Some 400 residents of Exarchia have written a letter to the authorities to complain of widespread lawlessness and deteriorating living conditions in the central Athens neighborhood, a traditional bastion of self-styled anarchists.
The letter, a follow-up to a similar initiative ten months ago, comes in the wake of violent clashes in the district between young protesters and riot police on the November 17 anniversary of a violently quashed student uprising in 1973 against the military junta, as well as riots earlier this month on the 10th anniversary of the killing of a teenage boy by police.
“Exarchia is still part of Athens’s dark zone. Following this year’s November 17 and December 6 anniversaries, we are coming to realize that the situation is as bad as it has ever been,” the signatories said.
“Hundreds of hooded protesters, of every nationality, were left unobstructed to barge into houses and apartment blocks, to smash doors, to destroy, to vandalize, to intimidate, to steal and build fires on rooftops,” they said.
The residents, whose names are being withheld, complained that cars and motorbikes were wrecked during the riots that also caused serious damage to public buildings and infrastructure.
“Gangs and mafia organizations which include Greek and foreign members are given free rein in the area,” they said, adding that people were being attacked, drug dealers are plying the streets and businesses are regularly raided and robbed with impunity.
“Groups of migrants, often including children, have been abandoned in grim conditions around the area,” they said.
“We also have rights. Life belongs to us and our children.”