Greek Situation -an interview with Greek punks-

This is an English translation of my article on Japanese Hardcore Punk zine “el zine vol.13″, entitled “Greek Situation -an interview with Greek punks-”. This was originally written in Japanese for punks who read Japanese but here I posted an English version too.

日本語版はこちら



Greek Situation -an interview with the three Greek punks-

I wrote an article on last issue of el zine (vol.12) about Greek punks, anarchists and squats after I visited cities like Xanthi, Volos, Athens and Thessaloniki last summer. Japanese media already quit broadcasting about Greek recession and people here almost forgot it completely. Here I interviewed with three of my Greek punk friends and asked them what’s really going on there right now.

Greg (7inch Distro http://www.7inch.gr/

- I heard that especially after the election in June, the fascist party “Golden Dawn” is increasing their power through out Greece. Tell me what exactly is their activities or they are doing.

Greg: Unfortunately according the last polls the new Nazis of Golden Down are now about 10% while in June elections they was 6,92%.
Since they are a legal party with 18 elected members they can get a big amount of money as bonus from the state. So their main activity is to establish as much offices as they can through all country. In many cases Greek anti Nazi moves fast by destroying many of them! Few years ago they bomb their main offices in Athens destroying almost the whole building!
Beside of this they love to attack immigrants, especially immigrants from Pakistan. It is much more easier to attack a Pakistan immigrant (they are short and skinny) than an Alban immigrant (they are aggressive, can use weapons, act like a team and in some cases the Albanian Mafia works with Golden Down members) or an immigrant from Africa (they are tall and strong).
In Athens there is the district of Adios Panteleimonas (it is in the center of Athens). It is the lovely place for fascists to do their attacks against immigrants. Five streets beside Agios Panteleimonas is the Attika Square, a place with many immigrants living there as well. In Attika Square there are no attacks against immigrants. The reason? In Attika Square there is a cheap hotel for hookers. Most of the people working in this hotel are “illegal” immigrants as well as the hookers going there. This hotel belong to the leader of new Nazi party Golden Down and his wife!!! So it is a clear of Nazi attacks area!

- That hooker’s hotel is crazy, what is name of the hotel?

G: The name of the hotel is New Dream. I don’t know anything else about the hotel… But it is not only the hotel story. The leader or Greek new Nazis, back in the 70s accused of beating some journalists along with a group of fascists. Also he accused for putting some bombs in Athens as a member of a right wing terrorist group. He stayed only 13 months in jail and then in the 80s became member of the Greek Secret Services. Now he is the leader of an elected party!

- After changing to new government in June, do you think it is sure they are focusing on attacking and evicting squat from Greece? Any obvious reason? Just because squatters or anarchists are their enemy? How was before June?

G: It is true that Nikos Dendias the new Ministrer of Public Order and Citizen Protection (who was member of a small fascist/nationalist party back at the end of 70s) focusing into anyone that resist! Even two journalists of the Greek Public Television kicked out their TV program because they said something against him! There was even two arrests because of some Facebook posts (after some Golden Down politics suggestions).
The only reason is because Nikos Dendias is a fascist 100% and want no resistance into his fascist plans and squats are places of resistance. Of course there was some light attacks from the police and the fascists in the past but not something to mention about.
Something else I have to mention is that it is not only the new government. The big media (TV, news papers etc) are 100% controlled by the government and by using their brain wash tactics, they try to keep people in silence out of any resistance.
You can say that we are living a modern dictatorship with the dictator elected from the people.

- How anarchists or punks are acting against those fascist rising in Volos? and how often do punks have action besides playing music. I mean, roughly how many punks (like what %) in Volos are doing that kind of political action? In japan, it’s not common thing among punks to join that kind of political activities so it’s gonna be good reference.

