Athens police launched at 5 am a campaign to "clear up" two buildings from the occupation of anarchist groups. The buildings are located around the central Exarchia Square, which is known as an alternative area of the Greek capital. Besides the youth facilities, clubs and stages for live music located there, Exarchia Square is also a meeting point of the supporters of anarchist movements and extreme leftist groups.
The occupied buildings were owned by the regional branch of the social security fund IKA, but were not used for administrative purposes. At the beginning of the year, anarchists turned one of the buildings into their asylum where they gathered, organized concerts and even stayed overnight. The same happened to the other building, known as Vox (ΒΟΞ), which is located right on the square. It is also IKA’s property and it housed the old summer cinema on Exarchia Square, which has not been working for several years now.
By 8 am, the police were able to clear up the two buildings and found three people there. One of them was a wanderer and was released by the police after being identified. There is yet no information about the other two persons. The campaign started after the administrative department of IKA had claimed that the two buildings should be emptied of their casual occupants. The claim was filed on 12 April this year and then, Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Yiannis Tedes ordered all occupations of university areas and other public buildings to be lifted. It was also ordered that a fast-track court procedure should be triggered, if the occupiers refused to leave or the buildings were seriously damaged.
According to unofficial information, the clear-up was organized in response to the damages caused by unidentified persons at midnight on Thursday. Offices of the national communications company OTE were attacked; two service cars were torched as well as four private cars near Exarchia Square. Three fire engines with twelve fire-fighters arrived at the place and the flames were extinguished in about half an hour. Police broke into the two occupied buildings at 5 am and began clearing them up.
At 11 am, Exarchia Square was still cut off to cars and passers-by. Police officers did not allow ordinary passers-by to the area. They admitted only residents of the region against identification and reporters. However, journalists were not allowed to approach the buildings and the campaign could be observed only from a distance. Police did not allow anyone near to the place where the two operations were held. Cafes and shops in the area were open, but the employees were sitting idle. Riot force cordons surrounded the entire square and uniformed police officers, deployed in a line, guarded every street that starts or ends in Exarchia Square.
Left non-parliamentary party Andarsia condemned the police action and called it "election autarchy." They define the occupied buildings as centres for improvised social solidarity where homeless people and immigrants find a place to stay. According to a representative of the police, who spoke exclusively with GRReporter, the square will be released from police presence and will be open to the public not later than 2 pm. There is no information yet on what was found in the occupied buildings.