OVER 15,000 Greek school and university students and secondary school teachers marched through the Athens city centre on Monday afternoon in commemoration of the killing by police a year ago of 15-years old school student Alexis Grigoropoulos.
The march was organised by the school teachers’ union OLME and school and university students’ unions. Both the OLME and the ADEDY (federation of public sector trade unions) had called a half-day national strike.
School students organised local marches in every single area of Athens and blockaded for a few hours the main roads of the capital. In many cases they demonstrated outside police stations throwing fruit and stones against the police who retaliated with smoke and noise bombs and tear-gas.
In the port city of Piraeus some 800 school students besieged the central police station but were pushed back by police tear-gas. Similarly, in many other Greek cities school students threw fruit, eggs and red paint against police stations and vehicles.
In central Athens squadrons of riot police moved in alongside the demonstrators as soon as the march left the area outside the University of Athens buildings.
This provoked an angry reaction by school and university students in the march who showered the riot police with fruit and stones. Police retaliated immediately with smoke and noise bombs and extensive use of tear-gas with the aim of breaking the march into two. Students shouted anti-police slogans and kept discipline by forming ‘a chain’ around the march by holding hands.
The most popular slogan was: ‘He lives, Alexis lives and he leads us on.’ Students kept up a constant barrage of anti-police slogans throughout the march such as: ‘watch out – murderers in uniform,’ and ‘Greece of the Greek police – murderers and torturers’. There were also demands for the release of all youths arrested in the last few days by police.
Thousands of school teachers participated in the march along with a large contingent from the university lecturers’ trade union. Teachers’ banners called for resistance to the government’s labour laws, against ‘flexible’ working, for the defence of state education and for permanent full-time jobs for all.
Every now and then throughout the march, riot police would make provocative moves which would lead to stones and fruit being thrown at them so they could in turn attack the crowd with noise bombs and tear gas. Riot police sealed off the central buildings of the University of Athens claiming they were acting in co-ordination with the University’s President.
Thousands of students remained in the streets of central Athens for hours demanding that the riot police leave.
Many students then walked to the Athens Polytechnic premises where they were attacked by police and once again mass arrests were made, 80 according to police.
In Salonica, the main Greek northern city, school and university students staged a mass demonstration which was attacked by police and arrests were made. In the evening youth organised a rally outside the police HQs demanding the release of all arrested youth.
The Greek Ministry for Justice announced that 21 people arrested at last Sunday’s march have been charged with criminal offences under the new ‘hood’ law.
In Piraeus 22 people arrested at the police raid on the social club ‘Resalto’ in the Keratsini district were interrogated. Another 42 youths are to stand trial charged with minor offenses related to their eviction by police from the occupied Keratsini Town Hall. A further six youths are to be tried this week in Heraklio, on the island of Crete, charged with carrying ‘offensive weapons’ these being their banners’ and flags’ poles and anti-tear gas masks.
It is estimated that since last Friday riot police have made over 800 arrests throughout Greece. Police said 23 of those arrested were Albanians, Bulgarians, French, Spaniards, Letts and Poles.
In the last few days it was made clear that the riot police acted on a new plan to intimidate and to break up the youth and the demonstrations by ‘pre-emptive strikes’, ‘offensive policing’ and mass indiscriminate arrests.
Under this plan they carried out the raid on the ‘Resalto’ social club, an unprecedented act for Greece in the last decades. Their ‘offensive policing’ means constantly provoking the youth and then attacking them and running their motorbikes straight into demonstrators. In such an attack the 58-year old Ageliki Koutsoumbou, a militant jailed by the junta, was badly injured and remains in hospital.
The GSEE (Greek TUC) refused to even call for moral support to the school and university students mobilisations. The leaders of the Stalinist Greek Communist Party (KKE) boycotted all mobilisations and voted against occupations and demonstrations at OMLE trade union meetings and at university school students’ meetings.
STATEMENT by the Revolutionary Marxist League, Greek Section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.
• Long live December’s Uprising!
• No to the violence and the terrorism of the PASOK social democratic government and of the MAT riot police!
• No to the sackings and unemployment! Permanent jobs for all!
On the first anniversary of the killing of school student Alexis Grigoropoulos by the police, the PASOK social democratic government and the forces of the capitalist state – judges, police and the secret services – have unleashed a pogrom of violence and terror with mass arrests against school and university students and youth.
Last Friday the riot police attacked the spontaneous school students’ mobilisations.
On Saturday evening they raided the anti-state power ‘Resalto’ youth club in Keratsini and the Town Hall. In the early hours of Sunday they invaded the grounds of the University of Salonica.
There have been hundreds of arrests of school and university students and young workers.
The student and the labour and trade union movement must demand the immediate release of all arrested.
The plan of the FBI decorated Minister for the Protection of the Citizen(!) Chrysochoidis, worked out by his bosses and by the secret services, is through state violence and oppression to smash the resistance of the youth and of workers to mass sackings, unemployment and the ‘flexible’ labour of 500 euros per month without rights which the government of Papandreou want to impose.
The bankers-government-trade union bureaucrats reactionary front, under the diktats of the European Union, tries to save bankrupt Greek capitalism on the backs of youth and workers.
The government want to sack 100,000 short-contract workers, to smash the academic asylum, to impose huge cuts in health and education and to destroy the state pension system.
For over a month now, short-contract workers have fought against sackings and demand permanent jobs for all.
This fight is being united with the youth revolt against the government and against the capitalist system.
But this fight is being boycotted by the trade union bureaucrats of the GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (federation of public sector trade unions) and by the Stalinist leadership of the KKE (Greek Communist Party) which last year branded youth in revolt as ‘agents’.
Despite their differences, the GSEE-ADEDY and the KKE are struggling to keep the working class away from today’s mobilisations because they are against the overthrow of capitalism and against revolution.
The road of December is uprising against oppression, against wars, against sackings, against unemployment imposed by the insoluble world crisis of capitalism.
The only solution is the socialist revolution.
That’s why the utmost and urgent task of workers and youth is the building of the Revolutionary Marxist League into the mass revolutionary Marxist party for the overthrow of capitalism, for the nationalisation of the banks without compensation and under workers’ control and management, for the socialist planned economy.
• For the overthrow of the Papandreou government!
• Down with Capitalism!
• For a workers-small farmers government!
Athens, 6 December 2009.