In the afternoon of January 16, 2006, there was an armed attack on the National Bank of Greece in central Athens. After a crossfire with two special unit police officers, one of the participants, Yiannis Dimitrakis, was seriously injured by three shots from the police in different parts of his body. The other four participants escaped with about $50,000, although one of them was also injured. After spending some months in different hospitals during his recovery he was transferred to the Korydallos prison of Athens.
In another self-parody of the Greek justice system he was accused of seven robberies and multiple counts of attempted homicide, with the application of the anti-terrorist law. This was not the first time anarchists in Greece have gotten trumped up charges. Subsequently anarchists all over Greece painted walls with the phrase, “Lefteria ston Yiannis Dimitraki!" Freedom for Yiannis Dimitrakis!
This is the letter that he sent out on June 23, 2007.
This letter is my first attempt to communicate and comment on what happened after the robbery of the Greek National Bank in the centre of Athens on January 16, 2006. Before speaking about the actual events I would like to mention some things in respect to the motivations behind the action and the significance they have for me.
I consider that today society is like a train on a track headed for total dehumanisation. We are the motor that powers the train, its engine, its passengers, and its wheels. The driver has the cruel face of capitalism and the co-pilot is the lazy faceless State. The tracks are not made of rose petals, they are made of blood and corpses, bodies solitary or piled in mounds, of people who wanted to resist or change that frenetic course.
They are many: insubordinates, rebels, leftists, anti-authoritarians and anarchists; their names fill the history of this journey. I place myself between these last two categories. In agreement with my conscience and my vision of the world, what I clearly discern is that this society depends only on violence, exploitation, and oppression. A society whose purpose is the loss of human dignity in all its signs and senses. This is something we all experience every day: forced to act through the state institutions or work under a boss who exploits us.
Employment and work: words that in reality signify enslavement and prostration. Work and the added value are columns of the actual economy while the conditions in which work takes place confirm that people are treated like expendable products, like modern slaves. We see workers rotting from diseases caused by exposure to toxic substances in the workplace; they are dying in one way or another in the temples constructed by the capitalists. They have abandoned their will, their lives and their spontaneity essential characteristics of a free person. They are working long hours for scraps. To cover the majority of their basic necessities a person is obligated to mortgage everything they have to those cold oppressors called banks and under the weight of that financial responsibility they begin to show signs of submission and servitude. If they can’t pay their debts they are driven until they crack; and they end up committing suicide or humbling themselves in public in the worst forms. In order to perpetuate themselves, the State and Capital are today constructing a system that sacrifices human life on the altar of profit. And as was said before, one of the principal partners are the banks, which are nothing more than financial sharks that lend to those who will drop to their knees. The banks are directly or indirectly guilty for the plunder of the population. Taking all this into consideration we can understand Brecht’s character Maki when he asks:"What is a bank robbery in comparison to the establishment of the bank?"
I want to take into consideration my actions of resistance at a personal level and an external level. All the people who know me in person know that I did everything I could to determine the conditions and quality of my life. I rejected work as a unity of mass production, another wheel of the train. I wanted to attack the bank monstrosity knowing that I couldn’t cause it that much damage. Choosing a dignified way of living, I decided to rob a bank. I consider this action, like many others, revolutionary. In all honesty I want to admit that I intended to steal the money for myself. But at the same time, as an anarchist I wanted to show support to the actions and contribute to the necessities of the movement. What I want to say is that not every anarchist has to be a bank robber nor is every worker a slave.
I started to tell my story when I was lying on the ground, injured by police bullets, unable to escape the hot embrace of the State. Despite everything, I imagine it was an impressive image, but at the same time an example for anyone who wants to involve themselves in similar actions: a crowd of blue-uniformed hunters, encircling me, the injured captive, lovingly kicking me and calling out: "We have fucked you! You’re not that big now son of a bitch!" My back was exposed and I couldn’t move nor breathe because of the bullets in my lung, liver, and elbow.
I speak about this without bitterness, I have no lament nor delusion because I didn’t expect any better treatment from my enemies. Lesser criminals than I have received worse treatment.While I was being attended in the general hospital of Athens I experienced the violation of every human right. The first time my parents came to visit me they put an armed policeman between us, denying even one intimate moment with my family and I couldn’t open my mouth because of the drugs they gave me in the ICU. Later, amidst the fog of pain and drugs I realised that without permission from the hospital the police had entered my room to surveil me at all times. But I would like to thank all the hospital staff who took care of me despite their political views, and also for resisting the pressure from the authorities. The boss of the ICU informed me about my rights. He also helped me out when the clever prosecutor Diotis came. He kicked him out of the room saying he couldn’t interrogate me in that condition, and I heard Diotis saying: “Clearly I have respect for the condition this guy is in, otherwise I would have removed his breathing tubes or bumped the pressure up to 50..." At that moment I understood that had the hospital personnel not been protecting me I would have had to face the infamous techniques of Diotis, carried out in many past interrogations.
After that incident the conditions of my detention got worse. I was transferred to another wing where there were always two civil cops in the room with me and two regular cops outside. Every thirty minutes another policeman came to monitor the situation and there were five or six more in the waiting room. Because of that I couldn’t sleep for three or four days. I protested to the director and he responded that since I was a prisoner they could decide how to treat me to prevent a suicide attempt. They falsified the doctor’s report so they could ship me to prison sooner.
Now the prosecutor has tried to charge another person with the same crime as me, just because we are part of the same anarchist scene. It's the classic scenario concocted between the police and journalists. They invented a story about an armed group of ten to fifteen people, all anonymous so they could accuse a lot more people, and then they accuse this mysterious group of six more bank robberies supposedly committed to fund anarchist groups. The end of the story is that I find myself accused of seven bank robberies, attempted homicide, and stealing money; all under the anti-terrorist law. That the state has prefabricated techniques to win convictions and destroy people’s reputations in a mediatic parody is nothing new.
Finally I want to say to all those who are planning our physical, ethical, and political annihilation: it’s not important what dirty techniques you use, it’s not important if you hunt us or beat us down, you will never destroy or domesticate us, because it is honourable to rebel. We will not lower our heads in submission.
I want to thank all of those who are showing solidarity knowing how difficult my case is.