Against the repression of social movements in Greece – an international call

11 December 2018 by Collective


One of the myths spread by the Greek government and its supporters abroad is that, unlike its predecessors, it does not resort to repression in the face of opposition and resistance to its policies. It is true that the Syriza government has never had to deal with mass mobilizations comparable in scale and duration to those that marked Greece from 2010 to 2012. However, social resistance to bail-out policies has not disappeared, even though it has been considerably weakened by the loss of morale after the capitulation of Tsipras to the Troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

IMF : https://www.ecb.europa.eu/home/html/index.en.html
in the summer of 2015. Particularly important has been resistance against the auction sales of foreclosed homes. These auctions are a very sensitive issue for society, but also a crucial demand by the banks that have imposed their priorities on successive Greek governments1.

Resistance against the policy of auctions has been confronted by an increasingly repressive attitude on the side of the state and public authorities. At present dozens of people across the country are facing prosecution for action they have taken against auction sales. Their numbers have increased significantly since December 2017, when the government passed a law specifically targeting these actions.

The escalation of repression became blatant in September 2018, when five well-known activists of the anti-auction movement were summoned by a special section of the security services, the so-called “Department for the Protection of the State and Democratic Polity”. They activists summoned included Panagiotis Lafazanis, the secretary of the left party Popular Unity and former minister of Energy in the first Syriza government as well as Leonidas and Elias Papadopoulos, spokespersons of the “I won’t pay” network. Despite hypocritical statements issued by government and Syriza officials expressing concern over the persecution of Lafazanis, this was an obvious manifestation of authoritarianism. Moreover, it was far from an isolated event. Only a few days ago, in early December, three more members of the anti-auction movement, including the well-known activists Thanasis Gounaris, and Avgi Voutsina, received summons to appear in front of the same department of the security services.

This repressive spiral could not but raise concerns about the fate of democratic rights and civil liberties in Greece among wide circles of the European and international Left as well as in social movements and left intellectuals. This concern is reflected in the following open letter, which has been published in the international media. The signatories include Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the entire parliamentary group of the France Insoumise party, MEPs and MEPs from the Spanish Podemos, the German Left Party and the Left Bloc of Portugal. The text also includes emblematic personalities of international left, such as Noam Chomsky, Tarik Ali, Alain Badiou and Frédéric Lordon.

Their protest is important in helping the European and international left come to terms with the real character of the government of Alexis Tsipras.

The text of the call

The Greek crisis is no longer headline news, but the Greek people continue to suffer from the relentless austerity imposed for more than eight years. Those who oppose bail-out policies are facing escalating repression. Actions opposing the foreclosure of properties are especially targeted. During the last two years, the SYRIZA government, complying with the dictates of the lenders to Greece, have intensified tremendously the pressure on home owners to help private banks collect on loans. Special legislation was adopted in December 2017 potentially imposing penalties of up to six months of prison for those opposing foreclosures. Furthermore, the government has moved auction procedures away from court rooms to an electronic platform activated by solicitors within the closed doors of their offices.

Since the start of the year dozens of activists across the country have faced charges and several trials are in already progress. Among them, Panagiotis Lafazanis, former minister of Energy in the first SYRIZA government and now secretary of the political party Popular Unity, as well as Elias and Leonidas Papadopoulos, both of whom are founding figures of the “I Won’t Pay” campaign and Elias Smilios, municipal councillor in the region of Thessaloniki. It is the first time since the fall of the dictatorship that the leader of a democratic political party has faced persecution for political activities. Moreover, the charges against these activists have been initiated by a special branch of the security services, the “Department for the Protection of the State and of the Democratic Polity”, which has no record of action against the fascist Golden Dawn or other far-right activists. These activists face potential prison sentences up to eight and half years.
This is a critical moment for democracy and civil liberties in Greece. We demand that the charges against all the activists of the movement against auction sales be dropped. We express our solidarity to all those in Greece who face repression for their action in defence of social rights.

Organisations, Trade-Unions and Associations

CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), Catalonia; Co.Bas Trade Union, Spain; The Parliamentary Group of France Insoumise; Habita Association for the Right to Housing and to the City, Portugal ; Observatory on Debt in Globalization, Spain; Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) ; Procés Constituent, Catalonia; Sindicat de Llogaters i Llogateres (Union for the Defence of Tenants), Spain; Witten Tenants Association, Germany;.

