation was carried out by the MAT (Riot Police), OPKE (Special Identification and Evidence Unit) and DIAS (Motorcycle Unit), among others. According to the information published by the Athens-Macedonian news agency from police sources, no drugs were found in the buildings. At the same time, a police spokesman on Greek private television said: “We are the new silent vacuum cleaner that will vacuum up all the garbage”.
This first offensive – which is now complete – affects the northwestern part of Exarcheia, with the sole exception of Notara 26 squat. It is considered a symbol of the refugee squatting movement and is well guarded by the squatters and activists. Also the anarchist squat VOX – which according to the media is the headquarters of the revolutionary group Rouvikonas – has been spared for the time being. The offensive was clearly directed against less guarded squats. A simple first task. A first announcement. A taste of blood. And the great successes are still to come. Parallel to the action, Mitsotakis announced in the Greek Parliament the lifting of the controls on capital that have plagued Greece since 2015. The hypocritical government, which resembles a portrait of the past, will tackle several fronts – to celebrate the lifting of controls on capital they are apparently going to distribute some money to small entrepreneurs and thus supposedly make their lives better, then set in motion the social destruction.
But resistance to the evictions will not be long in coming either. The big demo planned for mid-September will probably have to be brought forward. So far many people from Exarcheia are calling for participation in this evening’s meeting at 6PM at Notara 26 in order to collectively decide on a course of action for the next few days. It is also recommended that people also get active internationally and for people to make preparations in order to be able to respond appropriately to the next wave of the offensive. Autumn is coming and it will be a long one. Let’s prepare ourselves for it.
Greece: Exarcheia under police occupation!
Alert! What we have been announcing to you for a month and a half has just begun this morning, just before dawn. Athens’ famous rebel and supportive neighbourhood is completely surrounded by huge police forces: many riot police buses (MAT), anti-terrorist untis (OPKE), police on motorbikes (DIAS), members of the secret police (asfalitès), as well as a helicopter and several drones.
A unique place in Europe for its high concentration of squats and other self-managed spaces, but also for its resistance against repression and its solidarity with precarious and migrants, Exarcheia has been in the sight of the right-wing government since its election on 7 July. The new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had made it a personal affair, especially since he had been mocked in early August for failing to achieve his goal of “cleaning Exarcheia in a month” as he had announced with great fanfare.
This morning, 4 squats were evicted: Spirou Trikoupi 17, Transito, Rosa de Foc and Gare. The offensive currently concerns the north-western part of the district, with the notable exception of the Notara 26 squat, which is considered better guarded and very symbolically important for the district as the first historical squat of the “refugee crisis” in downtown Athens.
There are currently about 100 arrests, including than brutal attacks on people trying to film. Only the mass media in the service of power are allowed to cover the event.
In total, there are 23 squats in Exarcheia plus 26 others around the district, for a total of 49 concentrated in a relatively small area. 49 squats to which other types of self-managed sites must be added, including some rented (Espace Social Libre Nosotros, free shop Skoros, etc.) as well as dozens of private homes groups of activists, often near the terraces to allow access above the streets.
On the squats that are precisely inside Exarcheia, 12 are accommodation squats for refugees and migrants and the 11 others are squats of anarchist and anti-authoritarian collectives (although most refugee squats are also obviously very political, starting with Notara 26 and Spirou Trikoupi 17 with direct assemblies and many links with the rest of the movement).
In the squats of Spirou Trikoupi 17 and Transito (on which servants of power are now bricking up windows), more than fifteen children have been torn from a peaceful and happy existence in order to suddenly being sent to camps. These sinister camps are unhealthy and overcrowded, migrants are malnourished and suffer from temperature variations, humiliation, and sometimes torture, and Mitsotakis also demands that they all be well closed and, in the future, completely cut off from the rest of the territory.
The face of Europe is constantly hardening, the same process is happening in other continents. This evolution increasing authoritarian capitalism leads us to question what the coming times will bring: the offensive against the pockets of utopias coupled with the confinement of the scapegoats reminds us of the dark hours of History.
The whole world is becoming fascist and Greece is once again one of them, one of the laboratories.
But nothing is over. September is coming soon. Seasonal jobs are about to end. The social movement gathers and organizes itself again. Places like Notara 26 and K*Vox are under high surveillance. Answers are being prepared, as well as several major events mobilizers. Autumn will be hot in Athens.