Friday, January 9, 2009

Athens - contrasts upon contrasts

Oh the joys of living in Athens. I was late paying my electricity bill so the other day, of i went to one of their main offices to pay it off. Arriving there at 10 to 8 i was a bit annoyed to see that there was already a small line forming outside. As i got closer i heard a lot of grumblings.
"30% increase in prices and this is what we get" and "You are for the rubbish (baza)"
"What's going on" i timidly asked "They haven't got any power"

Yup, thats right. Greece's Power Utility DEH branch was out of order because of a power outage. Half an hour went by as they contacted their main offices to see what they could do and to have them send someone over to fix the problem. In the mean time they let us in two by two so we could pay our bills the old fashioned way, and all by candle-light.

Of course the irony was not lost on anyone. That this should happen, no-one is shocked. But it also shows how many in Greece work, they were not phased at all that they should work by candle light. I guess in another country it would never get to that stage, but if it did i seriously doubt they would work in those conditions.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Inaction leads to shooting of Police

This morning Athens woke to the news that a Greek Policeman on guard duty outside the Ministry of Culture had been shot multiple times. Over 20 bullets had been fired by either a Kalashnikov assault rifle or military issue G-3, a nine mm pistol was also fired and one hand grenade was also thrown.
So now we know that holidays are over and people are back from their holiday feasts.

Everyone is being hypocritical, ministers, politicians 'journalists' and they are all pretending to be outraged over this turn of affairs as the police officer lies in hospital fighting for his life.

I say hypocritical because 99% of those mentioned above acted in a way that directly contributed to today's shooting. This officers blood is on their hands.

The police were ordered to stand back and watch as rioters threw firemen out of their trucks and drove away in them to smash them to pieces. Police were ordered to run as rioters looted and set fire to stores. Police were ordered to stay indoors on 24 watch - not going home, not allowed to respond to calls by citizens, ambulance and firemen for protection.

The government had ceded power and authority to the rioters. Journalists and politicians jumped up and down to protect the rioters and blame the violence on migrants, the police themselves and 'foreign powers' - or to justify their actions.

Rioters grew accustomed to throwing molotov cocktails at police, running onto university grounds for sanctuary and taunting them from this hiding place. Something that wasn't reported was that mothers would come at dinner time, throw bottles at the police to allow their 'children' (you can be 30 and still be a child) to come home and eat. They would take their children by the hand through the police blockade and take their children home, for a home cooked meal and a good nights sleep. The next day, the 'children' would return to the fight, fully rested and fed to tear up the University for ammunition to throw against the police who were up and on duty all night with no rest.

Because all this was allowed to happen with the tacit approval of government, our elected representiatives and society, why not go the next step and act on the chant 'The only good cop is a dead cop'. The government has proved that you can commit acts of violence and get away with it. Some parts of society even applauded it. This is not the first policeman to die under these circumstances, and nor will he be the last.

In Greece where no one has any responsibility for anything, this violence will only continue.