By Larry Hales
FIST National Office
The uprising in Greece incited by the police murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Andreas Grigoropoulos entered its 13th day on Dec. 19.
Greek youth rebel.
photo: KOE Communist Organization of Greece
The uprising has a spontaneous character, and anarchist and all communist groups to the left of social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) have supported, in one way or another, the demands made on the rightist regime.
PASOK, which has alternated running the government with the conservative New Democracy Party, is maneuvering for new elections so that it can take over the government. Yet the government of ND Premier Costas Karamanlis has rejected the demand.
While PASOK has maintained rhetoric that appears to be in sympathy with the uprisings, it is merely a moderate party in the capitalist camp, similar to the Democratic Party in the U.S.
In her Dec. 8 speech, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said, “That PASOK and ND blame each other for the deaths caused by violence is outrageous. The fact that during the ND governments more protestors died than during the PASOK governments has no meaning at all. What is important is that they use violence, Legislative Acts and extortion in order to beat down the organized movement and the spontaneous struggles as well.
“When violence targets the struggles, it is for sure that it also affects those who are not at all interested in politics. Violence has no limits, death is thus not accidental.” (inter.kke.gr)
The KKE also demanded that all the laws made under PASOK and ND governments that increase repression and surveillance of the population, including those made with the European Union and the United States and including police use of weapons and dogs, be abolished.
Since the Dec. 10 general strike, the mood of the people is still one of open rebellion. Athens and Thessaloniki, the two largest cities in Greece, have both been in a state of siege.
On Dec. 16 Greek youth commandeered a broadcast on the state-run television channel NET and shut off a speech being given by Costas Karamanlis. The young people forced the camera crew to focus on banners that read, “Stop watching, get out onto the streets” and “Free everyone who has been arrested.”
Youth also took over radio stations in Thessaloniki and broadcast protest messages.
Banners were hung from the Acropolis—the historic building from ancient Athens—calling for demonstrations throughout Europe.
Another youth, 16-year-old Giorgos Paplomatas, was shot Dec. 18 in Peristeri, a working-class neighborhood of Athens. Paplomatas was a member of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) and the son of a KKE activist, who is also a member of the Teacher’s Federation and of the All Workers Militant Front (PAME).
A day earlier, PAME had led demonstrations in 51 cities in opposition to the EU Working Time Directive, which allows a workweek of up to 78 hours. Communist parties across Europe have mobilized against the directive and issued a joint statement against it.
The struggle continues to advance daily in Greece. Teachers and doctors have walked off the job. Public transportation in Athens has been shut down, and air traffic controllers at Athens’ International Airport walked off the job for a few hours, demanding greater job protection and a pay raise. Farmers with small- and medium-sized land holdings have called for another mass demonstration for Dec. 20, which is reportedly gaining wide support.
The militancy displayed there is inspiring solidarity actions and other struggles throughout Europe and even in the U.S. as youth and students take bold actions in their interests. One example is the takeover of the New School in New York City by the Radical Student Union.
The latest shooting has touched off more rebellions where youth battle police in the streets. All signs point to a deepened and prolonged struggle in Greece, which has already weakened the bourgeois state, and could collapse the rightist government.
Hales is a national FIST organizer.