The Struggle in Thessaloniki Through the Eyes of Terra Incognita Squat

Published September 24, 2020

The Struggle in Thessaloniki Through the Eyes of Terra Incognita Squat

This interview with members of Terra Incognita Squat reaches us by submission. The squat was invaded by the police on August 17, 2020, equipment confiscated, and the squat sealed off. Comrades issued a call for international support. This interview goes into further detail about the work and political objectives of the nearly two decade project.

Question: What is the goal of Terra Incognita squat? When did it establish its presence?

Answer: Comrades, greeting from the distant grounds of the western metropolitan areas. 17 years ago, our squat and political assembly found their roots in the results of the anti-globalization movement with the demonstration against the session of G7 during the summer of 2003 and the defense of the 7 arrested comrades after the events of the anti-session. The positive results of the struggle for the release of the arrested revolutionaries finds the anarchist movement of Thessaloniki in a moment of peak which seeks the territorialization of our anarchist ideology through the creation of stable reference points of expressing and referring to radical perceptions and choices of fighting against the state and the capital. Terra Incognita is the result of the need for a stable center of organising and supporting the struggle with all means, a choice that we would like to believe was consistently supported during these 17 years.

Q: What was the daily work? Did the goals and the activities change through the time?

A: During the last 17 years, the squat operated many structures and events while it, also, was, and still is, a part of the struggle and participates in political activities. In the squat there have been many self-organized groups, while there were, also, labs regarding photography, visual arts, a silkscreen print group, an archive of political context and a video stockshot. Over recent years the structures that were actively present in the squat were the self-organized gym one and the printing collective Druck!, the bookstore, the first aid infirmary and the self-organized toolbox. Regarding the political aspect apart from the political assembly being continuously present, the squat has managed to host various groups focused on immigration, gender issues, anti-speciesism, work repression and class exploitation, the anti-fascist struggle and many other subjects. Therefore, Terra Incognita is a squat that consistently contributed to the strengthening of the anarchic struggle with all means against every single form of repression, hierarchy and segregation.

Q: Elaborate on a few things regarding Thessaloniki’s political framework and how the squat managed to remain present and interact.

A: It would be possible to give a complete answer through the use of an example of the recent past. Thessaloniki is the secong biggest city of Greece and one of the most important reference points in the Balkan peninsula. Carrying a deep history of ethnocentricity due to the severe impact of religious authorities, it is evident that we refer to an urban space with conservative characteristics. The transnational conflicts between Greece and Macedonia turned Thessaloniki into an arena of neofascist confrontations which we were brought to repel by guarding our structures and choices to fight against hatred. Maybe you are, also, aware of the fact that for over a year the people of the movement were under constant alarm against fascist groups that managed to jump out of the nationalistic rallies, accomplishing one of the most severe attacks on the greek anarchy movement, the complete arson of a squat (Libertatia)- which after 2 years finds itself in the process of reconstruction in spite of all those who wished to repress their activities. Our squat, as every other squat in the city, functioned as a place that was used to defend liberation against fascism and bigotry. Despite all these, Terra as a squat, due to its location in the center of the city, was used as an operational center for a lot of groups and comrades in order to conduct meetings, events and assembies on a daily basis.

Q: From our location in the USA, it seems like anarchism is widely accepted in Greece, with the general population understanding its political intentions and the anarchists having moved to the creation of autonomous areas. Could you elaborate of the ways anarchism has changed after the uprising of 2008 and how the strategy of Terra Incognita fits in this particular political framework?

A: Greece carries a deep history of cultivating revolutionary movements for over 100 years. The geographical location of the country being the northest border of both the European Union and the Balkans together with the operational aspect of the eastern Mediterranean explains why it was the center of severe conflicts and negotiations, political and militaristic developments and debates. Yet, history has proven that wherever resistance is cultivated that is where injustice, exploitation and repression are to be found. Because to resist comes as a vital need. The contemporary anarchy movement in Greece (as in other countries of the Mediterranean such as Italy and Spain) is a developmental result of the historical movements of resistance having their base on the repressed proletariat people who found themselves to be in the center of 2 wold wars, 1 civil war, the bloodsheded workers’ struggle and social uprisings. We don’t know whether society fully understands the political framework that communicated by the anarchy movement, yet what is quite evident is the fact that this movement is constistently present in every social and class struggle or event which is what led to the making of so many structures and reference points that lasted through time and decay.

