By Savas Michael Mastas of the Greek Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK)
Athens and all Greece are in flames from last Saturday night. The cowardly murder of a 15 years young boy by a member of the Special Guard of the Police in Athens on Saturday, December 6th was the immediate cause for a popular revolt, particularly of the youth, which embraced not only the Greek capital but the entire country. It is, undoubtedly, the biggest revolt from the time of the civil war of the 1940s and the Polytechnic School uprising in 1973 against the military dictatorship.
Immediately after the news of the death of the young boy the area near the site of the killing, near the Polytechnic University of Athens, was full of people, mainly young. Clashes with riot police have started and barricades were erected in the streets. The Polytechnic was occupied and a call for a demonstration next day was issued. Similar mobilizations took place the same night in Thessalonica, Ioanina, Crete, Patras and other Greek cities.
Sunday, December the 7th at least 20.000 people joined a mass demonstration towards the Police Central Headquarters in Athens, which soon took the dimension of mass riots, continued during all night.
Monday, December the 8th, from early morning tens of thousands of very young schoolchildren of 15 years or less marched through Athens and occupied the forefront of the Police Central Headquarters. Youth attacked or occupied police stations and/ or town halls all over the country, from Corfu to Rhodes, from Evros in the North to Crete in the South.
Early in the evening a mass demonstration in Athens, double from that of the previous day, was transformed to generalized clashes with the riot police all over the capital. The Faculty of Law of the Athens University, the Athens Economic University and the Polytechnic, are all occupied and general assemblies are discussing and deciding the course of action.
Today( December 8), it was announced and then denied that the right wing Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis will meet the president of the Republic and the leaders of other Parties in parliament to explain the necessity to declare the country under a State of Emergency.
The mass media try to cultivate hysteria among the middle classes against the “social hooligans” who “exploit the unfortunate death of the boy” and “destroy private property and put on fire the banks”. The x- Minister of Education Marietta Yannakou, who had to resign because of the mass student movement of 21006-2007, has accused “middle aged (!!) Trotskyites and anarchists who lead the riots through the occupation the Law Faculty in Athens””!!
The revolt, of course, is not manipulated by anybody. It manifests the explosive situation produced by the world capitalist crisis. The rebellion is an expression of a mass anger accumulated the last period when the young generation lives without future, in a present of misery under the worst conditions of labour flexibility, unemployment, and continuous police harassment. Thousands of young boys and girls have identified themselves with the innocent victim, the young Alexis Grigoropoulos, and his tragic end. Sometimes the explosion of their anger takes the form of blind violence, as in the 2006 revolt in the Paris neighbourhoods- and this is why that many representatives of the ruling class call for a “Greek Sarkozy”. But both in Paris and in Athens, the real causes are deeply social, actually class issues.
The pseudo socialist PASOK official opposition condemns the riots and their members in the leadership of the General Confederation of Labour voted together with the Right to cancel the march in Athens next Wednesday, December, 10, the day of a 24 hours General Strike.
The official left takes also a dubious stand. The Stalinist KKE the first days did nearly nothing, apart sending a delegation to discuss with the leadership of the Police, i.e. of the killers. It does not take part in the common demonstrations, organizing separately its own, and “guarding the social peace from the anarchists and ultra-leftists”. The reformist Synaspismos (ex-Eurocommunists) try to play the role of the “mediator” between the mass movement and the State.
The far left, mainly the forces of two fronts, of MERA (Front of radical Left, where also our Party, EEK, participates) and of ENANTIA (United Anti-capitalist Left), some Maoists and the Anti-authoritarian Movement (anarchist), coordinate their actions. We issued together a Call for a continuous struggle and a General Strike to overthrow the Government of the Killers and put an end to its capitalist policies, which try to make the exploited pay for the crisis of the system. We decided the following actions:
Tomorrow, December the 9th, a mass demonstration of schoolchildren, students, and University professors will take place in Athens. A delegation of the march will participate in the funeral of the young Alexis. In the afternoon, demonstrations and agit-prop actions will be waged in all working class neighbourhoods.
