Thursday, June 7, 2012

a new day has dawned…

Today, I was going to post the article below. However, this morning, new events unfolded and first of all, I would like to mention this morning’s news…
As I sat there, sipping my morning frape, I watched the live news show on Antenna channel. The usual morning line-up of politicians, analysts, discussion, disagreements and then suddenly Golden Dawn MP, Ilias Kasidiaris, got up and physically attacked two women on the panel. He threw a glass of water on Syriza MP Rena Dourou, (who sat across from him) and then proceeded to hit/slap/punch the MP of KKE (Communist Party) Liana Kanelli who was sitting near him. State prosecuter Eleni Raikou has already issued a warrant for Kasidiaris’ arrest but for now, he is on the run and has yet to be apprehended.


I have not posted anything in over three weeks. The only reason why I hesitate is because I find myself in an atmosphere of constant doom and gloom; negative news swirls around us every day. Trying to stay positive is very difficult. I don’t want to dwell on ‘the bad’ – but ‘the good’ seems ephemeral while ‘the ugly’ abounds… so bear with me…
There have been a few things on my mind these past few weeks; for some reason I cannot get certain ‘news items’ out of my head…
…for exmaple the recent spate of attacks on immigrants.

On May 29, a 32-year old Pakistani man was attacked by a group of about 12 men while he was riding the train. The group of men boarded the train at the Attiki metro station and brutally beat the Pakistani man, dumping him on the platform of the next stop, Agios Nikolaos station. He was taken to the hospital. Witnesses reported that the attackers shouted anti-immigrant slogans.

On the night of May 31, three attacks on immigrants occurred in the Neos Kosmos area of Athens. The victims of the three separate attacks (an Albanian man and two Polish men) were hospitalized with stab wounds. Witnesses reported that the attackers wore helmets.

On the night of June 1, on Pireos Avenue in the Tavros area of Athens, a group of motorcyclists participating in a Golden Dawn rally attacked and injured a 31-year old Pakistani man. Police rushed to the scene but were unable to find the assailants who had already fled. However, police intercepted another group from the same rally, who attempted to attack a group of immigrants at the intersection of Konstantinopoleos and Irea Odos. Police detained six people, including the daughter of Golden Dawn’s leader (Nikos Michaloliakos) and two Golden Dawn parliament members, Ilias Panagiotaros and Giannis Voulidis. All were released without charges and Golden Dawn issued a statement denying any involvement in the incidents of violence. 

I’ve read many articles about the sharp increase in suicides in Greece – nationwide, the suicide rate has risen by 40% in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. Experts have been studying the effects of austerity measures in Europe, in terms of mental health. They report that austerity measures can turn a crisis into an epidemic and this crisis may leave behind a legacy of mental illness in younger generations who are faced with years of living in hopelessness.  Job loss can lead to severe depression – and untreated mental illness can intensify into problems that are difficult to reverse.

Recently there have been many reports about suicides which took place all over Greece during the past few weeks. However, I can’t stop thinking about these two cases in particular…
On May 30, a 61-year old man hung himself in a park in the Piraeus suburb of Nikaia. His suicide note said that although he worked hard all his life he found himself in so much debt that he could no longer survive. His note also said “I hope my grandchildren are not born in Greece, seeing as there will be no Greeks here from now on. Let them at least know another language, because Greek will be wiped off the map unless of course there was a politician with Thatcher’s balls so as to put us and our state in order.”
On May 24, in the central Athenian neighborhood of Metaxourgeio, a 60-year old man and his 90-year old mother stood on the roof of their apartment building, joined hands, and jumped. The man, Antonis Perris, was a musician. His mother suffered from Alzheimer’s.
He left one last post on a website dedicated to music and lyrics. In this last post, he explains that he had been caring for his elderly mother for the past 20 years but in recent years her condition had worsened and she suffered bouts of schizophrenic episodes. He also wrote that nursing homes would not accept her because they do not accept patients who suffer from such ‘overburdened conditions’.  He also explained that he had not foreseen the economic crisis and when it hit, he did not have enough cash in his bank account. Although he owned plenty of property, of which he kept selling off at any price just to survive, he found himself without enough money to live on – he did not have enough money to eat, care for his mother, pay his bills… and he noted that he was recently informed that he also had a “serious health problem” but he did not go into further details about it. He ended his post with the lyrics to a song he wrote himself. These are his last words:

     Don’t leave any of them standing

If you want to fix this world, first you must change its foundation,
before, due to our own inaction, the decline obliterates us…
We are governed by thieves, bankers and crooks
and all of their minions.

