Fwd: L-I: Fw: Eyewitness report from Greece

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMdojo.tao.ca
Thu Nov 25 02:40:36 MST 1999

Forwarded From: Steve Kerr <stephen.kerr at sympatico.ca>

> Live from the front lines of the class struggle.
> Steve Kerr
> reporting from ATHENS, GREECE
> ATHENS, Greece--Bill Clinton arrived in Greece Nov. 19 like a thief
> in the night. His motorcade moved down darkened boulevards
> carefully cleared of people. Armies of police guarded him against any
> contact with ordinary Greeks. But the voice of the people could not
> be silenced.
> While the U.S. president wined and dined with Greek Prime Minister
> Costas Simitis, police loosed barrages of tear gas against thousands
> workers, students and retirees trying to march to the U.S. Embassy.
> Among those gassed were elderly veterans of the Greek anti-Nazi
> resistance in World War II.
> Despite the gas and repeated police attacks, protesters regrouped
> again and again and marched through downtown Athens to the city's
> central Omonia Square. Over 80 people were arrested, many of them
> at pharmacies where they had gone for medical aid. As of this
> they are still being held.
> In the aftermath of the protest, the Greek government has mounted a
> violence-baiting campaign against the Greek Committee for Peace and
> the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which was a major force in
> the demonstration. But it was the state and its heavily armed police
> that unleashed the violence that night.
> The media have played up Clinton's carefully scripted comment about
> the "right to protest as long as it's peaceful." But at every stop on
> Balkan tour, protests have been met with fascist-like violence.
> While he was in Turkey, police beat and arrested hundreds of
> protesters in Ankara, the capital. They had not been released as of
> Nov. 22.
> In Sofia, Bulgaria, where Clinton went after leaving Athens, protests
> were also banned and over 100 people arrested. Blagoesta
> Doncheva, a former anti-communist "dissident" who has written
> eloquently about the Bulgarian people's suffering under the new
> capitalist regime, including a recent op-ed piece for the New York
> Times, was thrown into a mental ward.
> Clinton will also visit the NATO-occupied Yugoslav province of
> Kosovo. There, Serbs, Roma people, Turks and other minorities are
> being systematically murdered and driven from their homes by NATO-
> sponsored gangs, even as the imperialist occupiers claim to be
> combating national oppression.
> In Greece, too, the regime tried to stifle protest. In the week
> Clinton's arrival, a masked gang attacked a Communist Party
> neighborhood office in Athens, beating three people. Another KKE
> office was firebombed. Officials and the media also created a climate
> of fear with constant warnings about violence. But their efforts at
> intimidation failed.
> The Greek people hate NATO. Nearly 700,000 Greeks were
> murdered by Nazi occupiers during World War II. When the
> Communist-led Greek resistance, in alliance with Yugoslav and
> Albanian partisans, succeeded in driving Hitler's armies out of the
> Balkans, the imperialists feared a revolution and sent British troops
> occupy the country.
> Britain, a supposed ally, imposed on Greece a regime of Nazi
> collaborators headed by a hated royal family that had spent the war
> under British protection. In 1948 and 1949, tens of thousands of
> Greek anti-Nazi fighters were murdered, imprisoned or driven into
> exile by mercenary forces armed, trained and financed by the U.S.
> and British imperialist governments.
> The Truman administration created NATO in conjunction with this
> war against Greece. The U.S. military's first use of napalm bombs was
> against Greek villages. U.S. planes also bombed Yugoslavia in this
> period. Over 100,000 anti-Nazi fighters were held in concentration
> camps for the next 20 years.
> In 1967, when the Greek left had regained its strength, Greece's
> NATO military carried out a coup. Col. George Papadopoulos,
> leader of the fascist junta that would rule the country for the next
> seven years, was on the direct payroll of the CIA. This was finally
> revealed by the New York Times in 1976.
> Fascist terror did not crush the people's resistance. On Nov. 17,
> 1973, tens of thousands of university students defied tanks and guns
> to challenge the junta, which fell the following year.
> That same spirit was very much alive in the streets of Athens and
> Greek cities before and during Clinton's visit.
> On Nov. 8, 10,000 people had stood in the rain in Athens's
> Constitution Square for a mass trial of the U.S. president and other
> NATO leaders. The judges were 20 justices of the Council of State--
> the Greek Supreme Court. Famous entertainers served as other
> officers of the court.
> Clinton had ignored a subpoena delivered to the U.S. Embassy a
> week earlier by a march of several thousand people.
> After hours of eyewitness testimony about the U.S. bombing of
> Yugoslavia, the presiding judge asked if Clinton were guilty of war
