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(en) GREEK NEWS BULLETIN No 2

From "\"Alpha\" anarchist newspaper" <mlk@hol.gr>
Date Fri, 20 Feb 1998 21:25:39 +0200



________________________________________________
     A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E
           http://www.ainfos.ca/
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GREEK NEWS BULLETIN 

Supplied by "Alpha" anarchist newspaper

Issue No 2 

February 1998

 This on-line news bulletin is a joint counter- information effort made by
anarchists from "Alpha" greek weekly anarchist newspaper and other
anarchist comrades from Greece.
 
Our intentions are to counter-inform our anarchist and non-anarchist
comrades around the world about what is happening in Greece.

 It will be edited and published on a monthly basis.

 We 're looking forward for your comments and suggestions.
 E-mail: "Alpha" anarchist weekly <alfanarc@compulink.gr>
               George Fragos <anvo@otenet.gr> 
               Meletis Mexis <mlk@hol.gr>

--------------------------------------------------------------------
 

CONTENTS:

1. MOBILIZATIONS OF GREEK FARMERS

2. UNEMPLOYMENT IN GREECE

3. GREEK ANARCHIST ARRESTED ON BOMBING CHARGES

4. THE LAW ON LEGALISATION OF IMMIGRANTS

5. CAR ARSON ATTACKS IN ATHENS

6. ABOLITION OF ANTI-MINORITY LAW

7. OTHER NEWS...




1. MOBILIZATIONS OF GREEK FARMERS


 On February 18 the fifteen days long mobilizations of farmers and peasants
were finished.
They started at February 2, when Farmers Coordinating Committee in central
Greece decided to start the crown of their new debouchment at that day, as
an utmost means to high-press the government to fulfill a series of demands
essential for the continuation of peasants physical, political and social
life.
Farmers and peasants on February 2 drove their tractors and parked them on
the side of the National Roads that course central Greece.  Until they
withdrew them, on February 18, there was always the possibility to block
the Roads and split the country in two.  On February 14 special police
forces arrived in the area but they did not interfere.
This is not the first time farmers and peasants in Greece, and especially
central Greece, demonstrate against governments' agricultural policy,
towards European Monetary Union, and certainly it's not the last one: In
spring 1995 and winter 1996-1997, farmers blocked the National Roads
countrywide for several days, which they didn't during their resent
mobilization.  And by their representatives in Farmers Coordinating
Committee of central Greece they announced that they will be back in
mobilization on March 15, the day poor farmers and peasants revolted
against the state in 1910!




2. THE MANAGEMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN GREECE


The greek unemployed are over 10.5 % of the population. Young unemployed
people are not automatically entitled to unemployment benefit after their
coming of age, when they don't study and can't find a job. Even the "lucky
ones" who are entitled to it can only receive the minimal sum of 82.000
Drs. (about 280 dollars) for a period of 6 to 12 months. 

About 170.000 people are subsidized every month, although the number of
unemployed is 450.000. The state spends about 600.000 Drs. per year on each
registered unemployed, which is only 35 % of the average spending of E.U.
countries on unemployed. Long time jobless are 58.3 % of the total.
According to official sources, 157.000 greeks have been looking for a job
for over two years. The jobless over 45 years old are about 60.000 and
these people are usually long time unemployed. 85 % of "old" (over 45)
jobless haven't finished secondary school. These people are on the brink of
retirement and are in danger of losing their pension. They usually support
elderly parents who can't live on their pensions and sometimes jobless
children. They are led to the margin of society, since they don't all
qualify for unemployment benefit (and those who do, not for as long as they
are jobless). Up to now, family used to support unemployed members, but
it's gradually losing this ability.

