The following is testimony by a comrade from A/A Space in defense of Revolutionary Struggle, with additional comments by Revolutionary Struggle members Nikos Maziotis and Pola Roupa at a trial on March 1, 2019.
The transcript was translated from Greek and edited slightly for clarity.
Comrade: I am here as a political witness to the comrades Nikos Maziotis and Pola Roupa and it is a great honor for me to defend my comrades and the action of Revolutionary Struggle.
Judge: How do you know them?
Comrade: We are comrades in the context of the wider subversive struggle. I met the comrades through their actions, from the Announcements of the Revolutionary Struggle, from the emblematic actions they made as an organization and I stand in solidarity with the fighters of Revolutionary Struggle, Pola Roupa and Nikos Maziotis.
In principle, it is a political trial against your political opponents, as an organization, as fighters and as rebels, and what differentiates the action of Revolutionary Struggle from both the international and the local movements is that it is an anarchist revolutionary organization - their analyzes have been preceded by economic, social and political circumstances; the strategy was also followed by the actions from the first moment, from 2003 up to the last repressive operation and the arrest of Pola Roupa in 2017. They were part of the attempts to overthrow the criminal regime of capitalism and the state.
You are a special court because you are trying a revolutionary organization and rebellious fighters as criminals, and your court has shown - as before - that the sentences imposed on the two comrades Pola Roupa and Nikos Maziotis do not correspond to the most severe crimes. You do not treat them as your political opponents, that is, who they are, not even the Revolutionary Struggle as a revolutionary organization. You have the greatest fear not only for the Revolutionary Struggle - but over time in history - of every revolutionary group that has acted to overthrow the system at any given historical juncture.
The armed revolutionary struggle is a necessary and indispensable means of fighting for any change historically over time. Without armed struggle, societies would otherwise be subjugated. I want to say that at any juncture, any social change has been achieved through revolutions, through violent and bloody struggles. And revolutions are not made with flowers. Because otherwise power does not voluntarily abandon its privileges, so in this context, I consider the revolutionary struggle necessary for overthrowing power.
I would like to refer to the attack on the Bank of Greece, for which you are trying the fighters, an attack that took place within a specific social and political context. It did not happen in a historical vacuum. The memoranda were enforced and the IMF had come to Greece. And we know its role in many countries, the Third World, such as Africa, the underdeveloped, in Latin America, etc. where the IMF looted lives and societies. There is nothing different here. It is a class war. Not that it only happens in the era of the memorandums. There has always been this because of bourgeois “democracy” and you, as part of the hard core of the state apparatus, the capitalist system, also serve their interests, not the social basis.
Judge: Us, the court?
Comrade: Do not take it personally. I say that as an institution you are a hierarchical mechanism; in this sense, it happens by definition. You do not serve the social basis. Just as bourgeois “democracy” does not serve the social basis. That is why I said that it is a social and class war that we live and we must resist. We did not do it as a movement and as a society because there was suppression, because we resigned, because we underwent illusions that something would change. It was natural that nothing changed. All the forms of struggle were tested. The strikes were illegal and abusive, the demonstrations where thousands of people, young people, old men were massively involved, did not change anything.
There had to be something potential and I think that the attack on the Bank was an emblematic action, not only on a symbolic, but also an essential level, because even a collapse of the economic-political system could happen. Revolutionary Struggle struck the Bank of Greece because it is part of the Eurosystem, the ECB, and is a mechanism that is responsible for some of the suffering and economic violence the people suffer. I think it was a fair and totally legitimate action and at the time it happened, there was no one in society–I’m not talking about only anarchists–I’m talking about all of society, that was not satisfied, who did not smile, who did not feel an uproar. That something was finally done.
Will you tell me, did the overturning happen? No it did not. But if they continued their action, and if people were going to the streets and did not give up, it could happen. Only in this way will there be dynamic social and political changes. It does not differ. And do not tell me about violence. Violence is your own status. The regime is using violence, not only now, but over time because it is oppressive, exploitative, competitive. But especially in the years of the memorandum, it exceeded every limit. The neoliberal “deity” markets are everything in your system. And in this sense, I join you, too, who you judge and condemn as rebels, who are accused here.
Judge: The court does not deal with the views and ideology of the accused.
Comrade: Obviously, you are skewing them. That’s why I’m telling you that it’s a political trial.
Judge: We are considering whether some actions are criminal offenses.
Comrade: I’m telling you too. From the beginning, I said that it was a political trial. You are contemplating in this court some actions that are political actions of a political, revolutionary organization and two rebels, as if they were criminal offenders. They are your political opponents.
Judge: Do you think they have to go to the joint charter?
Comrade: Of course. You are not their natural judge.
Judge: You say that the case should go to the joint court of law, which is 3 regular judges and 4 jurors where the four jury members are from a lottery, usually from banks, from public institutions …
Comrades: From “reputable” citizens you want to say.
Judge: No, I do not mean that you know that jurors will have a similar ideology …
Comrade: There is no need to be an anarchist or a rebel to accept an action that is fair and legitimate, even with your own Constitution.
