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Newsletter (in English)

Freedom for Aris Seirinidis!

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| Categories: Greece, Statements

We are publishing a solidarity call we received from Greece. The case of Aris Seirinidis shows that the capitalist courts are a weapon against the workers’ movement and revolutionary organizations, particularly in times of social upheaval. Only mass action can stop this kind of class justice. Therefore we call on all workers’ and left-wing organizations to support the call.

For the last 10 months, the revolutionary activist Aris Seirinidis has been imprisoned in Athens. The charges against him have been ridiculous from the beginning. And now the trial, which has finally started, is turning into a legal farce.

The class struggle against the “EU-Junta” and their brutal plans for social cuts reached a peak in May 2010. Against this backdrop, Aris Seirinidis, one of the most well-known activists of the large anarchist movement in Athens, was arrested on May 3, 2010 in a random police search. The police attempt to frame him as the perpetrator in the robbery of a “Praktiker” home improvement store failed. After that, they thought of something new.

The police and the justice system have since charged him with shooting at a bus of the infamous special police MAT in the summer of 2009. Although only one shot was fired, Aris has been charged with 17 counts of attempted murder. Even more absurd is the so called “evidence” against him: a surgical mask which supposedly contains Aris’ DNA and which was supposedly found near the crime scene. In Exarchia, the leftist district of Athens in which this took place, hundreds if not thousands of these masks are constantly lying on the street because demonstrators use them to protect themselves from the massive use of tear gas by the police.

The witness who supposedly saw the perpetrator throwing away the mask was not observed at the crime scene by anyone else. He did not give the mask to the police until the next day. The whole story is highly dubious, and many people speculate about manipulations by the police. The trial is thus important for another reason: it is a test run of a new method for repression, namely, the first time in Greece that someone is to be convicted based solely on DNA “evidence”.

It is obvious that the Greek state is trying to get rid of a well-known revolutionary activist. That is why Aris was imprisoned in the infamous Koridallos jail for months. In Greece, it is possible to imprison a person for 18 months before charging him with anything. The fact that Aris has been in jail for so long despite the lack of evidence shows the political nature of the trial. The prosecutor added, after his statements about the mask and the DNA, that the accused is “in any case […] not hiding his subversive work”, but instead admits that he is a “revolutionary” who fights “against state and capitalism”.

In a statement from prison, Aris writes that the trial is in reality not about his DNA on the mask, but instead about “my political DNA”: The basis for the accusations “is not the genetic material on a mask found in Exarchia because of fighting the day before, but my political genetic material, my presence behind the barricades, which defines my class position and my class consciousness – against capitalist rule and government terrorism.”

The attempt to convict Aris Seirinidis of multiple counts of attempted murder is part of a broad wave of repression by the Greek state with which they are attempting to criminalize political resistance and class struggle against the attacks of the government, capital, the EU and the IMF against the Greek workers. Another example is Simos Seisidis who was shot – from behind and without warning – by the special police. In prison, he got no adequate medical care until his leg had to be amputated. The MAT regularly attacks demonstrations.

The solidarity campaign for Aris has been overshadowed by the death of his father Kostas. Kostas Seirinidis was himself an activist of the radical left and played a central role in the campaign for his son; but because of stress and worries he suffered a heart attack and died. The funeral turned into a political demonstration and a speech by Aris was transmitted from prison.

Despite these tragic events, the solidarity campaign has grown bigger and bigger. Everywhere in the city of Athens with its four million inhabitants, posters demanding “Freedom for Aris Seirinidis!” can be seen. A few weeks ago, 1,500 people joined a demonstration the release of Aris, and hundreds attended solidarity meetings. Countless leftist organizations, trade unions and individuals expressed their solidarity with Aris and demanded his release. Among others, Manolis Glezos will speak for Aris in his trail. Glezos is a legend in Greece; in May 1941, when Athens was occupied by the Nazis, the young man tore down the swastika flag from the Acropolis in the middle of the night. He has been active in the left ever since.

On March 9, the trial against Aris finally began. On the second day of the trial on March 17, which was supposed to deal with the core questions, the dubious witness disappeared and could not be found by the police – or so they claimed. Aris’ lawyers could prove that the house in which the witness supposedly lived has been vacant since 1988! The witness is from Poland and does not have a proper place to live or a legal job – it is open for speculation how the police pressured him into testifying against Aris.

Considering that the main witness is gone (and the testimony of the police officers is contradictory), the trial against Aris has lost any kind of legal seriousness and should be stopped immediately. But the justice system and the police seem to feel obliged to justify the imprisonment of a person for ten months without any serious evidence – therefore, they are attempting to continue the trial come hell or high water. It cannot be ruled out that they will attempt to construct something new in order to get a conviction.

We say:
Stop this legal farce!
Freedom for Aris Seirinidis!

Via the Greek solidarity committee for Aris Seirinidis, not only Manolis Glezos but also numerous other individuals and organizations are demanding the release of Aris. Among them are the trade unions of book store workers, couriers and teachers as well as representatives of leftist parties like Giannis Voutsis (for Synaspismos), Angelos Hagios (for Antarsia) and Theodoros Koutsoumbos (for the EEK). The students’ representatives of the Technical University of Athens and the Pedagogical University in Thessaloniki are supporting the campaign as well.

15 university professors have published their own solidarity statement in the big liberal daily paper Eleftherotypia. Among them are Angelopoulos Venios (Professor at the Technical University of Athens), Kastrinaki Rania (Lecturer at the Panteion University for Social Studies), Kouvelakis Stathis (Professor at King’s College in London), Giorgos Maniatis (Professor at the University of Athens), Basalexi Dina (from the CNRS in Paris) and others.

We want to do our part to support the solidarity campaign with an international component.

We ask you to spread this campaign in other media; you can use this text or parts of it.

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