On December the 10th, the day of the General Strike against the decision of the leadership of the GSEE (the General Confederation of Labor), we organize a march in Athens and in all main cities of the country.
EEK intervenes in all the main cities of the country fighting to transform the strike into an indefinite General Strike on a program of transitional demands for a workers socialist way out from the crisis, against the murderous capitalist State and its government, for workers power.
December 9: Day 4 of the revolt in Greece
Today at 15.00 pm took place in Palaion Faliron, in a suburb cemetery of Athens, the funeral of the unfortunate 15 years old boy Alexis Grigoropoulos murdered in cold blood by a policeman on December the 6th, a State crime that triggered the biggest revolt on a national scale from the end of the Second World War. Thousands of people, young and older, participated in the funeral raising the left fist in revolutionary salute. But at the end of the funeral, the riot police attacked the crowd, targeting the youth. Clashes erupted. The big scandal now is that the Police used again guns, shooting at least 15 bullets apparently on the air to disperse the crowd!
Before the funeral, at noon, thousands of schoolchildren, students, teachers and University professors demonstrated in Athens and violent clashes again took place in Syntagma Square, in front of the parliament, with the riot police attacking savagely 13-14 years old young boys and girls.
The time of the funeral, protest marches took place in all the main cities of Greece which ended invariably to violent classes with the State repression forces. In Patras, the city with the harbor connecting Greece with Italy and Western Europe, behind the police were forces of the “Golden Dawn” fascist paramilitary group and goons of the New Democracy youth organization( that have assassinated in 1991 the left wing teacher Temboneras). Important clashes took place also in Thessalonica, Volos, and Crete. In many occasions very young schoolchildren stormed the Police headquarters of their respective town.
The Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with the President of the Republic, the leaders of the Opposition parties in parliament, and the Chairman of the Parliament. Although he did not succeeded to receive their direct endorsement for the declaration of a State of Emergency, the government is moving towards this direction, namely to declare a ‘state of exception” using the article 11 of the Constitution to forbid demonstrations and occupations. The hysteria campaign of the bourgeois mass media against the “hooligans” is a part of these preparations.
Tomorrow is the day of the long ago announced 24 hours General Strike against the government budget. In collaboration with the Right, the PASOK leadership of GSEE (General Confederation of Labor) has cancelled the rally in front of its headquarters as well as the march. In replacement it will held an “all democratic memorial meeting” in Syntagma Square.
The PASOK leadership of George Papandreou limits itself to verbal criticisms that “the government does not use effectively the police to protect social peace, the property of the citizens and the public buildings”…
The Stalinist KKE leadership goes farther to the right, by denouncing together with the government and the far right … Synaspismos (the ex-Eurocommunists) as “protector of the hooligans and provocateurs”. The General Secretary of KKE, Aleca Papariga described the young rioters as “Talibans” created by the secret services of the State under the governments of PASOK and of New Democracy and now becoming uncontrollable!! She received an enthusiastic praise by the right wing government and the fascist anti-Semite leader of the far right.
The KKE organizes its own separate meetings, in other place and hour, absolutely respecting the social peace that the current government of boy killers wants to impose.
Synaspismos, forming with its allies in the extra-parliamentary left the “Alliance of radical Left”-SYRIZA, calls for “the democratic re-organization of the police” and other mild reformist economic measures to raise the living conditions of a young generation with a miserable present and without a future. Being under constant pressure from the right, Synaspismos / SYRIZA cancelled its previous decision to hold the rally in front of the GSEE headquarters and then participating in a popular march of the strikers. It will hold a rally nearby Syntagma Square.
So, the only march tomorrow in Athens will be that organized by a number of far left organizations, including EEK, from the Polytechnic University to Parliament. The situation, of course, is precarious, open to all dangers for a police attack, but we will not yield to State terrorism and the cowardly pressures by reformists and Stalinists.
9 December 2008, Savas Michael
Note: These articles are imperfectly translated. Sometimes confusion or the wrong meaning can be taken when this happens, but the urgency of the situation has necessitated getting them out. RR