The following inspirational statement deserves the widest possible circulation. It is from Greek conscripts in 50 units of the Armed Forces. The statement is notable for linking all the current horrors inflicted on workers everywhere to a single cause – the ongoing crisis of the capitalist system. In this crisis, which demands sacrifices in lost and ruined lives, all workers, whatever their condition, have a common cause and a common interest. The document comes from “Diktyo Spartakos” (‘Spartacus Net’), which is a far leftist formation inside the Greek army, mainly composed of the New Left Current (NAP) but it has a broader impact among far leftists and anarchists. These conscripts have clearly had enough of all the dirty deeds (1) demanded of them.
(Note: this article is a slightly edited version of an article first published in The Internationalist.)
Collaborative Media Briefing October 19 2015:
“…. flesh torn on barbed wire, children drowned on beaches, hungry people on the streets, crowds of people begging for their papers …”
Before they became headline news, many of us saw and experienced these shameful images on the River Evros, and on the islands, where we were sent to do our compulsory Military Service of the Absurd, as both slave workers and cannon fodder. These scenes have shocked us and dominate our discussions. But we don’t want this to become the “new normal”. While not having grown used to and not having accepted the Memoranda and all the policies against the people, of imperialist interventions and their dirty wars, we will not accept and not get used to the refugees’ plight. It is also the plight of our own people, of our own world, the working class world regardless of nationality-religion-gender!
The so-called “increased flow of migrants” is in reality the flight from war and displacement. It is not a natural phenomenon. Someone is responsible for it. It’s their capitalist crisis. To overcome this, they abolish our rights, leaving us starving, in poverty and unemployment, making migration a necessity. It’s the USA, NATO, the EU, China and Russia that is responsible: they impose their financial interests using terror and death, maintaining and reviving new passions and hostilities, feeding on religious fundamentalism. It’s also the regional imperialist powers (Turkey, Israel, Greece, Arab governments) that sharpen rivalries in the region.
It is those who speak of failed states and inferior nations, those who treat people as garbage and take part in mopping up operations, transforming entire zones into human storage dumps for brutal exploitation! There is only one enemy of the bourgeoisie and its governments: the workers, whether they fight for their rights or are moving about without documents, even when it is capitalist military interventions that led to the uprooting. But even then, refugees can’t choose where to go. The authorities direct migration flows to modern-day concentration camps, the “hot spots”. (2) Of course when migrants and workers are not needed any more or when they try to better themselves, they can be got rid of …
The Greek state and the army are part of the problem and not its solution. The SYRIZA-ANEL government continues the War on Terror, participates in imperialistic plans, targets “asymmetric threats” (immigrants, social movements), playing on the false distinction of “good” refugees from war – and “bad” economic migrants. The Armed Forces call on us, the conscripted soldiers alongside professionals and officers, to make war on the “enemy within”, as in the recent Parmenionas 2015 (3) exercise! In this cycle of death-exploitation-oppression, the “enemies” of Greece and Turkey jointly patrol the Aegean, cooperating in harmony! Furthermore, the EU battlefront starts from Gibraltar ending in the Aegean, with Frontex (4) taking a decisive role.
A Greek submarine participates in the European fleet that operates in the Libyan territorial waters. We, the 16th Division in Evros, are on guard against migrants coming from Andrianopolis. We’re ordered to take part in Crowd Suppression Drills, as in Kos after the dramatic events in Kalymnos, when the governor requested military aid to use weapons against hungry-thirsty-imprisoned immigrants. We guard the murderous fence which is the real reason of all the drownings in the Aegean.
WE DON’T FIGHT, WE DO NOT SUPPRESS, WE DON’T HUNT DOWN MIGRANTS
We, the soldiers in struggle are against all this, against both their past and present crimes.
We call for a mass movement, both inside and outside the Army:
To block in any way we can Frontex, NATO, the European army, the actions of the Armed Forces as this massacre goes on. We don’t participate in arrest patrols.
To assist in demolishing fences and not creating new ones. No soldier boards ships on missions against migrants.
