As the State Prosecutor Mr Sanidas has announced a plan to evacuate all exist occupations in the country, the old mansion of the famous opera singer Maria Callas in down town Athens was occupied by radicals, nurses occupied the Ministry of Health, and students the Deans' HQs of the Salonica University, TV channel and Radio offices and the Labour Inspection of the city.
On Thursday 19/3 morning, and despite the climate of repression prevailing in the Greek capital, anarchist and autonomous radicals occupied the 1600 square meters mansion of Maria Callas, at Patision street, opposite the Archaeological Museum of Athens. The house which had been abandoned after the 1999 earthquake belongs to NAT, the naval workers' social security bureau. The radicals have announced a three day programme of public events in solidarity to K. Kouneva, and the imprisoned insurgents of December.
At the same time, nurses who are on a 48h strike across the country occupied the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity demanding that 5,000 nurses are immediately employed as permanent workers, that nursing is included in the list of occupations receiving extra payment and social security as "unhygienic and burdensome", that nurses are immediately paid 176 euros entitled to every public worker, and 300 entitled to every administrative worker. When the public persecutor came to warn them to end their industrial action, the nurses refused to move and riot police surrounded the building forcing the nurses to evacuate. Despite the repression, the nurses came again the following day and led a long blockade on the Ministry.
A few days earlier, students and other people in solidarity to K. Kouneva and the cleaners' struggle occupied the University Deans' HQs in Salonica, the central building of the main campus complex. The three day occupation demanded an immediate end to subhiring of cleaners by the University and the hiring of cleaning stuff as permanent workers entitled to "unhygienic work" social security and salary. The protestors also occupied the central building of Labour Inspection
in Salonica on Friday 20/3. Later in the afternoon the assembly of the occupied Labour Inspection
formed a large protest march which took to the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace. A day earlier, on Thursday 19/3, the protestors occupied the broadcasting offices of ERT3, the State TV Channel of North Greece, as well as the broacasting premises of 102FM radio station, broadcasting a short programme in solidarity to K. Kouneva and the cleaners' struggle.
The six latest occupations in Greece form part of a long struggle tradition in the country, where apart of the temporary occupations of government buildings, many abandoned buildings are occupied on permanent bases either as residential squats, or, primarily, as social and political centers. It thus came as a new repressive affront when on Friday 20/3 the General State Persecutor, Mr Sanidas, an infamous right-winger, demanded an investigation on the existing occupations and their evacuation by the police. Although the actual evacuation process is far more complex than that, involving the consensus of the actual owners and more, the sere move by the Persecutor demonstrates that the new police state engineered in Greece is in fact targeted against not urban guerrilla warfare, as it claims, but the entirety of the social antagonistic movement.
The move has been accused by the Left as a smokescreen to the government's inability to deal with the surging economic crisis by recourse of policies that risk to further inflame social tension. It is striking that the legal order comes only a day after the Appeal Court judged the transformation of the old park of Kyprou and Patision, which the Mayor of Athens groomed as a private parking space causing widespread riots, the smashing of two police stations, and the still running occupation of the construction site by locals, as illegal.
It is also telling that the anti-occupation draconian measures to be, were announced a day after a big bomb destroyed the front of the State Land Management Bureau which has been involved in the Vatopedio scandal (a Church fraud of exchanging worthless lands for expensive Olympic Games property). The bomb attack that shattered the new 'state of siege' posture of the government only a day after it was announced in the media, was only 150 meters away from the Athens Police HQs and just across the National High Courts. Analysts believe that given the symbolism of the latest urban guerrilla attack, Sanidas' anti-occupation move is yet another desperate 'egg in the face' effort on part of the government to look as if it has the situation in the country under even the vaguest control.