Clashes in Athens during protest march

Clashes unravel in Athens after riot police attacks protest march. Police repression targets lawyers and journalists who try to help trapped protesters. Many were wounded, and one elderly lady seriously brutalised.

Submitted by taxikipali on January 9, 2009

On Friday 9/1/09 protest marches took place in all major cities of Greece in commemeration for the assassination of the communist teacher Nikos Temboneras by Kababokas, a government thug, during the educational movement of 1991 against neoliberal policies.

In Athens, the massive march clashed with numerous police forces that under the orders of the new Minister of Public Order were following a zero-tolerance policy. The clash started outside the Parliament when riot police forces fired disoriantation grenades in the midst of the march. The clashes quickly spread without any property being destroyed. The situation became critical when riot-police forces trapped 80 protesters in an apartment block in Kolonaki, the old posh quarter of the center. Lawyers from surrounding offices swarmed to secure the exit of the protesters only to be beaten and arrested by the riot-policemen. One elderly woman of 70 was brutally attacked by the forces of repression, dragged onto the streets and risked her life. Others trapped in the building suffered from exhaustion and panic. Journalists who tried to record the siege were beaten and arrested by the police. After one hour, the protesters managed to leave the building in formation, after police forces were destructed by an attack on their back by protesters who erected flaming barricades and hurled stones. The protest march re-gathered later in the evening outside the HQs of the Greek Police shouting “Down with the Junta” and demanding the release of the detained and arrested. A delegation of the Lawyer’s Association tried to enter the building but was attacked by riot-police and beaten with globs leading to a further arrest of 15 lawyers causing an outrage across the country. Sponteneous protest marches against police brutality formed across greek cities, while renewed riots broke out in Exarheia in the center of Athens. There are several protesters and reporters seriously injured in hospital, while journalists claim one boy was attacked anew outside an Athens hospital by riot policemen, leaving him in a pool of blood, after he had his head stitched by doctors.

In Ioannnina protester occupied the Trade Union’s Center in solidarity to K. Kouneva, the cleaner syndicalist attacked last month by bosses thugs who is still in a critical state in hospital. In Thessaloniki during the protest the offices of Addeco, a labour subhire company, were smashed by protesters in solidarity to K. Kouneva. Protesters attacked riot-police forces guarding the police station of Ano Poli quarter leading to clashes into the center of the city.

What follows is the translation of a pamphlet handed out during the protest march by two anarchist groups:

Another cocktail for the gentleman?
“Every citizen in a time of civil war has the obligation to take sides, otherwise he shall be condemned to indemnity and will be stripped of his civil rights” Solon, Constitution of Athens, 6th century BCE.

Once the flames were extinguished, the state’s sages came out to the light to make estimations, analyses, overviews and predictions – but above all promises: “We shall disarm the police” – i.e. we shall arm it with a brand new non-lethal weaponry of electric globs, teizers, and armored vehicles. “We shall reform education” – i.e. we shall gather all the deans and principles and the rest of the chancellors of that bog of separated and useless knowledge called science and we shall craft a new system of debilitation, a new system of training young people to bow, snitch and beg. “We shall save democracy” – i.e. we shall find new ways of selling apathy, relegation, and voluntary servitude as an achievement, as a right, as freedom. The insurgents listen to the sirens of democracy and wonder: Bligh me, these people in their wilderness, haven’t they heard yet that negotiating is dead?

Who do they hope to come to the rescue of their Bastille? The cops? The merchants? The journalists? The trade union bosses? The student unions? Even if all the forces of repression, the market and mediation, from the highest priest of the spectacle to the lowest functionary of state violence put aside their internal differences for a moment, they will not be able to render the founding stone of any and all negotiation credible: the possibility of having anything to win from the perpetuation of this system. Even if the banks do away with all our debts. Even if the cops patrol the streets with flowers in their hair, and the “savoir vivre” underarm. Even if the ministry abolishes the finals, gives everyone an A, and sends all pupils to study at Harvard with a scholarship. Even if they invent a thousand demands for us, and realize every one of them with a simple presidential order, even then, reality proves stubborn: in this insurgency there has been not a single pathetic demand, not because we have waited for others to make demands for us, but because insurgencies do not demand – they attack. We need nothing – we want everything!

The slaves of capital, the lackeys of mediation cannot even perceive of politics without negotiation, because for them all life is an endless bazaar. Saturated by the logic of commodities, the only thing they can think is selling-off and its conditions. But the insurgency has proved how the wretched of the earth do dialogue: by uprooting stone by stone with their own hands that which exploits them, that which alienates them, that which oppresses them. And this is not only or primarily the police state, but the totality of the capital-relation, from class exploitation and the panoply of commodities, to the theaters and operas of bourgeois corruption, the pretentious veil of those who, after watching Brecht and listening to Shostakovich, rape Ludmila and force Ahmet wax their wooden floors.

The insurgency was not a step before the negotiations; it was the end of the bazaar, the end of the universal capitulation called the Republic. That is why the bosses are at loss. For their merchandise stands dusty and unsold. And the only thing remaining in their hands is an ever more clumsy management of the representation of violence. When those who attack police stations are high-school pupils. When entire neighborhoods instead of complaining about flaming barricades stone the pigs with flowerpots from their balconies. When it is nowadays hard even for a mounted pig to give a parking ticket without being piled with abuse, then power knows that all its efforts to demonize social counterviolence have been squashed. In the lightening of the insurgency that tears the darkness of ideologies, society acquires, even briefly, eyes and sees the contour of the real: the oppressive basis of its spectacular privileges. Those who weep over burned shops, let them go to Asia and see how the slaves produce the commodities that the ruffians of high street stuff their window panes with. Those who cry for the broken marbles of the universities, let them ask the dean’s cronies for the bill, for they have bought them six times over and have decorated their villas with them. And those who are outraged about their destroyed cars, let them take a stroll to the Niger Delta and see how blood runs next to the oil fields that fill their engines.

The exception, Alexis’s assassination, has brought about the overcoming of the logic of exception by uncovering it as what it really is: the rule. The rule of structural violence that is exercised daily for securing class, gender and racial privileges: from the acid that burns K. Kouneva’s face, to the slaves of the strawberry field of south Greece, and from the murdered prostitutes of the center of Athens and the invisible dead immigrants at the police station which issues permits, to the slaughter houses of Palestine and the Congo. That is why social counterviolence is turned against the system of exploitation and oppression as a totality – it does not personify the enemy. It is not reduced to a momentary and spasmodic act of revenge, but organizes itself in a constant and persistent attack on the foundations of this system: the social relations that reproduce it.

We have all the reasons in this world with our side. For they did not only kill one of us, nor is it just that the crisis of their system has weakened the promises that have kept us idle. It is that this world can only give birth to alienation, loneliness, separation, discipline, pillaging, destruction and death. It is that ever more dense refusals appear on the horizon as a storm that prepares to sweep away every last privilege of this rotten world. It is that, finally, all of us met united, alive, and decided and turned against it all. That is why every school, every university, every street, every town is now open to our will to let it never be the same again. This knowledge will transform the silent death they are preparing for us whatever its name be, reform, repression, or change of government, into a new frontline of the life we want to live. Every time more massively, every time more polarized. Every time more affirmatively, every time more unmediated, more collectively.