After the execution of a young boy in Exarchia a few months ago, riots broke out in response to the actions of the two cops. Anarchists initially took to the streets and skirmished with riot police, but soon many different people from different walks of life emerged to participate, on both sides. As well as every-day citizens angered by the shooting of the boy demonstrating along with the Anarchists, far-right nationalist groups such as Golden Dawn took to helping police to attack the demonstrators. Even the police themselves dressed as protesters and vandalised property in the hope of turning media opinion against them — and it worked. Over Christmas, the demonstrations took a break, but it appears they’re back and while the mainstream media has dropped the subject, sites such as Libcom.org have managed to keep a careful eye on events. As I’ve been posting all the following information in and around various forums, I thought I may as well include it here as people seem to have a keen interest regarding the events in Greece. However, I have reworded much of it to make it more presentable.
Obviously, the topic of most importance is that the offices of the fascist group, Golden Dawn, have been torched. To really understand the significance of this, it needs to be known that Golden Dawn are not strangers to violently attacking immigrants, Anarchists and anyone else they believe opposes them, and as mentioned before, there were numerous reports two months ago of Golden Dawn members carrying knives and sticks to be used against to violently break up demonstrations.
During the first march two days after the attack, anarchist protesters detached themselves from the main body of the demo to attack the HQs of Apogevmatini, an ultra-conservative daily making consistent attacks on social and labour movements, whose editor in chief, Momferatos, had been executed by N17 guerrillas in the mid 80s, for his cooperation with the CIA during and after the colonels’ junta.
The much larger protest march that took to the streets of Athens on Thursday 5/3 erupted in extended street battles between protesters and provocative riot police forces attacked the demo. During the clashes that spread throughout the city centre several banks and expensive shops were destroyed, while protesters broke into the offices of Golden Dawn [Xrysi Avgi] the neonazi parastate organisation responsible for numerous assassination attempts against immigrants, anarchists and the left, as well as a campaign of terror against radical infrastructures. The offices were torched to the ground.
During the corresponding antifascist protest march of the same day in Salonica, street battles erupted between protesters and the riot police along the city’s central boulevard.
Now, I know that most people who read this blog will look at that paragraph, taken from here, cringe and then write off as violent, distasteful, counter productive and so on. Indeed, in the past I have had to deal with people quoting how much damage has been done in these riots and so writing off its participants, completely. They see this as outright, destruction and so, ‘not-Anarchist.’ While I equally don’t condone or advocate intense violence or destruction, I refuse to be so vulgar to write off these people as “not-Anarchist” based on the context of what is going on. Call them what you like, the reactions of these people is quite understandable given the context of the events. The same article goes on to describe the current events in Greece as, “low intensity civil war,” where the police have high cooperation levels with far-right nationalist organisations, such as the Golden Dawn. In one of the following articles I will quote, a commenter explains that the Greek Military Junta, while it’s top-level leaders may have been ousted, left many of its lower level members still in key institutions. From this it becomes understandable why demonstrations have been so violent and opposition been so angered.
As the high court had judged that the dictatorship had been an “instant crime” and not a continuous one, only the colonels taking part in the April 21 coup of 1967 were tried and convicted, leaving all other junta officers in their positions in the civil services and the army.
Although this was written in the context of explaining the actions of groups such as N17 (that I shall get to next), this serves to frame the events in Greece in a greater context for those that can’t understand it.
In the past I had mused over the influence state-Socialist groups, like the Communist party, may have on the demonstrations. Then I started hearing reports about a terrorist group operating in Greece, and it’s actions were made to represent all the demonstrators in the mainstream media. While the group’s exploits sounded far more along the lines of a radical Marxist group, whose okay with violence, information stopped coming to me for me to make an appropriate judgement. Even an explanation by Deadeye on the Anarchism.net forums was still a little vague, until an article on Libcom.org provided an alternative take,
The tense situation across the country has been underlined by the continuation of armed violence by Marxist-Leninist urban guerrilla groups: on Monday guerrillas opened fire against cars of producers of the Alter TV channel in the TV station’s HQs (no one was wounded), while early on Tuesday a car packed with 60Kg of ANFO was found outside Citybanks HQs in Kifisia, north Athens. The car-bomb which was deactivated by the police would have blown up the entire block.
Public opinion on the new circle of urban guerrilla that opened last December remains mixed, especially since a convicted member of the November 17 urban guerrilla group, Mr Tzorzatos, declared the attacks look like the work of the Greek Intelligence Service (EYP) which has likely infiltrated inexperienced armed Marxist-Leninist groups. Tzortzatos, a controversial figure, gave extended technical details to substantiate his argument.
Meanwhile, the park of Kyprou and Patision in downtown Athens, over which riots broke out at the end of January leading to the smashing of two police stations, is still under occupation by local protesters.
