Dimitris Koufontinas' valiant hunger strike continues, as the Greek state persists in callously refusing his minor demand. The state is taking this vicious stance to send a message that the armed struggle is over, and will die with him if possible.
Koufontinas is an accused member of Revolutionary Organization 17 November (N17), a Marxist armed struggle urban guerrilla organization that attacked the Greek state, imperialist and capitalist targets throughout its existence from the 70s till early 2000s. The organization’s name is a reference to the last days of the Polytechnic uprising in Exarchia, Athens in 1973 that was suppressed savagely by the military.
Two years after the siege N17 commenced the armed struggle. Their actions continued until the group disbanded in 2002. Koufontinas, later, turned himself in voluntarily and was given a life sentence for his involvement in the struggle for liberation.
In refusing his demand for transfer back to the previous prison he was being held, the bourgeois state is sending an extraordinarily clear statement and revolutionaries around the world should take notice.
The armed struggle against the state and capital is internationalist at its core. Whether fighting in Greece, Rojava, Mexico, or elsewhere, an attack like this on a comrade is felt everywhere.
To appreciate the context of the Greek struggle, and the importance of Koufontinas' hunger strike, one should understand the scale of N17’s actions, and their importance in a local and global context. Below we will highlight some of their most significant actions which will demonstrate why this organization was important, why Koufontinas must be supported, and why the armed struggle is a necessary component to any liberation movement.
Assassination of CIA station chief in Athens
On December 23rd, 1975 N17 assassinated Richard Welch, the top CIA operative in Athens at the time. The action was carried out with great precision and there were no other casualties.
Excerpts from their communique:
“[W]e explained that we had decided to execute Richard Welch as an example, because as CIA Chief of Station in Athens he was responsible, as well as the other professional agents, for all the crimes committed by American Imperialism, and particularly by the CIA against our people. Among them, the most important: setting up and supporting the Fascist Dictatorship for seven years; and the coup in Cyprus in July 1975, with thousands dead and 200,000 refugees. Welch, as a Station Chief, had a direct responsibility. He was not a minor official, a simple executive.
The main problem in Greece is its dependence on American Imperialism. The Karamanlis government has never done anything about this, and finds itself tied to the Americans. Getting out of NATO remains only words. The American bases and the ships of the Sixth Fleet are still here. Even more, Americans, considering Greece as a safe country, are in the process, according to the Greek newspapers, of moving the General Staff of the CIA for the Middle East and the offices of the multinationals from Beirut to Athens. The graffiti ‘exo i Americani’ (‘out with the Americans’), which was the main cry during the popular insurrection of November 1973 and which was still dominant after the fall of the dictatorship, has been seen by millions of demonstrators going past the American Embassy this last November 17. The Americans are still the masters here; the government cannot do anything; all that is left for us is to go on with the struggle against them, using simultaneously both pacific and legal means of struggle, and other means of struggle.
On the other hand, neither Welch’s wife nor his driver had any direct responsibility for the crimes committed by the CIA against our people. That is why he, and only he, was executed. And these are the unique reasons we chose the method we did. We wanted to exclude any possibility of harming others, even by accident. We wanted to carry out the action correctly and efficiently. And that is why we had to take more risks in stopping our car and getting out of it, instead of choosing an easier way, such as throwing a bomb or a grenade, or using a machine gun from our car. In such a case we might have hit someone besides Welch.”
Assassination of U.S. tyrannical military officers
N17 killed the deputy chief of the U.S. military assistance mission, (JUSMAGG) George Tsantes, in a targeted assassination on November 15th,1983.
On June 28th, 1988 Captain William Nordeen, the U.S. defense attache/Navy captain, was killed in a revolutionary car bombing action.
On March 12th, 1991 US Air Force Sergeant Ronald O. Stewart was killed by a remote bomb attack outside of his apartment.
Attacks on Greek reactionary targets
Nikolaos Georgakopoulos, a riot policeman, killed in bus bombing that targeted a bus full of riot police on November 26, 1985.
Yiannis Varis, a police officer, was killed in a missile and hand grenade attack against a riot squad bus on November 2nd1991. Fourteen pigs were also wounded in the action.
Constantinos Androulidakis, a public prosecutor, was shot in both legs and dies slowly of complications, on January 10th1989.
Panayiotis Tarasouleas, also a public prosecutor, was shot in both legs, on January 18th, 1989.
Eleftherios Papadimitriou, New Democracy, party deputy and MP, was shot in both legs, on December 21, 1992.
In total N17 assassinated 23 people in 103 separate militant attacks on U.S., Turkish, Greek and other capitalist and imperialist targets. This is a remarkable amount of successful actions for an urban guerrilla group and helped set the stage for the anarchist guerrilla movement that came afterwards.
The solidarity the organization showed to the international struggle must now be reciprocated as the state is attempting to kill Koufontinas.