On Tuesday 13 January, the minister of Labor introduced a plan on the
"promotion of employment", based on the "Trust Treaty Towards 2000", signed
by E.U. members. This plan provides 118 billion Drs. funding to employers
(subsidized employment with 4.000 Drs. for up to 18 months) so that 68.000
people will have the chance to work as "trainees" for two months. If they
are considered fit for the job, they may sign a 16 month subsidized
employment contract. There will be additional programs on training,
employment and relocation for massively laid off people. The Ministry of
Labor is working on three more programs: one for young people who have
quitted school, one for 10.000 new posts in banks and public services
(subsidized by the European Social Fund), and one for social employment. 
The minister's motto was "Let the jobless resume responsibility of their
employment". Every enlisted unemployed will receive a special card, which
will enable him to choose between "unemployment benefit, subsidized
training or subsidized employment".

The state's objective is to manage the load of unemployment, reduce the
period of unemployment of each individual and regulate movability of
working people to different sectors. "Flexibility of workforce" is the
means to achieve the above. For the first time in Greece, part time
employment is subsidized, and therefore officially promoted. The OECD
presents "flexible" employment as the solution to unemployment and demands
specialization from those who don't want to be condemned to permanent
unemployment: training for the unskilled and life long training for
employees in general. The general principle is "full time" employment of
flexible and downgraded poor working people.    

Excerpt from "Flexible employment without limits" front page article,
"Alpha" No. 120, 7 February 1998.




3. GREEK ANARCHIST ARRESTED ON BOMBING CHARGES


Greek anarchist Nikos Maziotis, 27, was arrested in the early morning of 13
January, in his home in Kamatero, near Athens. Three handguns, ten kilos of
explosives, detonators and bullets were found in his house. In other raids
in nine more houses all over Athens, 15 more people were arrested. The
whole police operation was presented as a major blow to greek armed groups,
as Maziotis was originally linked to 'Revolutionary People's Struggle'
(ELA), an armed group with a long history of bombing attacks and
assassinations which has been idle since 1995, and the newer 'Militant
Guerilla Formation', a group that has claimed responsibility for several
bombings over the last couple of years. Although the minister of Public
Order was very careful in his statements, a lot of exaggerating and
contradicting information and scenarios were leaked to the press in order
to create an impression of a great police success over dangerous
terrorists. The new U.S. ambassador in Athens was more than willing to
participate in this effort. The smear campaign targeted two Athens squats,
too. Media reported that police had invaded them and arrested some of the
suspects inside them, which was an outright lie. 

However, it took only a few days for the situation to get clear. All but
Maziotis and T.Karamousketas who was a total objector were soon released on
luck of any incriminating evidence. Maziotis was charged with bombing
attempt, possession of weapons and provision and construction of explosives
and bombs. It was announced that the handguns hadn't ever been used in
'terrorist actions'.

The bombing attempt he was charged with was one at the ministry of Industry
and Development, on 6 December. The bomb, which was placed at the entrance
of the building, didn't explode because it was wrongly assembled. Police
found Maziotis' fingerprint on the bomb. The new 'Anarchist Urban
Guerillas' group claimed responsibility for the action, in support of the
villagers in Halkidiki, northern Greece, opposing the installation of a
gold processing unit owned by TVX Gold multinational corporation near their
villages. The minister of Industry and Development, Vaso Papandreou, has
clearly intervened in favor of TVX Gold. The text claiming responsibility
was found in a diary in Maziotis' home. Police, after finding Maziotis'
fingerprint, placed him under surveillance, in hope of finding more
incriminating evidence, which they didn't. So, they finally arrested
Maziotis and people who had contact with him during this period. They chose
to make the arrests three days after two bombing attacks against a taxation
bureau and the ministry of Finance data processing center (KEPYO).

Maziotis originally denied all charges. On 19 January, he claimed in his
apology that he didn't know of the guns and explosives found in his house,
which was used by other people too, and said that the police couldn't prove
that his fingerprint was found on the bomb. He also said that he couldn't
recall of the text claiming responsibility for the bomb in his diary, but
that he used to copy newspaper articles for archive reasons. He concluded
that: «I do not denounce any means of struggle, but I do not confess
anything. Therefore, greek police will have to find more convincing
evidence to charge me». 