G: During the last months there was 4 main actions…
October the 6th 1000 anti fascist demonstrators (that is too much for a city like Volos).
October the 27th 250 anti fascists manage to block for two hours the unofficial office of the Nazis, with about 10-15 Nazis in the office on the 4th floor protected by the police.
December 12th destroy the unofficial offices of Golden Down in Volos.
December the 22nd 71 anti fascists block the place where the Nazis planed to give away some potatoes and spaghetti to poor Greeks. All the protesters arrested by the police!!!
December the 23rd 8 armed with sticks Nazis tried to attack like a death squad to a meeting of about 13-15 antifascist. The score was 3-0. Three Nazis injured… one of them injured badly and went to the hospital. None of anti Nazis injured. One anti Nazi arrested by the police (none of Nazis arrested)!!!
Beside all of these they often stick anti fascist posters in the neighborhoods of the city, spray the walls with anti fascist slogans and clear the walls from any fascist slogan. Most of Greek punks are and always was into politic actions beside music…

- Those actions by Greek punks or anarchists look very extreme. I heard some punks from western Euro said so as well. It’s hard to believe in general for current Japanese punks or activists. Why do you think Greek radicals act like that?

G: It is because of the whole political situation in Greece. In 1946-1949 there was a civil war between the communists and the government forces with the help of United Kingdom and the Greek supporters of Nazis during world war II.. After communists lose the civil war the life was very difficult if you was on the left side and of course the hate between both sides was and still is very big. On the other hand in 1967-1974 there was a dictatorship and after the fall of dictatorship there was a strong left movement and again a big hate between left and right side. Some very aggressive terrorist groups start acting as well (17 November was the biggest one).
Not many years after the fall of dictatorship and before the democracy consolidate in Greece the Punk movement came in Greece back in the early 80s along with a socialist government in 1981. Beside the Punk movement and the socialist government there was an explosion of anarchy movement in Greece that was very aggressive as the lyrics of the first Punk bands in Greece. Of the first Punk bands with political and anti-authoritarian lyrics was ANTI… and STRESS formed in 1980. ANTI… was most into electro Punk sound. The first aggressive band formed in 1982. The name of the band is GENIA TOY XAOUS (CHAOS GENERATION), and the most aggressive song must be the song Bastardoktaria (you can translate it as Bastard State or something). It is an old time classic and one of the songs that Punks like the most!!!

Very aggressive was the socialist government as well and many lyrics was about the whole situation and the riots of mid 80s. So the one thing bring the other. The aggression of the past years along with the aggression of the new governments bring the aggression of Punk and anarchy movement.
More or less what we are doing in Greece is to fallow the Punk attitude and the lyrics cause Punk is always non conformist and always against… and we follow that rules. Behind all of these in Greece we are doing some things our way (we like it more extreme and radical)… For example DIY Punk shows with no ticket. In the past there was a small amount you had to pay, then there was the habit of “helmet”. You had to put in a motorcycle helmet a donation amount for the show.

– So historical background is connected directly with current situation. I bought ANTI..’s reissue LP when I was there. Good band with impressive keyboard sound.
Ok, what is the biggest trouble of your own with this recession and economic ruin in Greece?

G: The biggest problem is the unemployment that is 26,8% (between age of 18-15 the unemployment is 56,8%). Before May 2010 when Greece sign the contracts with International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank the unemployment was 14%.
One other big problem is the low salaries and in most cases we have to work “black” with no health or pension insurance. Beside all of this we pay extremely high taxis.
There are also about 20000 homeless in Athens… most of them Greeks and their situation is very hard in the winter. By luck we have a light winter this year by now.
Since petrol (that is the main fuel we use to worm up our houses), gas or electricity (there was a 13% rise on the price of electricity on January) are very expensive, many homes and public schools have no heat at all this winter or have a big problem with this.

- Mitsos from Matssagou Squat, (actually I wrote about him a bit on my article for last “el zine vol.12”) he got arrested the other day. Can you tell me about that situation and how do Greek police work at demonstration?

