Following the deaths of three workers in a fire at a bank in central Athens yesterday, we reproduce for reference the statements of a worker at the Marfin bank on the incident, and the communiques of the bank workers' union OTOE and the Skaramanga squat in Athens. The bank workers union struck today in response to the deaths, blaming the goverment and employers for the fatalities.
The statement of an employee of the Marfin bank on the deaths:
"I feel an obligation toward my co-workers who have so unjustly died today to speak out and to say some objective truths. I am sending this message to all media outlets. Anyone who still bares some consciousness should publish it. The rest can continue to play the government’s game.
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fire extinguishers which, of course, cannot help in dealing with extensive fire in a building that is built with long-outdated security standards.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.
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]."
Statement of the banks workers' union, OTOE, which struck today:
Three dead colleagues, working in Marfin - Egnatia Bank are the victims of riots that occurred in the late panergatikis peaceful demonstration in the center of Athens.
The three unfortunate employees trapped in the shop of the Bank, which burst into flames could not be removed, thereby losing their lives.
The OTOE condemns in the strongest terms those who engage in such acts of violence with which it dealt with the problems of the people of our country and demands exemplary punishment of the culprits.
But this tragic event which deprived the lives of three colleagues (two women and one man) is the sad result of unpopular measures roused the popular anger and protest of hundreds of thousands of workers, which, however, have physical and moral perpetrators.
The perpetrators must be found and punished exemplary.
The instigators, but must be sought on policy, the operational attitude of the police and the bank management that the coercive practices hinder the participation of workers in action and the irresponsibility of not receiving timely manner all necessary security measures to protect the lives of workers and citizens to bank branches, which are familiar and timeless goals throughout the itinerary whenever the workers' demonstrations and protests.
But serious political responsibility has the government apparently did not calculate the size and extent of effects on Greek society and people's decisions regarding the economic tradition of our country in the troika of D.N.T ., the European Union and the ESF, and the temporal demands of the local chapter.
The OTOE in protest, expressing anger and indignation of the bank sector and the entire Clerks and Workers union movement against the individuals and sponsors of the horrific events of loss of life of three colleagues, Nationwide launches 24-hour strike tomorrow, Thursday, May 6 .
We urge the government to reconsider its policy directed exclusively against non-privileged citizens of our country.
To look into alternatives paths to observe the weak masses will have to pay those who are truly responsible for the tragic economic bottlenecks facing our country.
It is high time all of the political system to understand that the river of popular rage is not guided, not entrenched and will not stop until there is justification and democratic governance fully conforms with the popular sentiment.
THE PRESS OF OTOE
Statement by the Skaramanga squat in Anthens
The murderers “mourn” their victims
(Regarding today’s tragic death of 3 people)
The enormous strike demonstration which took place today, 5th of May turned into a social outflow of rage. At least 200,000 people of all ages took to the streets (employees and unemployed, in the public and private sector, locals and migrants) attempting, over many hours and in consecutive waves, to surround and to take over the Parliament. The forces of repression came out in full force, to play their familiar role – that is, of the protection of the political and financial authorities. The clashes were hours long and extensive. The political system and its institutions reached a nadir.
However, in the midst of all this, a tragic event that no words can possibly describe took place: 3 people died from infusions at the branch of Marfin Bank on Stadiou Avenue, which was set ablaze.
The state and the entire journalistic riff-raff, without any shame toward the dead or their close ones, spoke from the very first moment about some “murderer-hooded up youths”, trying to take advantage of the event, in order to calm the wave of social rage that had erupted and to recover their authority that had been torn apart; to impose once again a police occupation of the streets, to wipe out sources of social resistance and disobedience against state terrorism and capitalist barbarity. For this reason, during the last few hours the police forces have been marching through the center of Athens, they have conducted hundreds of detentions and they raided – with shootings and stun-grenades – the anarchist occupation “space of united multiform action” on Zaimi street and the “migrant haunt” on Tsamadou Street, causing extensive damage (both these places are in the Exarcheia neighbourhood of Athens). At the same time the threat of a violent police eviction is hanging over the rest of the self-organised spaces (occupations and haunts) after the Prime-ministerial speech which referred to soon-to-come raids for the arrest of the “murderers”.
The governors, governmental officials, their political personnel, the TV-mouthpieces and the salaried hack writers attempt in this way to purify their regime and the criminalise the anarchists and every unpatronised voice of struggle. As if there would ever be the slightest of chances that whoever attacked the bank (provided the official scenario stands) would possibly know there were people inside, and that they would torch it alight regardless. They seem to confuse the people in struggle for themselves: them who without any hesitation hand over the entire society to the deepest pillage and enslaving, who order their praetorians to attack without hesitation and to aim and shoot to kill, them who have lead three people to suicide in the past week alone, due to financial debts.
The truth is that the real murderer, the real instigator of today’s tragic death of 3 people is “mister” Vgenopoulos, who used the usual employers’ blackmailing (the threat of sacking) and forced his employees to work in the branches of his bank during a day of strike – and even in a branch like the one of Stadiou Avenue, where the strike’s demonstration would pass through. Such blackmailing is known only too well by anyone experiencing the terrorism of salaried slavery on an everyday level. We are awaiting to see what excuses Vgenopoulos will come up with for the relatives of the victims and for the society as a whole – this ultra-capitalist now hinted by some centers of power as the next prime minister in a future “national unity government” that could follow the expected, complete collapse of the political system.