Maziotis, who is a total objector, is also charged with 'desertion' and
'insulting the army'.  After his arrest, he was presented before the
military court. His trial on these charges was set for 17 February.
Maziotis was the first total objector in Greece to be imprisoned, in 1991.
He spent eight months in jail and was released after a hunger strike and a
wide solidarity movement. He has also been arrested for participating in
university school occupations in 1994 and 1995. These occupations were in
solidarity to anarchist prisoners, some of whom were on hunger strike at
the time. 

On 13 February, greek daily 'Eleftherotypia' published an extensive
statement of Maziotis, in which he said that the guns and explosives found
in his house belonged to him, that he was the one and only member of the
'Anarchist Urban Guerillas' and that he had placed the bomb outside the
ministry of Industry and Development. His goal was to «send a solidarity
message to the villagers of the Strimonic Gulf, who fight a righteous and
dynamic fight against the establishment of a gold processing unit in
northeastern Halkidiki, by the canadian multinational TVX Gold». He made a
short reference to his past actions that had led to prosecutions. «I am an
anarchist and aim at the complete destruction of the State and the
capitalist regime and its replacement by antiauthoritarian communes. The
only charge I will accept is that of subversive activity, which honors me.
If freedom is a crime in the eyes of my enemies, then yes, I agree that I
am a criminal». He stated that there are three kinds of political violence:
state terrorism (the most common and well organized), revolutionary
terrorism (by marxist and stalinist groups which reproduce by their
prelatic organization the structures of the state) and liberating violence.
He concluded with a list of acts of state violence during the last twenty
years. 

Last minute addition: On 17 February, military court sentenced Maziotis to
10 months for desertion. 




4. THE LAW ON LEGALISATION OF IMMIGRANTS


On 2 January 1998, the new law on legalisation of immigrants was put into
effect. More than 100.000 immigrants queued outside the Public Organisation
for Employment (OAED) offices during the first few days in order to apply
for temporary permits to work in Greece. The situation was quite
disorderly, as everyone was trying to get hold of the special form they
have to fill. Many of them didn't speak greek well enough to understand
what they should do and which documents they were supposed to carry with
them. The employment offices weren't prepared to deal with so many people
and they didn't have enough forms for everyone. In one case, the official
who was responsible for distributing the forms got scared of the crowd and
gave the whole bunch to an immigrant who got scared too, and ran away. The
situation was calmer after the first week, although people continued to
turn out in OAED offices in large numbers, throughout the month. Immigrants
of asian origin were the majority, since albanians, who make up half of the
estimated 450.000 illegal immigrants in Greece, and poles (about 90.000)
seemed reluctant to trust greek authorities. 

In December 1997, after many months of preparation, two presidential
decrees on "legalisation of immigrants working in Greece" were introduced.
According to it, during the first five months of 1998, illegal immigrants
may register themselves to OAED offices and apply for temporary residency
permits, under certain conditions. 

Although at first glance, the measure looks as a positive step in order to
protect foreigners from deportation and the greed of their greek employers,
this is definitely not the case. First, there are some categories of
immigrants that are exempted from the right to apply for permits: sailors,
people not wishing to stay and work in Greece (many immigrants stay
temporarily in Greece, until they have the chance to move to another
country), people of E.U. country members origin, people convicted to
sentences of three months or more and all those who hadn't been in Greece
before 1 January 1998.  These exemptions apply to several thousands of
immigrants. Bureaucratic restrictions on identification papers pose another
problem, especially to political refugees who certainly can't go to their
embassy and apply for documents.  
 
In order to get their permits renewed after 31 May, immigrants will have to:
1. Fill the application form in time.
2. Have worked "officially" for at least 40 days between 1/1/98 and 31/5/98.
3. Have their application approved by a special committee, consisting of a
judge, a police official, a representative of the biggest local union and a
representative of the employers. 

The second condition is difficult to achieve for many immigrants,
especially those working in temporary rural works or as vendors. As for the
third condition, the committee's structure speaks for itself. 

If an immigrant succeeds in overcoming all restrictions, he will receive a
residency permit lasting from one to three years. On its expiration, the
aforementioned committee will decide whether it will renew it or not,
considering the specialty of the individual, how long he has been in
Greece, THE NEED FOR WORKFORCE AND WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE NATIONAL ECONOMY.
The immigrant will be a permanent hostage of the authorities.

