Thursday, May 06, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Updates on the General Strike in Greece

War-Zone Athens: three people dead, many buildings burning as general
strike march turns into a battle

May 5 2010

Three people have suffocated to death as a result of a fire in Marfin Bank
during ongoing battles between anti-measure protesters and police in

The Athens protest march marking the zenith of the general strike called
for the 5th of May was attended by an approximate 200,000 (20,000 which is
the foreign broadcast number referring to the PAME march alone), although
because of lack of media coverage due to the media participation in the
general strike no concrete estimates can be made. After the PAME
(Communist Party union) protesters left Syntagma square, the first lines
of the main march started arriving before the Parliament with the first
clashes erupting at the end of Stadiou street. The march then walked on
the Unknown Soldier grounds leading the Presidential Guard to retreat, and
attempted to storm the Parliament but was pushed back by riot police
forces which today demonstrated a particularly staunch attitude and
resolve against the demonstrators. Soon battles erupted around the
Parliament with protesters throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks, with one
riot police armored van torched, and the police responding by extended use
of tear gas that soon made Athens' atmosphere unbearably acrid. As more
blocks reached Syntagma square, the battles spread across the city center
and lasted for more than five hours.

During the clashes several state buildings were set ablaze including the
County Headquarters of Attika. At the time of writing the Ministry of
Finance is reported to be on fire, and vital tax documents as destroyed by
the raging fire. However the strange thing is that it is the fourth floor
of the building that is burning, at a height inapproachable to petrol
bombs. The building is in danger of total collapse.

According to news reports that began at 14:00 Greek time after, under
pressure by the events, most radio and TV stations decided to break their
strike, claim that the fire at Marfin Bank's Stadiou street branch that
has led to the death of three workers (one a pregnant woman) was started
by protesters. However this remains an unsubstantiated claim. A similar
case three decades ago had originally put the blame for the fire at
Kappa-Marousi building on Panepistimiou street, leading to the death of
several people inside, to anarchists, while its was later proved the fire
was caused by tear gas fired by the police.

A video of the fire-brigade trying to evacuate the building can be seen in

After the tragic death of the three workers made the round of Athens, new
clashes started to spread in the Greek capital, with a large crowd
gathered outside the burned bank when Marfin's boss tried to visit the
site. Clashes broke out between the crowd and police when the former
attacked the bank magnate accusing him of forcing the dead workers to scab
on a general strike and locking them in the building despite them
demanding to evacuate it since 12:00.

In Parliament the Communist Party of Greece has accused the government for
the deaths, claiming it was a result of agents provocateur fascist groups.
The claims of the Communist Party are based on the fact that 50 fascists
tried to enter the PAME demo bearing the flags of the union earlier in the
morning. The fascists were spotted, chased and sought refuge behind riot
police lines. Accusing the extreme-right as being behind the deaths, the
Coalition of Radical Left has declared in Parliament that the government
cannot pretend to be in grief for the loss of life, as it has been
attacking human life by all means possible.

Meanwhile, extended clashes broke out in Salonika where approximately
50,000 people marched destroying dozens of banks and corporate shops in
Greece's second largest city. Clashes with the police continued for
several hours. According to news broadcasts anarchist have occupied the
Labour Center of the city.

In Patras, around 20,000 protesters were joined by tractor drivers and
garbage truck drivers on their vehicles, as flaming barricades were
erected along central streets of the city and clashes developed between
protestors and the police.

In Ioannina the protesters attacked banks and corporate shops leading to
extended use of chemicals by the police. In Heraklion, 10,000 people are
reported as marching against the measures. In Corfu, protesters taking
part in the anti-measures march occupied the County Headquarters.
Protesters have occupied the Administrative Headquarters of Naxos and the
City Hall of Naoussa.

As a result of the Athens riots, the police have cordoned off the entire
center of the city, erecting check points of entry and exit, while all
police work permits have been recalled. At the time of writing battles
continue to rage in the inner city, while news broadcasts claim the police
is mobilising its forces to storm an anarchist squat in Exarcheia.

