● The incident
On Saturday, 6th of December 2008, two ex-army special forces armed uniform officers (Eidikoi Frouroi/EF) were patrolling in a squat car in Exarchia, central Athens. They got involved in a verbal argument with some young people who were there. They left, and after a few minutes they returned on foot. The verbal argument continued, one of the young people threw a plastic bottle of water to the EF, one of whom pulled his gun and shot him twice directly on the chest.
● General disapproval
This is not a unique and isolated incident. During the last years we have seen a multiplication of marches in Greece, but also a rise of violence from the State. The governments have been incapable of dealing with the bad state of the economy. Foreign investors carry their business in countries with cheaper labour, leading to a high rate of unemployment. The governments chose to increase taxation in small businesses and working people and reduce the already insufficient pensions. Also, a university reform was proposed, which would make them function more like companies rather than academic institutions. Maybe the most important failure of the recent governments, is when they let almost half of the greek forests burn, and tried to eliminate these huge fires with no central planning.
Thus, the people organised huge marches. Pensioners, students, even police unions were confronted with violence; the armed and in full armour riot-police (MAT) are very generous in using tear-gas, smoke grenades and stun grenades. For the last few years the news had headlines like: “Just by chance there were no fatalities”, “Athens resembles a battlefield” etc. During the last month, two refugees were killed by the police while they were waiting in a queue to apply for asylum.
After the Olympics in Athens, the Greek 9/11 in terms of applying “anti-terrorist” measures, the right-wing governments reformed the Special Brands according to the old military fashions, enforced as police fashions in Greece by the 1967-74 military junta, having been initialised by the 1936 fascist government.
● Why the area is important
These bodies (EF and MAT) are extensively active around the Exarchia area. This area is really significant for Athens. Just behind the Polytechnic School, it is an area were many students traditionally used to live and became a center of resistance during the military junta. Many social centers and small shops are found in this area of 90,000 m2 and 22,068 residents. It is the only area which conserves the architectural tradition of the 18th/19th centuries, people live as a community and they are not absorbed by individualism. It is an open space, where people from all over Athens and Greece participate in various events. The area also has a lot of green, mostly on Strefi hill.
The governments though, are quite uncomfortable about that. For years they have been trying to absorb the people into individualism. Their friends, the construction companies, see in the green Strefi hill a piece of land where they would happily build huge commercial centers and blocks of flats.
To achieve all these, EF and MAT patrols have been permanently installed for the last 4 or 5 years. The people, though, organised the Exarchia Residents Committee and managed to stop the re innovation plans. They also organised free exchange markets while in the area free lessons of using computers and of the greek language are delivered to refugees. (photos at:
● Massive Outrage
That's why the murder of a 16-year-old boy by an EF in Exarchia outraged the people so much. That's why it spread all over Greece. While the mainstream media want to promote a few-anarchists-overreact image, it is far from the truth. Almost all parties of the Left participated in a 10,000 people march organised in less than two hours since the event happened. No riots happened until the MAT appeared and provoked verbally the demonstrators. Then, a massive outrage came to the surface: young people NOT taking part in the march started throwing stones to the MAT, 70-year-old people went out at their balconies and threw flowerpots and ashtrays to the MAT, who answered, as usually, with tear-gas and stun grenades.
Demonstrators who managed to reach and protest at the Special Brands Headquarters in Athens and the police departments in Thessaloniki were, not surprisingly, confronted with tear-gas and stun grenades.
● Further action
Marches were also organised on the 7th and 8th of December. The first by Leftists and Anarchists, the second by the Schools Union. Also, the Provosts of universities in Athens called for a strike. Both marches were confronted with violence by the MAT. They have been throwing tear-gas and stun grenades to the thousands of school students who went to the march. This only enrages the students even more, which has led to all these fires in the center of Athens. All of them are set in Ministry buildings, squat cars and stores of multinational corporations.
Marches in many other -more than 20- cities had the same fate: a peaceful march was provoked by the MAT, the demonstrators were enraged and set fires to governmental buildings. The disapproval against the government has become so massive, that even the mainstream media have started to call for the resignation of the prime minister and conduction of elections. None in the media say that they don't understand the motives of the people.
In many cities around Europe, protests for this situation have been called. Berlin, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Barcelona and cities in Holland, Cyprus, Slovakia and other.
This is the situation for which we want to protest in Ireland, too!
● What we ask
We demand the respect of Human Rights in Greece.
We demand the full disarmament of the police and the abolishment of the EF body.
We demand the end of the continuous injustice between people living in Greece.
Former Residents of Greece