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A death over Greece's stolen dignity
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-04-05 07:52:28
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Yesterday a man killed himself in front of passing people in the most central square in Athens in front of the Greek parliament and coincidentally called “Constitution Square.” In a note he left - and this minute has overflowed the internet and all the social media - he is accusing the politicians for his death and he calls his suicide an act of dignity. His suicide was a political act and that without any sense of populism. Populism will come from the very same accused the politicians and soon; at the moment – and I hope it will stay there – is an act of a man in front the choices others did for him condemning him to a slow death.

athens01_400_02The last two years suicides is something that you read more and more often in the Greek news and its devastating because in Greece suicide incidents were rare in the past and happened only for love and madness not for dignity and betrayal. And then there are the others who didn’t kill themselves but they were killed. Let me tell you a story from a very close friend. His mother, a woman in her early seventies after losing a big part of her pension – thanks to the austerity measures – she started using credit cards. You see banks care more for their targets; administrative bonuses and marketing than the fact that most of the people cannot pay back even in Greece under the current situation.

So after a few months the poor woman found herself with bills that she couldn’t pay including bills from electricity, telephone or water. Of course her needs were piling, medicines and food she couldn’t pay and because she didn’t want to worry her kinds she never said anything; just continued using her cards. She was found dead in her bed from a stroke and under her pillow they found all those unpaid bills. And I heard this story again and again and again. The only thing that changed from one story to the other was the names, the age and the place. And this is not another story for populist politicians; this is the reality a lot of Greek live this moment. And please if you replace the Greeks with the Portuguese, the Spaniards and the Irish you will get a better picture.

Since the event unveiled in the media all the politicians ask from the people not to politicize the suicide but it is political and they just created a martyr, a symbol and you cannot fight a symbol. The last two years Greece had 1.700 suicides. The average age of the victims is 35 - 55. This is not populism and however unimpassioned with the issue you might want to be the number is overwhelming. And this number doesn’t necessary say the truth because these are the declared suicides but then there are insurance or religion reasons that in Greece would keep the suicide a family secret.

The fact that a 74 years-old retired man killed himself in the centre of Athens in front the Greek parliament is that this was a political act targeting a system that is rotten and it is a sign of how much the economic situation has hit the majority of the Greek people. The hard working Greek people, who always paid their tax fulfilling their obligations to the state. The Greek people who were cheated, robed and in the end even got the blame from the few. And I hope, really hope this is the last similar incident, even though sociology says that unfortunately things like that work like a virus. His act, his political act, will be heard all around the world. And I hope the Finns, the Germans and everybody else can see that the Greeks never stole/used/defalcated their money and that the Greek people want these few responsible to pay for their crimes more than any outsider.

And I hope that without any sense of populism, unimpassioned and beyond the numbers the EU leaders and IMF will see what the Greeks gathering in the same square today and through the photos of a 74 year-old retired family man who protested in the most extreme way for his stolen dignity and an unfair blame for things others did to him and in his name without him knowing and he still has to take the responsibility.


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