Greeks have been out in the streets, in Athens and other big cities, for more than a week. And this is beginning to upset the politicians. "What is happening in Greece?". An article by two young Greeks, Anastasia Koutri, Master student and Katerina Korovesi, freelancer.
What comes to your mind when you think about ancient Greece? Democracy, civilization, philosophy… What comes to your mind when you think about modern Greece? Tourists, corruption, scandals… Well, for the last days the scenery has changed in Greece. Thousands of Greeks of all ages and social backgrounds have rushed to the streets for peaceful demonstrations, by far the largest the country has seen in the last thirty years. In 25 May the first demonstration was organized in Syntagma Square, right in front of the Parliament. The main slogan was “We woke up. What time is? It is time they left!”, referring to the politicians, who are considered responsible for the current deadlock in Greece. It is not the bad economic situation that has infuriated the Greeks. We have managed to sustain a lot of ordeals during our history and we know we will make it through. We even recognize our share of the blame for this ‘difficult situation’ we are in. The main discontent is addressed to the politicians and the political system in its whole. The most popular slogan/ accusation towards politicians in these protests is “thieves”. Despite of scandals for defalcation and malversation, and a widespread admittance that the politicians were getting rich through public money, no one has ever been punished or even held account for.
The “Indignants in Syntagma”, as this new civil society movement has been named and is numerating more than 100.000 members in Facebook, are asking for a “cleaning up” in public finances and a restructuring of the public debt. But what is more important, and bad news for the political world, is that the Greeks, fed up with the corrupted politicians, are now asking for a change in the political system. It seems that the bad economic situation was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The following article is a translation of the thoughts of a friend that has taken part in the demonstrations in Syntagma Square.
“Intimidation. This is the first word that comes to my mind when I must talk about the political system in my country. Intimidation from the politicians, intimidation from the journalists (well paid subordinates of the politicians), intimidation from all those who try to preserve the rotten political system in order to continue exploiting the toil and hard work of the people.
“You have the right to vote”. “People speak through the ballot”, we were told. Lies. The people spoke with their abstention in the elections but no one paid attention. Because the political system is structured in such a way, that disregards those voters who chose to show their resentfulness through abstention. We are experiencing fear every day. The media are bombarding us with threats and catastrophic scenarios. They terrify us by recalling the bankruptcy scenario. However, no one came out officially and responsibly to explain what such a development would mean for the people of my country. An invisible enemy that keeps approaching, and in order to avoid him, we must pay for their malversations. Yes, we have also made mistakes, and, yes, we have also taken advantage of the prevailing corruption and misrule, and I recognize that we have to pay. We should pay for the crumblings, but they must also pay for the tones of pound cakes they have defalcated from the public budget.
They have diminished the morale of the Greeks by intimidating them. How long did they expect it to last? Well, it lasted for as long as it lasted! Now the smile is back on the faces of the Greek people. Yes, I saw a lot of smiles in the “Gathering of the Indignants” in Syntagma Square. And it was an ironic smile… they thought we were asleep, they were wrong…. We just did not want to subordinate to their political parties’ mechanisms. But now, without any political banners and plackards, signs of our enslavement, the Greeks are expressing themselves freely. We are asking for justice and vindication. Freedom and work. The right to a better future. The young people are protesting for the life they have not yet lived, the parents for the future of their children and the grandparents for their grandchildren. In Syntagma Square babies, children, young people, parents and grandparents are gathering every day to protest. No one is asking for charity. We are only asking for justice!
In 480 BC there was one traitor who betrayed the 300 Spartans. Nowadays, there are 300 traitors and they have betrayed one…. the Greek people! And now it is time to face the consequences!
My name is Katerina Korovesi, I am 29 years old, I have never been and I am not a follower of any political party, I am representing myself, my beliefs and my hope for a better future.”