The austerity measures that have been imposed on Greece have seen an increase of 4% in the Greek deathrate. With suicide rates up 40%, from one of the lowest rates in Europe. Last October, Apostolos Polyzonis used his last ten euros to buy petrol and equipped with a loudspeaker doused himself then set himself alight in Thessaloniki, railing against the banks, government and politicans, after he was unable to pay his mortgage and the bank threatened to take his home. In April Dimitris Christoulas shot himself in Syntagma square commuters streamed out of a nearby metro exit during Athens’ morning rush hour, his suicide note read
The quisling occupation government literally nullified my ability to survive on a decent pension, for which I had already paid (without government aid) for 35 years.
I am of an age that prevents me from offering a decent individual response (without of course ruling out the possibility of being the second person to take arms, should one person decide to do so), I find no solution other than a dignified end, before resorting to going through garbage in order to cover my nutritional needs.
One day, I believe, the youth with no future will take up arms and hang the traitors of the nation at Syntagma Square, just like the Italians did with Mussolini in 1945 (at Milan’s Piazzale Loreto)
Yesterday there was a meeting of EU finance ministers to agree another round of bailout money before Greece runs out of funds in November; and general strike was called in protest at the continuing austerity measures which are a condition for the funds being made available. Several marches from rally points across the city converged in Syntagma Square. Joining the march from the Archetectural Museum, comprised of Syriza and the anarchist bloc it was impossible to estimate the numbers protesting – people streamed from all directions to join the protest.
Before my section got to Syntagma, I could already hear the bangs of teargas being dispensed. Those with heavy duty gasmasks moved forward, as the march slowed. On arrival, there were already people breaking up the marble of the square and throwing molatovs at the police. Around 500 people, equipped with gasmasks and motorcycle helmets were involved in some way with the violent resistance, either preparing the rocks, ferrying them to the frontline or directly involved in the fighting, while a crowd several hundred strong watched and cheered on from the square. There is no denying the bravery of those who directly confronted the police releasing round after round of teargas directly at them, attempting to get close enough to baton them, before being forced back by rocks and molatovs being ferried to them. A huge cheer went up anytime there was a direct hit on the police..
Watching from the square, eventually the teargas became overpowering, despite the mallox smeared which soothes the skin, and the duskmasks which were no match for that quantity. With no warning whatsoever suddenly we saw a charge from a line of police positioned at the bottom of the square aimed directly at us, firing teargas as they came. People scattered in all directions down whichever road off Syntagma they were closest to. Coughing and spitting into the road to get rid of the teargas. All of us with burning faces, and streaming eyes. On regrouping at a road to the top of the square we found armed police preventing us from re-entering. People started to lie down in front of the police and others moved down to stand with them, however a surge from the crowd saw the police stand back with no further teargassing.
People were starting to come back into the square as we re-entered, however a comrade drew us away, saying that the police would soon seal the square and start detaining those within. We headed back to rest and recover, finding out from twitter that an elderly trade unionist had died that day from a heart attack brought on by teargas inhalation – the fifth to die in anti-austerity protests, joining the tens of thousands that the policies of the Greek government have killed. Like Dimitris Christoulas, the 65 year old Xenofon Lougaris died fighting.
There will be many more deaths before the Greek crisis is resolved, of that there is no question. The bailouts do nothing to alleviate the suffering of the population, merely prolong it – the question then becomes how many are prepared to go quietly and how many will go down in flames.