Monday, February 4, 2008

Riots in Athens

"No mother, i'm fine"
"but things look really bad - the police are letting the fascists run around and they are beating up people, are you sure you are ok?" said my mother on the other end of the line.
It was last Saturday afternoon and my mother had rung me from Australia on my mobile to check on me and to see if i was ok. She had seen the Athens demonstration on tv and she was worried with what she saw. The sight of the ultra-right wing group - Golden Dawn (Hrisi Avgi) attacking the anarchists and the anarchists fighting them and the police using tear gas on the anarchists had her worried about my safety.
"Yes mother i am fine, i am in a safe place, dont worry about anything" I told her as i looked around Notos Galleries store for something to buy a friend.
"Vassili" This was my dad now "Be careful"
"Yes i am perfectly fine, don't worry ok, i am nowhere near the riot"
"Vassili" my dad again "You dont understand, this is exactly what happened in the 1960's, the police would encourage the fascists to fight, would never arrest anyone. The government would encourage this lawless behaviour to keep the people down and make things appear chaotic"
"ok dad i understand" I had just spotted something i wanted to buy and was eager to end the conversation "I'll be careful, i will stay away and lock the doors when i get home"
"ahhh I understand - you dont want to talk to your dad, you think i am crazy and your making fun of me. But this is how these right wing governments work, akou me pou se leo, they encourage these disturbances, if they wanted to they would arrest everyone and put them in gaol and then we would see if it would happen again, but they are their friends and no one will go to gaol."
"ok ok ok" i added hurriedly - someone else was trying to move in on that item i had seen, if i didnt hang up soon it would be gone. "Ok dad, tha ta poume later ok, bye"

This conversation was no different from a million other ones i had had with my parents. They are constantly trying to explain to me whats going on, but their frame of reference is always the years up to their departure from Greece. So they are telling me about the events leading up to the dictatorship, the anti-communist sentiment, the random arrests and beatings of people on the streets. And i am always trying to tell them, that its not like that, its Greece in 2008, we just had the Olympics, everyone is dressed up to the nines and there is so much wealth everywhere - not just poverty which they remember.

Later on that night, I saw the footage of the Golden Dawn activists running in between the police lines to attack the anarchists - and then run back through the police to seek shelter behind them. I heard that following a judges decision - decreeing the original protest march by Golden Dawn was illegal, they just said ok, picked up their things and left. The police continued to press the anarchists who retreated to Exarhia. Later on 100 people were arrested, but no charges were lain and they were all free to go in the morning.

Its so confusing my head hurts, perhaps my parents were right, time and wealth have no bearing on the matter. This is Greece - anything can happen and things won't change for a long time to come.


Anonymous said...

Some more info on the riot:

One question though. How is that the fascists were allowed to attack by the police? Surely they knew they were being caught on camera. Will the police be investigated?


Unknown said...

Why you don't say "lefties" and you keep calling them anarchists?

graffic said...

Welcome to greece, where the traffic lights are mere suggestions and you're robbed because "you deserve it".

Apart from the experiences. I believe everything these days. 20 million euros disappear from the public funds but it's more important a ghost dvd with "sex".

Now it's time to watch the soap opera... err... the news in the TV. I bet one coffee they have scriptwriters for the news. (I was thinking to bet they have the scriptwriters from "Lost").

Anonymous said...

Indeed Greece of 2000 is not the Greece of 1960 but on the other hand the lack of a core sense of Institutions lacks today as it did then.

Sad thing is that at thos times one could look up to a "bright new socialist world" while now even this is lacking.

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece on Greek politics here: