Monday, April 9, 2012

The Greek tragedy deepens

Politically motivated suicides have an interesting history.  The Buddhist monks who committed ritual self-immolation in 1963 Saigon got a lot of attention but it certainly did nothing to slow down the USA armed attacks on their country.  But on Dec. 17, 2010 a young fruit seller set himself on fire in central Tunisia.  Exactly four weeks later Mohamed Bouazizi's act of desperation was a significant factor in toppling the government.  Different conditions; different places.

This latest act of desperation in Greece seems to have touched a nerve.  Only time will tell if the outcome will be more like Saigon 1963 or Tunisia 2010.  And so far, there is clearly no indication that this will lead to young men toting Kalashnikovs hunting down the political and banking establishment.  One could argue that the banksters are FAR more powerful than the USA military-industrial complex so this will remain a futile gesture.  On the other hand, since bankster power is about 98% illusion, maybe acts like this will change things.

Pensioner’s suicide: 'This was political murder!'


Thousands of Greeks gathered in front of parliament Wednesday night and Thursday to pay their respects to Dimitris Christoulas, a debt-ridden pensioner who committed suicide over the government’s austerity measures. Our Observer in Athens tells us why Christoulas is being heralded as a hero.

Christoulas, 77, shot himself in the head in Syntagma Square, near Greece’s parliament, on Wednesday morning. The former pharmacist left a note explaining “the government has annihilated all possibility" of his survival. His pension, he wrote, had been drastically cut, and he didn’t want to find himself “fishing through garbage cans for sustenance.” He added, “I believe that young people with no future will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country.”

Thousands of people gathered for a vigil at the spot where Christoulas took his life Wednesday evening, leaving flowers and notes.

Later in the night, protesters clashed with the police, throwing petrol bombs and rocks. The police counter-attacked with tear gas.

On Thursday, people continued to flock to Syntagma Square, piling up more flowers and taping notes to a tree near the spot Christoulas died.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos released a statement saying: “In these difficult hours for our society we must all – the state and the citizens – support the people among us who are desperate.” more

Austerity Suicide

Pensioner's Death Sparks Clashes in Athens


Violent protests have erupted in Athens following the public suicide of a 77-year-old retired man. A note he left behind accused the Greek government of impoverishing him with its debt crisis austerity measures, a message that resonated with demonstrators. Many are blaming the state for his death.

The public suicide of an indebted pensioner in Athens on Wednesday has touched a nerve in the Greek capital, sparking violent clashes with police.

The 77-year-old retired pharmacist shot himself in the head during the morning rush-hour near the central Syntagma Square, police said on Wednesday. In a note found in his clothing, the man reportedly blamed the debt crisis and austerity measures for his suicide. After paying into his pension for 35 years, the government had rendered it too small to survive, he said in the message, published by local media. "I find no other solution than a dignified end before I start searching through the trash for food," it read.

The square where the incident occurred, just opposite the parliament building, has already been the site of frequent protests during Greece's debt crisis, and people gathered once again on Wednesday to mourn the unnamed pensioner's death. The death is the latest in a growing number of suicides in Greece, a country grappling with dramatic financial troubles that have led to high unemployment, lower wages and shrinking pension payments.

Some people posted notes to the tree under which he died, with messages like, "It was a murder, not a suicide," and "Austerity kills." Meanwhile, hundreds of others marched toward parliament chanting similar slogans.

"This suicide is political in nature and heavy in symbolism," Vassilis Papadopoulos, protest organizer and spokesman for the "I won't pay" group told the Associated Press. "It's not like a suicide at home."

The man's suicide quickly became a political issue in the country, with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos issuing a statement as protesters gathered. "It is tragic for one of our fellow citizens to end his life," he said. "In these difficult hours for our society we must all -- the state and the citizens -- support the people among us who are desperate." more

Greek police fire teargas at workers in Athens

Fri Apr 6, 2012 9:53PM GMT

Greek police have clashed with workers outside the central bank of Greece and the labor ministry in Athens during a protest over a debt swap deal between the Greek government and private bondholders.
On Friday, police fired teargas at hundreds of Greek workers who had staged a rally outside the Bank of Greece and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security to protest against losing their savings as a result of the country's bailout deal.

The demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Thieves!" and "Take the austerity package and get out!"

“They lowered our pensions. We can’t take anymore. We should all commit suicide,” Secretary of the Union of Dockworkers Fotis Siakaras said during the protest, referring to the retired elderly who shot himself in the head over financial problems outside the parliament on Wednesday.

The suicide incident has sparked violent anti-austerity protest rallies in Athens. more

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