Saturday, December 17, 2011

Occupy the Ministry of Magic

Harry Potter gets radical.

EU Death Star II

EU Death Star II by Teacher Dude's BBQ
EU Death Star II, a photo by Teacher Dude's BBQ on Flickr.
"Governor Rehn: National legislatures will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word from Berlin that Merkel has dissolved them permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republics have been swept away forever.

General Sarkozy: But that's impossible! How will the Merkel maintain control without the bureaucracy?

Governor Rehn: The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local governments in line. Fear of this battle station."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In Kosovo

In Kosovo by Teacher Dude's BBQ
In Kosovo, a photo by Teacher Dude's BBQ on Flickr.

Memorial for the dead pinned to the wall of a government building in Prishtina, Kosovo.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's what you do right now that make a difference.

Looking back at 2011 in Greece

This week I received an email from the Guardian asking if I would like to contribute 200 words to an article on this year's events in Greece. Here is my reply.

"Greece has been through such upheavals that it's hard sometimes to separate all the different defining events, since the beginning of 2011 the country has seen changes that would have been inconceivable beforehand.

As austerity measures continue to grind the economy and population into the ground the reaction has been ferocious, with mass protests from groups as diverse as teenage would be anarchists and middle aged taxi drivers, both of whom I saw fighting riot police units in September.

On the other hand determinedly peaceful protests such as the Indignant movement which flourished in Spring were also violently put down in June, leaving people angry, confused and for the time being, without focus.

"Of all the demonstrations that took place in the last 12 months, perhaps the most decisive were those that saw politicians escaping from angry crowds nationwide during the annual 28th October No day parades. TV images of Greece's president being forced to flee in Thessaloniki, set in motion a series of events that led to the fall of the government of prime minister, Giorgos Papandreou, marking the end of a two - party system that has dominated Greek politics since the return to democracy in the 1970's."

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.