A group of 50 anarchist political activists took over the official headquarters of ruling Greek party Syriza in Athens on Sunday, demanding the leftist group enact prison reform and free a terrorist caught after injuring himself with his own bomb.
The storming of Syriza HQ coincides with a hunger strike currently occurring in Greece’s maximum-security prisons. The Agence France-Presse reports that the anarchists forcefully entered the building, draping it in banners demanding that Greece close its highest-security, or “C-type,” prisons, in which criminals considered the biggest threat to Greek society are held. The group forced many of those in the building to leave.
Syriza party spokeswoman Rania Svigou told the AFP that the protest interrupted her very first official interview as spokeswoman: “I finished the interview and went out to see what was happening and they told us to get out.” AFP also notes that Syriza– The Coalition of the Radical Left in English– had previously attacked the incumbent government for mistreatment of protesters.
Greek newspaper Ta Nea has published video, apparently taken by one of the protesters in the group, of the incident:
Ta Nea reports that the occupation lasted nine hours. The group demanded Syriza publicly support a number of terrorists, including members of the Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei who were arrested in March. They also demanded Syriza force through legislation that would reduce maximum prison sentences to twelve years rather than life and free internet access for terrorists in prison.
The Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei has been designated a terrorist group by the United States government, and any U.S. citizen providing material support to the leftist group will face prison time. The State Department explains:
SPF is a Greece-based extremist group. It has targeted civilians and government officials, both Greek and foreign, in an attempt to spread its violent anarchist ideology. The group first emerged in January 2008 with a wave of fire-bombings against car dealerships and banks in Athens and Thessaloniki. Four members of the group were arrested in 2009 following the evolution of the group’s tactics to employ more sophisticated bombs
Also mentioned by name during the extensive protest is terrorist Savvas Xiros, leader of the November 17 terrorist group. Xiros has been in prison since 2002 after being arrested following the premature detonation of an explosive meant for a terrorist attack, which instead “seriously injured” Xiros. The anarchists demanded Xiros’ freedom.
The protest highlights the delicate balance Syriza must strike between maintaining its authenticity as a radical leftist movement with the most violent and least realist elements of the Greek left while also governing as a political party in any fashion. Upon being elected Prime Minister in January, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras was described by many as a leader who “is prepared to ‘stick it to Europe,'” and may forego practical considerations for ideology. Tsipras, who has openly declared himself a fanatic of the Latin American/Irish terrorist Ernesto “Che” Guevara, has so far had his government act somewhat moderately in the face of the biggest crisis facing Greece today: the economy.
While Tsipras’ Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, made waves by disparaging European Union officials as a “troika” and triggered wide condemnation after a private letter to EU officials leaked in which Varoufakis suggested the creation of a league of undercover tax “inspectors” to prevent tax fraud through fear and intimidation, the concrete result of Greece’s talks with the EU was slightly less than radical. EU officials agreed to extend the Greek bailout for four months at the end of February, allowing the nation not to yet impose new austerity measures, but also requiring Tsipras and company to continue paying back the European Union.
The anarchist raid of their headquarters may be the first sign that the leftists who put Syriza in power are already beginning to feel betrayed by another set of politicians too milquetoast to enact the reforms they envisioned, which apparently include clemency for terrorists and maximum prison sentences that would allow even the most hardened criminal to return to the streets with plenty of time to cause more havoc.