If an unprecedented strike can ever be a murderer…
If an unprecedented demonstration, in an unprecedented crisis, can ever be a murderer…
If open social spaces that are alive and public can ever be murderers…
If the state can impose a curfew and attack demonstrators under the pretext of arresting murderers…
If Vgenopoulos can detain his employees inside a bank – that is, a primary social enemy and target for demonstrators…
…it is because authority, this serial murderer, wants to slaughter upon its birth a revolt which questions the supposed solution of an even harsher attack on society, of an even larger pillage by capital, of an even thirstier sucking of our blood.
…it is because the future of the revolt does not include politicians and bosses, police and mass media.
… it is because behind their much-advertised “only” solution, there is a solution that does not speak of development rates and unemployment but rather, it speaks of solidarity, self-organising and human relationships.
When asking who are the murderers of life, of freedom, of dignity, the ferments of authority and capital, they and their tuft hunters only need to take a look at their own selves. Today and every day.
HANDS OFF FREE SOCIAL SPACES
IT IS THE STATE AND THE CAPITALISTS WHO ARE THE MURDERERS, TERRORISTS AND CRIMINALS
EVERYONE TO THE STREETS
from the open assembly of the evening of 5/5/2010
Statement on the deaths in Athens by contributors to the After the Greek Riots blog:
The text below summarises some initial thoughts on Wednesday’s tragic events by some of us here at Occupied London. English and Greek versions follow – please disseminate.
Κάποιες πρώτες σκέψεις πάνω στα τραγικά γεγονότα της Τετάρτης (5/5) από κάποιους/ες από εμάς του Occupied London. Ακολουθεί αγγλική και ελληνική έκδοση του κειμένου, παρακαλούμε διαδώστε το.
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._
Αλήθεια, εμείς τι έχουμε να πούμε για τα γεγονότα της Τετάρτης;
Τι σημαίνουν αλήθεια για τον αναρχικό/ αντιεξουσιαστικό χώρο τα γεγονότα της Τετάρτης 5/5; Πώς στεκόμαστε απέναντί τους, ανεξάρτητα από ποιούς προκλήθηκαν; Ως άνθρωποι και ως κοινωνικοί αγωνιστές. Για μας που δεν δεχόμαστε ότι υπάρχουν μεμονωμένα περιστατικά και που στιγματίζουμε καθημερινά τη βία που ασκεί πάνω μας το κράτος και το καπιταλιστικό σύστημα. Για μας που έχουμε το θάρρος να λέμε τα πράγματα με το όνομά τους, και ξεμπροστιάζουμε όσους βασανίζουν μετανάστες σε αστυνομικά τμήματα ή παίζουν με τις ζωές μας από πολυτελή γραφεία και τηλεπαράθυρα. Τώρα λοιπόν τι έχουμε να πούμε;
Θα μπορούσαμε να κρυφτούμε πίσω από την ανακοίνωση της ΟΤΟΕ ή τις καταγγελίες υπαλλήλων του τραπεζικού υποκαταστήματος και να μείνουμε στο ότι οι εκλιπόντες είχαν εξαναγκαστεί να μείνουν μέσα σ’ ένα κτίριο χωρίς πυρασφάλεια, και δη κλειδωμένοι. Θα μπορούσαμε να μείνουμε στο τι καθίκι είναι ο Βγενόπουλος και στο πώς πατώντας πάνω σ’ αυτό το τραγικό περιστατικό θα επακολουθήσει μια καταστολή άνευ προηγουμένου. Όποιος (τόλμησε να) περάσει χθες από τα Εξάρχεια έχει ήδη μια εικόνα. Αλλά δεν είναι εκεί το ζήτημα.
Το ζήτημα είναι να δούμε τι ευθύνες μας αναλογούν. Σε όλους μας. Είμαστε όλοι συνυπεύθυνοι. Ναι έχουμε δίκιο που αντιδρούμε με όλες μας τις δυνάμεις απέναντι στα άδικα μέτρα που μας επιβάλλουν, που αφιερώνουμε όλη μας τη δύναμη και τη δημιουργικότητα για έναν καλύτερο κόσμο. Αλλά είμαστε εξίσου υπεύθυνοι ως πολιτικά υποκείμενα για όλες μας τις πολιτικές επιλογές, για τα μέσα που έχουμε οικειοποιηθεί και για τη σιωπή μας όσες φορές δεν παραδεχτήκαμε τις αδυναμίες και τα λάθη μας. Εμείς που δεν γλείφουμε τον κοσμάκη για να κερδίσουμε ψήφους, που δεν έχουμε κανένα συμφέρον να εκμεταλλευτούμε κάποιον, έχουμε μέσα σε αυτή την τραγική συγκυρία τη δυνατότητα να είμαστε ειλικρινείς με τον εαυτό μας και τους γύρω μας.