The revolution of 2008 has been presented as the peak of the anarchy movement yet the events that followed due to the social basis being taken hostage of the financial interests of the european institutions (I.M.F., E.C.B., E.U.) functioned as an important factor for many memorable events and moments of resistance that lasted longer, which, unfortunately proved where the limits of the movement are to be found. The fact that we were not able to suggest a fully organized plan of escaping this financial hostage-taking by using radical characteristics and revolutionary perception was an important factor on what we now interpret as a lost chance. Yet, truth be told, nowadays the anarchist movement has managed to evolve in terms of political organisation, the ways timeliness is perceived and the ways the capital and the state evolve as well. During these years Terra stood as we consider to go without saying; we actively particapted in the movements of resistance and the stuggle against the state by contributing in every possible way in the gradual evolution of the social and class conflicts.

Q: Which political strategies do you consider to be more relevant for the future?

A: During the last years a big part of the movement- of which we are a part of - chose to consistently attack the state and the capital, the political mobsters together with all those who are to be blamed for the exploitation and repression of the social basis by publicly taking the responsibility for every attack. In this way, we will be able to follow a stable strategy of conflict regarding constistency through struggling with every possible mean. This is one of the main reasons why the repressive system focuses on us. For us this bet is of great importance; we need to prove that by striking us, the state did nothing else but evicting a space. What matters for us the most is to return to our basic strategy as a political assembly and as a squat; to create stable/consistent points of reference and expression of the anarchist struggle and to intensify the conflict with political mechanisms and personalities who are responsible for the state and capitalistic barbarity, class exploitation and inequality.

For 17 years Terra managed to stand for every marginalized individual. We stand next to our imprisoned and underground comrades, the immigrants and the invisible and isolated by the state. For 17 years we have been foghting every representative of the state’s monopoly and capitalistic authoritarianism, every fascist, every warmonger militarist, every respected piece of trash. For 17 years we have been fighting against class exploitation, the plundering and the destruction of nature, the capitalist development as a part of autonomous initiatives of the struggle. The history that we carry leaves us no choice but to remain faithful to the struggle.

Yet, there is one more thing. From the very first moment of the global spreading of the virus , Terra Incognita squat turned into a reference point for social solidarity by organizing since the first days the structure of mutual aid for the vulnerable and marginalized groups such as the homoless, immigrants, imprisoned ones, drug addicts, stray animals etc. An important goal is the re-construction of the structure if there is any need due to the new wave of spreading but mostly the way the state deals with the pandemic which leads to an unprecedented genocide with class characteristics.

Q: What is the ideal international solidarity for you? What is the role of anarchists in the global political framework through supporting the local struggles?

A: International solidarity is the greatest weapon among the repressed ones. It is the only weapon that we can bring forward against the omnipotence of our common enemy who is greedy for more blood day by day. International solidarity needs to not be used up on bureaucratic notices and references (and nothing more) regarding events that take place out of our scope of activities. International solidarity is about connecting the movements in practice and the strengthing of the struggle by building a global front of resistance against the authoritarianism of the state and the monopolistic capitalist exploitation. Keeping the in mind, internation solidarity is , for us, is the generalisation of local struggles and the construction of a single front of conflict- what some older comrades used to interpret as bringing the war into the western metropolitan areas (referring to the Vietnam war and the internationalist role of the western anti-war movements). To be more precise, international solidarity in the militia of Kurdish guerillas is, for example, either joining them in the front or transferring the war in our own areas by targeting the benefits of our common enemy - obviously with the use of critical thinking and respect towards their endeavour.

Q: After your eviction you called for international solidarity. What is possible to be done from other people in order to support your struggle?

A: We are going through the first wave of opression towards us with our squat being evicted and our disarmament since they confiscated a big part of our equipment, materials and archives of political context, as well as, the equipment of the printing collective. Despite these, after the passing of the first 48 hours without anyone being arrested and the ending of the searches followed by the sealing and the guarding of the building, we are now waiting for any possible persecutions. As we mention in our political statement we do not consider ourselves as the center but, on the contrary, as a part of more general repression against the people and the choice of continuously fighting against the state without comprosing. Our goal is to prove in practice that our struggle is common and knows of no borders.

By striking Terra we realize that they strike the choice of fighting itself, consequently, we believe that solidarity is about not allowing any more space to our enemy. During these hard times we should manage to build bridges of communication and support the fights that each and every one is giving. We call for every comrade to develop his/her critical thinking and take up his/her responsibility against the repression. The repressive mechanisms will eventually be defeated the moment we prove that a strike against one of us is the cause for multiplying our resistance and the reasons to declare war. We are not able to provide you with any guidelines since we follow a mindset that does not prioritize or distinguishes the importance of the means and tools of the struggle. From a statement of solidarity and a slogan from the areas of conflict until an attack done in solidarity, the messages we receive make us feel stronger and more determined for the future. From our trenches we can certainly promise you one thing; Terra will forever be a squat.

With respect and solidarity to your own struggles Terra Incognita squat