It is obvious that the real purpose of the presidential decrees regulating
the legalisation of immigrants is to ensure control over the flow of
immigrants that the authorities would rather keep out of Greece's national
borders (but they can't) and perpetuate their exploitation by greek
employers. A good immigrant is a badly paid and expendable immigrant.
Anyway, this rule applies to all of us… 
 



5. CAR ARSON ATTACKS IN ATHENS


About sixty cars, vans and buses were burnt in Athens during January.
Although this kind of action isn't new in Athens, there has been extensive
media coverage of the situation after the arrest of Nikos Maziotis on
bombing charges. Anyway, some of these attacks were done in solidarity to
Maziotis. However, it isn't clear how many of them were anarchist actions,
since the arsonists often don't claim responsibility for the burnings. The
police reacted by mobilizing about one thousand more cops to patrol around
the center of Athens. The only result was that most burning activity was
transferred to the suburbs. 

About 15 cars had already been burnt before the arrest of Maziotis, on 13
January. One day later, after a concert commemorating the assassination of
teacher N. Temponeras by right wing thugs in 1991, a group of anarchists
burnt a bus, after telling the driver and passengers to get off. They also
burnt a private school bus. "Anarchist Patrol in the Streets" took
responsibility for these actions, "in solidarity to Nikos Maziotis". 

On 16 January, an Audi belonging to Forest Service and a Mercedes belonging
to the Public Gas Service were burnt, before a demonstration against the
new education bill in the center of Athens.

On 21 January, after midnight, three bombs exploded in the center of
Athens. They were placed near bars and a nursing home. It was only a
coincidence that nobody was injured. No one claimed responsibility for
them. Neither the police, nor the media blamed anarchists for these bombs,
since anarchists hadn't ever before placed bombs in public places. A
scenario involving the turkish secret service was mentioned, although there
was no evidence to support it. A few days later, Maziotis sent a letter
condemning these bombings to daily newspaper "Eleftherotypia".

On 27 January, a new group called "Revolutionary War" burnt two cars
belonging to the ministry of Public Works. "Freedom to Nikos Maziotis and
all hostages held by the state", they said in a phonecall to
"Eleftherotypia". One day later, the "Anarchist Brigade" tried to burn a
school bus and the car of the rector of Beaux Arts University School, using
gasoline and candles.

Two days later, the "Incendiaries of Conscience" left a leaflet outside the
Labor Center of Piraeus. They took responsibility for the burning of 40
cars between 6 June and 25 January. They pointed out that they burn only
selected targets belonging to cops, big companies, diplomats, etc. The
message concluded with the words: "Hatred - Violence - Revenge. Perform
your ratio of violence. Peace in the Aegean Sea, war in every suburb.
Freedom to N.Maziotis, S. Dapergolas, K. Kalaremas, G. Vlassopoulos and all
prisoners. Revolutionary greetings to all malcontented". 

Most arson attacks are performed using gas canisters. The targets include
both expensive and cheap cars, small vans and very often school buses. Last
year, a lot of arson attacks happened during concerts and parties in
university schools. The police usually didn't intervene.




6. ABOLITION OF ANTI-MINORITY LAW


On 23 January, the government decided the abolition of Article 19 of the
Code of Greek Citizenship. This article had been used to deprive thousands
of people belonging to national minorities of greek citizenship, over
several decades. This decision has no retrospective power, which means that
the victims of Article 19 won't automatically regain greek citizenship. It
was also clarified that Article 20 of the same Code, according to which the
authorities have the right to take away greek citizenship for reasons
related to espionage and "harm to national interests" won't be abolished. 

