greek original: BLACK FLAG, Anarchist Counter-Bulletin and Action issue no. 64, November 2012
translation by: bananasraw
A testimony from the hellhole at Police Headquarters in Athens
The text below contains excerpts of recorded transcripts of a conversation with one of the comrades arrested at the anti-fascist motorcade on September 30th. A deliberate pause on the torture that took place inside the police station – which the state tried fiercely to conceal, surpassing absurd extremes. We are well aware that what happened does not constitute a deviation. This disclosure is intended to convey the experiences of comrades and to break the silence that allows for its recurrence. All that has happened has become a motive to reveal the obvious, but has been systematically silenced: That fascist pogroms could not continue without the help of the police, that hastens to assault those in society who erect barriers against Nazi gang activity. That the state is not “neutral” towards “extremists groups” as is often claimed by propaganda, by equating those people struggling against state and capitalist brutality to fascist thugs who serve their bosses, assaulting activists and the most vulnerable social and class groups. And on the other hand, the only weapons of terror and suppression, used for confrontation by a rotten political system, are not enough to suppress dignity, resistence and solidarity. Because this disclosure of brutality is not a reason for subordination, but a reason for awakening and for an uprising of awareness.
Q: Would you like to begin by describing the events of the motorcade?
A: On Sunday, September 30, a third antifascist motorcade took place. There had been another two previously in September. The first one in the Metaxouryio, Ayio Pavlo and Omonia neighbourhoods and the second at Monastiraki, Ermou and Thisio. That night we began from Exarhia around 8 in the evening and rode towards Amerikis Square and the surrounding streets. The purpose of the procession was to strengthen immigrants a few days after the racist pogrom. It’s true that when passing through these neighbourhoods, there was incredible excitement from immigrants. They raised their fists, they clapped, they made the sign for victory, they said “thank you”. This was a few minutes before we were attacked. It is the last image I have before the police attacked.
Q: At that time were there about 80 motorbikes?
A: Yes, two riders on almost all the bikes, about 150 people.
Q: And the police?
A: We couldn’t see well because it was night and their motorbike lights were on us. There were many policemen from the Delta force, upon our arrival to the zone where the fascist pogrom had smashed immigrants’ shops. We made a stop at Filis Street and yelled slogans. I don’t know how it all began exactly because the volume of the procession was large and the street narrow, the bikes were spread lengthwise down the street. From the back of the procession I heard bang-bang and flashes from weapons being fired continuously one after the other. The police had been following the protest, so they were located at its end. So the attack took place from there. Chaos prevailed. Smoke from what they were hurling at us was everywhere, we couldn’t see each other clearly. The flash weapons were exploding beside us, on us, everywhere. The police were beating the protesters with batons. Cars were parked on the right and left. Many motorbikes were immobilized and couldn’t proceed due to the volume of the procession. This lasted quite a few minutes. We somehow tried to proceed to avoid any more being injured. I was stopped, together with the driver of the motorbike we were riding were stopped by a patrol car, a little further down. And we were led to police headquarters. Upon arriving to police headquarters I saw another 13 people, who were in critical condition, having been badly beaten. Some were bleeding from the head, others from the arms and legs. There was a lot of blood. Some couldn’t walk.
Q: Where were you taken exactly?
A: We were on the 6th floor, outside the offices, in the hallway. There were two benches. Some had been handcuffed and bleeding. We requested tissue to stop the bleeding but were not given any at all. I happened to have a packet of tissues with me and tried to help, that is, to try to blot the blood a bit. But the packet wasn’t enough because it wasn’t just one injured, there were many who were bleeding. When we asked for paper, the police answered, “you won’t have anything, you’ll stay as you are”. As time went by, more policemen from the Delta force arrived. There was a small desk at the other end of one of the benches where they were all gathered. They called our names out and wrote on a paper what clothes we wore, our general description. This is how our supposed identifications took place to give them the time “to cook” their statements of where our arrests took place and under which circumstances. We understood all this a little later, once we saw the charges brought against us. They are all total lies, ie apart from errors they made about the place of arrest, they have even made mistakes in descriptions. They couldn’t even do that right!