May 5 2010

Update: the union of bank workers (OTOE) has declared a strike for
tomorrow in response to the death of the three bank workers today. The
union puts the blame for the deaths on the bank bosses and the police.

A video of protesters attacking Mr Vgenopoulos the boss of Marfin visiting
the burned bank, calling him a murderer can be seen here

A video of riot police smashing a coffee shop in Exarcheia can be seen

"The management of the bank strictly barred the employees from leaving
today ... while they also forced the employees to lock up the doors" -
Statements on the deaths in Athens

May 6 2010

Following the deaths of three workers in a fire at a bank in central
Athens yesterday, we reproduce for reference the statements of a worker at
the Marfin bank on the incident, and the communiques of the bank workers'
union OTOE and the Skaramanga squat in Athens. The bank workers union
struck today in response to the deaths, blaming the goverment and
employers for the fatalities.

The statement of an employee of the Marfin bank on the deaths:

"I feel an obligation toward my co-workers who have so unjustly died
today to speak out and to say some objective truths. I am sending this
message to all media outlets. Anyone who still bares some
consciousness should publish it. The rest can continue to play the
government's game.

The fire brigade had never issued an operating license to the building
in question. The agreement for it to operate was under the table, as
it practically happens with all businesses and companies in Greece.

The building in question has no fire safety mechanisms in place,
neither planned nor installed ones – that is, it has no ceiling
sprinklers, fire exits or fire hoses. There are only some portable
fire extinguishers which, of course, cannot help in dealing with
extensive fire in a building that is built with long-outdated security

No branch of Marfin bank has had any member of staff trained in
dealing with fire, not even in the use of the few fire extinguishers.
The management also uses the high costs of such training as a pretext
and will not take even the most basic measures to protect its staff.

There has never been a single evacuation exercise in any building by
staff members, nor have there been any training sessions by the
fire-brigade, to give instructions for situations like this. The only
training sessions that have taken place at Marfin Bank concern
terrorist action scenarios and specifically planning the escape of the
banks' "big heads" from their offices in such a situation.

The building in question had no special accommodation for the case of
fire, even though its construction is very sensitive under such
circumstances and even though it was filled with materials from floor
to ceiling. Materials which are very inflammable, such as paper,
plastics, wires, furniture. The building is objectively unsuitable for
use as a bank due to its construction.

No member of security has any knowledge of first aid or fire
extinguishing, even though they are every time practically charged
with securing the building. The bank employees have to turn into
firemen or security staff according to the appetite of Mr Vgenopoulos
[owner of Marfin Bank].

The management of the bank strictly bared the employees from leaving
today, even though they had persistently asked so themselves from very
early this morning – while they also forced the employees to lock up
the doors and repeatedly confirmed that the building remained locked
up throughout the day, over the phone. They even blocked off their
internet access so as to prevent the employees from communicating with
the outside world.

For many days now there has been some complete terrorisation of the
bank's employees in regard to the mobilisations of these days, with
the verbal "offer": you either work, or you get fired.

The two undercover police who are dispatched at the branch in question
for robbery prevention did not show up today, even though the bank's
management had verbally promised to the employees that they would be

At last, gentlemen, make your self-criticism and stop wandering around
pretending to be shocked. You are responsible for what happened today
and in any rightful state (like the ones you like to use from time to
time as leading examples on your TV shows) you would have already been
arrested for the above actions. My co-workers lost their lives today
by malice: the malice of Marfin Bank and Mr. Vgenopoulos personally
who explicitly stated that whoever didin't come to work today [May
5th, a day of a general strike!] should not bother showing up for work
tomorrow [as they would get fired]."

Statement of the banks workers' union, OTOE, which struck today:

Three dead colleagues, working in Marfin - Egnatia Bank are the
victims of riots that occurred in the late panergatikis peaceful
demonstration in the center of Athens.

The three unfortunate employees trapped in the shop of the Bank, which
burst into flames could not be removed, thereby losing their lives.