So without mercy, then, without pity,
Strike them down before you are destroyed
Because otherwise you will live in misery, without justice
So without mercy, then, without pity,
Don’t leave any of them standing.

The commandment states you shall not commit murder,
but by necessity you kill yourself
Strike them down before they destroy you,
Idleness is a crime
of our moral inaction and of our indolence…
let us no longer be sick and weak.

In the meantime… politicians continue their debate on whether or not they should have a televised election debate; experts examine the possible effects of a possible Grexit; bankers discuss the prospect of some kind of EU rescue plan… but I just wanted to mention what’s been on my mind these past few weeks…


Anonymous said...

Scary times. I'm English but of Indian descent, and my wife is white. We were planning to visit Greece later this summer, but reading reports like this make me wonder if it's safe being a visible minority. Are these just isolated incidents, or something more troubling? I wouldn't avoid France just because of Le Pen, but this somehow seems much worse.

Anonymous said...

You should be quite safe, Just be watchful at all times in the City, the Islands are safe, Just here in Athens this senseless violence is happening, mostly by Golden Dawn themselves or there supporters.

Anonymous said...

Most rumours say that the police support golden dawn, that is why Ilias Kasidiaris is still at large. They don't want to find him.

Hopefully the Greeks will not vote for them this time.

In his latest video he saying that the 1967 - 1974 dictatorship was a good thing for Greece, and they should have it back.

But I agree with you, while I sit on balcony drinking my morning frappe I can think of nothing good happening around me...

Maruvur S. Sridhar said...

I am very saddened to read your recent posts. I realise that Greek society is greatly divided on the grave issues facing the nation. Meanwhile people in the society - the ones who are at the edges - are either killing themselves or getting into crime to survive.

In this condition, austerity is not the answer, I realise but country is told by other countries that's what is necessary...

Typical condition of a person or entity that lives beyond its means.

What is the solution ? I realize there is no magic bullet.

The volunteers & good social support organizations and other charity can I think make a difference, in spite of what Govt. is doing, if they pull themselves together to :
(1) Provide food to the needy
(2) Health, Medical care to the needy
(3) Safety and security to the hard-working immigrants. Spread the truth that immigrants are the real boon and not bane. They escaped even worse situation than what you have there to live there.... so make best of their experience and hardwork.
(4) Elect people who will not encourage and indulge in violence, ethnic cleansing etc. - whatever is their economic political ideology, that's secondary.

Currency change is the last thing you want in such an environment. Drive this point to the leaders. You can walk out of a currency when you are strong. When you are weak, it is elixir of life. Do not use it as an issue to make a hanging rope...

Anonymous said...

An interesting read, thanks for sharing your experiences.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure what it was that lead me to this blog/post but your words have reached out across the miles to Wichita, KS - USA. I won't pretend that I comprehend or fully understand the situation there and the main stream media here is clearly selective in what we see and hear.

It seems small in light of such enormous negativity, but for what it's worth my heart, my thoughts and my prayers are with you and those sharing in the difficulties there.

I heard once a long time ago, that there is no darkness so black that a single candle flame cannot chase it away. There are times I've doubted that myself but none-the-less I have always held onto that belief.

So, from one heart to another a candle burns here for you and yours that you might find light in the darkness. Be strong, keep hope and know that others truly do care about you and what's happening there.

matia14 said...

To the reader in Wichita - thank you for your kind words. From one heart to another, in this anonymous internet world, kind words and sentiments make all the difference and bring light and hope.