Interview with Imprisoned Greek Anarchist Nikos Romanos

Published March 20, 2019

Interview with Imprisoned Greek Anarchist Nikos Romanos

How is the new interpretation of the counter-terrorist law affecting your case?

Nikos Romanos: This conviction has a significant effect on us, as it means that some of us will spend two or three more years in prison. Considering that we have already been in prison for more than five years, this conviction should be seen as an attempt to create a permanent captive status based on the “counter”-terrorism law (187A). In application, this law serves the purpose of producing the specter of “internal enemies.”

Dehumanizing sentences, repressive new interpretations and arbitrary applications of the 187A law, criminalization of the anarchist (political) identity—together, these constitute a network of penal repression that methodically enfolds the anarchist movement and its imprisoned militants.

This specific conviction should not be understood as an attack against individuals. We have to recognize it as a continuation of the domestic Greek counterterrorism policy, which aims to tighten a noose around the neck of the anarchist movement as a whole.

The state is taking advantage of the fragmentation and the lack of a radical analysis that characterize both the movement and society at large to intensify its attacks.

The conviction for individual terrorism is the first of its kind in Greece. The 187A counter-terrorism law deliberately leaves a lot of space for each judge to make his own interpretation, which expands the armory that the state has at its disposal to carry out repression. How should we respond to this kind of law, and to the other convictions like yours that we can expect to follow?

Nikos Romanos: What is further equipping the state is the political nature of 187A law, which legalizes every possible interpretation of the article. Essentially, we are dealing with a law that practically implements the dogma of the US “war on terror.” This law paves the way for a ruthless witch-hunt targeting “internal enemies” and all who are seen as a threat to the state and capitalist interests.

Regarding our response to these processes, in my opinion, first, we must realize that we need an organized subversive movement. A movement that is capable of destabilizing and undermining the state and the plans of the capitalist bosses and their political puppets in our regions.

To be more precise, we have to begin a process of self-criticism analyzing our mistakes, our deficiencies, our organizing weaknesses. This self-criticism must neither flatter us nor make space for pessimism and despair. Our goal should be to sharpen the subversive struggle in every form it can take, to transform it into a real danger for every ruler. Part of this process is reconstructing our historical memory, so it can serve as a compass for the strategies of struggle we employ. We should start talking again about the organization of different forms of revolutionary violence, the practices of revolutionary illegalism, and the need to diffuse these in the movement in order to overcome the “politics” (in the dirty and civil meaning of the word) that have infected our circles.

This conversation will be empty and without effect if it isn’t connected with the political initiatives of comrades, in order to fill in the gaps in our practice and to improve our prospects on the basis of our conclusions. The best response to the judicial attacks on the movement is to make sure that those who enact them pay a high political cost for it. This should take place throughout entire pyramid of authority—everyone, from the political instigators of the repression to the straw men who implement it, should have to share the responsibility for the repression of the movement.

This response is part of the wider historical context of our time; it is our political proposition. In response to the transnational wars, we propose nothing less than a war of liberation in the capitalist metropolises, a war of everyone against everything that capitalism promotes.

How does this new interpretation of the law affect comrades in struggle outside the walls of prison who are thinking of taking militant action?

Nikos Romanos: This decision creates a really negative precedent that will increase the extent of criminal repression against anarchists who take action and have the misfortune of being captured and becoming prisoners of the Greek state. Essentially, according to this interpretation of the law, what is criminalized is the anarchist political identity. In the words of our appellate prosecutor, “What else could these acts be, other than terrorist, since they are anarchists?” With the new interpretation of “individual terrorism,” it is not necessary for judicial mechanisms to try to associate the accused with the action of a revolutionary organization, as was the case in the past. One’s political identity and taking an uncompromising position in the courtroom are enough for a person to be condemned as an “individual terrorist.” Anyone who chooses to fight according to the principles of anarchy can therefore be condemned as a terrorist as soon as their choices put them beyond the frameworks set by civic legitimacy.

Of course, this should not spread defeatism. On the contrary, it is another reason to escalate our struggle against capitalist dominance. Whoever arms his conscience to overthrow the brutal cycle of oppression and exploitation will definitely be the target of vengeful and authoritarian treatment by the regime. This does not mean that we will give up our fight, in the courtroom or elsewhere.

The fact that anarchy is a target of state oppression even in a time of the movement’s retreat should be a source of honor for the anarchist movement, proof that the struggle for anarchy and freedom is the only decent way to stand against the totalitarianism of our time.

Given the directives of the European Union and the global witch-hunt against “terrorism” since 911, counterterrorism law has become a major battlefield against the enemies of the Greek state, internal and otherwise. In this situation, when the state is attempting to widen the application of the law with new trials, what sort of actions should the movement take to respond to this interpretation of the law?

Nikos Romanos: For me, there is an imperative need to create political initiatives against the “counter”-terrorism law, which constitutes the battlefield of criminal law enforcement against us. We have to spread the word that this can affect others involved in struggle if their actions create obstacles for capitalist interests. They too will be charged with the counterterrorism law (187A).

For example, the residents of Skouries (Chalkidiki) were persecuted for terrorism because they took action against capitalist development and the pillaging of nature. This demands careful political analysis. It is dangerous to make two categories of people who are accused with the “counter”-terrorism law. On the one hand, the authorities are using it against those whose actions could be described as an urban guerrilla strategy; on the other hand, they are using it against people from completely different parts of society.

Calling for a front of struggle against the “counter”-terrorism law does not mean maintaining illusions that it will be abolished. Greece is a state in the European Union; it has a specific role in capitalism in the region and it is willing to unconditionally apply all EU directives on security and immigration. No matter which party is in power, Greece will not abolish the “counter”-terrorism law. The “counter”-terrorism law is inseparable from the interests of the Greek state. Therefore, the fight against 187A has to reveal precisely this connection. We have to attack both the local continuation of the American rhetoric of the “war on terror” and the mendacious narratives of the left social-democratic SYRIZA. In reality, all their talk about human rights magically ceases when the interests of the state and capitalists are in play.

A common struggle against 187A has to emphasize the internal contradictions of the system, show the role of “counter”-terrorism laws in the functioning of the EU states, and send a powerful message of solidarity to everyone around the world who is imprisoned under laws like this. This would create political issues around the invasive “counter”-terrorism crusades of our era. It would inflict permanent political damage for the criminal existence of the 187A law, the state, and capitalism, all of which poison and destroy our lives.

Establishing this offensive can offer a basis for comrades to communicate, act, and undertake a general counterattack against the capitalist complex and all its deadly tentacles. This is why I consider an initiative like this crucial for the evolution of the subversive struggles of our time.

Found at crimethinc