“When on Saturday, the 28th of December 2013, we went out for a political intervention in the metro stations against the state-organised pogroms of “Xenios Zeus” and the detention centres for immigrants, we already knew who we had against us. A state that continually pushes towards totalitarianism and implements a racist immigration policy, conducted as a military operation. A police that not only legally enjoys excessive powers, but has the de facto right to ignore the law anytime and whenever it feels like it. The fascist/racist part of greek society which, to the extent that it coordinates with state policy, believes that it can say and do anything it wants against immigrants with absolutely no cost.
We also knew who we wanted to meet. Those who feel the need to confront the barbarism that is spreading, those who due to their position are in the receiving end of this violence. For this reason, a number of collectives of the area and of the centre of Athens decided to organise a number of similar interventions which will result in a demonstration on the 11th of January 2014. For this reason, we made sure that the texts, posters and leaflets that we were handing out were in 7 different languages. For this reason, we chose the multi-racial neighborhoods of Patisia, Ag. Nikolaos, Victoria as the area of our intervention. Neighborhoods in which there is a daily manhunt of the police against immigrants, and in which the holy alliance of cops/fascists/mafia and the racist “citizens’ committees” has written the most “glorious” pages of its recent history. Pogroms, racist attacks, mafia activities, constant police controls, detentions and arrests with colour as the only criterion, torture in the police stations.
What we did not know that afternoon was that soon we would find ourselves in the receiving end of these exact conditions against which we had decided to act against, and that in a few hours we would meet everyone face to face, both enemies and friends.
Let’s start from the beginning. In the metro station of Ag. Nikolaos, as our intervention calling for a demonstration against detention centres and “Xenios Zeus” is under way, some people from the area, known for their racist activities, attempt to attack the comrades, first verbally and then holding sticks -obviously disagreeing with the content of our intervention- and are immediately dealt with. In Victoria Square, and while our intervention continues, police units of “Dias” and “Delta” (motorised police units) attack and arrest 12 people, among whom a random person waiting for the train in the platform. The arrest occurs in the typical politeness and formality that characterises the greek cops, and the 12 people are taken to the central police headquarters. After a long-hour wait in the department of “confrontation of racist violence”, the controls and the sweet company of the single-cell organisms of “Dias” and “Delta” cops, we are taken in for recognition (by the beaten up fascists). A while later, they announce that we have been arrested. Fingerprints, more waiting and around midnight our lawyers announce the story that the police has constructed against us in their offices: multiple fellonies for all and some directly identified as perpetrators of “attempt at serious bodily harm”. The ridiculousness of the situation takes a new spin when among those that have been identified from the “victims” of the attack is the passer-by who was arrested with us from the train platform.
After all this we end up in the holding cells of the police. There, among other things, we confirmed that the cells of the police headquarters, as most police stations in the country, are functioning as informal detention centres for immigrants without papers. In the two days we spent there, we met people from Asia and Africa who were held there for months without having committed any offence, as well as many Roma women, victims of the “clearing up” of the streets of Athens. People who are being consistently denied basic rights that we, as “greek citizens”, enjoy even when we find ourselves in the position of prisoners or accused. Some people had already spent 6 months in those cells, and had no idea what would happen to them in their immediate future. No idea about how long they would be held, or if at some point they would be deported. People who nonetheless retain their dignity and smile. We shared the few things that we were allowed to have in there, we exchanged experiences and opinions, we parted from each other with strong emotions, confirming that solidarity and a common experience is what gives us strength and courage in this hellhole.
On Sunday morning we were led from the police station to the prosecutor. There, the excessive charges are reduced to two misdemeanors (“dangerous bodily harm” and “resisting arrest”) and we go through the typical procedure before being taken back to the police station. But this time, something is wrong. While all of us are given their id cards back, the passport of comrade’s E.M. (who is of albanian origin) is kept with no explanation, something that makes us suspicious. Regardless of our protest, the same thing happens the next morning, shortly before we are taken to the court again. In the courtroom, and before the process starts, we are informed by our lawyers that there is an order to hold E.M., with the aim of deporting him. Obviously, the cops are making use of a new paragraph of the new anti-immigration law, according to which they have the right to detain and deport immigrants, should they judge that they constitute a threat to public safety and order. It is the same paragraph that was used against the two street-salers that were arrested outside of the Economic School of Athens who, besides being acquitted by the court, are still held in police custody.
The court decides to postpone the trial until the 8th of January 2014, and releases us. But the cops insist on detaining comrade E.M. The comrades who are in the court room attempt to stop this development. A commotion happens, the judges are put on the spot and find themselves in an awkward position, the police forces present lose control and finally the intervention of a riot unit is necessary to restore order and to kidnap the comrade. After that, the comrade is taken to the hellhole of Petrou Ralli (an immigrant transit police station) where he is held for one day and then released the day after. One note concerning the situation over there: a large part of those detained in this place stated that they would prefer to be taken in a detention centre, like Amygdaleza, rather than remain in this “black hole” of this transit police station. Some time earlier, other prisoners in the police headquarters had expressed a similar story: better here (in the headquarters) than in the police station of Ag. Panteleimonas … Between a rock and a hard place.
Despite the rough time we had and despite the charges we face, we come out of this experience stronger. And this we owe first of all to all the comrades who embraced our struggle, who found themselves outside the police headquarters on saturday night and monday afternoon, on sunday and monday at the courthouse, on tuesday morning at the Petrou Ralli transit police station. We owe it to the surprised looks of the cops, when every attempt they made to separate us proved fruitless. We owe it, lastly, to all those prisoners, immigrant or not, who despite the fact that they find themselves caught in the clogs of the machine under extremely unfavorable conditions, retain their dignity, their militancy and their humanity.
From now on, we continue even more certain about our choices, more decisive about their importance in this dystopia. Because we need each other in order to tear down the walls that separate us from others.
January 2nd 2014.”