G: The arrest of Mitsos and one other girl in the demonstration for November 17th (it is the memorial day we celebrate the fall of dictatorship in 1974 and it is a traditional fight day with the police… there was even some murders caused by the police in the past during the demonstrations for this day) was a part of the main tactic of the Greek police against demonstrators. This tactic works like this…
They arrest anyone looks some kind like punk, anarchist or leftist or just because he is demonstrating. After the arrest of the demonstrator they put some molotovs or other illegal stuff in a bag and put it to demonstrators back. There are many videos in youtube of that kind of police “arrests”. Or they can accuse anyone because he is wearing a hood or have a stick with a flag. In case of stick they accuse you for having a weapon!!! In case of a hood you hide your face. For both you have to pass a trial. After the arrest in most cases they beat, torture and humiliate the demonstrators.

- So it’s obviously malicious arrest.
Thank you Greg, any last words?

G: For the end something written back in 1992 in the 7’’ booklet of the legendary hc/punk Greek band Negative Stance: Spectators Of Decadence (released by Profane Existence).

“THE OTHER SIDE OF GREECE”

A sun that never sets, endless miles of beautiful coasts, warm and hospitable people, Ouzo, Feta cheese and Souvlaki. These elements consist the image that most foreign people have in their mind for Greece.
Through this small booklet we’d like to show you a side of Greece that’s rarely seen. The side of police brutality, torture, ill-treatment and state arbitrariness. The accounts you’ll read were taken from Amnesty International’s report on Greece for the year 1991. Every day human right are infringed and violated and in most of these cases the media turn a blind eye. Although few in number, these accounts are quiet representative of the situation in the “country where democracy was born” (It probably died here too!).
So, read on, open your mind and open your eyes. You’ll see that Greece is far from the heavenly place you think it is.”

20 years later things looks going worst day by day!!!

At a demonstration in Athens on Dec 2nd 2012


Dimitris (Guitar player from Go Filth Go, Thessaloniki)

- Tell me anything about increasing the power of Golden Dawn after the election.
And let me know some case happened in Thessaloniki as well.

Golden Dawn is not a new story here in Greece. Although they became more widely know this last year, they started many years back.
It is a 100% fascist, racist organization. They have a leader called Nikos Michaloliakos. This is a rich fucker that started Golden Dawn.
What he did all those years is to built silently some kind of army, and now that the circumstances approve, he got it out in the wide public.
Of course all those years the organization existed because of the support of the big political parties too.
It doesn’t matter they are of “different” political views, they supported it underground because they want its existence.
Now Golden Dawn (GD) has gone from the margin into the parliament. With a good percentage too.
Around 500.000 people voted for them in the May/June 2012 elections. Unbelievable but sadly true.
They are responsible for racist attacks to immigrants or antifascists and other stuff like that. But, even though they were here from a long time ago, the antifascist movement fought them back strongly.
But right now they got more power. In Athens, for example, the problem had become bigger. More and more events happen. Attacks, even murders.
The antifascist movement never stops its action. Now more than ever, but still the problems remain.
The worst is this: most of the members of GD are cops etc, two thirds of the police voted for GD in the elections and every time something happens, the have the support and cover of police and state.
Also the media support them in a way. How? Without speaking against them. They typically do so, but in the end they promote them, Any publicity is good publicity.
It’s ridiculous really. People just look the other way. Unbelievable!
Now I’m coming back to the issue about the number of people that voted for them.
Of course it’s not that there’s half a million fascists in Greece. But they are as responsible for voting them.
What GD does is throw ash in people eyes with “good deeds”. They say they will protect you from immigrants that steal and rob and rape etc, they help old ladies take their pension form the bank by protecting them from possible attacks or robbery and stuff like that.
Also their leader goes out public, speaking in a way that’s like he’s your friend or understands your problem. He says big words and criticizes the government about this and that and the other.
And people fall for it. They think that he will bring change and that he will actually make things better. They also speak about the orthodox religion and, sadly enough, most Greeks are very religious, so it’s gets them too.
Before, I mentioned Athens. The bigger problem is there, because it is a big city. There are many immigrants there too (illegal or not), and many people tend to see them as a possible threat.
It is the typical “the immigrants get our jobs, rob out women, rape our children” stupid stuff. But, when the financial situation in Greece was better, Greek employes used to hire immigrants in many jobs just because they were cheaper working hands.
Now that the situation changed, they blame them for their problems.
Of course, the issue of immigrants in Greece has become a problem, because these people want to come to Europe for better chances, they come first in Greece and a way to go through, but they stay here eventually ’cause they don’t get papers etc.
So they pile up here. That’s bad for them first ’cause they have to live a life like that. And of course in one million people someone will be an asshole and will do some bullshit.
So on immigrant does something like that and suddenly all of them are to blame. That’s Middle Ages way of thinking.

