ATHENS – The Community of squatted Prosfygika is a squatted neighborhood in Athens. There have been many squats and projects in Europe in the past. However, gradually the majority of these projects were attacked, cleared and razed to the ground by the repressive authorities. The Prosfygika is one of those projects that, to the best of their ability, defend themselves against repression and try to realize an alternative way of life and politics. The Prosfygika is also threatened with eviction and was last attacked by the Greek police on November 22nd. The community of the squatted project sent our news agency the following interview:
Can you introduce yourself? What are you doing?
“2010 was the beginning of the Community of squatted Prosfygika with the start of the Gathering. The eight blocks that make up our neighborhood are located between the police headquarters, two hospitals, the Panathinaikos football stadium and the main court. 400 people live in the neighborhood and about 200 people in the community, including 30 children. The community is a multicultural and multiethnic mosaic of different oppressed classes. People from more than 15 nationalities live together here. Our community works self-organized and horizontally based on theirs needs. This neighborhood is liberated ground but embedded in local realities. This means that we do not see our project as an “island of freedom” and have no such illusions . The Prosfygika neighborhood is a practical answer to the social and economic conditions we have been forced into. We are part of the class , social and international struggle. We fight against gentrification; we are part of the struggle for housing, part of the local struggle and movement in Athens.”
What is your historical background? In which tradition do you see yourselves?
“We see ourselves in the tradition of the revolutionary movement. Our values are freedom, solidarity and equality and the main pillars we refer to are confederalism and internationalism. If we were to point out one historical ideological direction , it would be anarchism – communism and platformism. We see them as our theoretical and organizational basis, but we don’t work dogmatically. We see it more as a tool, but we have a broader political understanding.”
What are the challenges you face as a project ?
“As a movement, we face state repression in general, but our community in particular is also being persecuted by the authorities. We see the danger of the eviction of our area in connection with the general struggle in Greece and Athens: in connection with the police occupation in the Exarchia neighborhood, which is a central place for the anti-authoritarian movement, with the evictions of squats or the attacks on universities . Embedded in this context, we understandthe state’s gentrification plan for our neighborhood. The “REDEVELOPMENT OF ATHENS SRO”, founded in May 2018 under SYRIZA and continuing unabated under the NEW DEMOCRACY with K. Bakoyannis as President, has rolled up its sleeves and is plowing buildings, territories, whole regions, whole lives for our “ Well”. This means displacement of the people who live in this area, privatization and the increase in the cost of living. In concrete terms, this means that we are in constant danger of being expelled by the state. Another part is related to ourselves , that is, how can we work on our ownwork mentality? How can we question the values that the state imposes on society and that we ourselves have grown up with? We seek to combat individualism and patriarchy and promote an equal and collective alternative, both on an individual and collective level.”
What major challenges do you think society is currently facing?
“An economic and social crisis amplifying a political crisis, the rise of nationalism and chauvinism paving the way for nation -states to become ever more totalitarian . Neoliberalization and individualization create a strong capitalist culture. NATO – and EU – policies as major imperialist powers trying to expand their territory. An increase and militarization of the police and the EU – borders, the creation of FRONTEX as a European military force to protect them with a new level of violence, death and pushback.”
How are you reacting to the crisis we are currently facing?
“We are organizing more to be able to react to the new situation , that is, to be able to react to changes in the Greek state with more repression of the movement . We try to build autonomous structures outside the mechanisms of the state, so as not to be dependent on the state, to actively oppose it and to create our own alternative. An example of this is the structure of the children’s home. The children ‘s home is a self-education structure and supports the development of the children in the district and organizes activitiesactivities with them. The children’s home focuses on the children’s psychosocial development, offers them support with their daily homework, organizes trips and creative games. By creating autonomous structures, we are able to promote our own culture and values. Our confederal approach seeks to provide a response to the ongoing crisis and issues the movement is facing. We try to find specific issues where we can find common ground to work with collectives and groups from different parts of the movement. In this step we open our project to different communities or to connect struggles from the local to the international level . Concretely, we propose to work together with collective responsibility, a common plan and a common agenda.”
Can you tell us something about the self-organization in your project?
