[Recently our information minders have dropped the situation in Greece, as in other places, from the ‘spectacle’ they present to us. While no substitute to what an actual, “free” press, with a little bit of guts and respect – both for itself and its readers – would be able to provide, we offer these as a reminder of what we are being encouraged to ignore and forget…]
GREECE – Tuesday, 5 July 2011
The atmosphere in Syntagma is not all that calm yet. Teargas and stun renades were thrown on Sunday to rescue a ‘secret agent’ who had been uncovered and was being assaulted by people in the square. Small scale confrontations between demonstrators and police have also taken place. On Monday night a firebomb was thrown at a riot squad protecting the headquarters of the governing party, PASOK. Apparently Greek Police officials have had a meeting on toning down the situation, and decided to relax policing on the square.
In the past couple of days there have been demonstrations against police repression, as well as outside the courts in support of those arrested. The assemblies seem a little slow in their reactions, however, to my eyes at least, considering that right now the government is aiming to arrange sell-offs and pass new austerity bills over the summer. The first is the education bill, which transforms Higher Education almost in line with the British model (3-year programmes, quality control, flexibilisation of academics, but without the fees so far), recommending the ‘exploitation of the HE Institutions’ assets’, while abolishing the university asylum which has plays an important role in social struggles and was won through the students’ rebellion against the collonels’ regime. The government has also pledged to the troika that it will submit to parliament a second ‘implementation law’ for the midterm, which contains details about reduced public sector salaries, public sector layoffs, and reductions in social security and pensions. Up to mid-August, 7000 public sector workers risk being made redundant, as 11 public companies will be closed down or merged. In the next couple of days the full list of 350 lots of real estate for sale will be announced, with the sale to be managed by impartial and dependable organisations such as the National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, Investment Bank, Emporiki Bank and others.
In response to this, I have to say I get a little impatiend with speakers at Syntagma who talk about how the assembly needs to ‘clarify its principles on the kind of society it wants’, to ‘clarify its position on violence’, to ‘make a plan on how to institute direct democracy’, etc. Some people even talked about organising all-night parties and tours to the islands. I am not against these things in principle but they are far from a priority!
Fortunately there have also been some proposals for taking action as well, the most potentially effective of which I consider the organised non-payment of tax, bills and debts. Information campaigns have also begun that will send the message that the government’s measures are not the only solution. Others are proposing networks of solidarity in neighbourhoods similar to the Argentinian model, as well as organising with students to resist the education bill. A group has been created for reappropriating public space, especially unused space, to turn it into social spaces, children’s playgrounds, or use it for cultivation. The actions group is also working on organising actions and ‘committees’ against reposessions.
An uplifting statement was that by an immigrant on Sunday, which was greeted with cheers and slogans of solidarity: “On the 48hr strike demonstrations, we also saw, beyond the teargas, how fascists were protected by police who rescued them from an angry mob and took them into the Parliament grounds. And today and yesterday these guys burnt the mosques in Evelpidon St. They are trying to divide us between Greeks and foreigners, to isolate us in our struggles, because migrants and refugees were present on 28-29, we fought together with Greeks and we will continue to be here. Syntagma square should take a clear position on this, participate in antifascist organisations, organise antifascist events as has already been done, and I support the respective discussion on Wednesday. Because a common enemy requires common action.”
From Tuesday onwards the assembly is involved with evaluating its work in the past month, so there are enough sobering remarks as well as cries of victory…
And something that had escaped my attention. In the town of Trikala protesters intervened on a local TV channel on June 30, as the PASOK MP Soula Merentiti was being interviewed. Here’s a video: