The Athens branch of Indymedia, an independent open network of journalists who report on political and social issues, was shut down last Thursday. Before its plug was pulled, the site was used for such principled purposes as reporting on cases of police brutality and exposing underground dealings between the Greek police force and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. If you've somehow managed not to come across it before, it's a kind of localised WikiLeaks, only without that tricky stigma that comes with rape allegations and overstaying your welcome at South American embassies.
You might also remember the case of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, whose death in 2008 at the hands of a Greek police officer spurred the riots that plunged Athens into apocalyptic tumult for almost a month. Indymedia helped to uncover the details of that shooting and played a large part in helping demonstrators mobilise and communicate in the riots that followed.
So it would be fair to assume, based on those facts, that neither Greece's head of police, nor his bosses in the government were particularly enamoured by the website or the results its stories prompted.
Hours after the site went offline, a tweet from Adonis Georgiadis, an MP for the ruling New Democracy party, confirmed the suspicions many activists had already voiced online: that the government – specifically, MP Nikos Dendias – had decided it was time to silence the website that had been causing them all of this trouble.
New Democracy MP Nikos Dendias. (Image via)
Besides blocking access to Indymedia, Nikos Dendias' Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection also shut down two radio stations used to broadcast messages from anarchists and activists. The worst thing is, this kind of despotic boot stomping isn't anything new. Greece has dropped 49 places in the Freedom of Press Index since 2009, presumably because the government have exerted a great deal of energy in closing down websites and suspending and suing critical journalists.
The group behind Athens Indymedia took to the Occupied London blog to say: "The gagging and the repression of the mediums of counter-information shall not pass. Our response shall overcome the ridiculous celebrations of the fascistoids and those in power. The means of counter-information are our own means; they are the voice of our own struggles that show us the way for the world that we want."
Yesterday, after the Athens university building where the Greek activists' server of choice is located was occupied by students and supporters, the website and two radio stations were back up. But shortly after, in what activists suspect was an act of GRNET – the internet provider for Greece's universities – internet was cut throughout the campus where the server is located, shutting down all three channels once again.
So what's making the government so intent on keeping their critics quiet? (Besides the fact that no government is that keen on having their corrupt, shit-sodden laundry aired in public?) The first likely culprit is the coverage of the riot that took place in Corinth's immigration detention centre after police allegedly assaulted an Afghani man who refused to eat as part of a hunger strike against detainee living conditions. This is the latest example in a series of prolonged protests and attempted suicides by Greece's imprisoned, a group whose sole voice is through outlets like Indymedia and journalists outside of the mainstream Greek media.
The home of one of the Ierissos residents after police broke down the door at around 3AM on Wednesday. Photo via.
The second potential reason is as a reaction to the website and radio stations' sharp critique of the night raids on the village of Ierissos. Members of the village have been protesting against the government allowing huge gold mining companies to destroy an ancient forest in nearby Skouries, and some are suspected of being behind the torching of the mine company's working site over a month ago.
That the police – turned private army for the occasion – had to go after their arson suspects in the middle of the night, allegedly without warrants, was, according to Nikos Dendias, for "the element of surprise". But I'm assuming that by "surprise" he means, "intimidation and terror so you fucking meddlers leave our new, rich gold-mining friends alone".
The last couple of weeks have seen New Democracy claw for the fascist Golden Dawn vote by proposing to ban immigrants from the police and military, before randomly detaining immigrants and activists in downtown Athens. And that's all on top of the Golden Dawn's idiotic, racist posturing and assaults on innocent people.
It's convenient for Dendias that he's managing to keep Indymedia and the two radio stations off the air, because now – as the government flit ever further to the far side of the right – is when those being victimised most need a voice.
Follow Yiannis on Twitter: @YiannisBab
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