Solidarity with the squatters of Villa Amalia! – reports from Athens
Assault on Villa Amalia – report by an AF comrade in Greece, 20 December 2012
(Followed by further reports from Athens by the Liberatarian Communist Group and the Squatters, 22 Deceember 2012)
The squatter’s movement arrived in Greece during the early and mid-nineties, and has since established itself as a popular form of peaceful, all-inclusive form of activism bringing together anarchists and autonomists from all over the world. Based on the principle of repatriating public and private space to the hands of local community use, squatting spaces aim to replace commercial and state functions with an environment of direct democracy, mutual labour and an oasis for alternative socio-political and cultural expression.
Located in the centre of Athens, the Villa Amalia squat is one of the oldest of its kind in the city – boasting twenty-two years of existence. Like many other forms of occupation, it has had a traditionally strenuous relationship with authorities, which have attempted to infiltrate, sabotage and literarily starve it of supplies and access from its first days. It’s not the first time we’ve heard about it on the news, but a surprise police raid on the premises at approximately 07:00 am has sent events spiralling into action. Eight squatters, six Greek and two of possible German nationality, were arrested on sight and remain detained in the police headquarters nearby, as activists from several anarchist, autonomist and squatting groups gathered across the street where the raid was being carried out in solidarity of the detained. In their announcement, comrades stated that they will remain in the vicinity and are increasing in number.
The police intervention, hailed on statist, right wing and Golden Dawn-sympathetic blogs as a heroic purge of what they interpret to be brothels of chaos and disorder, continued throughout the day as they conducted a search of the premises. Police forces were accompanied by a comrade who witnessed the procedures.
Squats, in contrast to their portrayal as centres of terrorism, drug abuse and alcoholism, play an active community role in protecting the neighbourhoods from fascists, human trafficking and the illegal sex and drug trade. There are many voices in society who, despite not identifying with left-libertarian principles, have risen to defend their right of existence based on the premise that they have given local communities the power to determine the face and running of their daily lives. Squats in Athens have also begun to shoulder a new role as centres of anti-fascist organisation in the face of the state-facilitated rise of the Golden Dawn. More updates on events on their way.
Solidarity with the squatters of Villa Amalia!
Support statement by the Libertarian Communist Group (Athens)
Villa Amalias statement: we are, and we shall remain here.
Today, on December 20th, 2012, the police raided Villa Amalias. Under the pretext of a complaint for drug dealing, they searched the building in the presence of a district attorney. Their findings are ludicrous. Nevertheless, according to Dendias [translators’ note: the minister of public order] these prove that Villa was an “epicentre for lawlessness” for 22 years and that the law, thanks to the “brave political will of [PM] Samaras” was finally restored.
What logical leap may brand empty beer bottles as “materials for the construction of molotovs?” Is it strange to have a large number of empty beer bottles in a place that hosts a concert [gig] space and a café? What comprises a “flammable material”? May they be referring to the cleaning liquids for the printing press that operates in the squat?
Should we talk about the gas masks that should be carried by every demonstrator that respects their health? Should we talk about the elementary means of self-defense (the mock flash bangs, slingshots etc) in a space that has repeatedly been attacked by para-statist gangs (arsons, stabbings, beatings) with the apogee reached in 2008, when the then minister of public order Markogiannakis visited the “residents” of Agios Panteleimonas and a few minutes after he left, we were attacked…
Under the pretext of the search, then, they materialise a long-standing wet dream of theirs: their raid into a space that is one of the spatial symbols of all those who stand in hostility against anything that represents sovereignty, imposition, sterilization, indifference, surrender, subjection. In this they are right. That’s who we are. Us and the thousands of demonstrators, the people in struggle, squatters, strikers, people fighting in the streets. We are the homeless, the punks and the rebels, the vegetarians and the feminists, the nocturnal ones and the workers, poor and the aggrieved, the victims of racism and the avengers of injustice. The minister called us an epicentre of lawlessness…
And now we should talk seriously. Villa Amalias is an organising proposition which had to be dealt with at the time of the cannibalism of the memoranda. The onslaught of capital against the world of labour presupposes the destruction of all of its structures: the depreciation of everything that trade unions had gained, whatever structures of solidarity and dissent, the self-organised incentives: everything is targeted. The far-right agenda that has prevailed since the outbreak of the crisis commenced with the statement concerning a [supposed] hygiene bomb by Loverdos [trans. note – Loverdos was minister of health at the time and claimed that the 300 migrant hunger strikers comprised a “hygiene bomb” in the centre of Athens] against the hunger strikers of Ypatia. It continued with the targeting of migrants (at the Evros border wall, concentration camps and the Xenios Zeus [anti-migrant] operation), the pillorying of addicted seropositive women, aided by the far-right violence against migrants, homosexuals and street traders. The torturing of anti-fascists at the police HQ after the anti-fascist motorcycle demo, the attacks against squats and the harsh repression against any labour or social demand, leave little doubt for the fact that the enemy has put together a solid block; a block against which we must now resist.
