Youth uprising rocks Greece

 AA youth uprising spread in Greece for a second day Dec. 7, with thousands battling police in Athens and Thessaloniki, despite the arrest of two officers over the killing of a 15-year-old boy. At least 34 have been injured and 13 detained in street clashes. Protests erupted after Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot in Athens’ left-wing enclave of Exarchia after the boy allegedly tried to throw a firebomb at a patrol car. As soon as news of his death in a local hospital was confirmed, hundreds of youths in Exarchia began attacking police cars with stones and firebombs, burning dozens of cars and smashing shop windows. Police responded with tear gas, but the uprising quickly spread to Thessaloniki and the resort islands of Crete and Corfu. Tourist zones have been evacuated and streets closed to all traffic. (AlJazeera, Dec. 8)

In related news, on Dec. 6 an underground group claimed responsibility for an improvised explosive that exploded outside the Athens bureau of the French AFP news agency two days earlier. In a telephone call to the Eleftherotypia newspaper, an anonymous individual claimed the incident on behalf of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, “in solidarity with our French comrades.” Greek detectives on the case believe this is a reference to the recent arrest in France of nine youths suspected in the sabotage for high-speed TGV passenger train lines. The Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire has claimed responsibility for more than 30 such attacks in Athens since it emerged in January 2008. (AFP, Dec. 4)

Photos of the Greek uprising are online at Anthrolopologie du PrĂ©sent.

See our last post on Greece.

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  1. Communique from the Polytechnic School Occupation in Athens
    Via UK Indymedia, Dec. 8:


    On Saturday December 6, 2008, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year old comrade, was murdered in cold blood, with a bullet in the chest by a cop in the area of Exarchia.

    Contrary to the statements of politicians and journalists who are accomplices to the murder, this was not an “isolated incident”, but an explosion of the state repression which systematically and in an organised manner targets those who resist, those who revolt, the anarchists and antiauthoritarians.

    It is the peak of state terrorism which is expressed with the upgrading of the role of repressive mechanisms, their continuous armament, the increasing levels of violence they use, with the doctrine of “zero tolerance”, with the slandering media propaganda that criminalises those who are fighting against authority.

    It is these conditions that prepare the ground for the intensification of repression, attempting to extract social consent beforehand, and arming the weapons of state murderers in uniform!

    Lethal violence against the people in the social and class struggle is aiming at everybody’s submission, serving as exemplary punishment, meant to spread fear.

    It is part of the wider attack of the state and the bosses against the entire society, in order to impose more rigid conditions of exploitation and oppression, to consolidate control and repression. From school and universities to the dungeons of waged slavery with the hundreds of dead workers in the so-called “working accidents” and the poverty embracing large numbers of the population… From the minefields in the borders, the pogroms and the murders of immigrants and refugees to the numerous “suicides” in prisons and police stations… from the “accindental shootings” in police blockades to violent repression of local resistances, Democracy is showing its teeth!

    From the first moment after the murder of Alexandros, spontaneous demonstrations and riots burst in the center of Athens, the Polytechnic, the Economic and the Law Schools are being occupied and attacks against state and capitalist targets take place in many different neighborhoods and in the city centre. Demonstrations, attacks and clashes erupt in Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Chania and Heraklion in Crete, in Giannena, Komotini and many more cities. In Athens, in Patission street –outside the Polytechnic and the Economic School- clashes last all night. Outside the Polytechnic the riot police make use of plastic bullets.

    On Sunday the 7th December, thousands of people demonstrate towards the police headquarters in Athens, attacking the riot police. Clashes of unprecedented tension spread in the streets of the city centre, lasting until late at night. Many demonstrators are injured and a number of them are arrested.

    We continue the occupation of the Polytechnic School which started on Saturday night, creating a space for all people who fighting to gather, and one more permanent focus of resistance in the city.

    In the barricades, the university occupations, the demonstrations and the assemblies we keep alive the memory of Alexandros, but also the memory of Michalis Kaltezas and of all the comrades who were murdered by the state, strengthening the struggle for a world without masters and slaves, without police, armies, prisons and borders.