First signatories

Gilbert Achcar, SOAS, University of London; ; Tariq Ali, Writer, London Cinzia Arruzza, New School, New York; Robert Brenner, Prof. UCLA; Alain Badiou, philosopher, Paris; Ludivine Bantigny, University of Caen; Diego Borja, former Economy and Finance Minister of Ecuador; Noam Chomsky, Prof. Emeritus, MIT; Jorge Costa, MP, Left Bloco, Portugal; Sevim Dagdelen, MP, Die Linke, Germany; Jodi Dean, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York; Fabio De Masi, MP, Die Linke, Germany; Zillah Eisenstein, Prof. Emeritus, Ithaca New York; Irene Escorihuela, President of Observatori DESC, Spain; Stefano Fassina, MP Liberi e Uguali, former vice-minister of Finance, Italy; Sònia Farré Fidalgo, MP for En Comú Podem, Spain ; Teresa Forcades, Procés Constituent, Catalonia; Heike Hänsel, MP, Die Linke; Pierre Khalfa, Fondation Copernic, France; Stathis Kouvelakis, King’s College London; Costas Lapavitsas, SOAS University of London; Frédéric Lordon, CNRS Research Director, France; Francisco Louça, Prof. University of Lisbon, Portugal; Michaël Löwy, CNRS Emeritus Research Director, France; Jean-Luc Mélenchon; president of the parliamentary group of France Insoumise; Manolo Monereo, MP, Podemos, Spain; Eric Toussaint, CADTM, Belgium; Miguel Urban, MEP Podemos; Eleni Varikas, Prof. Emeritus, University of Paris 8.

List of signatories

Alejandro Andreassi, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Clémentine Autain, MP, France Insoumise
Trond Andresen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Josep Maria Antentas, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Emmanuel Barot, Université of Toulouse
Tithi Bhattacharya, Purdue University
Josep Bel, Co.Bas and Procés Constituent, Spain
Ugo Bernalicis, MP, France Insoumise
Hugo Blanco, former MP FOCEP, Peru
Laura Camargo, Podemos MP in the Autonomous Community of Balearic Islands
Raúl Camargo, Podemos MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid for
Rosa Cañadell, Podemos, Spain
Josep Manel Busqueta, economist, Catalonia
Séverine Chauvel, University of Paris-Créteil
Alexis Corbieres, MP, France Insoumise
Pablo Cotarelo, economist, EReNSEP, Barcelona
Sergi Cutillas, economist, Podemos, Barcelona
Alexis Cukier, University of Poitiers
Laura Díaz, MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid for Podemos
Klaus Draeger, former staff coordinator of GUE/NGL group in European Parliament on Employment and Social Affairs, Germany
Cédric Durand, University Paris 13
Steve Edwards, Prof. Birkbeck, University of London
David Faroult, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Louis Lumière, Paris
Caroline Fiat, MP, France Insoumise
Carme Font, Podemos, Catalonia
Iolanda Fresnillo, Ekona, Catalonia
Isabelle Garo, philosopher, Paris
Franck Gaudichaud, University of Grenoble
Kenneth Haar, Corporate Europe Observatory
Peter Hallward, Prof. Kingston University
Eric Hazan, writer and publisher, Paris
Michel Husson, economist, France
Scott Ferguson, University of South Florida, USA
Claudio Katz, UBA-Conicet, Argentina
Razmig Keucheyan, Prof. University of Bordeaux 3
Thierry Labica, University of Paris Nanterre
Wilhelm Langthaler, author and activist, Committee Euroexit, Vienna, Austria
Olivier Lecour-Grandmaison, Prof. University of Evry-Val d’Essone
Bastien Lachaud, MP, France Insoumise
Michel Larive, MP, France Insoumise
Isidro López, MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid for Podemos
Ramon Luque, Secretary for International relations of EUiA (Izquierda Unida in Catalonia)
Stuart Medina, economist, President of MMT Spain
Bill Mitchell, Newcastle University, Australia
Eva Nanopoulos, Queen Mary University of London
Olivier Neveux, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon
Paul O’Connell, SOAS University of London
Danièle Obono, MP, France Insoumise
Arcadi Oliveres, Procés Constituent, Catalonia
Younous Omarjee, MEP, France Insoumise
Mathilde Panot, MP, France Insoumise
Moreno Pasquinelli, Spokerperson of MPL- Programma 101, Italy
Jaime Pastor, Editor of Viento Sur, Spain
Loïc Prud’homme, MP, France Insoumise
Adrien Quatennens, MP, France Insoumise
Alfredo Saad-Filho, SOAS University of London
Jean-Hugues Ratenon, MP, France Insoumise
Eulàlia Reguant, former MP for CUP, Catalonia
Muriel Ressiguier, MP, France Insoumise
Sabine Rubin, MP, France Insoumise
François Ruffin, MP France Insoumise
Lorena Ruiz-Huerta, former speaker of Podemos group in the Autonomous Community of Madrid
Carlos Sánchez Mato, coordinator of Economy in Izquierda Unida, Spain
Sol Sánchez, Izquierda Unida, Spain
Carmen San José, MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid for Podemos
Andy Storey, University College Dublin, Ireland
G. M. Tamás, Central European University, Budapest
Bénédicte Taurine, MP, France Insoumise
Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths University of London
Willy Pelletier, University of Picardie, Fondation Copernic
Ricard Ustrell, Journalist, Catalonia
Luc Vincenti, Prof. University of Montpellier



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