postvirtual

Free Again

In Athens, Greece on 16 May 2012 at 19:31

Athens, May 16

Dear people,

During one of her previous periods of decline there lived a great philosopher in Athens. He was called Diogenes. He had the fame of being one of the wisest men of Greece, but he didn’t care for fame. In fact, he didn’t care for anything at all. He was a cynic. To him the world was evil and corrupt, and all the rest was vanity. In his view there is nothing worth pursuing, we might as well live like wild dogs on the square. And that was what Diogenes did. He lived in a barrel on the agora, and he used the bushes as a toilet. To few people he spoke about the suffering of world, and most of the others ignored him.

It is with genuine cynical spirit that the march to Athens occupied Syntagma on the evening of May 14.

The next morning the square was cleaned and the people who resisted were rounded up and dragged away. They remained cynic until the very end.

Establishing the exact number of people who were arrested on May 15 at Syntagma is a task that I leave in good faith to future generations of historians. I think they were 13. But I keep remembering faces of which I don’t know if I included them in the count.

Those faces haunt me in my dreams. I was there, they had wanted me to avoid arrest and take note of their full names just before they got dragged away. I didn’t catch all of them. And now I see them come by, those faces. They form a human pile, they are guarded by zombies. Desperately, they scream. First names, second names, ‘Oscar! Write them down! Don’t forget us!’. I do what I can, but they’re too many. They are more and more.

The faces change like mixing paint. They become dogs. They start barking, louder and louder, and I don’t understand. The zombies begin tearing them away. A van of the municipal dog catcher is waiting. One after another they are thrown into the vehicle. They howl their names. They know they won’t come back. ‘Remember!’ they say. Then the car rides off, but I can’t figure it out. I drop my notebook and I wake up screaming.

It’s May 16. The agora is over. I’m in the squat. After 24 hours an unknown number of comrades is still under arrest. I go look for news.

All day long I’m like a pinball moving between the square, the squat and the internetpoint. And everytime I get to one of those places I have a feeling that the latest news has just flown away.

What’s left are the rumours. Our comrades are going to be judged, people say. Immediately and without ado. No translations, no lawyers, no reasonable doubt. Guilty in the first degree, within hours after arrest.

‘Guilty of what?’ I ask. But there is no count, there is no need for it. They are guilty in general.

I don’t believe it. I go look for more rumours. If they don’t come back, then I’m guilty myself. I didn’t take all of their names.

‘Resistance against the authority’ is the next rumour. After arresting all those people, police had to make up a reason. Foreign media were asking for it. The second count was ‘Crimes against the environment’. As if we were Shell in the Niger delta.

It’s outrageous. We camped on a hundred squares, we always left them cleaner than how we found them, and now the Athens police dare to accuse us of littering in public.

Other rumours said the third count was ‘conspiracy against the security of the state’. I don’t want to believe it, but I can’t help it. I’m convinced they don’t stand a chance, and it’s all my fault.

I go out. For some reason I can’t get my hand on the facts today. Everybody knows more than me. Greater part of the group went to visit them in the police station, and I haven’t even been able to find out where it is.

No facts, not one of them. I get high on rumours. I want more and more. And when someone calls me, I pimp them up and pass them on.

When I get back to the squat another time, the prisoners have already been transferred to a maximum security penitentiary on the island Samos. Some of them are said to be collaborating with authorities to avoid the worst, some are about to be extradicted to the United States. Of the others, no news at all.

It has been thirty hours. The latest rumour that reaches me is also the most ridiculous one. ‘Everyone is free.’

This time I really don’t believe it any more. I take a siesta, and only hours later it turns out it was true. Everybody is free.

As far as I understand, it has been a classic bureaucratic farce. Some didn’t have ID on them, and they gave up a false name with false data. None of the data was checked. On the other hand, everyone had to give fingerprints. Four people refused. They were put under psychological pressure when they were told that they could get ‘one and a half years of prison’ for failure to cooperate.

While a small concert was organised in Syntagma to mark the end of the agora, our comrades were taken from one police station to the other, and finally scattered over five different locations. They hardly got anything to eat for 24 hours.

The embassies of France, Italy and Spain were mobilised. France and Italy didn’t really care for their citizens. Spain offered all possible assistance.

Today around noon there was a preliminary hearing in front of a judge. When police saw how much public showed up, they were suddenly a lot more friendly towards our comrades. Various lawyers had offered to defend them for free. The one who was present was a notorious communist. He held a passionate speech which ended with the word ‘laos’, ‘the people’. Hardly anyone understood, but everybody applauded. Riot police was on standby right outside the door.

The judge sighed. He wasn’t in the mood. Accusations too v ague, and too much trouble with translations. ‘Come back in a week’.

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