Judge: I ask you this: How are you sure that the jury would be favorable or, say, lenient about the defendants?
Comrade: It is not necessary that they would be favorable because you present them, your state, the media, all the mechanisms bombard the public that they are terrorists, that they terrorize society.
Judge: We have never allowed a witness in the court to refer to the accused as terrorists. What the media or the press say does not concern us.
Comrade: I answer you that jurors, knowing the image of the media, the government, your mechanisms for comrades, listening to their positions, their analysis, will not judge the same way as you who have been instructed to try and convict fighters.
Judge: We have a mandate to hear from whom?
Comrade: From the system, from your hierarchy, from your state.
Judge: It is your view. Continue though.
Comrade: I wanted to say something else. You try these fighters each time in the same categories. However, you have not read well that since the Revolutionary Struggle was formed and acted from 2003 until their arrests, up to the last arrest of Pola Roupa, the organization was united. There was no constitution and reconstitution, and they proved this from the very first moment of their arrest when they assumed the political responsibility to participate in the organization they belong to. They spoke through prison, intervening at every juncture, according to events; their texts were even shared in strikes and mobilizations. They never left the fight because of their captivity.
Judge: Let me clarify something about the issue of establishment and management. We are on appeal. The case is being considered from the beginning; we do not prosecute accusations.
Comrade: Yes, I understand, you are a court of appeal. But all this is done within the context of how the particular fighters are being tried and how they are condemned. Everyone will confront his conscience.
I also wanted to say in relation to the political responsibility they have assumed with their arrest. It shows their consistency, their struggle, that they stayed upright, despite all the repressive operations, continued to participate with texts in social events through prison. They did not give up.
And when they were released in the eighteen months, they went into “illegality” and continued the fight. They are consistent, and in their captivity, still struggling for life and freedom. The opposite of your own system that exploits every human life, nature, everything, leaves nothing untapped. That is why the fighters in every period must resist by all means.
Finally, I would like to say a few things about the last repressive operation for the arrest of Pola Roupa in January 2017, where I also witnessed this story in the context of solidarity movements. This is to show you what system you are serving, the state, which you serve faithfully and do not deviate from.
When the comrades were arrested, they actually arrested their little son, who they were looking for because he was kidnapped; the police forces in the Children’s Hospital had taken him in secret. There, I met the mother and sister of Pola Roupa. He was guarded by gloved police officers outside the door of the psychiatric section, wearing only a t-shirt, without a jacket in the cold outside of the OSCE police station, and if they did not go on hunger and thirst strike, he would be in the institution at the moment.
Your state, after the partners’ strike and social outcry, let him free, but relatives of Pola took him away, as parental care was taken away from the partners. This is your state. You are criminals! As a mechanism, as a state.
Later, when we went to gather things up at our comrade’s house, there were paintings of the child on the floor that were torn. This is your state and your mechanisms. You can not stand political opponents.
Roupa: They cannot even withstand their children.
Comrade: Those who they say are terrorists did not harm the children of opponents. They struck mechanisms and structures, multinationals, banks, government mechanisms, and struck well. And I’m defending them. That’s all I had to say.
To a previous witness, you had told her about her young age. Oh, I am 62 years old and I have the maturity of thinking that they do not change things easily because no power leaves its privileges.
Judge: I wanted to ask you something. Do you conclude with what you tell us that if you are a member of an organization that is or declares itself revolutionary, therefore, you can commit acts objectively falling under some of the provisions of the criminal code, envisaged as offenses, let me give you an example, that the Criminal Code provides for an explosion as an offense?
Comrade: When years ago, in the Hellenic Republic, when a bomb exploded and killed workers, what is it?
Maziotis: This was an accident!
Roupa: It was an “accident!” Has anyone been jailed for that explosion?
Judge: As you base your speech on the statement that revolutions always proceed with armed violence, this has been said by others who were not known for revolutionary action.
Maziotis: We do not get involved in actions against citizens…
Judge: I ask you, if someone declares a member of a revolutionary organization and does an action, for example a blast somewhere, which objectively falls under crimes from the penal code, from the fact that it has declared itself revolutionary means it removes the unfair nature of the act?
Comrade: Of course, because if your own country murders, oppresses in any way, throws people on the street, leaves them homeless, there are 5,000 suicides with official figures, you do not assassinate as a structured power? You serve those who exploit the peoples, you and your state.
Judge: Are there any other questions? Do you have something else to add for accused?
Comrade: I told you that they are political opponents. Analyzes, economic, social and political analyzes preceded their actions; that is, analysis determined the strategy and the action of the Revolutionary Struggle. And it was quite apt.
Annotation by Nikos Maziotis and Pola Roupa
Maziotis: I want to make an annotation starting with what the judge said. I have here a book that writes about some laws of the ancient Athenian Republic.