Q: Okay, it’s obvious that the accusations are unjustified. They just had an order to knock the procession down and arrested anyone they could as it was dissipating, even from a long distance away. The “crime” is essentially participating in an anti-fascist anarchic march.
A: That was their aim: to knock over the procession, especially at that site where the pogrom had previously taken place. So, the made-up charges, together with a pile of other crimes, cannot hold. On the contrary, everyone was very seriously injured on all parts of their bodies. As was in the case of one young man who was attacked with a taser. During the time of his arrest, he was attacked in the back by a taser gun. He told us that at that time, his whole body became paralyzed and he fell down. We also saw him at headquarters later, he has a hole in his back, a deap wound from the taser. Anyway, many hours went by while we waited there on the benches. Also, we had no water. We had nothing, they had taken all our personal items. They denied our request for water. In the garbage we found a small bottle and a second one under the bench. We had those two small plastic bottles which we filled only when one of us asked to go to the toilet and a policeman decided to accompany one of us. Because, using a number of different excuses, they would deny even that. We drank water in this manner, one gulp between each 15 of us, every 2-3 hours. There was a door adjacent which the delta police entered one at a time to give their testimonies. There were about 30 of them, most of them sat around the small desk that I mentioned, across from us and the rest, along the wall of the corridor. We were told a lot there. It’s hard to remember. Threats like “You’ll see who you’ve gone against” and “you’ll see if you’ll ever make an anti-fascist (demonstration) again”, “you went against Golden Dawn and you’ll see. We are Golden Dawn also”, “you’ll die like your grandfathers at Grammo and Vitsi”. They made sexist comments for us girls, very vulgar language, things that you never hear anywhere or from anybody out on the street.
Q: How many girls were you?
A: We were two girls. They had focused their wrath against us, they were engaged with only us for many hours, cursing and threatening us. Afterwards, they would refer to dead fighters, Lambros Fountas, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, Christoforos Marinos, saying that the rest of us will go find them soon. In the middle of all this, there was a tall Delta police who had his left arm bound up. We could tell who were Delta from their uniforms. He would come in between us, stepping on our feet with his boots, smoking and throwing the ashes on us. He later took his mobile out and started filming us. He took our pictures saying “we have your addresses, we have your names and now we have your faces and now Golden Dawn will have everything”. If one of us tried to resist, meaning verbal complaints, he would punch and kick that person.
Q: This person specifically?
A: He beat us mostly and the others would accompany him. They cursed, loomed over our heads and punched us or banged our heads against the wall. The level of torture isn’t just the beating, there are also the threats, attempts at humiliation. They are also forms of torture. But there were also physical assaults. I couldn’t take seeing those who were bleeding, were being beaten even more. The most injured was one who’s head had been bashed and had been bleeding for hours, he was in constant pain and calling for a doctor and whenever he spoke, he would get beaten. Whenever he asked for something, they would assault him with slaps and punches. Also, because many hours had passed – we had managed to hold onto a watch and could tell the time – we would try to close our eyes to rest for a couple minutes. We were exhausted, especially those injured. At some point, the young man who was bleeding from his head, closed his eyes and laid down. They wouldn’t let him, they screamed “Get up, you won’t sleep, get up”. Another one beaten in the face, was bleeding from above his nose and from his arm. Others had been beaten in their backs, they had baton scars. During their arrests, they had been thrown to the ground and were beaten while immobilized. And while thrown to the ground, the police tried to remove the bikers’ safety helmets with fury and in danger of choking them since the helmet are tied at the neck. Baton injuries were on all parts of their bodies: back, belly, legs, arms. Because of the direction of the bench, I kept my legs tucked and my head stooped to avoid them photographing my face with mobiles. That specific Delta policeman came over to me and started pulling my hair to lift my head to take my picture. The first time that happened, one of those arrested sitting next to me, protested. He was assaulted because of his protests. The second time I protested when the Delta police came, and I was hit. Because I had my arms in front of my face, keeping my elbows high, I was punched in the neck. Wherever he succeeded in punching me beause he couldn’t get to my face. He would pull my hair and while slapping and punching me.
