Earlier today [May 19th], the Greek police evicted one of Athens’ more famous squatted spaces: the self-managed theatre Empros.
The historic building is located in the Athens neighbourhood of Psiri: one of the oldest and centrally located quarters of Athens suffering from a terrible case of gentrification in recent years.
The theatre, built in the 1930s and declared a historic monument in 1989, was left abandoned in 2007. In November 2011, it was occupied by an artist group Mavili Movement, with the support and cooperation from the Psiri Residents Movement and other groups. The building was subsequently turned into a functioning venue managed by a weekly assembly.
Over the space of nearly a decade, Empros hosted hundreds of artists, 400 different plays in more than 2000 performances, 450 band shows, events to support self-organized projects, cinematic initiatives and artistic groups, more than 300 speeches and lectures, hundreds of assemblies, exhibitions, poetry and literature festivals, workshops, and pretty much countless meetings and workshops.
In a statement published earlier today by Occupation Mundo Nuevo, the group says:
After almost a year in quarantine and total lockdown, with public health dismantled, unemployment rates rising and the minimum wage no longer even enough for food, it is more than obvious that for state administrators, the return to normal goes through the continuation of the attack on the social movement and the eviction of the occupied struggle structures of the anarchist movement.
According to some Greek media reports, Empros has been a subject of complaints from the locals. However, this claim does not appear to stand ground because the theatre has not been active as of recent due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Today’s eviction comes amid Greece’s conservative government of the New Democracy party announcing plans to “liberalise” the country’s labour laws. Some of the planned measures include the abolishment of the 8-hour working day and opening the window for a 10-hour working day. The law, once passed, will additionally legalise unpaid overtime, abolish the Sunday holiday and strengthen individual employment contracts over collective ones in many sectors.