Tuesday, 9 December 2008


The major media in Greece call it a catastrophe. I call it a revolution. While in the rest of the world the bubble of 'grab'-capitalism burst in a natural way, for days now the young people here in Greece have tried to convince the government and the Greek people that also in their country something is completely wrong.

After a demonstration against the lazy government on Saturday, December 6 a 15-year-old boy was shot dead by police and then there was the revolution: mass demonstrations in all the major cities that led to riots and chaos with a lot of destruction.

Some said just plain: those are the anarchists. But if you took a closer look at the television images, you'd have to ask yourself where Greece suddenly found so many anarchists. Of course it's not just the anarchists who suddenly became active. For years the anarchists have been engaged in isolated acts of resistance, especially in Athens: they torch banks and like to bait the police. The district Exarchie in Athens is known for it, small riots are no exception there.

The death of the 15-year-old teenager was the trigger that the government should have long foreseen. For a long time activists tried to demonstrate using peaceful methods. For example, in Thessaloniki last year masked youths regularly penetrated supermarkets to grab basic food to distribute on the streets, as a protest against the high prices.

But the government was deaf to these actions, just as to the strikes that regularly paralysed daily life in Greece. So now the young people are angry and turning en masse against the political inaction. Promises of reforms that will never take place, a Government bursting with scandals that they prefer to cover as deep as possible. What future do young people have in a society that is ruled by a government filling their personal pockets and people who time and again vote for these same pocket fillers?

Last night, the third consecutive night of the 'catastrophe', Athens seemed on fire: shops, large Christmas trees, cars, banks, the office of Olympic Airways, a hotel and even an apartment complex were in flames.

The police had been told to hold back. And they did. Protecting themselves from the stones and Molotov cocktails they remained resigned in little groups opposite the hooligans, only making charges when it was really needed.

The government also remained reluctant about this 'catastrophe'. The only thing Prime Minister Karamanlis could say yesterday evening was that the public would be protected. Well, that was shown up on television: no stores were protected! Protect against what? Against money-hungry monasteries that stole 100 million euros from the state or against corrupt politicians and officials who get rich while sleeping? Against the increasingly rising prices? A fourth of the Greek population lives in poverty and Greece has become one of the most expensive countries in Europe.

Last night I watched the images on TV time and time again, from burning shops, dustbins, Christmas trees and cars on fire. The gang of commentators in the various TV studios was screaming in their usual way at each other, but no young people were invited to explain what they wanted. Of course the government and its media try to blame the small group of troublemakers responsible for all the damage. But the images of the masses of young people all over Greece out on the streets without causing any damage, received hardly any attention.

Lesvos usually doesn't join in on strikes and other actions that take place in the capital. But now also young people here in Mytilini and in Kaloni came out on the streets to demonstrate. In Mandamados they even raised a roadblock to express their dissatisfaction. While in Athens a lot of Christmas decorations were destroyed and the centre of the city yesterday evening seemed to be on fire, on Lesvos life went on as usual: picking olives and shaking the nets. In the homes, the televisions showed the most horrible images of the riots and TV personalities were having their screaming discussions that always seem the same.

It'll take long before all the wounds will be healed from this 'catastrophe' as the riots are called. In the government nobody dares to call this a revolution. That would mean that they admit that something is completely wrong in Greece and it is not the intention that the government falls. Or is it?

Copyright © Smitaki 2008

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