Ships, submarines and aircraft should return to their bases. There should be no attempt to supply them.
We refuse to convert the Greek army into a repressive apparatus, whether that involves confronting migrants or social movements. We will not accept papering over the cracks in the social structure with “volunteer labour”. For us the real “asymmetric threat” is the war being waged against us by the governments and the interests they support.
We call on our colleagues to not only show compassion but to take note of our common class interests. It is the bourgeois institutions, bourgeois policies, bourgeois governments themselves which are destroying even our dreams.
What the refugees are now going through – the constant persecution by totalitarian mechanisms of every kind – in the struggle for dignity and survival, their sad present is for many of us the current and future nightmare that we should not have to experience. It is the Parliamentary totalitarian state in collaboration with the NAZI Golden Dawn.
We are aware the coming revolts will find those on the bottom rung either united together or in conflict with each other.
Today there isn’t a better form of solidarity in practice which gives the greatest service to ourselves than attacking the problem at its roots.
We are part of a modern anti-war and labour movement that can exist only within a working class, anti-capitalist and internationalist perspective. We resist, oppose, and totally reject the government, its imperialist mechanisms, and the bourgeois world of oppression.
[The original was signed by soldiers from 38 units of the Greek Army]
SIGNED BY PRIVATES OF 50 UNITS:
547 Rethymnon Airborne Battalion,
616 Infantry Battalion,
535 MK/TP 31st Brigade,
Mesologgi KEN 2/39 SP,
124 PVE Tripolis,
Cpt. Paraschos 29th Infantry Brigade,
221 EMA Plati Evros,
401 Military Hospital Batallion Administration,
Evros Chatzipenti Camp,
211 MK/TO 95 LATETH,
Araxos 116 PM,
3rd Cooking Education Battalion-Gythio Supply Dept.,
647 MK/TP Litochoro,
SDB Karaiskakis B Company Management,
219 KICHNE Didymoteicho,
173 MEAP Orestiada,
424 SN Thessaloniki,
Evros Vogiatzis Feres Camp,
32 MPP PN,
643 TE Chios,
618 M/K TO Plati,
296 M/K TE,
KAAY Agios Andreas,
93 TYETH Lesvos,
22 EMA Petrohori,
25 EMA Petrochori,
107 A/K MMP PEP Didymoticho,
3rd EAN Alexandroupolis,
107 Chatzipenti Koufovouno Camp,
Evros 523 Mavrodentri Kozani.
(1) This not only means doing the EU’s dirty work to keep out migrants, but also attacking Greek workers. According to the following source efsyn.gr, conscripts of the 523rd Infantry Battalion were ordered to join a secret military exercise in Kozani on Wednesday, October 14 with professional soldiers to “recapture the abandoned AEVAL factory (which used to make industrial fertiliser) that has been taken over troublemakers” (Camp Deputy Commander). The so-called “troublemakers” had only occupied their own bankrupt factory in a desperate attempt to either keep the thing going and thus their jobs, or to prevent the bosses selling off the assets. In short, the Army was carrying out the defence of capitalist property relations against the working class. Nothing new there and nothing new in a Left wing capitalist government using ultimate force to defend property rights. Such suppression of the working class is not new and there are plenty of examples from 2008 and 2011. See eagainst.com
(2) The first of these refugee “hot spot” registration centres was established on Lesbos only a few days ago. Refugees are made to queue here, probably for days, to be fingerprinted like criminals before they get a preliminary asylum hearing, which determines if they can be registered for entry into the EU.
(3) The Parmenion Army training exercise takes place every year, but this year’s was notorious for being on the fence which the EU pays Greece to maintain and defend on the border with Turkey along the River Evros (see opening of the soldiers’ document). Tsipras, complete with Airforce jacket, attended this year’s exercise in which he declared that “Greece’s borders were safe”. Several refugees (seven are documented by Human Rights Watch) have been gunned down there in recent days by border police.
(4) Frontex is the European Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union. In short, it is the border police of the European Union.