Athens: Zizania, new squatted social center in Victoria

Welcome to Zizania, a squatted social center in Victoria, at the corner of Fylis and Feron streets. May it be a neighbourhood space for self-organisation, social interventions, collective resistance and community building. Let’s meet in this space for sharing thoughts, food, coffee, clothes and whatever else we can imagine. For freeshops and free haircuts, for caffeneios and screenings, for learning and reading, for workshops and assemblies. Let’s celebrate it as a step towards the liberation of more public spaces, let’s make the best of this opportunity, as we are the ones who shape and take on our own struggles and shouldn’t rely neither on other people, designated institutions, nor better circumstances to do so.

With Zizania we foremostly aim to create a breathing space from the racist, sexist, capitalistic violence of the state and society. We envision a space of interaction and exchange between people of different backgrounds, origins, identities and ages, who speak different languages and have different opinions. These are conditions we must create and concretise together, through meeting each other, strengthening relationships inside and between our communities and connecting our struggles. For too long we have only been dreaming about something like this – surely we weren’t the only ones – and now we want to take action. In that spirit, we invite you to bring your issues, ideas, initiatives, and struggles to discuss how we can shape this space together.

Victoria is where we live, where we met and in different ways we became part of the area’s constant struggles. Living here gives us a primary spot to observe and experience the multi-level crisis that is unfolding — economical pressure, informal labour, border violence, healthcare system failure, lockdown measures and a general psychological state of fear and anxiety. In this particular neighbourhood, the swift fascist turn Greece and Europe are taking, is obvious – we see the glorification of nationalist rethorics, the militarization of our streets and public spaces, the oppressive violence around school, university, low-wage labour and street life, and the repression of resistance. Victoria is and has been a neighbourhood of the marginalized— migrants, queer people, sex workers, drug users, poor people, and those the state and society pushes to the outside. This marginalization is created and maintained with racist police checks, fascist attacks, sexist harassment, forced social isolation, and deep housing precarity. And more recently, one thing we are all experiencing is the lack of social spaces, since our squares have been invaded by cops and taken over by capitalistic interests.

The state and their fascist allies have long used racist rethorics and modes of actions and repression to convince the public that the problem of Victoria is migration and not the capitalist alienation, lack of social services, and lack of community. This has reached new heights in the summer of 2020 when people from migrant backgrounds were forced to live on Plateia Victoria, denied access to basic needs, harassed by the surrounding shop-owners and finally transported against their will to camps and prisons around the country. At the same time fascists accompanied by Bogdanos and Kasidiaris made an appearance on the square, reviving old traumas from Golden Dawn members hunting and beating people around Agios Panteleimonas.

Victoria acts as an internal border that (re)produces the violence of Greece’s outer borders. As on the islands and in Evros, Victoria is a place of constant evictions, threats of push backs and no access to healthcare. These are used by the state to deter people on the move to stay and keep them from deciding their own fates. Meanwhile, Victoria remains full of empty buildings, privatized areas, deprived of social spaces and filled with NGOs that people are forced to rely upon despite their paternalistic methods, dehumanizing “vulnerability” criteria, profiteering goals, and impermanent solutions. We won’t pretend that we have easy answers and solutions. For us the way forward is to resist and confront the capitalistic and legal structures that brought us here. We squat against cops, state, real-estate, patriarchy, church and ordinary indifference. We see this as a radical move to continue our struggles together and embed them in the neighbourhood. We squat to breathe new life into abandoned spaces and open up new possibilities. We cannot rely on the state or NGOs to build a community inside the neighbourhood. Let’s rely on ourselves and our relations.

By taking this step, we openly embrace the illegality and precariousness that characterises Victoria. Indeed, what isn’t made illegal here at this point? People who have no other solution than sleeping on the square or inside unused buildings are told it’s forbidden and hunted down, day-time hanging out is barely tolerated and organising politically to comes with accepting fines, threats and surveillance — and the cop-state does its best to criminalise it. What is clearly legal however, are the means of the state, the police and the property owners: evictions, increasing rents, and racist harassment. We are squatting today and will keep squatting because we understand it as a key tool in our hands to form new relations and break down these structures. We do not care about staying inside of the lawful boundaries, quite the contrary even. We thrive to challenge, deconstruct and abolish all norms, economic boundaries and borders. We will shape and build community through practices of mutual aid, active solidarity, inclusive and horizontal organization. We will work to reach out to all those in the neighbourhood who want to struggle on such terms and build connections to break the state alienation. We invite individuals and groups to reach out to us. Together we want to break down the divisions instigated and capitalized on by the oppressions of the state and society and bring out the creative and powerful multicultural potential of the neighbourhood. We seek to reassert an antifascist presence and consciousness in the area and challenge the status quo of the balance of power and fear through enabling connection and creation. By choosing to occupy a space that used to be an autonomous squatted archive, in such a general social context, we also seek to rekindle the legacy of squatting, of combativeness and resistance that is part of Victoria’s complex history. We have called ourselves Zizania because like weeds, we grow and flourish amidst the chaos, against all control, time and time again.

See you in Zizania, on the streets, and in Victoria.


Feron 30, Victoria
Athens, Greece

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Some squats in Greece:
Groups in Greece:
Events in Greece:

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