Against The State’s Management of COVID19 – Statement and Call to Action by Greek Comrades

greek demo

(The poster is for a demo happening in Athens called by Greek comrades. GAF is not calling a demo)

GAF has received an statement written by Greek comrades from the anarchist and anti-authoritarian movement, responding to the Greek state’s management of the COVID19 crisis. This will be followed by multiple actions to continue and expand the resistance that is already happening all over Greece. We share it here in solidarity with them. But also because we find that the circumstances they describe echo our experience during the pandemic under the rule of the British government. We recognise the same authoritarian logic of the state acting to entrench their power and protect their profits, rather than the lives of the people. For this, and many other past and ongoing atrocities, they have blood on their hands.

Our response mustn’t be to fall for the paranoid conspiracies of right-wing pundits, who seek to capitalise on the fear and confusion the people have been left in by the negligent and incompetent management of the state. Instead, we must organise to address the crisis through the autonomous self-organisation of free communities, guided by science, compassion and our own needs. In hope for this, we send our solidarity to our Greek comrades and to everyone else who suffers and struggles against the authoritarianism of the state. May their example ignite flames of resistance all over the world and burn down the disease of capitalism and the state.

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight.”

Walter Benjamin

We have conscience and responsibility for our actions. The only factors that prevent us from self-handling our protection are the state and the bosses, that stack us in their labor camps, present themselves as specialists and claim to hold the absolute knowledge and control over our lives. They are the ones who, by cultivating the fear that illness and death creates, enforce silencing and confinement, whilst taking advantage of the situation to expand their wealth and power at our expense. We do not accept the curfew and the confinement because, besides being an unthinkable concession of freedom, it is also meant to disarm us and shut our power to contradict their plans, as it happened during the mass quarantine. We choose not to stay at home for one more reason. We stand and will keep standing next to those who, like us, receive the violence of the state, fascism, patriarchy and their mechanisms and as a result sink deeper into penury and impoverishment. To stay at home and not commute means to refuse our lives, our struggles and our freedom and to accept further exploitation, since they have now even penalised questioning their absolutist practices. It means to accept a totalitarian regime.

State of emergency

During the state of exclusion -or “state of emergency”- the government evicted many squats like Themistokleous 58 and Dervenion 56 in Exarchia, Rosa Nera in Crete, Terra Incognita in Thessaloniki and Filolaou 99 in Pagrati. An eviction campaign that started way earlier and did not stop even for the “pandemic”. Some of those squats functioned as headquarters for mutual aid groups during the first “lockdown” for the people who were left to cope on their own, as well as structures of practical doubt and struggle against the state’s management of Covid19. One of the places that got evicted was the Gini building in which lived dozens of people who had just been kicked out of Bouboulinas squat in Exarchia. The eviction of the Gini building, propagandised as a necessary hygiene measure, was one of the first repressive actions that happened “due to Covid19”.  Beyond that, it signified the closing of a building that for decades hosted daily assemblies and events of the anarchist/anti-authoritarian spaces and the broader movement. Right after the loss of Gini, they closed the rest of the Patision Polytechnic University.

The state mechanism also moved on destructing and looting further the natural environment for the benefit of the capital. A despicable anti-environmental legislation was voted in May during the lockdown. During the last months forests and mountains  have been destroyed in order for wind-generators and tourist attractions to be planted. On Tinos island, they started the works to install the wind-generators during the general lockdown. And after that, when the general lockdown wasn’t in place anymore, cops enforced temporary and localised confinement so as to repress the actions of the locals against the aeolian madness that threatens their island. Of course they didn’t manage to shut them down. As another example, in Volos, many combustion companies as well as over 10 toxic trash burning factories got set up this year.

The state once more found the chance to show its intentions on the bodies and psyche of the people confined in prisons. From the emergency transports and the postponement of visitation rights or food delivery, to the indifference for the sick inmate in Thiva that led to her death, everything is covered under the pretext to not spread the virus. Regarding the visits, until now the prisoners are not allowed to touch their own people. Human contact is absolutely minimized behind a plexiglass, a measure that the prisons already wanted to implement.

