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by Euro Reporter
2013-02-08 11:14:28
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Free food handout ends in one person trampled in Greece

A protesting action that gathered Greek farmers outside the agriculture ministry in Athens on Wednesday ended in one man trampled by the crowd which rushed to the farmers’ trucks hoping to get free fruit and vegetables that the farmers were handing out.

Some 55 tons of fruit and vegetables was given away in just two hours, witnesses say. After it became clear that there was no more food at food stalls, people rushed to a nearby truck, competing for the food that was left. Greece is living its sixth year of recession. The unemployment rate is high, food and fuel prices keeps on rising. People have to live on cut wages and pensions. They say they never imagined they would ever find themselves in such a situation. They cannot afford food, everything is expensive, they say.

Reports on strikes in various parts of the Athens continue coming in, as Greeks protest the government’s austerity plan. On Wednesday the Greek government demanded that seamen should return to work after a six-day protesting action that led to food and medical shortages.

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Austerity Cuts Greek Household Income 38%

The severity of Greece’s crushing economic crisis and austerity measures demanded by international lenders has drastically cut the incomes of more than 90 percent of Greek households, with an average drop of 38 percent. The startling numbers that illustrated how bad the crisis is for most Greeks, apart from politicians, the rich and tax evaders, came in a survey by the Marc company. It also found that more than 82 percent say their total incomes amount to 25,000 Euros ($33,900) or less because of big pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions, the news agency Bloomberg reported.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said there total income doesn’t exceed 18,000 Euros, ($24,100) and only 2.5 percent say they make more than 40,000 Euros, ($53,570) according to the study for the Small Enterprises’ Institute of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants. The government keeps imposing austerity so that the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) will keep rescue loans coming. That has worsened the country’s recession, now in its sixth year and created a record 26.8 percent unemployment. In November, 2012 Greece’s Parliament approved tax increases and spending cuts demanded by creditors for the release of funds required to keep the country solvent but exempted Parliament workers who threatened to strike if their pay was cut. The measures have been so tough that some 40 percent say they can’t pay their bills on time, mostly because of big tax hikes that are taking 40 percent of their income.

The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has shrunk by a fifth since Greece went into recession in 2008. Retail sales dropped 16.6 percent in November from a year earlier and supermarket sales fell by 500 million Euros ($669 million) last year as people have cut back severely on spending, even on food. Clothing, eating at restaurants and gifts are the categories in which most households say they have cut spending “significantly,” followed by heating, travel and recreational activities such as going to cafes, bars and the cinema. People have cut education and health spending less.

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Photoshopping away police torture

On February 1st 2013, an attempted robbery of two banks takes place in a small village of the Western Macedonia region, called Velvento. The bounty was around 180.000 Euros and the police managed to arrest the robbers after a gr01_400short chase. The news would have passed unnoticed, if the heavily armed robbers were not very young middle and upper-middle class boys, whom the police associates with the armed urban-guerrilla group ‘Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire’. Twenty four hours later, the police make public the photos of the bank-robbers, and the whole country is appalled by what it sees: the faces of four badly beaten 20-25 year olds, which have also been — badly — photoshopped in a vain attempt to hide the cuts and bruises, and the hands (?) that are holding the youngsters’ heads in order for them to be photographed.

The police rush through an announcement to justify themselves, claiming that only the minimum amount of violence necessary was used due to resistance during the arrest, while the Minister of Public Order Mr Dendias (the man who threatened to sue The Guardian for having published a report on the torture of 15 anti-fascist activists by the Greek police, the same man who launched a war against Greece’s squats) said that the pictures were photoshopped in order for the faces of the arrested to be more recognisable (!), claiming that no torture had taken place. The youngsters themselves — through their families and lawyers — claim that they did not resist their arrest and that they were badly beaten up/tortured while in detention; while there is evidence (videos and pictures from the moment of the arrest) that proves that they were not beaten during the arrest, but whatever happened, it did so afterwards. Some alternative Greek media, together with some international ones, as well as Amnesty International, strongly questioned the official explanations, while the latter also commented that “the Greek authorities cannot just photoshop their problems away”.

gr02_400Under heavy public criticism, the Minister had to promise that a torture investigation would take place and the results are still expected. The bank robbers are now in detention, yet they describe their actions as political, and consider themselves anarchist ‘prisoners of war’, shouting during their transfer to the Prosecutor’s office “zito i anarhia koufales!” — “long live anarchy assholes!” What is also worth noticing is that one of the four arrested anarchists is the friend of Alexandros Grigoropoulos — the 15-year-old boy who was assassinated by police in Exarchia in 2008 — and happened to be by his side on that very moment, which surely played a big role in shaping his view of state power and police brutality. The story is indicative of the radicalization of a young generation of Greeks, and of Greek society as a whole, under the structural conditions imposed by austerity. But it is also indicative of the way the state has chosen to deal with the voices of opposition in the country, be they legal or illegal: with repression, human rights abuses, and public humiliation.

Let’s not forget that a few months ago, the same government, the same Minister of Public Order, and the same police force, tortured — as it was proven — 15 antifascist activists for having organized an AntiFa moto-parade. And it is the same state officials who launched an attack against the country’s squats, for no obvious reason other than silencing any oppositional voices around. It is by now obvious that the Greek state, in order to defend the extremely unpopular and unsuccessful austerity measures it has been imposing for a couple of years now, has chosen the road of repression. It is not something new: we have seen such practices in the past too — in Chile, in Argentina, and elsewhere. The difference is that in those cases we were talking about military dictatorships, while in the Greek case we are talking about a democratically-elected government, which is even more scary and unacceptable. At the same time, it is also obvious that this strategy of the state is resulting in the further radicalization of the Greek youth.



         
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Leah Sellers2013-02-09 07:14:43
Austerity, especially passed down to Others by those who will never feel its sting and Pain, is darkly foolish and corrupting.

If you starve a Starving Human Being - a Starving Nation - they/it will sicken and eventually implode or explode at a very cellular level and die. It's just the inevitable Scientific Reality of it.

Feed, Nurture and Sustain a Human Being - a Nation - and they/it will Survive and eventually Thrive. Once again, it's just the inevitable (barring any sort of interference) Scientific Reality of it.

Austerity Feeds the already Well Fed while Starving the already Starving.

Who's Austerely Fooling Who ?!


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