Report from Thessaloniki on Recent Squat Evictions and Court Cases Against Activists
Eviction of Refugee-Squats in Thessaloniki – Repression Against Solidarity Movement in Greece – Court Case Against 70 Greek and International Activists – „Our Passion For Freedom Is Stronger Than Your Prison”
On Wednesday, July 27, self-organized migrant and anarchist squats were evicted in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. At the court hearing of the following day, Greek and international activists were accused of “disruption of the public order” and “damage to property“. Because of a lack of translators, the trial concerning two squats was postponed to beginning of August. Activists of the third squad were sentenced to 4 month on probation respectivly fines. By this the leftish SYRIZA government follows in line with its repressive politics that already evicted the protest camps of Idomeni, Polykastro and in other places. It seems like an attempt to claim control of and suggest answers to the migration movement. And also like an attempt to destroy the solidarity movement, the common organization and struggles of refugees and allies.
What happened in Thessaloniki
Early Wednesday morning, at about 6.30 am, police started the evictions in Thessaloniki. Almost 100 people were inside the three squats,“Orfanotrofeio”, “Nikis” and “Hürriya“, most of them in „Hürriya“, a squat resulting from the No Border Camp last week. More than 30 refugees who lived in these squats were arrested and brought to military detention centers but were picked up immediately by a group of allies and transported back to Thessaloniki. The 70 Greek and international acitivists who stayed in the squats at the time of the evictions, were taken into custody and accused of “disruption of the public order” and in case of the “Hürriya” squat, with damage of property in the amount of 70.000 €. The refugee-squat “Orfanotrofeio” was entirely wrecked immediately after the eviction, the people who lived inside were given shelter by friends and allies. It had been assured to former inhabitants that it would be possible to get medicine, valuables and other materials out of the builing, but the destruction continuied without keeping this promise and while there were still people inside the building.
As an answer to the evictions and imprisonment of squatters, the office of SYRIZA in Thessaloniki was occupied by activists late Wednesday morning. The occupiers plan to stay until all imprisoned activists are free. Opinions on the side of the party are divided: Some people want the houses to be given back to the activists and refugees, while on the other hand the SYRIZA government did order the evictons. Wednesday evening, a solidarity demonstration of 300 people took place in front of the same building. Another demonstration and further actions are planned for Thursday evening.
At the first hearing of the trial at 28th July, the hearings concerning „Orfanotrofeio“ and „Hürriya“ were postponed for the 3rd and 5thAugust because of missing translators. The 70 activists who were kept in jail for 30 hours without food and sleepings places, could leave the court house free.They can be represented by lawyers at the next dates of the trial and do not have to appear in person.
The hearing concerning „Nikis“, a university builing occupied since 2009, lasted for 2 1/2 hours. In their statements, witnesses and squatters stressed the importance and the need of such squats in these times of financial and social emergencies for unemployed Greeks and refugees.
A new wave of repressions
Simultaneous to the events in Thessaloniki, the Camp in the harbour of Piräus, Athens, was evicted and the mayor of Athens announced that he favours the eviction of squats that were self-organised by and for refugees in Athens. Since the evictions in Thessaloniki happened parallel and the demolition of the “Orfanatrofeio” started immediately, it is very likely that this beginning of a new wave of repressions has been in the making for a longer time. The No Border Camp and the demonstrations and actions that happened at the same time in Thessaloniki are now used to legitimize the behaviour of the state. But this should not obscure the fact, that the self-organisation of refugees and the solidarity movement have long been bothering the state of Greece and the European Union. After the EU-Turkey-Deal, the closing of the Balkan route and the criminalization of refugees and allies, this new wave of repressions is a further step to gain control of and push back migration and to stop solidarity and self-organisation movements. They pointed out, that after the university silently tolerated the squat for years, the eviction at this exact moment has to be understood as strategic repression against anarchist and antiracist structures. The prosecutor calls for the sentencing of 6 of the 9 activists. According to this 3 activists have been acquitted, 5 have been sentenced to custody of 4 month on probation and 1 person got charged a fine of 600 €.
Beginning of a new wave of repression
After the camp of Piräus harbor near Athens was evicted at the same time, the mayor of Athens announced to have the self organized refugee squats in Athens evicted, too.
Because the evictions in Thessaloniki took place at the very same time and because the destruction of „Orfanotrofeio“-building followed immediately, it is assumed, that this beginning of a new repression wave had been planned for long. As a legitimation for their proceeding, the state uses the No Border Camp, the demonstrations and the actions in Thessaloniki. Even though it is obvious, that the self organization of refugees and the solidarity movement are unpleasant for the Greek state and the EU for long. After the EU-Turkey-Deal, the closure of the Balkan route and the criminalization of refugees and supporters, these repressions represent a new level of getting in control of and defending the migration movement and of prohibiting support and self-organization in solidarity.
Keep up solidarity and resistance!
Even if the majority of the accused activists is free for now, the repression against the Greek anti-racist movement does not stop. In Thessaloniki, there is a need of new houses for shelter and self-organization as well as financial support for paying the lawyers and the costs of the court. The political pressure must be kept up in order to prevent further evictions in Greece.
Keep showing solidarity, start demonstrations and other actions, follow the successful examples in Greece and at other places – squat houses! Support people on the move in every possible way and show some active resistance against this misanthropic politics and repressions. Our passion for freedom is stronger than their prisons! Freedom of movement is everybody’s right!
A call for donations and a bank account is going to be announced the next days on openborder.noblogs.org.