For the past 22 years we have been in a building that was abandoned for decades. We maintain it and breathe life into it. We are a squat that always has its doors open to groups, individuals and incentives that promote the anti-commercial culture, human dignity, social, anti-fascist and class struggles. Villa Amalias is giving a fierce fight –– not in order to protect a dozen pillars, but in order to protect our desires, our dreams and our hopes for a more free life for everyone.
We call everyone who identifies part of themselves in the years-long operation of the squat to partake in this crucial struggle with us.
This is the windmill that the executors-don quixote’s have attacked, even though it is ideas that they are after. These are what are lawless and illegal for them. Their witch-hunt will bring them nightmares in response.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF THE VILLA AMALIAS SQUATTERS
From those who have been arrested:
STATEMENT BY THE VILLA AMALIAS SQUATTERS IN THE POLICE HEADQUARTERS IN ATHENS
The Villa Amalias squat has been an open political, cultural and social space, as well as a housing collective, for the past 23 years. In all these years there have been plenty of active groups in the squat including groups on theatre, concerts, musical studio, stained glass, kids’ space, dancing, foreign languages, computing, printing press, screenings, lending library, vinyl exchange – while the squat has also hosted plenty of political and cultural events by other groups. Apart from these activities inside its building, Villa Amalias has also contributed to the resolution of neighbourhood issues by participating in the residents’ assembly of Victoria square and by organising open, outward looking activities in the area – including open mic interventions, free markets, collective kitchens and kids’ events at the square.
In all these 23 years, the Villa Amalias squat has formed multiform qualities that reflected the equally multiform composition of the subjects and groups comprising it – and which in turn derive from the wider squat movement, from the Anarchist and Anti-authoritarian space and from the movement for class and labour antagonism. These qualities have materialised through the co-organising and participation in demonstrations, interventions and mobilisations concerning labour, antifascist and antiracist struggles; solidarity to persecuted squats, to migrants and persecuted comrades, to university and high school student struggles as well as the to struggles for the reclaiming of open, public spaces.
The squat’s building was abandoned since 1973 and it had been in a horrendous state. Since 1990, which is when it was occupied, it has stayed alive and maintained thanks to the financial contribution and personal work of the squatters themselves as well as all the comrades in solidarity.
The apparent owners of the building ( the municipality of athens, which has has some enormous property wealth and the school buildings’ organisation) are both renown for cases of expropriation of private property and illegal declassification [of listed buildings]. The most extravagant case of such was the enormous Haragioni building at the junction of 3d September and Ioulianou street, which turned overnight from a plot designated for the construction of a school building into a shopping mall.
In contrast to them, who see buildings and spaces as yet another arena for profit, the Villa Amalias squat and its activity is a concrete example of its premise for the creation of free social spaces that oppose financial exploitation of any kind; that are set upon anti-hierarchical, self-organised, solidarity and horizontal structures; that respect humans and support those at the bottom end of the calss pyramid, to which we also belong.
This is why the maintenance of the building, as mentioned above, is undertaken by the squatters and those in solidarity with them – in the last 4 years in particular, after the two murderous arson attacks that the squat received from para-statists, whether waged or not. These particular attacks caused gross material damage which nevertheless did not form an obstacle in Villa continuing its action. To the contrary, they boosted the morale of the people that comprise it. With the aid of all comrades, the facade of the building on the side of Cheiden Str was renovated while the restoration and further improvement of the building have commenced with the aid of architects and civil engineers.
The continued attacks are not the only ones that the project has been subject to in all these years. Due to its location but also due to its ideological values and political characteristics, Villa has oftentimes found itself targeted by the state and parastate alike. In all these attacks we always responded with our words, publicizing the events and propagandizing our positions and our beliefs through open social interventions.
On 20/12/12, at 7.00 am, men of the state security raided our Squat under the pretext of an investigation concerning “drugs” and “explosives”, following a supposed anonymous complaint. They arrested 8 people who were inside the Squat at the time, of which three were guests. They confiscated objects from the squat which the state security then used as evidence for the fabrication of charges including felonies and misdemeanors – charges that we reject. Especially when our felony acts are based on some empty beer bottles and on a tiny amount of petrol that was discovered next to the heater.
For us, this move is an explicit political choice by the state. At a time of financial and systemic crisis, the state launches an attack in all directions, degrading the life of those from below and trying to wipe out any cell of resistance and of creation of negation: this may translate in the botching of labour rights, in the promotion of racist ideals that contribute to a fascist turn of society, in the creation of conditions of insecurity aimed at us accepting the constant surveillance of our lives, or in the persecution and slandering of political spaces and subjects that rise against all the above.
WE DENY ALL CHARGES
OUR WORDS ARE OUR WEAPONS
WE SAID IT BEFORE AND WE’LL SAY IT AGAIN:
“WE’VE BEEN GAME ALL THESE YEARS AND THE END IS STILL NO-WHERE IN SIGHT”
SOLIDARITY TO ALL SQUATS (AND TO OURS)
The arrested of Villa Amalias.