In Thessaloniki the situation is different. Not so bad. Fascists don’t show their face around. They are fewer than Athens and the antifascist movement is stronger than them. Big problem is in the countryside too.
For me the typical Greek mentality is absolutely wrong, really selfish and narrow-minded as hell. This is also a big thing to blame for the GD phenomenon.
GD is there and does what it does. People support it. So they are as responsible for every bad thing that GD causes. I blame them as much.

- I heard there was an attack to some squat in Thessaloniki and the authority evicted them.

D: In Thessaloniki, Delta squat was attacked and evicted by cops on the 12th of September. The place is closed ever since.
Some of the guys inside have trials and one guy from Colombia that lived there was deported.
And in Athens, in December and January two squats and one pirate anti-authoritarian radio station were attacked and evicted, Villa Amalias, Skaramagka and 98fm.
In Xanthi, Xanadu was attacked by fascists around the same time.

- How anarchists or punks is acting against those fascist rising in Thessaloniki? and how often do punks have action besides playing music?

D: Here in Greece the punk scene is closely related to the anarchist movement.
Playing punk means having these ideas. Punk is highly political here. And should be everywhere.
Most of the punks support antifascist/anti-authoritarian/anarchist actions, go to the demonstrations etc.
If you want a percentage I’d say 70-80%. Maybe even more sometimes…
To tell you an example… if there’s a punk concert going on and at the same time a fascist or police attack happens, the concert will stop and people (along with the bands too) will leave and go to the incident.
Punk and politics go together here.

- What do you think is the biggest trouble in daily life with this recession and economic ruin in Greece?

D: The financial situation in Greece is really messed up in many ways. And many different things are to blame for it.
First of all it’s the Greek politicians that are, I think, more greedy than in any other place! This is exaggeration but also kind of true.
Big part is their fault. They embezzled huge amounts of many that were supposed to go to the people and for works in the country.
And on top of that, people kept voting for them. It’s like they suffer from amnesia and forgot what they did to them and just before the elections, they got convinced by the politicians’ smooth talking. Like sheep exactly.
People also are a part of the problem. Because many of them accused the politicians for taking all this money but they would do the same if they were in their shoes.
Mentality. I said it before. That’s the biggest problem in Greece for me. Wrong mentality and wrong way of thinking.
Right now prices and costs for life are exorbitant, and salaries go down and down. We have to work long hours just to be able to pay the bills, the rent and everyday things.
On the other hands the rich get richer, while unemployment is higher than ever. People are actually killing themselves (suicide rates are higher than ever before in the past). The true face of capitalism indeed.
This is all part of their plan of course. Because capitalism is build on such kind of situations and so called crises. It is the way to have everyone under their control.
The EU is obviously taking advantage of Greece, creating this situation where everything goes down the drain, people are desperate and then they come in the scene with their money and buy everything out.
They try to see which one has not yet become a pawn on their board to control, and when they find it they go all the way till they get what they want.

- In such desperate situation, how do you think should people live? I mean, just endure the crisis or rising up or going away to other country like western Europe… of course not all people is able to have those options though. Tell me your honest idea.

D: The times are desperate indeed, and life has become harder than ever before (in the last 20 years at least).
Many live just at or below the poverty line. Less work, less income, a lot more taxes.
Also many have chosen to leave the country and search for a job somewhere abroad. This is a solution for some and I agree with that.
But it’s not an option all people have. And it’s a hard decision too.
I think right now is the time when people must open wide their eyes and see.
See that this system doesn’t work, see that capitalism only cares about profit. Profit in exchange of human life.
It’s a time of awakening, when people must unite, be in solidarity with each other and try to overcome this situation.
Everything that the anarchist movement has said throughout the years about this system now happens more than ever before. People must see that.
Self-management, self-organization… such ideas must now become reality and to go from theory to practice.
People have nothing to lose but their chains.

