Our Water Problem

The water problem of our neighborhood

Prosfigika is a complex of houses (179 in total), 14 yards, in the center of Athens. The location of the neighborhood is very central: amongst the central police station, the central court of Athens, the football stadium of Panathinaikos F.C., and two hospitals (Elpis, Ag. Savvas). The biggest part of Prosfigika neighborhood is inhabited by squatters.

Since 2002, when the new circle of oppression and looting has begun, having as an excuse the upcoming Olympic games and the general restoration of the city, the efforts of the state to retake the neighborhood hadn’t stop.
During all these years there have been several failed attempts selling/desertification our neighborhood, that had been pushed back, due to the recognition of the neighborhood as national heritage monument and for the architectural importance of it. After this, followed an intended undermining of the neighborhood, combined with the exploitation of the empty spaces by small drug gangs, who were working under the protection of police.
Against these new plans of the oppression, the squatters, that entered and who worked inside the neighborhood, gave a first answer. Some of these people, later, formed the community and also the assembly of the squatted Prosfygika.
Their actions complete now 10 years of presence and have given life to the neighborhood. The self-organization, the 400-500 stable inhabitants, the communal structures (assembly space, collective kitchen, collective skipping, col. ovens, col. internet, kindergarten, col. coffee shop), had turned the neighborhood into the biggest squat community inside Greece borders, in numbers and in space, having at the same time presence in social-class and international struggles.

However, besides the head on efforts of the state mechanisms, there had also been other strategies of demolishing the resistance and collective struggle of the squatters’ inhabitant’s life: cutting electricity/water, political courts against squatters etc.
Inside all these years, the community and assembly of Prosfygika (Sy.Ka.Pro), as well as the new comrades that enhanced with their participation, commitment and consistency, tried to keep alive and grow even more the liberated ground inside the neighborhood. Through the fights that have been given, the collective structures and relationships that were created and the liberation of new empty houses, today we have reached the goal of community presence in all 8 blocks that consists the neighborhood.
At the same time, but hostile toward to our struggle, the state’s and political parties’ mechanisms are moving by depositing new plans for looting and conquest our neighborhood.

To be more specific …

During this period, in our neighborhood every kind of oppressed people live in. Migrants, refuges, families with their children, elders, ex homeless people, political fighters etc. It is a multinational and multicultural area in which the state is trying to intervene by threatening our being there and the neighborhood itself. At the same time, they are planning the gentrification of the whole Ambelokipoi area.
Under these circumstances the state mechanisms are finding various methods in order to use them against us. One of these is about the drainage system of Prosfygika, because it is very old and due to lack of resources is one of our weaknesses. They invoke it by terms of hygiene and the water company is constantly taking pictures of the stagnant waters and mosquitos around the houses. At the same time, it is a problem that truly effects the life of the people and the solution must come from our common, self-organized struggle. The state doesn’t care about the people that live here. We are just another discord to their plans for the center of Athens and their care is around the façade of Prosfigika. The neighborhood must fit in the gentrification image.

Although there is a contradiction at this point. As it already mentioned Prosfigika are declared as an historical monument. They have a long history since 1930. The houses were built between 1933 and 1935 by the Greek state, which sought ways of housing the hundreds of thousands of refugees who had collapsed in the capital after the Asia Minor catastrophe.
The December of 1944 the refugee apartment buildings of Alexandras Avenue have been marked by the shells they received during “Decemvriana”. It was the period when left-wing forces fought hard with the British and government forces in Athens. Many left-wing fighters had found shelter in Prosfigika, where there were friendly enclaves, and so the apartment buildings suffered a lot of damage from the British shells … During the dictatorship (1967-1974) Prosfigika were also turned into prisons for political prisoners.

These are the reasons why Prosfigika are preservable. That means that no one (not even the state) is able to change the facade of the buildings at all. That’s the reason they are trying to find an alternative “humanitarian” solution (guest houses for the relatives of the hospitalized patients). As for the first block they want to turn it into a museum. This is a classic example of the state’s social oblivion. The mentality that recognizes a glorious past of struggle that belongs to history by delegalizing the fighters of today in order to prove that the present era is democratic, peaceful and in no need of revolutionary struggles.
The immediate renovation of the drainage system not only will protect us from the interference of hygiene “police” but also will improve the living standard of the residents.

We need the political, material or financial support from everyone, who wants to empower the struggle of occupied Prosfigika to stay an autonomous community. If we don’t fix the problem the state will …
As for the practical stuff, we decided that the best way to fix the water problem is by changing the pipes of the neighborhood, because they are almost hundred years old and block due to dust. We need some kilometers of new pipes, the tools and the people to procced. As for the water quality inside the houses we are planning to bye some water filters.

So, this text is a first call for an international campaign to gather money for our water problem and it is part of the general plan that we made to face the states attack.
You can contact us for any clarification: sykapro.squat@riseup.net
We will turn the general police station into a museum
Hands off Prosfygika!

July 2019


Operation Big Leak. Day #1
February 13, 2017

So, we decided to face The Big Leak.
The story so far…

Some 3 years ago a squatter was trying to do something with the water connection in our block. It is unclear what exactly was his idea and nobody knows what happened. Squatters do not really boast long memory or situation awareness. Enough to say that the popular knowledge is the guy either broke the valve or punctured the water pipe.

As the water erupted, his best idea was to pour enough concrete on it to stop the leak. And then some dirt&gravel. And then some more concrete. Out of sight, out of mind as they say.

Now, I do not really know if anything of that really worked. But when we arrived here 5 months ago, the leak was happily seeping through the whole sarcophagus, growing every week. And it was already considered long-term problem.

Lately, a neighbor (incidentally the one who caused the whole mess) let me know that the water company people asked him several times recently to fix the leak “or else”. He was quite nervous about that, but somehow he never happened to come to discuss it during infrastructure meetings.
The Plan

So we finally did some guess work, got some materials and assumed three possible scenarios:

A. Broken valve. We have a replacement valve ready, some adapters and temporary bridging flex. The problem may be, if the gap between delivery and receiving pipes prove to be too small. Then we will just screw the valve onto delivery pipe and shut the flow down. This would buy us time to work on the follow-up solution.

B. Broken pipe. We have a 1″ hose and clamps. If the pipe is broken, we will unscrew the valve, slide the hose over the pipe, clamp it so the leak is contained and screw the valve on again.

C. Everything messed up. We will use a battery-powered metal-cutting saw to cut all the mess out and bridge the pipes with a piece of hose, fixing it with clamps and duct tape. The most desperate version, indeed.

The priority was to contain a leak. After that, all kinds of solutions can be introduced to provide water to the block.

The Action

The beginning was easy. Three strong revolutionary people removed the outer layer of cement. Then we realised that the water is bubbling happily through several places in the pavement. Bad sign. Carrying on with the work, we got to the original valve well and than got stuck. The inner slab of cement apparently was holding the majority of the leak contained. Not enough so solve the problem, but enough to make it extremely inconvenient to get trough it wit the pressure on. Breaking the concrete (and possibly the pipe inside) would takes hours. With growing leak it would make next to impossible any sensible repair.

So we decided to leave the leak uncovered. We will need to mobilize more people and do the scouting in the area, to find the place where the water can be cut off — there MUST be such place. Only when we close the upstream pipe, we will be able to fix the leak.

To be continued…