FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2006
student demo in greece
8th June 2006: The Protest
I arrived at the University and joined the samba practice. At 12:30 we went to Propylaia where thousands of people started gathering for the protest. While we were playing samba journalists were maniacally interviewing people and taking pictures – people were openly graffiti-ing walls and pavements – stencils against the commercialization of education and against the government. It was going to be big. We decided to leave the instruments when the march started as the students warned us that the protest was going to be a tough one: and they were right.
By Syndagma, the police (MAT : the ones with gas masks, tear gas and clubs and shields) attacked the protestors. There was blood and tear gas. Students and professors were crying in pain, still linking arms forming a strong chain of thousands of people. Some protestors were grabbed and beaten up. I was not ready for this. I had nothing to protect me from the violence and the chemicals. I lifted my t-shirt to cover my nose but this did not help. My eyes were burning. My throat was burning; even my skin. Tear gas was evil! I started spitting hoping it would help my throat. I found myself in a war zone: molotovs, chemicals, tear gas. People were running. Even police men (not equipped with gas masks) had the terrified face of not being able to breathe. I realised that once again I left my asthma inhaler behind. This was nasty. No street medics, no water. Shop keepers, old ladies, kiosk people, office workers in their suits were caught in it too. Everyone caughing, crying, running. One of the chants “to potami den girizi piso” (the river doesnot flow backwards) echoed in my head, as every single demonstrator was shouting it out.
There was the black bloc, the communist bloc and the student bloc. I joined the student bloc or as they called it “the polytechnic bloc”. After hours of tears and pain the students I was with, decided to get to the polytechnic – police is not allowed to enter the polytechnic or any university in Greece. We ran while some people were smashing bank, cars and shops. A mercedes car was set on fire. There was a blockade outside the university of burning skips. A fire started on the road and the firefighters in the middle of MAT and the angry molotov warriors, were trying to put it out. I went in the university through the side gate. Thousands of students were gathered with white faces. They were using a malox and water mixture on their eyes to ease the pain from the chemicals. They looked like the “choros” of a Greek tragedy. There was a call for a meeting. I stayed with the Caravan people for a bit but then decided to see what was going on outside. It was around 7pm and there were still molotov wars. I sneaked out of the university and was surprised to see that life was going on as usual on the parallel street: youngsters in internet cafes playing war games, men in kebab shops having a chat. I bought some beer even though I do not usually drink it! I just needed a drink!
The people at the Squat Villa Amalias were having a performance in the night: a greek play. Although tempted to join them to wind down after the eventful day, I decided to dedicate a few hours trying to wash the chemicals and tear gas off me.
On that night, I watched the news on TV. Surprisingly mainstream media spoke of the unnecessary police violence – this was because the police attacked a journalist too. There was a talk show with “innocent office workers who were attacked by the police” Mainstream media was interested in the black bloc, the burnt mercedes, the molotovs and the police. It was also said that the government wanted to stop having Universities as places where police cannot enter, which was a very scary thought – would the events of 1973 happen again? Ok may be without a tank, but seeing the violence today, I would not be surprised of students brutally being killed.
POSTED BY RHYTHMSOFRESISTANCE MANCHESTER AT 12:28 PM 0 COMMENTS
joining the AA Caravan
7th June 2006
My visit in Greece coincided with the Art and Activism Caravan’s visit so I decided to join the Samba workshops as fellow Rhythms of Resistance sambistas were spreading creative activism and samba to rebellious Greeks.
I arrived in Athens at 3 am and headed to the Villa Amalias squat. A squat going on for 14 years! I wandered around for quite a few hours with my backpack and repinique (a small drum), (and a stray dog keeping me company) as instructions of where the squat was, were…well…not that accurate! I finally found it: a huge building on a corner! The walls full of graffiti and posters; I peeped through the little hole in the door – a huge yard but no one to be seen. I had a nap outside where I also found out that a 10-inch repinique can easily hold my weight and act as a comfortable chair!