The OTOE condemns in the strongest terms those who engage in such acts
of violence with which it dealt with the problems of the people of our
country and demands exemplary punishment of the culprits.

But this tragic event which deprived the lives of three colleagues
(two women and one man) is the sad result of unpopular measures roused
the popular anger and protest of hundreds of thousands of workers,
which, however, have physical and moral perpetrators.

The perpetrators must be found and punished exemplary.

The instigators, but must be sought on policy, the operational
attitude of the police and the bank management that the coercive
practices hinder the participation of workers in action and the
irresponsibility of not receiving timely manner all necessary security
measures to protect the lives of workers and citizens to bank
branches, which are familiar and timeless goals throughout the
itinerary whenever the workers' demonstrations and protests.

But serious political responsibility has the government apparently did
not calculate the size and extent of effects on Greek society and
people's decisions regarding the economic tradition of our country in
the troika of D.N.T ., the European Union and the ESF, and the
temporal demands of the local chapter.

The OTOE in protest, expressing anger and indignation of the bank
sector and the entire Clerks and Workers union movement against the
individuals and sponsors of the horrific events of loss of life of
three colleagues, Nationwide launches 24-hour strike tomorrow,
Thursday, May 6 .

We urge the government to reconsider its policy directed exclusively
against non-privileged citizens of our country.

To look into alternatives paths to observe the weak masses will have
to pay those who are truly responsible for the tragic economic
bottlenecks facing our country.

It is high time all of the political system to understand that the
river of popular rage is not guided, not entrenched and will not stop
until there is justification and democratic governance fully conforms
with the popular sentiment.


Statement by the Skaramanga squat in Anthens

The murderers "mourn" their victims

(Regarding today's tragic death of 3 people)

The enormous strike demonstration which took place today, 5th of May
turned into a social outflow of rage. At least 200,000 people of all
ages took to the streets (employees and unemployed, in the public and
private sector, locals and migrants) attempting, over many hours and
in consecutive waves, to surround and to take over the Parliament. The
forces of repression came out in full force, to play their familiar
role – that is, of the protection of the political and financial
authorities. The clashes were hours long and extensive. The political
system and its institutions reached a nadir.

However, in the midst of all this, a tragic event that no words can
possibly describe took place: 3 people died from infusions at the
branch of Marfin Bank on Stadiou Avenue, which was set ablaze.

The state and the entire journalistic riff-raff, without any shame
toward the dead or their close ones, spoke from the very first moment
about some "murderer-hooded up youths", trying to take advantage of
the event, in order to calm the wave of social rage that had erupted
and to recover their authority that had been torn apart; to impose
once again a police occupation of the streets, to wipe out sources of
social resistance and disobedience against state terrorism and
capitalist barbarity. For this reason, during the last few hours the
police forces have been marching through the center of Athens, they
have conducted hundreds of detentions and they raided – with shootings
and stun-grenades – the anarchist occupation "space of united
multiform action" on Zaimi street and the "migrant haunt" on Tsamadou
Street, causing extensive damage (both these places are in the
Exarcheia neighbourhood of Athens). At the same time the threat of a
violent police eviction is hanging over the rest of the self-organised
spaces (occupations and haunts) after the Prime-ministerial speech
which referred to soon-to-come raids for the arrest of the

The governors, governmental officials, their political personnel, the
TV-mouthpieces and the salaried hack writers attempt in this way to
purify their regime and the criminalise the anarchists and every
unpatronised voice of struggle. As if there would ever be the
slightest of chances that whoever attacked the bank (provided the
official scenario stands) would possibly know there were people
inside, and that they would torch it alight regardless. They seem to
confuse the people in struggle for themselves: them who without any
hesitation hand over the entire society to the deepest pillage and
enslaving, who order their praetorians to attack without hesitation
and to aim and shoot to kill, them who have lead three people to
suicide in the past week alone, due to financial debts.