- Thank you. Now about your band Go Filth Go, tell me some brief history of the band and how you connected to Japanese punks or artist like Sugi. I saw you have a logo of the band by him!

D: GFG started back in the end of 2008 by me (guitar) and Maou (drums).
We are good friends that wanted to play raw distorted-as-hell d-beat punk. We love Disclose, Discharge, Mob 47, Anti Cimex, Framtid and such bands. That’s why we started.
We told our good friends Mike (bass) and Thanos (vox) to join in and they did immediately. So that’s our line-up.
We released a tape in September 2010, a split 7″ w/ Besthoven, a split 7″ w/ Electric Funeral in the first months of 2011 and a full GFG 7″ in 2012.
We have played several gigs in Greece and did a Euro-tour in April 2011. Of course we do everything DIY with close friends and people we like and agree.
We love Sugi’s art! One day we contacted him telling him to check us out and if he likes to draw something for us.
And he did. And we keep in touch ever since. He is a really great guy and we thank him a lot!

- What is your view about playing in a punk band? like in Greece, as you told, most punks are also very radical and get involved in political action or some movements around squat, which is not usual in Japan. Do you have any idea or point of view about it?

D: Yes, as I told you before, most punks are radical and active. Many of them live in squats, are involved in actions etc.
We are this way too. Some of us used to live in squats, we are also part of a DIY concert collective called Biologica. You can check it out on the net.
Generally the punks are like that. They support what happens. even if they’re not in any collective or squat or something.
To be honest, I like that. It’s not a must-do thing if you want to play in a punk band of course, but this is what mostly happens here.
With all this we try to make something for ourselves in this out-of-hand capitalist system.
We do things in a political way in general. Politics is a part of life no one can overlook. We have to be political. All people. And in many ways.
There are many ways to be against the system and fight it. Not only by burning police cars and fighting in the streets (that’s great too of course!).
It is also about awareness and smaller scale actions in everyday life. For creativity, for non-capitalist entertainment, for spaces free of sponsoring and advertising.
For moments of freedom.

- That is exactly the way of anarchism.
Well, last word for Japanese punks.

D: Satoshi-san, domo arigatou gozaimasou for this interesting conversation.
To Japanese people we want to say that we love Japanese punk scene and many bands -old and new- from there and we want to come and play there. Check us out: gofilthgo.blogspot.com/
And if you like us, please make a benefit and gather money for us to come and play there because we are poor! hahaha….
Stay punk. Stay true.

Solidarity action to the oldest squat in Greece Villa Amalias in Athens, where authority evicted in Dec 2012. The banner says 'We are all Villa Amalias'


Themis (Xanthi)

- I heard that especially after the election in June, the fascist party “Golden Dawn” is increasing their power through out Greece. Tell me what exactly is their activities or they are doing as well as their historical background.

Golden dawn is a fascist, neo-nazi political party with obvious Nazism political views and actions. The party was created in 1983 by Nick Mixaloliakos,a former leader of a nationalist party called E.P.E.N (which means nationalist political union),a party created by the prime minister of Greece during the Junta period,when the military coup took place in Greece. The party leader of Golden Dawn had a very active nationalist-extremist movement from his early days as a nationalist with the peak of which being his arrest in 1978 for the possession of explosive equipment and the plotting of two bombing attacks that injured over 30 people at two cinemas.
Taking advantage of the current economic and social crisis in Greece, Golden Dawn accuses the illegal immigration for all the misfortunes that the Greek people suffer today. They claim that immigrants occupy workplaces that would be either taken by Greeks so they must be driven out of Greece. They also blame the corrupted political system that has been rooted since the 1974 when the Junta “failed”(it never really ended,we face the same oppression but in other ways even today),but they do so in a very superficial way,just to gain the favor of the Greek middle class people that they have no clue what is really going on. Doing so,the fascists have gained a lot of power and they now get 9% at the polls,which is an unbelievably big percentage compared to the percentage that they received in 2008 which was below 1%.
They are responsible for countless murders of innocent immigrants as well as attacks at leftists. The police turns a blind eye to all their illegal actions and attacks and since today no fascist has ever been charged with any accusations for any of the murders committed against immigrants. As you can understand the life value of immigrants here in Greece is zero, and I’m very very sad to say that. The police will catch the culprits but they just wont do nothing about it,they will be freed just with some lame charges. The situation is getting really awful.