Yes, Mr Judge, the act of wrongdoing is abolished in some cases. Because we are considered the home of democracy, I will mention that in Ancient Athens, the manslaughter of tyrants was allowed. Indeed, there was also an oath of the Athenians who vowed to kill the tyrant without any criminal responsibility. It says it clearly. There was a law - a resolution of the Epiphany in 410-409 BC in the years of the Peloponnesian War when the regime had been changed and the oligarchs had seized power.
Yes, in the consciousness of the world it is an ancient tradition, acts like the tyrant’s murder are not considered to be criminal offenses, but they are also imperative. This oath says that I have the right and obligation to kill the tyrant. So I answer your question that you have made to the witness that yes, revolutionary acts do not fall under the criminal code.
We should not even be judged and be free. The second thing I have to say is that we learned that the state, the police was investigating fingerprints in the child’s paintings, if nothing else shows the moral values and the quality of your state apparatus. In another court where I am on trial for this case with Comrade Roupa for the attempted escape (by helicopter) and possession of weapons and explosives, bank expropriations, I said, as I have said here, that I have shot police, but I never would hurt children of my enemies. This is not in my values.
That is, to harm the enemy’s family shows how obscene and brutal you may be, even if it’s done under the covering of law. This demonstrates the unlawfulness of your state where it violated its own institutional framework to put a 6-year-old child in the psychiatric hospital and remove our parental care, which we have been completely and permanently denied with the 1532 Civil Code.
This shows what your state apparatus is. We have not just lost custody, but we cannot represent our child legally; we do not manage the child’s assets. In fact, what they wanted was to destroy our own capacity as parents. That’s what your own state did. This behavior resembles what was done in the civil war in ‘46-‘49 by the then right-wing and nationally-led government that led the children of the DSE rebels and forced them into the so-called childhood clubs that told you that your father and your mother are traitors of the homeland. This was done by the government of SYRIZA and Kontonis, your political superior.
Roupa: Let me say a few things about what has been said here. When my arrest was taking place, their behavior (the police) was degrading. What I have learned now is a disgrace over all the disgust that this story has caused me. That is, it was not only the fact that they captured me, but the behavior of the state that is disgusting when they captured me. To crack the paintings of my child …
I continue to learn things; I have not learned all of them and tell you that I do not know all the details about their behavior towards the child. They have snapped the child’s paintings, have seized things and they have confiscated all his photographs throughout his life.
It is like a child without a past and so they want to show him that there was no past before and want to break his relationship with his parents. Because that was the goal. The rupture our relations. If we did not go on a hunger and thirst strike as the witness also said, the child would be in the institution. That was their goal. But there was also a social outcry - where a certain world arose before a political reaction came from political parties - because they had overcome the limit of slackness now. I told them I had a “professional” relationship with the state, with the regime. In the sense that there was nothing personal with anyone. That is to say, everyone played a role as a mechanism, the people who participated. I made an approach from a purely political point of view. There was no element of personal confrontation
But here, in this case, in the attitude of the state apparatus, the prosecution, there was a violent personal assault that had exceeded every limit. I do not think there will be such a repressive hit again and I wish there will not be. I did not expect such behavior. I was surprised. Such attitude toward a 6-year-old child? They cannot do anything to me, and they go to hurt my kid? No, I did not expect it. And that seems to be the case. It has not stopped.
One last thing. In connection with the intervention of the judge that if someone causes an explosion, he puts it in a political context and needs to be freed. It’s not like this.
It depends on what is being changed; it also depends on the wider political context in which it is happening. There are many factors. That is why I said at some point that the issues that are being opened here, the action of the Revolutionary Struggle, are issues that relate to historical, political and economic issues. We have brought you other texts, so that we do not have to say everything here. In reading papers, we have brought constitutional texts on issues that we do not say but others are saying.
Judge: We all know these texts. Apart from the Revolution in Rojava, do we have knowledge of anything else?
Roupa: We put in our own perspective. I’m not telling you something you do not know, but all that is the political ground in which a certain action took place. All of this creates and connects an entire political context. We are not paratroopers!
The acts took place in a certain historical period, with a certain great historical gravity, with great violence, condemned by all institutions that exist for the political and economic violence that the Memoranda of Communion exercised over society and we are now throwing away our life for an act that struck an institution that is responsible for all this and others worse?
For the IMF? Not to talk about what the IMF has done around the world. We will count millions of deaths since the 1980s to date. Especially for Greece, it has left dead. Blood has been spilled! Against this blood there is no mismatch? Who paid for all this?
We referred to Provopoulos, Sallas, for whom there were prosecutions that did not go ahead. All these gentlemen are killing. All of the money we presented with the papers, that had been snatched from the social wealth because the Greek state pays all these masters to make their coins–it has a cost in lives. And he knows it when he asks the Greek state to support him to make his gangs. And get millions and billions.
Who did he stand on the stool and meet for all this? Did Sallas not pay for this? No! We are paying for life for the Banks of Greece. Obviously, if anything, it is totally unrelated. And with regard to the political and social dimension, yes, this action was fair. And can I tell you something? It was the least that could be done in the face of all this evil that has been created. Minimum.
Nikos Maziotis-Poula Roupa, members of the Revolutionary Struggle