1. Because you have been and you are still paying for it.
50% of the Villa Zografou estate was bought with an illegal loan in 2006 amounting to €19.000.000 (excluding interest). A loan which was legalized in 2013 through a majority vote by a municipal faction consisting of the parties: PASOK, NEW DEMOCRACY and SYRIZA.
2. Because you will continue to pay for it.
The ink is still wet on a €154.430 contract budgeted by the municipal and regional authorities for the renovation of the villas Kotopouli, Bougra and Bonaparte. And let us not forget the recent purchase of the theater Dimitris Potamitis amounting to €550.000, likewise bought under the pretext to create a „cultural center,“ and whose renovation will require a truck load of licenses and money. Apparently, municipal funds for „cultural centers,“ „cultural events“ and top artistic directors with annual salaries amounting to €23.000 exist and are available. But when it comes to providing stable and dignified work conditions for municipal workers, who disenfranchised slave away under socalled „charity work“ austerity programs, funds are missing – despite all the electoral and postelectoral declarations and promises to the contrary. These workers are exceptionally poorly payed and are denied basic worker right such as sick leave, right to strike, etc. In the end, it was only through a prolonged strike that municipal cleaning workers succeeded at re-claiming a few basic labor rights. These are the priorities not only of the municipal officials of Zografou, but of each and every municipal authority.
3. Because in the period villa Zografou was squatted you could influence each and every decision concerning the squat.
The main decision-making structure was an open assembly organized and announced publicly every week. The decision-making process at these assemblies were organized by principal of horizontalism, that is: without hierarchies or discrimination. Indeed, despite the strict priority given to organizational practicality in terms of the space, anyone could put forward any socio-political topic on their heart and make their opinion be heard – provided the motivation wasn‘t to promote a political party, commercially vested and didn‘t transmit fascist attitudes. All decisions concerning the future of the Villa, or any other matter, were shaped and made collectively. Try to pay the
municipal council a visit to have your say similarly. Rest assured: you can not.
4. Because Villa Zografou was already a „conservatory“.
Music lessons were continually held at the squat – which even had an entire studio/rehearsal space build into it. And as if that wasn‘t enough, the space offered tutoring classes to junior high and high school students, multiple languages courses, courses in photography, history, cinema, theater and other subjects. Moreover the squat served as a space for science and literature studies. All of the above were offered – for free! Generally speaking the squat was a space for the exchange of knowledge and ideas: from the smallest daily matters to the largest and most complex issues.
5. Because Villa Zografou was already a „cultural center“.
But not only in the traditional sense of the concept; that is to say, the squat included a nursery, a library, a puppet theater and held plays, arranged concerts, film screenings and other events. Villa Zografou served as a hub of learning for and production of an alternative social system. A society of human beings who will not stop fighting for a better world; who refuse to bow their heads; who will not be silenced and who will not outsource their future to some politico or so-called expert. This is so, because the people who participated in the occupation know that they belong to the social classes, which despite generating the wealth of the world, only receive crumbs, exploitation and
oppression in return!
6. Because Villa Zografou was already a „green space“.
This is firstly a well-known fact to the residents who participated in treeplanting the area thereby reversing an image of neglect and abandonment that previously characterized the place. And secondly it can be assured by anyone who has ever brought their child to play in the courtyard or to the various children’s events that took place there; whoever has taken their dog for a walk around in the area or who has played ball in the „gipedaki.“ And generally anyone who has ever passed by even once and taken a look from the outside. And those who forgot or ignored the growing of food
in „Baksé“, a crop field that made up a large part of the outdoors squat space, may soon come to realize that grass is not so palatable. It is worth noting that the municipality hires contractors to prune the trees even though there are municipal gardeners available.
7. Because the squat covered basic needs and desires over the past five and a half years.
Villa Zografou collected money for political prisoners, strikers and to pay for medical expenses, legal costs, syndicates and worker collectives. It cultivated agricultural products and organized collective kitchens, free flea markets and occasionally collected first aid articles and supplies. The Villa offered temporary shelter for the homeless and stray. And all of the above mentioned services were organized far apart from NGOs, the church, philanthropic funds and state institutions – because their „humanism“ doesn‘t stretch far and simply perpetuates impoverishment, while our militant solidarity is our project and solution for the problems of society.
8. Because it didn‘t cost you a thing.
At least until the municipal authorities arbitrarily decided to pay a random amount of the squat‘s electricity bill, thereby economically burdening the local residents as part of a propaganda strategy against the occupation. As for the water, it came from preexisting drilling. The national electricity and water companies, DEH and EYDAP, where at no time allowed to check the respective meters of the squat. Electricity and water belongs to those who produce and need it.
9. Because the mass media and the state deceive you.
They renamed confiscated jam jars „molotovs,“ cleaning swabs „fuses,“ safes of Zogfrafou landlords as cash registers and other imaginative fictions. They want to make you believe that the squat was only used by the seven individuals who were arrested inside the building (and not outside as otherwise reported). Their lies failed miserably, when a 1500 strong support protest manifested the same night of the eviction.
10. Because Villa Zografou is still one of many squats and rebellious social centers that were struck by the state and the para-state.
Squats and self-organized spaces are targeted, because they are sites where a pulsing fighting culture can daily emerge „from below“. They are places for the free dissemination of ideas, political fermentation and diversified political activity for many people. Occupations make up spots for freedom of association, expression, development of social relationships and cultivation of consciousness against the alienation and wretchedness that characterizes today‘s reality.
11. Because squats are a thorn in the side of those who lust for the commercial exploitation and
privatization of the remaining free social spaces.
We are not fooled that easily; no municipal council spends €19.500.000 to build „conservatories“ and „green spaces“. And although Villa Zografou might not be turned into a shopping center today, doesn‘t mean that it won‘t be tomorrow. The METRO is also on its way. The estate of the villa is a first step to cement it with contractors, as the municipal council has done with other spaces in the past, transforming them into spaces where you have have to pay to exist.
12. Because the Villa is repressed by the state, whose continuation is SYRIZA.
SYRIZA who pre-election „supported“ the grassroots movements and rallied in the name of the world‘s oppressed, and who sold you drivel and seaweed as silk ribbons. The selfsame SYRIZA, who nowadays authorizes one anti-social measure after another (insurance, foreclosures, and other), who beckons new memoranda, who employs riot cops to attack pensioners and who promotes catastrophic changes to the education system; who puts entry-exit barriers at the public transportation stations, who privatizes and sells the common wealth. SYRIZA, who represses the squats in Athens, Thessaloníki and elsewhere; who commands the destruction of refugee aid centers and who throws refugees on the streets at midnight and their possessions in the garbage. That‘s what happened to the refugees and their children at the occupation of Alkibiadou , which was evicted on the same day as Villa Zografou. And if all that seems strikingly reminiscent of the recent past, cf. NEW DEMOCRACY/PASOK, then you‘re starting to fall into our line of thinking. Bosses are bosses, right or left. How long will you accept being told that it‘s raining, when you‘re being
spat on, and how long will you accept being beaten without reacting?
HANDS OFF OUR SQUATS AND
REBELLIOUS SOCIAL CENTERS
By the assembly of Villa Zografou and supporters