Q: That specific one? The same one who said that he’s taking pictures to send to Golden Dawn?
A: Yes, and I remember him because his arm was bound. Then he started shooting a video. The third time he came over to me, threatening that he knows my home and where I live, I still didn’t lift my head and he started beating me again. That’s when I broke into an outburst. I pushed him away from me and started to yell and scream to leave us alone, that we have been arrested and has no right to do this. During all this chaos I can’t recall what I said exactly, but I was shouting very loudly. So, because of my screams, someone wearing civilian clothes came into the hallway, maybe it was the Duty Officer, who held him back from assaulting me anymore and told those Delta policemen who had testified already, to leave. Which means that most of them had already testified hours before and just stayed there to continue all this. And from that moment on, he left. I forgot to mention that he wasn’t the only one videoing and taking pictures. He had the closest shot because he would walk about among us. The others sitting at the desk would video their colleague doing those things to us. The assaults stopped but everything else continued. They had a lazer with a red beam which they would aim at our eyes whenever we would close them to rest a bit. Then they would close the hallway lights and lit a torch on us saying “this is how an interrogation is done” and “now I’ll show you how it’s done”. And again one of them would come towards us with the torch while the lights were out. They would also play with the air-conditioner, resulting in our freezing or over-heating. I stopped asking to go to the bathroom because whenever I was taken passed the under-cover and Delta policemen in the hallway, they made most horrible remarks. Sexist, cursing, threatening, everything. And there were some with their mobiles ready to photograph me as I continued on.
Q: When did this stop?
A: Around 7 in the morning, when all the Delta police left. We had been arrested a little past 9 at night. All these hours we didn’t have any contact with a lawyer. The lawyers arrived a little after 3 on Monday afternoon. We had been on the sixth floor of Police Headquarters for approximately 19 hours. The injured comrade was taken to hospital on Monday morning. He had stitches to his head, was bandaged up and had a broken arm. The rest of the injured were not seen by doctors. They went directly to the Forensic Surgeon on Tuesday. I forgot to mention that: When we were on the sixth floor, we were asked to enter an office to be searched one at a time. That is, to have a body search, to strip. A body search had already been done on Sunday night. We were then taken to the Prosecutor’s offices. The Prosecutor told us that we would be held till Thursday. When we returned to headquarters, we were taken to the seventh floor where the cells are located. They called us again, one at a time, for body searches. I protested and said that there’s no sense for a second check since I’ve been accompanied by police continuously. The policewoman said that these are the regulations, she led me to a place – before the holding cells there are offices and on the right there is a small room like a storage room. I entered and waited for the door to close. She tells me that this door doesn’t close and she will search me this way. I say, “what are you talking about? You are going to search me with the door open?” Exactly across there was a desk with a policeman working there and other policemen coming and going to the offices and to the cells. We were directly across, there was no partition, I was in front of an open door.
Q: Similar reports were made by those detained and arrested on Monday, during the attack of riot police at a solidarity gathering inside the Evelpidon Courts.
A: Yes, 25 people were detained and four arrested. One was a young lady, they brought her later into the cells together with us.
I would like to say something very important to us that even from the first day that we were led to the Prosecutor’s office and on Thursday and Friday – after 20 hours in court and finally set free on bail and restricting conditions – all these days, the solidarity we received from people gave us incredible strength. We gained strength seeing our comrades shouting slogans. Without solidarity I really don’t know if we could stand as strong as we are now.
Lastly, I would like to note that the reason we are stating and reporting the torture from police, is not for reasons of victimizing ourselves. The state has always tried to continue in it’s attempt to terrorize in any way and with any means available. Our proportion is to highlight the events and through this we become more aware, stronger in the fight against the brutality imposed upon us.
* Note: On October 27th, a fourth antifascist motorcade took place shouting slogans and crossed central streets of Athens with red and black flags.