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Athens 17-11-2006: A "small" witness report from the Hilton block


One day before the 17th of November, in the courtyard of the Polytechnic Faculty. "Are you joining the demonstration?" "I don't know", "I will go to the gathering and we'll see", "Bah, something's being prepared against us", "No, I don't take part in vigils". Indecisiveness...

A terrifying atmosphere was on a climax; through tv-screens and paper articles for the anarchists in black who intrigue in order to slur the day of their "democracy", the day after, and the thousands of the praetors in blue, ready to protect the regime. Black and white.

I will go. Even if I can't make it for its beginning, after the timetable of the waged survival, I will go. Contrary to their efforts to oppress and terrify anyone who dares to react actively against the beautiful, angel-made world of theirs and who dares to ask for the obvious things; I choose to go, not for joining the celebration of "democracy" but for standing against discipline, the suppression and the fear that they try to impose, and keeping myself close to the comrades who have chosen to go to the streets for their reasons.

Walking from Alexandras ave. to Vasilissis Sofias. Streets empty, every appartment block filled with a bunch of undercovered ones, accompanied with a squad in blue, waiting for the "enemy"; anxious stripers with the radio on their hands; it was so quiet that you could hear the words in their internal communication. Riot police was nowhere.

Hilton. Shining from happiness, the striper is announcing to the squad that there was an arrest, while the other ones that had been detained are released. Stay standby. I suppose that the demonstration has set off, since the first riot police squads showed up, taking their position behind the blue ones.

I meet the first block at about Righilis str., a banner of unionists with 4 or 5 people behind each one. The main body of the march is in front of the Parliament. I spot the block of the Antiauthoritarian Movement., 300-400 people, 4 or 5 beams. From that point and behind, as far as I can see, demonstrators with riot policemen beside them, on the left and the right of the street. 100 meters behind, a human chain and right outside mixed people, mainly high-school students with a small banner having an (A). Very few comrades I know.

Righilis. A few (plastic) bottles of water are thrown to the riot police. Suddenly the place gets drowned into teargas and some sort of newly produced asphyxiating gas throw up thick white smoke. I haven't seen so many people not being able to breath and running in such a panic; a girl falls on the street and gets trampled, tried to stand up, the riot police rush from the pavement at the street; as they pass by her, they throw a teargas that bursts out right on her face. Shock. They managed to catch a young guy and the only thing I can see is truncheons moving up and down in the air. They drag him from the street to the pavement while the riot police keep on kicking and hitting him with the truncheons.

At the turn for Hilton about 15 policemen on motorcycles show up, blocking with their bikes the way from V. Sofias to Mihalakopoulou and V. Konstantinou. The long chain of the riot policemen, on the right gets thicker and thicker in front of the hotel entrance, while from the left side they get on the pavement in the half of the street, right besides the march, while the years ago they just kept sitting on the other side of the street and behind the statue of the Runner. It is obvious that they will try to cut the demo in two pieces.

I am trying to find my friends to let them know. I get on the pavement so as to walk faster. The march has already started being hit, since I face a mass of people, 20 meters in front of me, running suddenly backwards .

I start feeling the first truncheons on my back, my shoulders and the legs, a punch on my neck, a shield pushing me aggressively from the pavement to the street, so that I fall on the people running. I fall on the asphalt, while people are passing all over me. I feel a hand grabbing me up I am trying to run, a riot cop is pulling me back, grabbing my jacket hard. I move forth, keeping my arms back, so that he gets only my jacket, the jacket gets tore, he grabs my pants, I try to go away, while a second one starts knocking me again and again apparently with all of his remaining strength. He kicks my left knee. I fall on the ground while he starts shouting "arrest-arrest".

I look around, the place in front of the hotel is empty an the only thing I can see is riot police in groups of 3-4 infinitely hitting individuals fallen on the asphalt, some of them are dragging a black-dressed guy to the grass. In the background, I can see the demonstration frozen, staring at us.

They corner a guy, his eyes shut by the tear gas, throwing him with force next to me. A little later, they brought us another one. Both young aged.

They don't know what to do with us. Everyone is trying to pass the responsibility of the arrest to some other one, they protest that this is not their job. Trained dogs for walloping people, but merely responsibility-aware state employees...

They took us up, swearing mothers and saints. They let us join another twenty arrestees, then they made a narrow circle around us and leading us to the statue of the Runner, while some of them kept on hitting with the truncheon.

I am in the edge. The one in front of me is grabbing an arrestee from his arm in and out, the riot cop next to me looks back and hits the one behind me, letting some free space between the shields. I step backwards and realise that nobody pays attention. 30 meters along the street, the march stands, frozen, staring at us. There is none between us and theirs, just the street. The passion for freedom, not only as a slogan...

30 meters I can't recall. The only thing I can recall is a block opening up so that I can sink in it. There is no case that I will not end the march.

What's left from this demo? Shortly speaking. The comradeness of some people, in hard moments, risking their personal freedom and the resistance to the increasing oppression of the state against anyone who would react to the terror and the suppression.

The sand on their gears. Increasing the suppression and targeting anarchists-antiauthoritarians and generally every struggling person who questions their power on our lives, has, according to my personal experience, a result contrary to what they would expect. Trying to spread the terror, what they succeed is just chasing the terror itself.

This is why they will never see that our participating in demonstrations or other more powerful actions is a conscious choice, having in mind the risk of everything that may follow. By hitting unprovokedly and increasingly a consciously resisting part of the society, the only thing you can get is that they coil up, act widely and spread around.

2 things. I don't know how to express myself they way I would like to, since that would be too little compared to what I really feel, but what I will never forget is the solidarity of the ones who accepted me in their block (I think it was the Xekinima CWI-CIT) and the comradeness of the move of a "known-unknown" guy who, within the total panic of everybody around, while the riot policemen where hitting me on the ground, himself running, tried to pull me forth, so that I can run away.