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Athens: A Report on the Occupation of Averof at the Polytechnic University (Greece)

The following text is an initiative of debriefing and not a result of a collective work with all the participants. Some of them may even disagree with the style and the concerns of the text. However, it is an attempt to reveal the facts and considerations that define the project.

On the morning November 14th, comrades, individuals and members of collectives occupy the central Polytechnic building in order to stand a political presence during the three-days anniversary of the 1973 insurrection and to keep the polytechnic open on November 17th. The two objectives are related to a wider political aim. To not compromise with the bourgeois-democratic state – (especially as a final and positive result of an insurrection )- and therefore to refuse the cessation of the conflict with the state repressive forces. For some of us, it was also important not to portray the uprising as an event of the past, as a museum piece. On the contrary, to express the necessity of these moments to exist nowadays and that its memory can be honored only if and when it is becoming action. We acknowledge that a part of the people participating in the Polytechnic rebellion of 1973 struggled against Authority, whether it was dictatorial or democratic. That’s why the request was ‘DOWN WITH AUTHORITY’. Some consciously or not, continue the struggle started from that moment until now. Many of the greatest incidents of the post-dictatorship period occurred in Polytechnic and were straightly connected to struggles bearing an anarchist sign.

The central position of the Averof building has yielded positive results. Without the necessity to remove our fullfaces, through dialogue or distribution of political material, we communicated with a huge part of the people that visited the Polytechnic University these days and entered, mainly for the first time in the kept-locked building of Averof. Many texts have been distributed, spreading the reasons of the occupation or transmitting solidarity callings made by other anarchist initiatives.Hundreds of brochures were given in different languages, containing a wide range of thought and action from the anarchist and anti-authoritarian scene. A particular joy to remember was the presence and discussion with schools coming for visit as well as the the kids using the luxurious Averof space to play football. Without any sophistication, the central narrative describing the masked insurgents as unconscious, violent and unapproachable persons, got broken.

Another mean of communication and anti-propaganda was the speaker playing constantly in respond to the announcements and music of KKE (communist party), PAME (communist party workers union) and KNE (communist youth). Through the microphone, we spread our texts and words:

“We do not forget that the KKE stood against the Polytechnic occupation and rebellion calling them a provocateurs’ act.” “The practices of exile, torture and political persecution that the KKE comes to condemn as junta practices today, were the same practices used against anarchists and other fighters in the Soviet Union. Makronisos of the Junta was Siberia of the Soviet Union, “Lenin was a manipulator of the people, speaking about freedom and abolition of the state to later bring the toughest state dictatorship.” We do not forget Kronstadt and the Makhnovist army and the repression from red army towards them” “The Bolsheviks’ sovereignty paved the way for Putin’s fascistic leadership of Russia because of the imposed faith and submission to the Nation, the State and the Father-Leader,” “We do not forget the co-government of KKE-PASOK-ND in 1989”, “The presence of KKE in the parliament is the last bulwark for the destruction of bourgeois democracy, which was proved when the Greek Communist Party protect the Parliament at 2011 “.

Apart from the advantages offered by its location and political meanings, the choice to occupy the building of Averof was made for another kind of reason. The initial target was to occupy in Polytechnic the building of Gini. A few days before the occupation should start, one of the team responsible for the breaking of the occupation of Polytechnic in 2017 is announcing an event they will held in Gini building, during the 3-days anniversary. Therefore, it was decided to abandon the project to occupy this specific space since it will induce a confrontation with this team. A confrontation which would not offered anything at this present stage but rather would serve the state‘s plans and enclose the occupation project in a self-referential conflict. The effort of this group and other “comrades” to establish the ground they “won” with last year’s repressive action was simply overpassed. The occupation of Averof spread the word and acts of anarchy and insurrection with a full visibility. These groups must stop imposing on other parts of millieu, their left features, their tactics and their choice to cooperate with left-wing parties and organizations. Let’s note that on the day the occupation of Averof started, representatives of left-wing groups threatened to proceed in “evacuation like last year” while putting a lock in Tositsa street entrance of Polytechnic. A tactic to ensure that riots wont happened, messing up the celebration. However, they retrieved without engaging in physical confrontation with the body of the Averof occupation.

Beyond that, a comradeship environment was felt in the project, a multinational body with good communication, food infrastructure, able to organize two events. In the first, there were screenings and discussions about the conflicts of Polytechnic in 1995, alimented by a communication with imprisoned comrades. In the second, a documentary about the history of Anarchy was projected. As it was collectively decided, we left the Averof building without damages, in order to not give allegiance to repression. However it must be clear that Averof is still a luxury construct that promotes the glory of those who control knowledge, hiding behind its shining marbles the war and violence produced by the university’s relationships with corporations, the army, the police, the municipality and other relevant institutions. Vandalism and looting within it were not a moral and political issue for the initiative that has occupied it. But our targets were to be found elsewhere.

On the last day November 17th, the polytechnic university remained open and conflicts took place against the units of repression. Nevertheless, one of the goal did not get materialize. The plan was for the demonstration of this day to be able to reach the university and join the conflicts there. Due to the lack of communication with the people coming back from the demonstration and maybe due to our delay to act, the cops had already took possession of the whole ground around the neighborhood of Exarheia. The presence of the two watercannon vehicles rendered the expansion of the conflicts very difficult, as well as the constant effort of the cops to destroy the barricades. Some injuries in our side, caused by teargas and stones shot by the riot cops can be mentioned, however they did not manage to arrest anyone present in Polytechnic conflict. We left the polytechnic in a mess, as the left-wing groups already let it. Papers, table, chairs and garbages. Some were given to the flames to break the teargas clouds while others became barricades, giving them a use in total adequation to the meaning of the days.

A last relevant point is to share the concerns of some comrades, who participated in the occupation. The concern to understand if our moves to coexist, even in our own terms, with parties’ mechanisms tends towards the absorption of our actions in the democratic spectacle and distorts our struggle.

In Averof, the following banner were made as the decision of the first assembly “VIOLENT INSURRECTIONARY STRUGGLES AGAINST FASCISM, STATE AND REPRESSION”, an initiative made one “HONOR TO THOSE WHO GIVE ALL THEIR EXISTENCE AGAINST DOMINATION. HONOR TO THE 17-YEAR ANARCHIST MIKHAIL ZHLOBITSKIY”,”MIHALIS KALTEZAS IS PRESENT”. On November 15, on the day of his birth, a banner for the anarchist Dimitris Armakolas was raised, after learning that he was found clinically brain-dead after an accident that happened some days before, during a political action he initiated. The banner reads “DIMITRIS ARMAKOLAS IS PRESENT TO OUR MOST EXTREME CHOICES”.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 2:08 pm and is filed under Autonomy.