An early version of this law was originally introduced in 1927. According
to it, the minister of Interior had to take away greek citizenship from
"people of foreign origin" if they left the country with no intention to
return. Its current version was introduced in 1955. Now, it was up to the
minister to decide whether to take away citizenship of people travelling
abroad. In fact, it was used against many people of mainly turkish and
bulgarian origin who happened to travel abroad with no intention to
resettle whatsoever. Their coming illegally back to their homes in Greece
proved this. It was a means for the ministry of Foreign Affairs to oppress
greek citizens of foreign origin. Thousands of people became non existent
for the state. They could get no identification papers, driving license,
buy or sell property, study in university and so on.  

This practice had been condemned by various international human rights
organizations, as well as by some greek left and human rights groups, which
got usually treated as traitors just for mentioning that there are ethnic
minorities in Greece. 




7. OTHER NEWS…

DEMONSTRATIONS IN SOLIDARITY TO THE ZAPATISTA STRUGGLE

On Tuesday 13 January, two demonstrations in support of the zapatistas and
protesting the acts of violence by military and paramilitary groups in
Chiapas, were organized in Athens and Salonica. The demos were planned to
coincide with the International Day of Solidarity Action, called by the FZLN.

In Athens, more than 1.500 people, about half of which were anarchists,
marched to the mexican embassy, protesting the massacre in Acteal and the
PRIista violence, in general. Police presence was very massive and close.
The road before the embassy was blocked by riot squads and two police buses
parked vertically in the middle of the street. After the end of the demo,
about 300 anarchists marched to the police headquarters, where Nikos
Maziotis, who had just been arrested, was held. The police provoked the
demonstrators all the way. When the demonstrators turned to leave, some of
the cops attacked them, using nightsticks and chemicals. A few people were
injured.

In Salonica, about 200 people marched in the center of the city. The
demonstrators shouted slogans of solidarity to the zapatistas and
distributed leaflets explaining the current situation in Chiapas.    

ENRICO BIANCO RELEASED FROM JAIL

On 22 January, the greek Council of Judges of Appeal decided unanimously to
reject italian authorities' request to extradite Enrico Bianco. "All of the
offenses and sentences were of political nature", stated the court. 

Bianco had been a member of italian anarchist communist groups, during the
70's. He had been arrested after an attempted arms store robbery and
charged with driving a stolen car and possession of weapons. He escaped in
1977 and fled to France. He continued political activity there, but was
finally forced to leave in fear of fascist attack against him. He had been
living in Greece for eight years before his arrest, on 21 November.

 This court decision is of significant importance, since between 1991 and
1997, all 62 requests for extradition were granted, except in one case
concerning a turkish political refugee. The Initiative Against the
Extradition of Enrico Bianco now insists that political asylum status be
given to Bianco, "in order to protect him and his family from the
aggression of italian and U.S. persecuting mechanisms". 

ANARCHISTS ARRESTED ON POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL OCCUPATION CHARGES

On 22 January, Giorgos Vlassopoulos was arrested for his participation in
the 1995 Polytechnic School occupation. A few days later, Panagiotis
Liolios was arrested on the same charges. On 28 January, Vlassopoulos was
presented before the court of appeals, which rejected his request for
reprieve of his original sentence to 40 months. 

The two were among the 504 people arrested on 18 November 1995, when police
entered the Polytechnic School of Athens in order to terminate its
occupation by anarchists. The prisoners were divided to groups, mainly
according to their previous political activities, and stood trial. Many of
them abstained from the trials, denouncing this parody of justice. Most of
them were sentenced to 40 months. The sentence was later reduced to 12
months on bail for most of them, by the court of appeals. But a group of
anarchists, including the aforementioned two, preferred to abstain from
this trial, too, sending a lawyer instead. 

The authorities chose to arrest Vlassopoulos many months later, probably
estimating that this is the right time, after the arrest of Nikos Maziotis
on bombing charges and the ongoing wave of car arson attacks. Liolios was
arrested during papering in the center of Athens.






*********************************************** 
                                    "ALPHA" 
                   Anarchist weekly newspaper 
                            P.O. BOX 31809 
                            100 35 ATHENS 
                                  GREECE 
                     tel. - fax: 031 1 3843950 
               e-mail: alfanarc@compulink.gr 
   http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/4002  
*********************************************** 
  
  
  



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