Athens, Greece: The Powder Keg is Building – The Attack on K*Vox in Exarcheia

by André Tzara

“Last night we were attacked by the forces of repression. As they walked past our squat, they began to provoke and insult us, and then attacked us with their batons, aiming directly at our heads.” – from a statement by K*Vox on August 30th, 2019

30.08.19: It only took three nights. The Greek police, in the form of their riot cops, MAT, have struck again. After four squats were evicted on Monday and about 150 refugees were transported to an unknown fate, the atmosphere in the well-known anarchist and left-wing bohemian district remained extremely tense. The photos of the crying children went around the world. The first solidarity actions including banner actions, the opening of a squat and an attack on a Greek consulate drew worldwide attention to these images. According to activist and filmmaker Yannis Youloutas, declarations of solidarity and action reports have arrived from Brazil, France, Australia, Spain, Algeria, Canada, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Uruguay, Eritrea, Scotland, Hong Kong, Mexico, Italy, Argentina, Portugal, Tunisia, Switzerland, Chile, the Netherlands and the USA. A debate has broken out in the Greek Parliament on the proportionality of the police operation. Amnesty International has condemned the detention of the 35 underage refugees. But nothing has changed: in the days since the first operation, the police presence has been enormous, especially to secure the now locked and bricked-up evicted squats and other strategic positions. The clock is ticking.

Yesterday, Thursday evening, the four-day festival “The Beautiful Exarcheia” began, organized by book publishers and other local initiatives. Going by the announcement from the organizers it is clear that it is a celebration of freedom and solidarity: “For 4 days and 4 nights we will gather in the square and meet old and new friends, old and new bands and musicians, poets and publishers who will bring their own messages of respect for the diverse but passionate and energetic Exarcheia Square, with a sense of joie de vivre and for a life that does not forget the desire for freedom”. But this desire for freedom made itself felt without the organizers. A MAT unit stationed at the edge of Exarcheia, on the corner of Tositsa and Sp. Trikoupi was attacked. The cops took the opportunity to attack the festival which was slowly coming to an end. From the police radio, “Go directly to the square!” was heard.

A real cowboy action like something from the wild west: The MAT troops attacked the crowd in the square from three sides with tear gas. They then tried to force their way into K*Vox, smashed the glass door and threw tear gas grenades inside while the room was still full of people. The comrades at K*Vox resisted and reported a direct confrontation in which they managed to prevent the police units from entering the building. One injured comrade was hospitalized with a severe head injury.

According to an Anarchist Federation statement, the entire scenario for this offensive was set up earlier in the day. On Twitter, it was reported that DIAS (motorcycle cops) and MAT had been gathering in large numbers and carrying out ID controls throughout the Exarcheia area since the afternoon, leading up to the rally on Boubolina Street that took place at 6PM. After the attack at K*Vox there were clashes with the MAT, who covered the whole area with tear gas. They circled the whole of Exarcheia Square from all sides. According to the most recent information at least four (although in some places the number seven is circulating) people were detained.

As published by the radio station Radiofragmata at 00:56AM, the MAT troops marched through Themistokleous Street to Exarcheia Square and shouted to the passers-by: “You arseholes, you’re going to experience this every day now!” A quote that certainly captures the mood of this and the coming days. It is now certain that the State will use every reason / occasion to take action against the hated anarchists and leftists in the neighbourhood. Since the new right-wing government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis came to power the winds of repression seem to be blowing stronger than ever before – it is remarkable to observe the enormous effect this change of government is having on the Greek police. They are still in the neighbourhood and the mood is like a powder keg – in this unpredictable game of chess every spark, every misunderstanding, every action could lead to a huge explosion. According to eyewitness reports, a MAT cop pulled his gun out during the attack on K*Vox as a deterrent. Everyone is waiting for the escalation – but it is unclear when it will come. In the cafes and meeting place there is heated discussion – the signals are interpreted. The next big tests are coming soon: tonight’s meeting at K*Vox and tomorrow’s lunchtime demo, which starts at Exarcheia Square. There are still three festival evenings left. But “The Beautiful Exarcheia” will definitely not be on display.

(via Hydra)

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