Finally when I woke up I spotted a guy getting in the squat. I followed him and asked if he knew where the Caravan was. He directed me to the Polytechnic University– now when I think of greek polytechnics the first thought in my head is the 17th November 1973 events when the junta police drove a tank in the university killing students. I remembered all the chants the students were shouting back then – it was in our school curriculum: “edo Polytechnio, edo Polytechnio”… I started walking towards the university chanting “psomi pedia eleftheria” (bread, education, freedom) while also wondering if I could find the caravan as university campuses can be massive.
At around 12 noon I walked in the University yard. The Caravan was at the corner with a few people sitting in the shadow next to it. A Greek girl was making a huge orange saying “Boycott Israeli goods”. On the building walls there were hundreds of graffiti against authority and hierarchy. On the red wall there was a Rhythms of Resistance graffiti, with a little cross on a spelling error. I smiled and had a chat with the guys. They were planning a samba workshop in the afternoon and welcomed my offer to join in and help.
15 people who surprisingly were able to play the tunes after only a few workshops and at the same time smoke a cigarette and chat on the phone (this was part of student culture I was assured), attended the samba workshop. The students were all enjoying the samba and enthusiastically screamed that now they were too samba addicts!
After the workshop we all went to the university cafeteria. There was a strike and the university was squated by the students (due to their disagreement to the government’s decision to support private universities) and the staff at the university cafeteria where serving lunch for free. That was a good strike! Over a generous and tasty mixed vegetable dish I discussed their thoughts on creative activism: the students all thought drumming could be a beneficial addition to their protests but also pointed out that tactical frivolity could be misunderstood by other Greeks. Some of them pointed out that it was important to show they were very serious about issues and did not want to give the impression that they were fooling around or taking things lightly by making it look like they were having fun. They wanted their chants to be heard out clearly and loudly. But they all wanted drumming and samba to be part of their protests too.
The students decided that they wanted to play samba on the big protest on the 8th June 2006. We agreed to meet at 11 am to practice and then head to Propylaia (where the protest would begin).
POSTED BY RHYTHMSOFRESISTANCE MANCHESTER AT 12:22 PM 0 COMMENTS
TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2006
what have we been up to these days
2nd April2006: massive samba workshop in Yorkshire. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/manchester/2006/04/337684.html
15th April 2006: Manchester Rhythms of Resistance marched for
asylum seekers rights against immigration detention centres. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/manchester/2006/04/338554.html
1st May 2006: Samba at the Trade Union march for MayDay. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/manchester/2006/05/339451.html
2nd-4th June : International RoR weekend :-)
6th-9th June: Art & Activism Caravan in Athens!
24th June: Save the NHS demo
9th July: open samba workshop
26th August 2006: Twee Pride (the alternative Pride event against
the commercialisation of Pride)
POSTED BY RHYTHMSOFRESISTANCE MANCHESTER AT 5:16 PM 0 COMMENTS
What is "Rhythms of Resistance Manchester"
Welcome to Rhythms of Resistance Manchester!
Rhythms of Resistance Manchester is a radical percussion band (samba band) that plays at street protests and direct actions. We see street carnival as a vital component of life and fun. We wish to create, through tactical frivolity, a world of equality, social justice and peace.
We operate through consensus decision making as we believe in non-hierarchical power.We do not expect politicians to change the world for us and we do not wish for a leader to lead us: we believe in a DIY culture, grassroots and we wish to express freedom involving laughter, music and dancing. Through carnival and occupation of the streets we subvert the symbols and ideals of authority.
Contact Us: email@example.com
An unexpected carnival is revolutionary.
POSTED BY RHYTHMSOFRESISTANCE MANCHESTER AT 5:09 PM 0 COMMENTS
RoRM is a radical percussion band that plays at street protests and direct actions. We see street carnival as a vital component of life and fun. We wish to create, through tactical frivolity, a world of equality, social justice and peace.