Αυτό που βιώνει το ελληνικό α/α κίνημα αυτή τη στιγμή είναι ένα απόλυτο μούδιασμα. Διότι είναι πιεστικές οι συνθήκες για μια σκληρή αυτοκριτική που θα πονέσει. Πέρα από τη φρίκη του ότι πέθαναν άνθρωποι από «τη δική μας πλευρά», την πλευρά των εργαζομένων υπό πολύ σκληρές συνθήκες, που ενδεχομένως να είχαν επιλέξει να συμπορευτούν μαζί μας αν ήταν αλλιώς τα πράγματα στη δουλειά τους, εδώ έχουμε διαδηλωτή/ές που έθεσε σε κίνδυνο κόσμο. Αν και ασυζητητί δεν υπήρξε καμία ανθρωποκτόνος πρόθεση, το ζήτημα είναι πολύ ουσιαστικό και σηκώνει μεγάλη συζήτηση για τους σκοπούς που θέτουμε και τα μέσα που επιλέγουμε.
Το περιστατικό δεν συνέβη νύχτα, σε μια κίνηση σαμποτάζ. Συνέβη κατά τη διάρκεια της μεγαλύτερης κινητοποίησης της σύγχρονης ελληνικής ιστορίας. Κι εδώ είναι που γεννιούνται μια σειρά από επίπονα ερωτήματα: Γενικά σε μια πορεία 150-200 χιλιάδων, άνευ προηγουμένου τα τελευταία χρόνια, είναι απαραίτητη μια “αναβαθμισμένη” βία; Όταν βλέπεις χιλιάδες να φωνάζουν να καεί η Βουλή και να βρίζουν τους μπάτσους, έχει αλήθεια τίποτα παραπάνω να προσφέρει μια καμένη τράπεζα στο κίνημα; Όταν το ίδιο το κίνημα γίνεται μαζικό -καλή ώρα σαν τον Δεκέμβρη- σε τι προσφέρει μια ενέργεια αν ξεπερνάει τα όρια που μπορεί να αντέξει μια κοινωνία (τουλάχιστον στην παρούσα φάση) ή που θέτει ανθρώπινες ζωές σε κίνδυνο; Όταν κατεβαίνουμε στο δρόμο είμαστε όλοι ένα με τον κόσμο στο πλευρό μας, είμαστε δίπλα του, μαζί του –γι’ αυτό άλλωστε ξεσκιζόμαστε να γράφουμε κείμενα και αφίσες– και οι δικοί μας όροι, είναι μία παράμετρος στις πολλές που συναντιούνται. Έφτασε η στιγμή να μιλήσουμε για τη βία έξω από τα δόντια και να παρατηρήσουμε κριτικά την κουλτούρα της βίας που αναπτύσσεται στην Ελλάδα τα τελευταία χρόνια. Το κίνημά μας δεν έχει ισχυροποιηθεί λόγω των δυναμικών μέσων που ενίοτε χρησιμοποιεί αλλά χάρη στον πολιτικό του λόγο. Ο Δεκέμβρης δεν έμεινε στην ιστορία μόνο επειδή σήκωσαν και πέταξαν χιλιάδες πέτρες και μολότοφ, αλλά κυρίως για τα πολιτικοκοινωνικά του χαρακτηριστικά και την πλούσια παρακαταθήκη του σε αυτό το επίπεδο. Βεβαίως και αντιδρούμε στη βία που ασκείται πάνω μας, αλλά καλούμαστε κι εμείς με τη σειρά μας να μιλήσουμε για τις πολιτικές μας επιλογές, αλλά και για τα μέσα που οικειοποιηθήκαμε, αναγνωρίζοντας τα όριά μας και τα όριά τους.
Όταν μιλάμε για ελευθερία, σημαίνει ότι κάθε στιγμή αμφισβητούμε ό,τι θεωρούσαμε δεδομένο μέχρι χθες. Ότι τολμάμε να μπήξουμε το μαχαίρι ως το κόκκαλο και αποφεύγοντας έναν κλισέ πολιτικό λόγο, κοιτάμε κατάματα τα πράγματα ως έχουν. Είναι σαφές ότι αφού δεν θεωρούμε ότι η βία είναι αυτοσκοπός, δεν πρέπει να την αφήσουμε να επισκιάσει την πολιτική διάσταση των πράξεών μας. Δεν είμαστε ούτε δολοφόνοι ούτε άγιοι. Ένα κομμάτι ενός κοινωνικού κινήματος είμαστε, με τις αδυναμίες και τα λάθη μας. Σήμερα αντί να νιώθουμε δυνατοί μετά από μια τόσο μεγάλη πορεία, νιώθουμε (το λιγότερο) μουδιασμένοι. Αυτό από μόνο του λέει πολλά. Πρέπει να μετουσιώσουμε αυτή την τραγική εμπειρία σε προβληματισμό και να εμπνεύσουμε ο ένας τον άλλον, διότι εντέλει όλοι πράττουμε κατά συνείδηση. Και η καλλιέργεια αυτής της συλλογικής συνείδησης είναι το μεγάλο διακύβευμα._