Regarding workers’ issues, the bosses are planning a general re-structuration at the expense of the worker’s benefits with the blatant example of remote working. “Due to covid19”, they raised the percentage of those who are obligated to work from home, not allowing people to refuse this method of work. Now companies have the added right to inspect the domestic environment of the employee in relation to remote working. The bosses are receiving material benefits from remote working, such as the transfer of different operational costs -electricity, rent, internet etc-  to the workers at home. As yet another consequence, this practice disperses the workers into as many pieces possible until their total individualization and alienation. Just like that a situation of total flexibility and consumption of the work force is created. In a broader frame they enabled mass lay-offs through the suspension of thousands of contracts, unprecedented cuts of paid days-off due to the illness, the cancellation of Sunday holiday, the enforcement of unpaid overtime, a cut of prizes and salaries for anyone in suspension and their replacement with minimum benefits. Some of the last hints of worker’s prerogatives were dissolved in one night with the simple justification of “handling Covid19”.

The dominant state and its cops are also attacking the public space, the squares, the parks etc. The pinnacle were the events in Agiou Georgiou square in Kipseli and in Agia Paraskevi, that weren’t left unanswered. In that period, Exarchia was led to its complete desertification, as a result of the massively dense presence of cops and repression that had occurred during the last period. Despite that, there were still times that people of the movement claimed the public space. Additionally to the cops’ club, they now have the shameless measure of the fine which, under its threat, defines our presence in the public space by class. Today the targeting of our neighbourhoods is expanded through the medical scope. Mass tests are being provided for free in the poorer neighbourhoods and the neighbourhoods with the largest populations of migrants. As a result it is making it look like there are higher cases in those neighbourhoods and since there are many migrants there, they get further outcasted. Whole neighbourhoods are becoming the main focus for any upcoming local “lockdowns” and continuous police pogroms. A new cycle of surveillance and repression seems to be starting, from the intensified video monitoring of the streets to the online sphere and the social media. This has been imprinted in the prosecution command, since the law regarding public incitement to disobedience is being used against any person who questions the state and the specialists for their management of Covid19.

Contradictions of the state

The contradictions of the violence mechanism are countless, but they always have the same denominator: the violence toward the social base and the enhancement of capitalistic interests. To begin with, they created a quarantine-confinement lasting six months for migrants inside the concentration camps with the pretext of “not spreading the virus”. At the same time, thousands of tourists were travelling from different parts of the world to the country. They enforced the masks inside all public transports – which the poorer people use – while there was no enhancement of the frequency and only some nonsense about keeping distance and empty seats. Furthermore, the speeches of chief specialists about the enforcement of masks for the kids going to school or targeting the general youth to take more responsibility were heard in parallel with the speeches ensuring that migrants “don’t need any protection from the virus because they are young people and kids and what they need is very good fencing.” (N. Sipsas, 15.09.2020 Skai)

The enforcement of all those measures begins with the so-called argument of “the protection of the most vulnerable”,  whilst scientists and state media are putting the blame on migrants. As if their experience of all those pogroms -state and parastate-  and their stay in hellholes such as Moria, were not enough to render them “vulnerable” in the eye of the specialists. The state talks about keeping distances while packing thousands of people -locals, migrants, children, women and men of every age- in prisons and concentration camps.

The same clique of people that kisses the hands of priests and licks from a common spoon, calls upon us to not hug our children and deprives the prisoners of contact with their relatives. It allows for us to sit next to each other in places with 100 people -at different tables-, in schools with 25 students, in metro platforms with 200 people, however it attacks us if we are more than 9 people gathering in the squares and for being outside after 12.