- You are now in Xanthi, kinda student’s city. How is the situation there. Are students active about anti-fascism? Or are there any fascist students?

T: However, more and more people are starting to involve with the situation. As a result there is increase in the number of people doing antifascist protests and there is also an increase in the antifascist fronts that are created. But there is a dark side to it. It is my opinion that the left wing political parties take part in “harmless” antifascist actions just to take advantage of the antifascist feeling that is being created in the Greek people and therefore gain more favor. They didn’t even acknowledge the danger of the rising fascism movement 1 year ago and now they claim that it is a first degree matter that has to be dealt with.

A flyer of Antifa Hip-hop show held in Xanthi

I’m happy to tell u that here in Xanthi the antifascist movement is very active and it’s getting stronger and stronger. The movement consists mostly of students but there also many citizens that are interested in it. There are always antifascist actions taking place in Xanthi or in the towns near Xanthi which we support or we are supported by. These actions include street protesting, setting up propaganda centers, concerts and occupying TV and radio channels. As for fascist students, there must be some but they are very few and they are probably afraid to show their faces cause they will get what they deserve.

- Well, it is similar that some Japanese politician use “anti-nuke” in order to take their advantage and self-advertisement.
Ok, then what do you think is the main problem in this economic situation?

T: The recession has affected mostly the middle class people, driving a big percentage of them to poverty and some of them to destitution. That’s the reason there is an increase in suicide attempts. There have been more that 3000 attempts since 2009. Many people don’t have money for their necessities and they even have to leave their homes and live on the streets. This situation is more obvious in the big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki. The official unemployment rate in 2013 is 27% and the actual rate is said to be 35%.That’s more than 1,5 million unemployed workers. As said from the above, you can get the picture of how they daily life of many people is turning to. Many homeless people living in the streets,people collecting stuff from the garbage and many peasants. Of course that is more common in big cities.

- You are student, do you have any idea or job which you want to have after graduated?

T: As for people with a university degree, it gets more and more difficult to get a job here in Greece. It is very rare that you will get a job where you can use your degree. If you are “lucky” to get one it will be either without payment or the payment will be a 300-400 euros, like it or not. In a few words the chances to get any kind of work are very few and that drives many young people to immigration. As for me, I too believe that I don’t have any kind of future here and there is possibility that I will leave Greece, either for more studies or for a job. The future lies obscure…..


Like the three Greek punks almost sigh over, the situation is getting harsher. As Dimitris said above, in a national bankruptcy situation, anarchists and punks there are trying to live up to the anarchist idea that we grab our living with our hands. Their way of action is very intense because of their historical background mentioned in the interview, but there must be strained situation on fighting with fascist that drives them more radical.
About suicide rate of Greece, there was a news that at the end of 2012, the rate increased 33% higher than from the same period for 2011(Greek Suicide Rate Keeps Soaring (Greek Reporter, 2012.11.22) http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/11/22/greek-suicide-rate-keeps-soaring/). Greece used to have the lowest rate of suicide in Europe (2.8 suiciders per 100,000 people on the WTO’s statistics in 2008. BTW the rate in Japan 2011 was 23.8 people per 100,000…), so we soon might see their change by data too. And number of Greek people who leaves Greece is also increasing, I read another news saying the third biggest city of Greece is Melbourne where 150,000 Greek immigrants are living.
History has showed the rising of fascism happens when the country is exhausted. I wonder if Japan’s future will end up resembling the current Greek situation, and I would like to keep looking to Greece, seeing how my friends and other people there are living their daily lives and reclaiming their own futures in such a situation.

01. May 2013 by sats
Categories: activism, english articles, greece, music, people, squat | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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