On Saturday morning, numerous police forces stormed inside Evagelismos Squat. 10 comrades were arrested, one of whom -while being handcuffed- was led to fall from the roof of the building, and is currently still in the hospital. The sealing of the building with iron plates started immediately. The comrades were transferred to the General Police Directorate of Heraklion, where they were charged, while the injured comrade was being held separately and not receiving the necessary medical care. Outside the building dynamic reflex reactions took place, resulting in the arrest of one more comrade. Reactions that continue in the following days…
The first public information about a possible evacuation operation had been released on September 20, with statements by the General Secretary of Higher Education and former rector of the University of Crete Od. Zoras, regarding the evacuation and “utilization” of the building. Thus, on Thursday September 28, we did an intervention in the University’s online Senate, where a text was read. The current rector G. Kontakis -who was in Rethymno at that time- had an sarcastic tone and avoided making any comments.
After the eviction, which took place less than two days after the aforementioned intervention, both Zoras and Kontakis were nowhere to be found, with the Deanery refraining from making any statements and Kontakis not having the courage to take responsibility for his choices. Of course he could not hide forever, as it is now known that, by his own actions, the Senate of the University had requested, since July 20, the evacuation of Evagelismos.
The timing chosen for the eviction, two months later, and a week before the municipal elections, is probably no coincidence. The current mayor finishes his term and avoids making any statements regarding the issue. A candidate (and former chief of the police) declares that he is not the mayor himself and that he can’t be affiliated with the evacuation. Another candidate avoids taking a stand, but at the same time is meeting up with Kontakis, who states that when the elections are over, will start contacts in order to secure funds. And somehow everyone is trying to avoid any responsibility and the political cost involved in the eviction of a historic political space, which has been alive and active for 21 years, and is a milestone for the movement and the city of Heraklion.
We also do not consider the third eviction attempt that took place at the same time at the Self-managed Political Space at the Polytechnic University in Athens as incidental. The two operations were presented by the media as a joint action in the context of the “return of university spaces to society”. The -once again- simultaneous attacks on spaces of struggle and resistance constitutes a conscious state policy and agenda.
A choice made at a time when the greek state and capital are responsible for dozens of deaths, and when deaths and disasters have become a normality. From the charred migrants in Evros to the drowned people in Thessaly (in an area where three years after another disaster, the necessary protection works, that cost millions, had yet to be carried out). From hundreds of murdered animals and destroyed villages, to vast burned farmland and Natura designated areas. At a time when the cost of living is rising endlessly and we are under constant attack in all aspects of life: from the degradation of labor rights and the legal attack on unionizing in the workplaces, to the repression of gatherings that do not meet thei state’s requirements, and the hundreds of auctions of people’s homes and evictions.
While our neighborhoods are filled with airbnbs and are oriented more and more towards the tourism industry, at the same time that migrants drown in the Aegean Sea, while investors buy whole blocks of houses, when people of our class barely cover the ever-increasing costs of living or are forced to move to other neighborhoods, squats cover our common need for decent living. In a society where there are thousands of empty houses and people without shelter, squats reject in practice the concept of property, as well as the ability of the wealthy few to use it to become even wealthier. They are a living example of collective life. The issue has never been whether they are “legal” or “illegal”, but that they are just and necessary.
The attack on squats is not detached from the overall attack on society and the fights that are developing on the streets, universities, prisons and workplaces. Squats are not just buildings, but spaces of organization and struggle. They are a part of the resistance against the dystopian reality we live in, against individualization, apathy, and the even worse future that the rulers are preparing for us. Spaces in which the values of capitalism are challenged in practice, while the memory of the struggles that the exploited gave in the past is preserved, so that we can use it in our times, in our own struggles. The attacks on squats, such as now in Evagelismos, or the evictions in “Zizania” and Ano-Kato in Athens this summer, at a time when half of Greece was on fire, are part of the overall effort of the state and capital to hit the internal enemy, to silence any resisting voices which threaten their domination, as well as attempts to impress, in order to hide the dead ends of capitalism, and to disorientate us from our real problems.
The excuses that were initially used for the “utilization” of the building as students dorms and then as a “cultural space” are nothing more than pretexts. On the one hand, they are lies to manipulate public opinion, as one can see from the history of so many former squats. We can easily recall the case of the Delta Squat in Thessaloniki (a center of student struggles in the 2000s, which was supposedly evicted to be turned back into dorms and has since been demolished), the Orphanage Squat from which immigrants and locals were kicked out in order to turn it into a “rehabilitation center” and in the end it was demolished, Mundo Nuevo where they also used a similar pretext, but instead the building remains shut off with metal sheets, Biologica Squat, that would supposingly be turned into a library, and so many more… The lies regarding the interest in the building can also be seen by the deanery’s decision this summer to ask for its eviction, while restorative construction work was taking place (for the third time in recent years). Work carried out by the efforts and resources of the people who are active in the squat, and the solidarity from Greece and abroad, for the safety of both Evagelismos and the neighborhood itself.
On the other hand, squats cannot actually be “attributed back to society”, because they are already utilized by it. 21 years ago we entered into a wreck of a building, which was rendered dangerous, since it had been left to rot for decades, and had literally ended up a hotbed of infection. It seems that this situation did not bother them as much as our political action; as much as solidarity, self-organization, and unmediated struggle, which are a clear threat to the system of power that places profit above life. With our forces, anti-hierarchically and self-organized, we managed to turn a decaying building into something viable and functional. We have transformed it into a place that’s vivid and open to society, in which a variety of political, cultural and social events have taken place over the years. Evagelismos cannot become a “cultural space”, as they state, when it has already existed as such for 21 years. Within the building, a political bookstore and lending library operate on a permanent basis, as well as a self-organised cafe, gym and carpentry. Video screenings take place, assemblies and collectives are hosted, while these days basic necessities were collected for those affected by the floods in Thessaly. This is Evagelismos. A space that’s open to society, but also to those who are excluded from it. And the only ones who can utilize it are the people who are active in it.
But enough with the talking. We want to make it clear, that from the moment you kicked us out, your task will be difficult and all those responsible -from the state to the Deanery – will pay the political burden of what follows. Don’t have the delusion that you are dealing with 10-20 squatters. Evagelismos is the people that have existed here, the people who are here now, and we will try to make it be the people that will come in the future. People who organize horizontally and from bottom-up to create a dynamic, active and diverse movement, people that for years have learned to fight and resist, and know very well how to react to this new threat. Be sure that the struggle and solidarity will not only come from within the borders of Heraklion, but just like every time an occupied space is threatened, there will be reactions from all over Greece, from all the other squats and the whole movement. We’re not going to take a step back until we get Evagelismos back. And we get it.
Demonstration for the defense of Evangelismos Squat – Sunday 8/10, 18:00, Lions’ Square, Heraklion