by Savas Michael, January 16, 2009
With the mass demonstration in Athens on January 9, 2009, the popular revolt that erupted in Greece the night of December 6, 2008, after the killing of the 15 years old Alexis Grigoropoulos entered a new phase.
A few days before that expected mobilization, a mysterious attack by an armed group on a riot police patrol helped the police and the capitalist media to try to produce a hysteric atmosphere about ” a new wave of terrorism returning to Greece”…
Nevertheless the day of action was not affected and it was a great success. ADEDY, the National Federation of Public Employees declared for that day a 4 hours stoppage in support of the demonstration. More than 15.000 working people and youth have marched in the streets of central Athens, from the University to Syntagma Square, in front of the Parliament. But there, riot police savagely attacked the demonstration and clashes continued around the University and Exarcheia (the neighborhood where Alexis was killed). Dozens were arrested and brought to the Central Headquarters of the Police including 16…lawyers who wanted to defend the arrested demonstrators and a very old …grand-mother who defend a kid brutalized by the police! The journalists who tried to cover the clashes were beaten as well and /or arrested.
This orgy of police brutality was the first show of “strength” of the new ” reshuffled”, because of the crisis, Karamanlis government and, particularly, of the new Vice-Minister of Public Order Markoyannakis, well known for his right wing reactionary positions and dubious relations with the mob in Crete, where he is elected deputy. The indignation produced by police brutality and the stand of the new Vice-Minister obliged the government to maneuver; so in a new demonstration of 5000 students, yesterday, January 15, police remained quite and no clashes took place.
In the Universities all over the country general assemblies of the students take place to decide about a new wave of occupations uniting the revolt of December with the struggle against privatization of Higher Education and in defense of the democratic right of the inviolability of university spaces and non intrusion by the police. Already more than 40 faculties are occupied.
The movement in Education is one dimension of the continuing upheaval; the other is, of course, mass demonstrations in solidarity to Gaza, often ending with clashes with the riot police; the third dimension is the movement of solidarity to the heroic Bulgarian immigrant trade unionist Kostandina Kuneva who was attacked by a death squad with sulfuric acid. Apart a financial campaign to sustain her and her family, the Labor Centers in Thessalonica, Ioannina, and Volos were occupied by workers, against the will of protesting trade union bureaucrats, in solidarity to Kostandina and all immigrant workers, for the punishment of the killers of capital. A growing number of meetings where Kostandina’s class struggle trade union is invited are held, all over the country particularly in public buildings occupied in the ongoing revolt.
So, yesterday evening a meeting of solidarity to Kostandina took place in the central building of the Press Union (ESHEA) in Athens which was occupied by young, poorly paid or fired journalists and photo-reporters. Vaso Tsouni, vice-chairperson of the All Attica Union of Cleaners and House Personnel gave a report not only on Kostandina’ struggle but also on the terrible conditions of work of the cleaners, who in majority are immigrant women working like slaves. The report was supplemented by a full medical report by Savas Michael who together with Katerina Matsa, (both EEK’s doctors) visits constantly Kostandina in the hospital.
This struggle is insolubly interconnected with the urgent needs of the entire workers movement, as the world capitalist crisis pushes the country into a position of semi-official bankruptcy and more than half a million of jobs will be lost in 2009. The GSEE trade union bureaucracy does nothing and is over-active only to prevent a new General Strike (and to cover up the truth on the murderous attack on Kuneva).
Tomorrow, January 17, a national mobilization will culminate into a mass demonstration of people coming from all over the country to Larissa, Thessalia (Central Greece) demanding the liberation of all political prisoners arrested during the revolt. Larissa was chosen because there, young schoolchildren 14-16 years old are arrested and will be put on trial under the Law against Terrorism!
La Luta continua!