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Athens on fire
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-12-09 09:07:28
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While I’m writing this I’m listening to Greek radio that often interrupts its usual Sunday evening relaxing sports program to have special bulletins with news from the centre; and everything finishes with the prelude that the street fights worsen and the damage to shops and houses has become tremendous. Athens, literally, is on fire, but the worst of all is what caused this fire: it was the cowardice murder of a sixteen year-old boy by a policeman.

athens01_400Before I continue talking about it I have to mention what an older friend of mine, somebody who served in the Greek police has once told me and I will never forget, he said that the moment a policeman pulls his or her gun it has started a series of events with lethal results and that one of the things he learned and kept throughout his serving time was that the gun was clean and ready but he never, and he emphasized that never, had pulled it out of its holster.

What happens in the centre of Athens has the same roots as hooliganism, young boy and girl victims of a crisis that has hit our capitalist world over the last two decades, especially seeing that they start their life with their dreams chopped and this is the worst thing you can do to young people. They can see that bachelor degrees and masters lead to the unemployment office or dramatically underpaid jobs. I have written before that the new generations are the seven and eight hundred Euros generation where thirty year-olds still live with their parents because they cannot afford their own life and independence; something, for example, that is unbelievable for my generation.

These kids have nothing to look for and nothing to help them, they feel the pressure coming from all sides and this pressure is violent. So violence leads to violence. Their only way to express their desperation is to make it loud and violently. And this minute they are doing so in the centre of Athens. A few months ago they did exactly the same in the centre of Paris and they have done it in Manchester, in Brussels and in Berlin. And that was until the policeman hit the sixteen year-old boy.

I need to repeat again that these boys and girls are reacting to a society that ignores them and is pathogenically ill at this moment, not just this moment but the last few decades. These boys and girls try to find something that, for example, my generation had strong dreams. In my generation we thought that we can change the world and you can see that through the music, the poetry the art. Jim Morrison was singing in the late-60s, we want to change the world and we want to change it now, and the young people believed it. Today’s kids they have to face corrupted states and institutions, with banks that drink their blood and unemployment, that’s the dream they have to deal with.

athens02But let's go back to Athens, the events as I read them and heard them over the last hours are like that, a group of something like thirty young men and girls in the centre started booing at a police car, the policemen inside felt provoked so they came out of the vehicle and started answering swearing and making an exhibition of their muscular instincts.  Here I need to say something, the policemen of course felt shielded behind the uniform and the power that uniform gives them but most of all they felt shielded in the sense they were carrying a gun. The gun made them feel superior if not masculine and obviously replacing the size of their manhood. Please note that the man was nearly forty years-old with three kids.

The news naturally spread at the speed of light and since then, with Athens as the centre, the fire has expanded across the whole of Greece with street fights all around all the major cities. As a result, hundreds of people mourn over their destroyed fortune. You see the groups of the uncontrolled crowds they started burning shops on their way and as a result three central streets in Athens have all the shops destroyed with the damage difficult to calculate at the moment and with the entire financial crisis some of the shop owners before total destruction.

The policeman is guilty for murder and the excuse that came from the police headquarters is equally pathetic, they adopted the policeman’s excuse and seriously they announced that the man shot because he got scared for his life. The interior minister offered his resignation this morning with the prime minister not accepting it thereby proving that all is a theatrical move. The government should have resigned, the murder of a sixteen year-old boy should be enough to send the prime minister home for good but that demands something he’s obviously missing… dignity and honour.

athens03I usually write my Greek articles in Greek and very rarely in English but the pictures from all the media referring to what’s going on in all the international agencies led me to write in English since there are a few misunderstandings in those reports and quite often they find it difficult to blame a policeman for murder. Actually they find it difficult to say that the Greek government should resign here and now.

Perhaps this moment I’m too upset after reading and listening to all the live reports but I cannot understand how they survive under the peruse of a murder like that. The policeman shot the boy in straight line as the forensics show and obviously intentional. The question is who trained and who gave this policeman the gun. Not a young policeman but a man with twenty years at the service. Who’s responsible for this man if not the government that trained him and gave him orders? The government that felt that he is fit to carry a gun and use it.

Over the last two years Greece has suffered a series of dramatic scandals all started from a government that thinks that they were elected for ever and with total power. Greece had to live with the regime of a conservative government for a long time and has obviously forgotten what they are capable to do, well know they know and they remember so it is time to finish them and if they have any dignity left they should resign here and now and call for elections with this unable prime minister going home for good.

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Alexander Mikhaylov2008-12-09 01:24:47
Of course, this world is in deep shit and it is going to be worse. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself that I was born in these times and I have to witness all this... and Greece! Fo rGod's sake! It is the one of my favorite places on Earth (even my first serious art exhibition took place in Kreta and not in any other place) I don't know what to say... I always regarded Greece as a place I would choose at any moment to be my home... All this police shit that goes in there is simple unbelieveable. When there will come a stop to it all, huh? Just tell me when? I am appaled.

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