> crimes. The entire crowd responded "Guilty!"
> On Nov. 17, the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising, tens of
> thousands of marchers, mostly youth, filed past the U.S. Embassy.
> They loudly denounced Clinton as the butcher of the Balkans, called
> for an end to NATO and demanded that the U.S. military get its bases
> out of Greece and its troops out of Yugoslavia. The march was
> organized by the communists, but even youth from PASOK, the
> social-democratic governing party, felt compelled to join.
> And then on Nov. 19, the night of Clinton's arrival, tens of
> of protesters, many waving red flags, gathered in three squares in
> downtown Athens in defiance of a police ban.
> The main rally, in Constitution Square, was opened by Bill Doares of
> the International Action Center. Doares saluted the Greek people's
> history of resistance to fascism and war and their solidarity with
> people of Yugoslavia.
> "The profits of Wall Street depend on wars of destruction," he said,
> "and only mass action can stop the Pentagon's drive toward new and
> bigger wars. In this great task, the Greek people are leading the
> Doares also condemned Clinton's hypocrisy in preaching about
> "human rights" when the "U.S. has more people in prison than any
> other country--70 percent are Black and Latin--and the biggest
> companies profit off their slave labor." He drew loud applause when
> he called for international action to stop the execution of U.S.
> prisoner Mumia Abu- Jamal. Pictures of Mumia dotted the crowd.
> The main speaker was Athanasios Pafilis, General Secretary of the
> Greek Committee for International Peace. Pafilis condemned the
> "stability pact" signed at the conference of the Organization for
> Security and Cooperation in Europe in Istanbul. The pact asserts the
> "right" of the U.S. and NATO to intervene in any country where they
> deem there are "human rights violations."
> Pafilis spoke of the long and bloody history of U.S. intervention in
> Greece and honored some of the country's anti-fascist martyrs,
> including Grigoris Lambrakis, a vice president of the Peace
> Committee, who was assassinated in 1963.
> Pafilis asserted that the police had no right to stop the people of
> Greece from marching in protest down their own streets.
> At 6:30 p.m., the moment Clinton's plane touched down, the minister
> of public order still refused to allow a march. The lead contingent
> the demonstration, made up of construction workers and shipbuilders,
> then forced its way through police lines. The authorities responded
> with volleys of gas bombs.
> Despite the police attack and arrests, the Greek people's opposition
> to NATO and the Pentagon's war plans was heard around the world.
> [Note: The U.S. media have minimized this extremely important
> political development, but the demonstrations were top news in
> Europe.]
> Clinton came to Greece from Turkey, where he had dominated the
> conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
> Europe. Why the United States, which is not part of Europe, should
> have been there at all the president did not explain. But the reason
> clearly that the continent is under U.S. military occupation. NATO is
> the justification for this relationship.
> At a press conference, Clinton appealed to Greece's elite with
> of a partnership with U.S. corporations in robbing the rest of the
> Balkans. But for the Greek people, U.S. military and economic
> domination has meant high prices and a 13-percent unemployment
> rate.
> It also means a $2-billion military budget, much of which is spent on
> U.S. arms. The Nov. 21 International Herald Tribune admitted that
> military spending "exacts a heavy toll" on the Greek economy.
> Clinton admitted that 94 percent of the Greek people opposed
> NATO and the war against Yugoslavia. He said that was "an example
> of democracy." He didn't explain why it was democratic for the U.S.
> to impose its war policies on Greece despite this overwhelming
> opposition.
> Clinton also made the amazing statement that "southeast Europe is
> undivided and at peace for the first time in 50 years." Only a few
> months ago the U.S. launched the first war this region has seen since
> Washington's 1948 intervention in Greece.
> Filip Karamalis, a young worker who took part in the Nov. 19
> protests, told this writer, "U.S. imperialism will not pass. We shall
> stand fighting. All the Greek people are against NATO, against the
> European Union and U.S. policy. Clinton is trying to act like Hitler.
> But Hitler could not conquer the Balkans and neither will NATO."
> International Action Center
> 39 West 14th Street, Room 206
> New York, NY 10011
> email: iacenter at iacenter.org
> http://www.iacenter.org
> phone: 212 633-6646
> fax:   212 633-2889
>      --- from list leninist-international at lists.econ.utah.edu ---

*This was NOT attached by the Tao collective*

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Macdonald Stainsby

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