Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to turn a problem into a crisis - Greek riot police storm the Acropolis

Today Greek riot police entered the grounds of the Acropolis this morning in order to expel protesting employees who were demonstrating over delays in payment of wages stretching back two years. In response the government sent in riot police units who used batons, shields and tear gas indiscriminately, attacking reporters covering the story as well as protesters (video from Skai News here - incident is 16 minutes in).

Junior minister for culture, Telemaxos Hiteris, speaking on Skai News defended the actions of the police saying that "the law was the law and 30 employees could not be allowed to close down the Acropolis."The permanent members of staff have gone on strike in support of colleagues on short term contracts.

What has happened is a minor industrial dispute involving a few dozen employees has through the violent intervention of the police been turned into a story which has gone global with yet more images of police officers clashing with demonstrators inside Greece's most familiar landmark. Once again the authorities have mixed indifference, incompetence and violent over reaction into a volatile cocktail which confirms many Greek's worst opinion of the government (One Greek Twitter user said the "we really do have a junta).

Instead of negotiation and discussion batons and tear gas were used so inflaming a tense situation and sending the message to the outside world that Greece is racked by violent confrontation. Of course, this is not the case but by providing such images the authorities are doing everything in their power to promote this idea.

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