Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Latest austerity measures in Greece adding to the flames

"Why are you taking photographs?" The riot cop kept on screaming at me, his face screwed up into a red ball, his club raised, waving back and forth.

What I wanted to say was "So you don't beat the kid you just caught to a bloody pulp. So you don't plant evidence on him"

But I didn't say anything of the sort, I just said that I was doing my job, whatever that may mean. I suppose I could have got into a discussion about the role of citizen journalists in the newly emerging media landscape but then again, never argue with a man with a baton and a badge.

Yesterday I marched with students in Thessaloniki who were marking the third anniversary of the murder of 15 year old Alex Grigoropoulos, who was shot by a police officer in cold blood on December 6th, 2008 in Athens. His crime was talking back to an officer with an attitude and a gun.

The death sparked off a maelstrom of violent protest that lasted for nearly a month and saw clashes between protesters and Greek police across the country, affecting both large cities and smaller communities.

The crime acted as a catalyst for anger over much of the discontent many young Greeks felt about their future and the way the country was being run, as it came in the wake of a series of corruption and influence peddling scandals involving top government officials.

It also was fuelled by the widely held belief that the police, and by extension much of the state is above the law, able to flaunt legislation and human rights at will.

Three years on and the economic situation has deteriorated so rapidly that 2008 seems like a lost paradise, where there were still a future for some and some way of making do for most.

With youth unemployment at 40% nationally and over 50% in Thessaloniki little now remains for Greece's 15-30 year olds in terms of jobs and career choices.

To make matters worse the problem has spread to their parent's and grandparent's generations as the relentless list of austerity measures and tax hikes have hit both the public sector and small businesses, both bastions of Greece's new enfranchised middle class.

Footnote. The teenager you see being arrested in the photograph was simply guilty of not running fast enough, like most of those who took part in yesterday's demonstrations, he did so peacefully. However, in the heat of the moment trifling matters such as innocence and guilt matter little to ill-disciplined riot police units looking to settle scores.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When will you post all your photos? Any video?