The truth is that the real murderer, the real instigator of today's
tragic death of 3 people is "mister" Vgenopoulos, who used the usual
employers' blackmailing (the threat of sacking) and forced his
employees to work in the branches of his bank during a day of strike –
and even in a branch like the one of Stadiou Avenue, where the
strike's demonstration would pass through. Such blackmailing is known
only too well by anyone experiencing the terrorism of salaried slavery
on an everyday level. We are awaiting to see what excuses Vgenopoulos
will come up with for the relatives of the victims and for the society
as a whole – this ultra-capitalist now hinted by some centers of power
as the next prime minister in a future "national unity government"
that could follow the expected, complete collapse of the political

If an unprecedented strike can ever be a murderer…

If an unprecedented demonstration, in an unprecedented crisis, can
ever be a murderer…

If open social spaces that are alive and public can ever be murderers…

If the state can impose a curfew and attack demonstrators under the
pretext of arresting murderers…

If Vgenopoulos can detain his employees inside a bank – that is, a
primary social enemy and target for demonstrators…

…it is because authority, this serial murderer, wants to slaughter
upon its birth a revolt which questions the supposed solution of an
even harsher attack on society, of an even larger pillage by capital,
of an even thirstier sucking of our blood.

…it is because the future of the revolt does not include politicians
and bosses, police and mass media.

… it is because behind their much-advertised "only" solution, there is
a solution that does not speak of development rates and unemployment
but rather, it speaks of solidarity, self-organising and human

When asking who are the murderers of life, of freedom, of dignity, the
ferments of authority and capital, they and their tuft hunters only
need to take a look at their own selves. Today and every day.





from the open assembly of the evening of 5/5/2010

State terror in Exarcheia

May 6 2010

Ioanna Manoushaka, victim of state terror inside her appartment

In an orgy of collective punishment the Greek police unleashed a brutal
attack on Exarcheia, after the end of yesterday's protest march,
destroying shops and social centres, evacuating a squat at gunpoint and
brutalising the locals.

The police brutality seen on the streets of Exarcheia last evening after
the end of the general strike protest march in Athens has been
unprecedented and casts serious doubts on the nature of the present regime
in Greece which is casting away its democratic veil to expose itself as
what it really is: the continuation of the colonel's junta.

After the end of the protest march hundreds of riot and motorised
policemen stormed Exarcheia, the down-town neighborhood of Athens
associated with radical politics since the start of the 20th century. The
police proceeded to brutalise bystanders and people drinking their coffee
in the area, while smashing up Exarcheia square's traditional coffee
house, despite the fact that it was filled with customers. The video of
the police wanton violence can be seen here:

The locals did not hesitate to heckle the police thugs chanting
"junta-junta" and "SS SS". In response the cops retaliated by beating
anyone on their way and even invading a block of apartments. According to
Ioanna Manoushaka (see photo) she was standing on the front door of the
block shouting at the cops that they have made life in the neighborhood
unbearable when policemen attacked her with globs breaking her arm and
teeth. She then run up the stairs and locked herself in her apartment, but
the riot policemen followed her and tried to smash the door for five
minutes, while her and her husband, a well known composer, barricaded

Shouting "tonight we will fuck you", the police then proceeded to invade
and smash the Social Centre (Haunt of Immigrants) of Diktio, the "Network
of Social and Civil Rights", a left-wing group with many decades of action
against state terrorism. According to the announcement of the Diktio, "The
government of the IMF and of the junta of the market is trying to exploit
the criminal act on the bank and impose a regime of terror in the country.
The orgy of police-rule by means of chemical warfare and mass beatings
reached its climax this evening in Exarcheia".

At the same time strong police forces surrounded the anarchist squat at
Zaimi street above the Polytechneio and proceeded to invade and evacuate
it at gunpoint. Reports that the policemen actually shot in the air during
the evacuation are not verified. All people inside were arrested.

The practice of collective retaliation to yesterday's popular resistance
to the measures is a method characteristic of the Nazi-collaborating
government of the 1940s, justifying the now common name shouted at
policemen "german-tsoliades" (the death squad brigade of 'tsoliades' under
quisling orders)

May 6 2010

more pics from the social center

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