In late June, the government of Greece boasted it would soon break the 17th of November organization (17N). Then, in the Athens port of Peiraias, where the government had just imposed martial law to break the maritime strike but could not stop support demonstrations, a package blew up in the hand of a religious icon painter, the son of an Orthodox priest.
The explosion was too small to damage property or hurt others, but it injured him. As he fainted, he cried, “they murdered me.” Two persons came up, said, “it is done” and walked away. An ambulance picked him up and went eight miles with police escort to a state hospital near the American Embassy. Police then “found” a gun allegedly used by 17N, all the painter’s identification, address books and even keys to 17N hideouts.
The Greek press and television, except for that of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), embarked on speculation based mainly on self-contradictory releases and leaks by the police. The issues of social security, workers safety, farm subsidies, unemployment, immigration, inflation, and national sovereignty, disappeared from the press and the agenda of the government.
Exposures of alleged hideouts were followed by arrests. With the fawning thanks of the Greek government and police, the FBI and Scotland Yard took credit for bringing Greece into the war on terrorism. Arrogantly, the U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller boasted, “It’s like peeling an onion; we’ve got a strong sense of the perimeter, but we don’t know what more we’ll find as the case unfolds.”
According to the releases, after being taken off painkillers and interrogated for six hours beginning 3:30 a.m., the icon painter implicated two of his brothers, among others. The brothers, including the eldest, a musical instrument craftsman, grew up in Ikaria, an island that has a long left and communist tradition and had been considered so dangerous by the Nazis that they drowned much of its population in leaky ships to Egypt.
The oldest brother came to Athens at the age of 17 after the fall of the military junta in 1975 and, according to leaked testimony, said he was attracted to the rhetoric of 17N but soon found its actuality contrary to his convictions, and tried to get out. Other persons arrested were induced to similarly give confessions to the newly-appointed prosecutor for terrorism, without the presence of lawyers. Using them, the police have painted a picture of hardened robbers and murderers who used political rhetoric to mask their amassing of robbed wealth. As ordinary criminals they would come under the organized crime provisions of the new terrorism laws.
In this manner 17N continues to be used against the people of Greece. The 17th of November organization is named for the day in 1973, now a national holiday, when an uprising was brutally suppressed by the five-year-old Kissinger-supported military junta. It was the beginning of the end for the junta. In 1975, after the victory of the people, and over the loud objections of Kissinger, trials of the junta members and their associates began. But the first acts of 17N under the cover of left-wing rhetoric, were to assassinate Richard Welch, the CIA liaison to the junta, and one of the police in charge of torture. These two key witnesses to the operations of the junta and its connections to the Nixon administration would never testify.
Subsequently, 17N actions were timed to dampen mass actions of the Greek trade-union and progressive movement. A British attaché was killed after 200,000 protested the bombing of Yugoslavia. The police said the tactician is Alexander Yiotopoulos, the French-born son of the Trotskyite leader who had betrayed the Greek people’s army to U.S. and British forces when those two powers, in their assumed role of “patrons” of Greece, had organized a civil war after the Communist-led army defeated the Nazis. However, the police do not explain how this professor of French literature had access to pinpoint details of the movements of the targets of 17N.
Instead, the right-wing media resurrects McCarthyite arguments about the tactics of Marx and Lenin and directs them at the left and more specifically, the KKE. They ignore the recent admission by former CIA director George Bush, Sr., that the CIA always concerns itself with infiltrating organizations like Al Qaeda, to assure that they are employed for the national interest of the United States.
In the meantime, violations of due process occur that many describe as like the junta days. The police beat and tortured a well-known musician all night before releasing him. A major-network radio announcer, an organizer of an anti-racism festival, was forced, without explanation, out of her car at gunpoint, body-searched, then forced to stand against her car as it was searched for an hour. A left-wing candidate in the upcoming elections was stopped at the airport, body searched and detained while his flight left, preventing him from addressing a mass meeting.
Nevertheless, a poll indicated that 25 percent agree with the claimed objectives of 17N and 53 percent said those now arrested should not be punished. A Supreme Court justice questioned the admissibility of the confessions. But the arrests continue, the ruling socialist party uses them to red-baiting the KKE before the October elections – and the right-wing opposition says the socialists and communists are behind 17N. The trials will not occur for months, while the true CIA directors of 17N remain untouched and the government accepts once more the orders of its “patrons” in its attempt to use terrorism to put the needs of the people on hold.
The author lives in Greece and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org