The world of science played a central role in the history of Covid19. To the doctors they gave the role of soldiers against Covid19. The result was indeed the militarization of their job, as the workers, mostly the nursing and the cleaning staff, were on the front line of exposure, they were called to perform exhausting shifts, they were expendable while none of their demands were fulfilled by the state. Besides the praise and the cheering – encouraged by the state – when the medical world itself took action to claim better conditions, both for themselves and for those hospitalized, they received the violence of the repression forces. At the same time, the generals, who are the infectious disease specialists and the epidemiologists, acquired a central role in the management of society, just like in times of war when the generals take on responsibilities of political leadership. This meant that all social relations fell under medical speech, adapted to each government’s policies.

Lastly, the state and economical authority gave out huge amounts of money to their friends -businessmen, cops and army- that were taken from the taxes of the working people. Some examples are the big sidewalk they made in Sintagma (Megalos Peripatos), the parachute-masks in schools, the media, the private hospitals, the police’s equipment, professional soldiers (ΕΠΟΠ) and many more. Nevertheless, no actions were taken to reinforce the social protection structures that the state mechanism controls, and as a result it either pushes people to private hospitals, or simply marginalizes those who can’t afford it.

It is obvious that the state does not care for the life or the health of anyone. That’s why we are not going to let them lecture us about the protection of the “more vulnerable”. It is the same violence mechanism that daily puts in danger the lives of migrants in Evros, Moria and the Aegean sea. It is the same violence mechanism that allows employers to murder workers -latest painful examples are Aktor in the metro of Thessaloniki and Protergia in Viotia. It is the same that leaves people to rot and die in its prisons. It is the one that burns down forests to get richer and leaves areas in mud and destruction, because any situation that does not offer immediate profit is forsaken. In short, it is the violence mechanism that maintains the current system of abuse and oppression that inflicts incalculable psychological damage and poverty on the largest part of society.

Nevertheless, there is always resistance

Against this violence people not only did not remain apathetic but in some cases answered dynamically. Such a strong answer was the monumental uprising of Moria concentration camp in September of 2020. It created a global political event and a wave of solidarity in Europe. The state, with the preface of Covid19, expanded even more the desperation and furthered the confinement of the migrants. As an answer came the total burning of their hellhole-prison. Mobilizations also happened in other concentration camps such as Amygdaleza. The state did everything in its power to isolate them and repress them, even cutting the power in the camp so that the people inside could not communicate with the outside world.

Equivalently, there was a mass movement in the prison of Koridalos and an uprising in the prisons of Thiva in April of 2020. Simultaneously, both partial as well as mass resistance was held in the prisons in Chania, Patra, Domokos and Kerkira, in March and April of 2020. Main demand was the decongestion of the prisons, the release of prisoners that belong to vulnerable groups or have very short sentences etc. A decongestion that the state would definitely put in practice if they really cared about the non-dispersion of the virus and everybody’s health.

At the time these lines are written hundreds of schools are being squatted and the student fights won’t slow down. The rallies that are happening by the student society have gained conflict characteristics with the students throwing stones/molotov cocktails at the security forces and taking serious  arrests. Reasons for their resistance are the asphyxiating measures in school, due to covid19. The new measures fit perfectly with the already oppressive school hierarchy and discipline and the indifferent and conservative content of the education, making the everyday lives of students unbearable. The school squats did not hide the joy and pleasure of occupying the space and time of the mechanism that oppresses you, by devitalizing it. They also pressed forward measures of care that have always been the target of the school movement.

Lastly, there were a lot of people that during the first confinement, once past the initial numbing, started ignoring the commands of the state and went outside in the parks and the squares. They deemed this small socialization an important part of their lives and were not willing to give it to the state without a fight.

We belong to those who continued to fight, to stand besides our neighbourhoods by creating structures of solidarity and were active even during the quarantine period. Taking the baton from the school social resistances, the squares, the prisons and the concentration camps we organize our actions against the dystopia that preys. We are very aware that the collective struggle feeds life while alienation feeds death.






Open Assembly of squats, collectives, internationalists, migrants and others in solidarity.

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