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On Saturday night, an officer of the Special Forces of the Greek Police killed a young 15-year old school student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, in Exarchia in the centre of Athens, (just 200 meters from the office of our paper). This is the modern “democratic” manner in which a police officer answered the usual anti-police slogans that a small group of ordinary and completely unarmed school students were raising against him. The police officer shot at the group of school students in an area where there are many coffeehouses full of people and at an hour (9pm) when there are many youth gathered together enjoying an evening out.
This actually is big news. It’s made Drudge’s front page today and yesterday. The fascinating thing is it comes against the backdrop of a country already in turmoil over the economic crisis.
This fascist, brutal and unprovoked attack on the part of the Greek police has led to a widespread and deep feeling of disgust throughout Greek society. It reminds everyone of the criminal actions of the Greek police forces in the past, of the black years of the Greek colonels’ dictatorship (1967-1974), but it has also served to highlight in the minds of the people the many brutal actions of the Greek police over these past four years of right-wing government. Two years ago in Thessalonica six police officers brutally and mercilessly beat up a Cypriot student, causing serious injuries, both physical and psychological. In the same period one police officer seriously injured a young teacher by using knuckledusters. Many immigrants are also regularly brutalised by the Greek police, especially in the police stations of Athens, as many videos that have been broadcast on Greek TV channels have revealed. All these are just a few examples of the “democratic” actions of the Greek bourgeois state in the last few years under the New Democracy (ND) government.
Fascinatingly enough, the former left governing party, PASOK, turned away from the left and followed, you guessed it, neoliberal economic policies. This, as it should have, led to its downfall and the current conservative government under ND. What is being reported is that a large segment of the Greek population has tuned Left.
This most recent killing has had a big impact on every ordinary working person and in particular on the youth of Greece. On the night of the killing thousands of young people spontaneously mobilized across Athens, Thessalonica and Patras, to demonstrate their anger, clashing with the police throughout the night into the early morning. Yesterday, Sunday 8th, thousands of people demonstrated all over Greece, in 14 different cities. Today another rally is planned in the centre of Athens, which will see the participation of many more people than yesterday.
Read the rest of the article. It’s a fascinating look at how one country is facing a combined economic and social crisis.
Here’s a statement from Synaspismos on the ongoing situation:
December 7, 2008
Statement by Alecos Alavanos, President of the Parliamentary Group Of SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left)
The Coalition of the Radical Left shares the deep grief and the rage of the young student’s family. The despair and anger of all the youth.
There is no excuse. The 16 year old boy is now standing next to all the young fighters – Petroulas, Komninos, Koumis, Sotiropoulou, Kaltezas – who were deprived of life only because they loved freedom.
In Greece, under the New Democracy rule, it is a crime to be a young man or woman. Bullets are not the only weapon used to kill the youth. Young people are murdered through unemployment, insecurity, through the invasion of profit in the education system, through the lack of expectations and prospects.
New Democracy can no longer stay in government.
We call on the youth – the pupils, the students, the working young people all the citizens, to reply massively, peacefully and in a militant way. Next to the struggle for the right to employment, next to the struggle for state universities we need to fight for democracy and freedoms, for the right to life itself.
When these objectives have been achieved by our youth then the memory of their classmate will have been fully honoured. The slogan: “Bread, education, freedom” becomes timely again.
Finally, the government ought to stop immediately the provocative presence of the Police Special Forces, which should be dismantled in any case. The government is fully responsible for any continuation of the strategy of tension and violence.