Monday, July 9, 2007

Athenians protest to protect the environment

Where will Red Riding Hood walk if there are no forests left?

July 8th saw Athens largest non-politically organised protest since the fall of the dictatorship.
This was truly an amazing occurance, people of all walks of life came, grannies with walking sticks, Death metal heads sporting Metallica shirts, Hippies, Cyclists and Bikers, families came pushing their children in prams, Goths came with piercings in various body parts.
It didn't matter who you were, rich or poor, thousands came to Syntagma square to voice their protest over the fires and to make sure that it would be re-forested. Police estimate that when the area in front of Parliament house fills up with people, that equals 5000 people. Some people like Tsipras who recently ran as a candidate for Athens mayor estimated that as many as 40000 people came.

This rally really opened my eyes. Other rallies are politically backed and feature rent-a-crowds. Political Parties organise buses to ensure that people turn up, speeches are held and people turn up to prove their faith to the political party, real issues that affect people are rarelt raised.

Instead what we saw in Athens on Sunday were real people, people who felt that this time things had gone too far. People who really felt passionately that something had to be done and wanted to let all politicians know how angry they were.
In a symbolic gesture some people placed a plant in front of the tomb of the Unknown soldier. Police quickly swept in to remove the offending plant. This action provoked boo's and contempt from the crowd which started to crowd in closer to the tomb. The police quickly retreated.
A child then stepped forward from the amassed crowd and laid a burnt branch from Parnitha at the foot of the tomb. This was soon followed by others.

WWF was also there, as were many other bloggers who were influential in making the protest a reality. organised a unique demonstration. Dressed as businessmen they chanted slogans such as "Trees take up parking spots" "Deers just shit in the woods and dont turn a profit" and "Burn and Build, construction companies elect governments".
Unfortunately their dark satirical humour rang true, too true.

But i cannot stress enough how impressive this protest truly was. Over 5000 Athenians got up off their couches to protest and make their voices heard. They also performed the 'Moutza' (an open palmed insult) towards parliament building. The crowd also cried out 'Eshos' - Shame, disgrace...

I should also point out that the government spin machine is in full force and orchestrated an almost complete media blackout. Government TV stations did not report on it and instead the media is following a four year old scandal which implicates the previous government as being incompetent (and the current one too if you ask me, over 4 years to find out the obvious, they have to be incompetent to miss that). They are also reporting on how well Pendeli is being reforested. Now thats a scandal that they can truly point towards the previous government, because it is not being reforested and the old forest now features villas and highways where once trees and goat tracks existed. The only reason they are not pointing the finger is if they themselves are also implicated. - ESHOS -

Most Newspapers are completly ignoring it too, except for Ta Nea and Eleutherotypia. How the media can be so corrupt and complicent to the government line still amazes me. This is why, in part i write this blog and why i write it in English, so that those who live outside can also realise what is happening here.

But as the people, by their mere turning up to the protest exhibited, this shame will not be tolerated for much longer and we will be watching.


Unknown said...

wow, big anti-government demonstrations in Turkey, now in Athens...))))

Vassili - Mike said...

hehe, well not really anti-government in as much as this is Pro-environment - This rally is an outcry not against any particular form of government but for the environment. No one chanted down with the government or pro- any opposition party. I want to say this because i - and i believe everyone who was there wanted to stress that the environment should cross party lines...

Unknown said...

but they didnt like how the forest fires were handled?

Derek D said...

Interesting thoughts I really enjoyed your blog.