After highlighting the comment that the 60kg of explosives found would have blown up the entire block one commenter wrote, “Typical. Of pigs and Leninists.” To those that don’t quite understand this statement, read back to wear in the article it mentions that the Greek Intelligence Service may have infiltrated the groups. It’s a double threat, as both groups are generally okay with violence. This subject of ‘agentology,’ the argument that these groups have been infiltrated by state agents and provocateurs is discussed throughout the comment sections of the article. Some regard this discussion as ‘counter to the revolution’ and to act as a smear agents such groups, but their actions generally act as their own smear. Others point out that there’s no reason why such groups couldn’t be infiltrated by elements of the Greek government, as they have shown in the past that they are more than capable of dressing as demonstrators and committing acts of vandalism to sway media opinion. The fact that the man making this claim has a chequered past may throw into question the seriousness of the claim, though, as it was pointed out in the discussion, there’s no reason why someone who is either far right nationalist or far left Stalinist can’t tell the truth when it suits their agenda. The claim was originally made here, though it is in Greek. One of the most interesting comments was made by a Hieronymous,
I was living in Athens in June 2000 when N17 assassinated British military attache Stephen Saunders (I was on a bus on the same road about an hour later and sat in traffic for another hour because of the huge traffic jam the police investigation caused). When N17 issued a communique about the killing it had references to the writings of people like Eric Hobsbawm, causing all my Greek comrades to say that it sounded more like the writings of a grad student or professor than the work of so-called revolutionaries. Many of them were convinced that N17 had to have some connections to the state, possibly even to the Greek intelligence service. This is understandable when you see how long N17 was able to act and how quickly they were “caught” while the Greek state was under international pressure to crack down on them in the build up to the Olympics.
So armed urban guerrillas, especially at a time that isn’t a revolutionary situation, have all the trappings of being the work of some state agency. And given his experience, perhaps Tzorzatos should know.
The last article I’ll quote, is an earlier one, but just as important as far as news goes.
On the night of February 24 the Haunt of Migrants on Tsamadou Street in Exarcheia (a social centre for migrants) was attacked while an assembly of the Association of Conscientious Objectors was taking place inside.
A hand-grenade was thrown from outside. Luckily the building’s window was shut and double-glazed – the first layer of the window broke but the hand-grenade bounced off and exploded outside.
What follows is a statement issued by the Network for Social and Political Rights, also housed in the same building.
The significance of this event is explained, yet again, by a commenter “taxikapali,” who contributed the following explanations;
a) The ‘Haunt of Migrants; refers to the Steki Metanaston, i.e. the Immigrants’ Social Center which has been functioning for almost two decades in Exarcheia, and is a venue for free language lessons and support to immigrants, antiracist struggle, as well as queer groups and the above mentioned association of conscientious objectors. The building also houses the offices of Rosa, a contingent of the Radical Left Coalition [Syriza] as well as the offices of the Network for Social and Political Rights [Diktyo] a leftist group whose members have consistently offered legal support and solidarity to immigrants, as well as political prisoners.
b) The term parastate or parastatist [parakratos/ parakratikos] refer to mechanisms officially outside state power, but in fact controlled if not by the government then by the army, the police or the secret services. The term was extensively used for the first time during the 1960s, when ‘patriotic groups’ were used by the police to break up radical meetings and gatherings. The apex of parastate action in the 1960s was the assassination of Grigorios Lambrakis, a left wing MP, in Thessaloniki (Gavras film Z is about this murder). The activity of such groups became redundant during the 7 years junta, when the state had a free hand to exercise all the violence it wanted. After the collapse of the colonels in 1974, it is believed that large parts of the junta mechanism remained in a behind-lines mode, with some of them operating as hit-squads in times the interests of the so called junta-droplets were jeopardized either by parliamentary democracy or by the labour movement and other revolutionary forces. During the 1970s there was a long list of bomb attacks by such groups, leading to several trials of their perpetrators, amongst whom figured prominently a certain Mihaloliakos, now leader of the neonazi group Xrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn). Analysts at the time argued these parastate groups received direct orders by the imprisoned leader of the junta, Papadopoulos, who after the victory of PASOK (Socdem) in 1981 ordered the formation of a united nationalist party (EPEN). Today mainstream analysts attack the idea that fascist and neonazi groups are in fact parastate mechanisms, although the left and anarchists more or less unanimously beleive them them t be so. Elefterotypia, the daily newspaper, has published official papers figuring salaries payed by the EYP (secret services) to Mihaloliakos and other fascists
c) The attack against the Social Center last Tuesday took place at the day of the appeal trial of Periandros, the debuty leader of Golden Dawn who has been convicted for accomplish attempted murder of a left wing student in the late 1990s.
While I disagree with Taxikapali’s support for N17, he is a wealth of information in regards to explaining the history and context which has lead to what is happening now. I also owe Libcom.org a big thank you for keeping track of these events as everyone else seems to have dropped the topic of the rebellious Greeks in favour of other trivial stories. It’s also remarkable that a hand grenade attack that could have killed many people was not reported in international news, but the damage bill from protests gets more air time. I guess the attack isn’t newsworthy enough when it only ‘could’ have killed people, as opposed to actually ripping a bunch of people to shreds.
EDIT: I’ve just been informed that the name ‘Golden Dawn’ is also used by a hermetic order. When I write “Golden Dawn”, I am not referring to these people.