On the Passing of Anarchist Comrade Dimitris Armakolas
Filed under: Anarchist Movement, International Coverage
Filed under: Anarchist Movement, International Coverage
“What can we do when we are confronted with death but remove god from the equation of dealing with it? We must create alternatives in recognizing those who have fallen from our borderless movement. It is both through a passionate recognition of their lives, and our decisions to continue to act in solidarity that we preserve their memory and spirit.”
The last weeks our movement lost a comrade.
On Saturday November 10th, 2018 our comrade, Dimitris Armakolas attempted to raise a banner in solidarity with political prisoner Marios Seisidis, in the Athens neighborhood of Petralona (a historical neighborhood of Athens with a powerful political context). In this act, Dimitris climbed an electrical pylon in Merkouri square. The banner read “Freedom to Marios Seisidis,”* and shared information for his upcoming court date on the 21st of November in hope to raise awareness of his case, and increase attendance and support the day of his trial.
While trying to hang the banner, an extreme electroshock from an exposed powerline hit him and forced his fall to the pavement. It was so powerful it sparked a neighborhood wide black out. He broke his bones, damaged his organs, and smashed his skull. For the following days he was in critical condition at the intensive care unit, struggling to survive the tragic accident with all his mind, body, and heart.
On November 15th (which was also his twenty-third birthday) his brain stopped working. While his heart continued to beat, the sad truth became that his only ability to continue living would be dependent on technical support.
He officially died on November 19th at 10:00 AM in the morning. With respect to his family’s wishes Dimitris was given a traditional christian orthodox funeral. However his funeral was attended by dozens and dozens of anarchist comrades from all the spectrum of the movement. While the rituals of the funeral were respected regardless of the general feeling of contempt for the church by Dimitris himself and those attending his funeral, there were a few instances of warm disruption to the normalcy of the event.
In pursuit of the embrace of his memory as an anarchist militant, and while respecting the service for the sake of his family, with heavy hearts and passionate solidarity comrades began chanting “the passion for freedom is stronger than any cell,” “long live anarchy,” and “Dimitris your heart is beating hard, inside every fighter of the struggle.”
Another comrade expressed his final goodbye: “Dimitris is here with us, in our struggle, in our streets, and in our neighborhoods; the struggle will go on, he is present, and we wish him good travels.” Some of his closest friends also surrounded his coffin with a circle-A painted black flag donated to his tomb. The Sunday following, anarchists held a secondary funeral in his memory in the square that he passed in. It included English and Greek texts dedicated to his memory, and a gathering of comrades from across Athens.
We would have been closing on a year of common struggle and life with our friend and comrade Dimitris. From our first encounter until his last heartbeat, his entire existence was dedicated to our shared project and the radical targets at its’ foundation. In such a short time, he demonstrated an ever growing passion and commitment to the struggle of the broader anarchist movement in Athens and beyond.
Dimitris was a kid of the metropolis. Growing up in Athens he became interested in movements at a very young age, unfortunately being swept up at first by the deceptions of liberal groups such as the now-in-power-Syriza. He was motivated by a strong desire to practice mutual aid, direct action, and other anarchist principles, inevitably leading to a sudden and intense disillusionment with Syriza and all its’ garbage politics. His disillusionment with Syriza not only lead to his abandonment of liberal politics, but a complete rejection for all political parties and hierarchical organizations. His disillusionment was accompanied by a frustration and sadness with feeling taken advantage of by a political group in his youth for what he thought were the personal interests of grassroots politicians looking to advance their privileges and social capital in accordance with the existing institutions of this vile society and the general state apparatus that Syriza has always cooperated with at its core.
At 18 he left in pursuit of an escape in the UK. He survived for a few years there living in dormitory housing and taking jobs in the food service sector. With the intention of leaving Greece in pursuit of another life, he was met with a harsher reality that allowed only for a state of constant survival. With moving back to Greece he searched to live a life that did not cooperate with the maze of survival forced upon him by capitalism. He was passionate not only about squatting, but about expropriating and building autonomous communities. He loved traveling, and loved to party. He was totally the craziest on any dance floor.
We are proud to have shared this last year co-existing and bonding with Dimitris. We feel our shared projects and experiences have helped for his ideas to bloom, and his subversive desires to be practiced and explored. He was not only a member of our Koukaki squat community but was part of the local resident’s assembly of Thisio-Koukaki-Petralona, his participation was keeping our community connected to the local struggles. He was also participating in the anti-authoritarian steki- squatted place within- the Panteion university, however he had no interest in attending school, as well as the assembly for Marios Seisidis and against the 187A anti-terrorist law.
Dimitris’ ability to live translate any conversation from greek to english in real time was essential for the integration of international comrades into the struggle. Almost, all the text of our community has been translated by him, offering to our community a great quality material to distribute here and abroad. His work was reflecting his faith to a multinational movement.
He deeply cared for Leila, his dog-companion, giving her the maximum freedom and respect a human could give a dog in such a society. He loved Leila, brought her everywhere. Once he was even arrested at the Omonοia metro station for refusing to take her off the train, to put her muzzle, or put her in a cage. Of course his feelings and ideas were not just turning around “his” non-human animal. Dimitris was getting very nervous with the people that treat non-human animals as objects, as products of exploitation, or those who are demonizing them. The suggestion for liberating non-human animals from slavery condition was always part of his political desires.
Dimitris was promoting the abolishment of the gender binary system and chose to challenge hetero-normativity without apology, experimenting with crossdressing and other non-cis male characteristics. He looked to destroy patriarchy, and never give into societal gender role and expectation. In our community he took initiatives to open the gender and sexuality issues and struggles through projections and discussions.
He was strictly defending the combative characteristics of our community. One of the reasons why he made a very hard critique about our choice to not confront the riot cops in their attempt to evacuate the 4th squat “Liberte” that we tried to open. He was involved in actions against control and repression, on the hill and the streets, he acted in the memory of Zak/Zackie oh. In his small textbook, containing his agenda and commitments, he was noting the Assassination dates of militants who died by the hands of the state.
He was a passionate, beautiful, and sincere fighter of our shared struggle against any form of authority. We were part of his growth, and he remains part of ours. Dimitris made it an everyday life goal to challenge and overcome his fears, regardless of the consequences. While his fearlessness may have led to his demise, it was a defining characteristic of the beauty he possessed and the approach to resistance he inspired.
In our voluntary struggle against authority every anarchist militant is irreplaceable, DIMITRIS ARMAKOLAS IS PRESENT THROUGH OUR MOST EXTREME CHOICES.
The prior statement was from the Koukaki squat community of Athens, of which Dmitris was a member. Koukaki is a neighborhood that borders the Acropolis, and is undergoing the most extreme gentrification in Athens due to Airbnb and broader tourism. The individuals in Koukaki have opened up to now 3 squats despite these circumstances.
The squat community Dmitris was part of served as a shelter for anarchists, subversives, refugees, and immigrants. It provides not only housing for the discontent and excluded, but at it’s core exists to further the broader anarchist project.
The Koukaki squats have survived an evacuation attempt by the MAT (Greece’s riot police force) police, state intimidation and legal harassment, and at least 4 fascist attacks. It is respected as a squat that has survived the odds of a neighborhood that is far less friendly
then somewhere such as Exarchia where many squats exist.
*Marios Seisidis is undergoing trial in Athens, Greece. He is a self-proclaimed anarchist facing 36 years in prison, accused of a 2006 bank robbery in the Athens city center. He was a fugitive for almost 11 years and was unfortunately captured in 2017.
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