“Our project is based on a specific framework that includes a collective program, collective responsibility and long-term plans. We work under Congressional procedures, which means we review our work in a review assembly. Here we reassess our tasks and work and practice criticism and self-criticism. Our decision-making body is our General Assembly, which takes place once a week and should be attended by all members of the community . In addition to this assembly, we work with a general administration as a secondAssembly, which takes place weekly, as a body that has no decision-making power but is responsible for implementing what has been discussed and decided in the general assembly. ”
How is your relationship with society? How is your approach to society?
“We see and understand ourselves as part of society. We are a social project and there is no distinction between us and the others, we are not a political body outside or above society. Our struggles are fully connected to society . We are part of the social struggles and the class struggles. Our community is an open community , and our gatherings are open-procedure, meaning anyone can participate . We also encourage this openness in the movement.”
What is your relationship with the freedom movement in Kurdistan? Do you see parallels in your struggles?
“Kurdish and Turkish revolutionaries lived in the neighborhood before 2010, we have been in contact with them since then. In 2015, the first comrade traveled to Rojava to support the revolution. To date, 7 people from the community have traveled to Roja va and Kurdistan to support the movement. One of them, Haukur Hilmarsson, fell to Sehid defending Afrin in 2018 against the Turkish invasion. Some of the other internationalists in our community were seriously injured . The community is part of the Riseup4Rojava campaign and collaborates with the local Komele ( Kurdish Society Center) and other Turkish organizations . Since 2016, after the community made the proposal to house revolutionary organizations in our neighborhood’s infrastructure, Komele (assemblies) and Turkish revolutionary organizations have joined our community . Now PKK, TKP/ML, DKP, DHKP – C, MLKP are housed and MKP is present in their independent infrastructure. Of course we see parallels in our struggles, we see the need to fight for a liberated soil and to oppose the mechanisms of state and capital . The revolution in Rojava liberated land and made it possible to build an alternative.”
What do we have to do against the war in Kurdistan?
“We must support the Kurdish movement, in all four parts of Kurdistan, in Turkey and internationally. We can expand the Kurdish paradigm, put an emphasis on education and we should support the Kurdish structures around us. We are doing this locally with our participation in the Riseup4Rojava campaign. With Riseup4Rojava we want to draw attention to the war and the role of the EU and NATO, we don’t want to let a low- intensity war go unseen. We participate in educational measures (Academy of Democratic Modernity). As a community let’s encourage people to go to Rojava , join the revolution and learn from it. If structures of the Turkish state or capital are in our countries , we can attack them.”
What gives you inspiration, hope and perspective?
“Historically, all the struggles of the oppressed classes and their continuation today. To see that there are so many comrades and people fighting and fighting back . Our own community and what we have been able to build over the last ten years. But above all, the struggle of the Zapatistas and the Kurdish freedom movement gives us hope and an example to learn from and be inspired by . But other revolutionary movements around the world, for example in Latin America, can also be an inspiration.”
How can people, also outside of Greece, support your project?
“Interested people can come to our neighborhood to build organic relationships. In our community there are rooms that accept internationalists for a certain period of time who want to get to know our project, meet people, get involved in the common structures and the daily program and take responsibility for active resistance in the neighborhood. In addition, we invite people to stay long-term, responsible in our community to take over and become part of it. Additional support for the defense plan can be given through technical knowledge and work for barricading, combat material, alarm system, but also through support in our daily work . The blocks/houses in our neighborhood are about 100 years old, we repair and maintain them ourselves. We need knowledge and skills to support us in this practical work, eg construction work, plumbing work, but financial support is also needed. Internationalism is our basis, it is within this framework that we see relationships with othersGroups and individuals outside Greece as an important part to improve the struggle , create connections and common projects and support each other against state oppression . In the event of a state attack on our neighborhood, we welcome declarations and actions of solidarity . We consider the importance of each banner, slogan and announcement as a contribution to Prosfygika ‘s political defense . In a logic that aims to impose the greatest possible price on the state apparatus and capitalist wealth in the form of destruction, violence and social exposure, there are both aggressive and activistSolidarity actions welcome.
In general, every fight against capitalism, the state and exploitation helps our community , so get organized, squat, fight and build alternatives in your area . ”
More information about the project at: https://sykaprosquat.noblogs.org/ and via T witter: @Prosfygika