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The fight for Villa Amalia

09 January 2013 / 19:01:48  GRReporter
4629 reads

Villa Amalia. The old building in the centre of Athens, which could have housed an art gallery or a museum if it had not been occupied by anarchists for years, is the new epicentre of political confrontation.

The police broke up the anarchist commune through a surprising operation before Christmas. They found in the building sticks, helmets, empty beer bottles and cans of petrol, apparently for the making of Molotov petrol bombs. Two days later, the people captured were released without any restrictions.

However, a huge discussion about these types of occupations has started in the official and social media. The statement of SYRIZA’s speaker and member, Panos Skourletis, caused strong reactions by saying that the objects, which had been found in Villa Amalia, were part of the belongings of any household. Moreover, the party said that cultural events took place in the villa, thus provoking commentators and cartoonists.

During the holidays, the calls of anarchists for "solidarity with the occupation of Villa Amalia" became more frequent. The culmination was yesterday when about 20 people "conquered" the underground station at Omonia Square and started shouting slogans against the breaking up of the anarchist commune.

Today, a group of anarchists "reconquered" the building, which is located on the corner of Heiden and Aharnon streets at Victoria Square. A little earlier, a small group of people with covered faces had attacked members of the riot forces, which were detached nearby. The police used tear gas against them. Other anarchists broke into the building during the turmoil.

Then, the operation to capture them began immediately. The police cordoned off the area and were quick to capture many of the participants in the second occupation, who did not resist strongly as announced by sources.

A little later, another group occupied the headquarters of the Democratic Left on Agiou Konstantinou Street. The youths hung posters with slogans in support of the occupation of Villa Amalia. It did not take the police long to stop this protest too and they seized 40 participants.

The official report of the police authorities states that 92 out of about 150 anarchists were captured in Villa Amalia. Furthermore, they found and seized helmets, gas masks and a makeshift shield.

According to some media, the son of SYRIZA deputy Nikos Voutsis was among the anarchists who had been captured in the morning. George Voiatzis – Voutsis, who is famous in these circles, is an old acquaintance of the police after his arrest for participating in a bank robbery in Athens in 2007. He was sentenced to eight years in jail but he has been free for a few months already. The court also imposed a fine to the amount of 1,500 euro on him and deprived him of civil rights for two years. In his testimony, the deputy’s son had said he did not regret for his actions, "but this does not mean that I would do the same again."

The developments could not escape the comments on the central political arena too. PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos described SYRIZA’s request for an investigation against him in connection with the change of the so-called "Lagarde List" as an "appeal of Villa Amalia."

The confrontation in the social media is not less. Some of the users are surprised by what gave the youths the right to occupy the underground station yesterday to show that they were in solidarity with the occupation of the building. Others openly mock the statements of the left, "Villa Amalia is a place for cultural events? What will we hear next? Perhaps something more about the culture of the Neanderthals?"

There are those who do not support the occupation of Villa Amalia and the anarchists but they do believe that the police operations are just "throwing dust in the eyes of the public in order for them to forget about the strict financial measures, the expensive heating oil and the high bills and taxes."

It seems that the "fight" between the anarchists and the Ministry of Civil Defence for Villa Amalia and other "occupied historical" buildings has just begun. In the afternoon, the police surrounded a building, which is located near the villa and has been occupied for years. There, they captured seven people and found empty bottles, helmets, hoods, tools and other items.

Meanwhile, groups of anarchists are gathering in the area around the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic School; they are expected to hold a protest march in solidarity with the occupiers of Villa Amalia. According to sources, some of them have put dustbins along Stournari Street as a barricade.

Tags: Crime newsPoliticsVilla AmaliaOccupationPolice operationPolitical confrontationAnarchistsSYRIZA
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