    The bullets of the murderers in uniform, the arrests and beatings of demonstrators, the chemical gas war launched by the police forces, not only cannot manage to impose fear and silence, but they become for the people the reason to raise against state terrorism the cries of the struggle for freedom, to abandon fear and to meet –more and more every day- in the streets of revolt. To let the rage overflow and drown them!



    We are sending our solidarity to everyone occupying universities, demonstrating and clashing with the state murderers all over the country.

    The Occupation of the Polytechnic University in Athens

    UK Indymedia also has photos online of the protest occupation of the Greek embassy in London.

  2. Greece: uprising spreads
    From AP, Dec. 10:

    ATHENS — A Greek court ordered Wednesday that two policemen be held in jail pending their trial for a teenage boy’s fatal shooting — a death that has sparked five days of intensive riots in cities across the country.

    One officer has been charged with murder for allegedly shooting dead 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in a confrontation Saturday in Athens. The other has been charged as an accomplice to murder. No trial date has been set.

    Earlier, protesters attacked Athens’ main courthouse with firebombs during a hearing for the two officers. Riot police responded by firing tear gas, and at least two people were injured.

    Police whisked the two officers out of a side entrance at the court and drove off in a convoy.

    Riot police and youths also clashed in downtown Athens during a demonstration by more than 10,000 people against the government’s economic policies.

    Greece’s two largest labor unions organized the protest, along with a national strike Wednesday that shut down schools, public services, hospitals and flights, increasing the pressure on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’ fragile conservative government.

    “This country is not being governed,” Socialist party member Evangelos Venizelos said in Parliament. “There is no way Mr. Karamanlis can come back from this.”

    The policemen’s lawyer, Alexis Cougias, told reporters that a ballistics examination showed that the teen was killed by a ricochet and not a direct shot. One officer said he had fired warning shots but did not shoot directly at the boy.

    “Because he fired in the air to save his life, as a result of this accident … he faces family and personal ruin,” Cougias said of the officer.

    He said he had been told about the ballistics report by authorities. There was no comment from prosecutors, who do not make public statements on pending cases.

    Amnesty International has accused Greek police of heavy-handed tactics against protesters.

    Karamanlis’ government has faced growing opposition to pension reforms, privatizations, and the loosening of state control on higher education, which many students fear will undermine their degrees.

    Support for the government has sunk as gangs of youths marauded through cities since Saturday, torching businesses, looting shops and placing burning barricades across streets.

    The clashes in Athens escalated Wednesday into running battles through the city center, with masked youths pelting police with rocks, bottles and marble blocks from the Athens metro station. The youths shattered windows newly replaced after four nights of rioting.

    “The government wanted us to postpone this protest, but they are the ones who have to do something to stop this violence and to improve the quality of our lives,” said protester Kalypso Synenoglou, a drama student.

    “There is no state, we are the state,” said protester Margaritis Korobanidis. “All these people in (Parliament) must leave. The protests will not stop anytime soon.”

    High-school students chanting “Cops! Pigs! Murderers!” cheered each time a riot policeman was hit by a rock. At least one person was hurt.

    By late Wednesday, Athens was generally peaceful. There was sporadic rioting in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

    Storeowners have accused authorities of leaving their businesses unprotected as rioters smashed and burned their way through popular shopping districts. More than 400 Athens stores have been damaged.

    Karamanlis pledged Wednesday to fully compensate shopowners for the damage, with immediate cash assistance and favorable loans.

    “The government is determined to establish a sense of public safety and support for all the businesses that require assistance, to help them get back on their feet,” he said.

    But the prime minister has ignored calls for him to resign and call early elections.

    An opinion poll for the conservative daily Kathimerini published Wednesday found 68 percent of Greeks believe the government mishandled the crisis. Only 18 percent approved. The Public Issues survey was based on 478 people questioned Monday and Tuesday and had a 4.5 percent margin of error.

    The riots also prompted attacks on Greek diplomatic offices abroad.

    In neighboring Turkey, unknown assailants hurled red paint at the main gate of the Greek consulate in Istanbul late Wednesday, while in New York, a man threw a brick at the Greek consulate in Manhattan and sprayed graffiti before fleeing.