Greek Uprising: Second Update
Is the December '08 uprising of the Greek teenagers so important that an additional update is necessary? Given that the uprising had even an international appeal, as shown by the fact that Sarkozy of France, a George W. Bush-type of person, did not dare reform the French educational system, as he had announced, fearing a reaction from the French teenagers similar to that of the Greek ones, it seems that an update is, at least, useful.
However, one can argue that the events in Greece are insignificant compared to the "earthshaking" event of the inauguration of a black man as the US President. Certainly, one can not ignore the 1.8 million people that attended the inauguration of Obama. Especially, one can not ignore the face of Michael Holmes from St. Louis, a middle-aged black man, and his huge raised clenched fist cheering "in front of the White house...after President Barack Obama was sworn in...", as shown on an "msnbc" photo of January 20.
By the way, it might be helpful for Obama to be aware of what ordinary people in the world expect from him. For example, it will be helpful for him to know that the entire populations of Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, Germany, etc, expect from him that his first act should be, to defang Israel, the most murderous nation on earth, after the Nazi Germany. Also, one cannot ignore that Obama chose, Rahm Emanuel, the son of an Israeli terrorist, as his Chief of Staff.
Finally, it will be morally valuable for ordinary Americans to compare the "happy" events of the Obama saga in the US to the events in Greece as presented in the following update. The update covers a period of 34 days, from December 22, '08 to January 24, '09.
[Note: I have to apologize to the reader for the length of the list that follows. I ask for his or her patience and plead with him or her to follow closely the events. The work of belletrists [fiction, plays, etc] is "entertaining" and sometimes "useful". However, a list as the one below gives a "bird's eye-view" of the real and complex image of a society, any society, I believe.]
- Monday, Dec. 22, '08: Around 10:30 p.m., Kostadinka Kuneva, a 44-year-old Bulgarian immigrant, was attacked by two men outside her home in Athens who threw acid on her face, forcefully opened her mouth and poured the acid in her mouth and down her throat. Kuneva worked as a cleaning woman and was secretary of the Athens Association of Cleaners and Domestic Staff. She has a Bulgarian university degree in Archaeology and the History of Art. She ended up in a coma in the "Evangelismos Hospital".
- Tuesday, Dec. 23, 5:50 a.m.: Unidentified persons attack a bus carrying 23 riot policemen in Athens. According to the police, the assailants used two Kalashnikov rifles, they fired 7 shots, of which only 2 hit the bus. Also, the police say that the attackers "aimed low to convey a message rather than actually injure or kill anyone on the bus."
- Tuesday, Dec. 23, noon: Students demonstrate by the Parliament, they carry a 4 feet-high papier-mache pig's head sculpted by students of the School of Fine Arts and they burn it in front of the riot policemen guarding the Parliament. The students of the Polytechnic School of Crete are threatened to lose the semester if there are more sit-ins.
- Friday, Dec 26, afternoon: Anarchists demonstrate in front of "Evangelismos Hospital", where Kuneva is in a coma.
- Monday, Dec. 29: Demonstration in support of Kuneva at the subway terminal in the port of Piraeus, where she worked as a cleaning woman. The doctors at the hospital announce that Kuneva now is breathing normally and not through a hole in her neck [tracheotomy], as she did up to now.
- Monday, Dec. 29: Mass demonstration in front of the Israeli Embassy in Athens protesting the bombing of Gaza by the Israelis. A Syrian manages to scale the wall of the embassy and to pull down the Israeli flag. The Greek police attack with tear gas and arrest the Syrian.
- Monday, Dec. 29, early in the evening: The "SS Dignity" leaves Cyprus for Gaza. On board are 15 activists from 11 countries intending to get medical supplies to Gaza. Around 3 am next day six Israeli warships encircle the small ship and one of them rams it twice. The "SS Dignity" could not make it back to Cyprus and limps to the closest port, that of Tyros in Lebanon.
- Tuesday, Dec. 30: Sit-in by students of the University of Salonica, at the Salonica Labor Center in support of Kuneva. She is not in a coma anymore, she is still in the intensive care unit, prospects are good for her survival but she lost the eyesight in one eye.
- Wednesday, Dec. 31, 4:00 a.m.: Unidentified persons put on fire the "Christmas Tree" at the center of the city of Heraklio, in Crete.
- Wednesday, Dec. 31, a few minutes before the end of the year: In Athens and in Salonica, young people put fire to 20 banks, mostly the ATMs, to a department store, to cars, etc.
- Saturday, Jan. 3, '09, 6:40 a.m.: A Bangladeshi man, a 30-year-old migrant, was found dead, killed by the police close to the "Aliens Bureau" in Athens. This was the second killing by the police of a migrant in the area by the Bureau.
- Saturday, Jan. 3, 3:00 p.m.: More than 2,500 demonstrate against the Israeli attack in Gaza. They throw stones against the US Embassy, they burn the Egyptian flag in front of the Embassy of Egypt and they end up at the Israeli Embassy, where the Greek police attack them with tear gas, chemicals and grenades.
- Sunday, Jan. 4, 5:00 pm: Two massive demonstrations took place against the US Embassy and the Israeli Embassy to protest the bombing of Gaza. Young people throw stones and Molotov cocktails. The Greek police attack them for many blocks away from the Israeli Embassy. They arrest three Spaniards and two Greeks. Similar demonstrations took place in Salonica and other Greek cities.
- Sunday, Jan. 4: In the Sunday press it is announced that hundreds of demonstrators, arrested during the past weeks of demonstrations, are indicted for felony.
- Sunday, Jan. 4: An 18-year-old Romanian woman, a migrant worker, was killed when a masonry wall of a dilapidated building collapsed on her after a mild earthquake in Peloponnese.
- Monday, Jan 5, 3:05 a.m.: Two men attacked three riot policemen guarding the Culture Ministry in Booboolinas street [see below about this street], in Athens. The two men used a Kalashnikov rifle, an MP5 submachingun and a handgrenade. There were 31 shots. One of the policemen was shot twice and is in critical condition.
- Monday, Jan 5, At the port of Patras, in Peloponnese, a port policeman chased a 19-year-old Afghan migrant who was trying to get on a truck to Italy. A blow by the policeman resulted in cutting one finger of the migrant.
- Wednesday, Jan.7: The Greek Prime Minister, Karamanlis [the nephew] reshuffles "his" government. The most important "modifications" are the ousting of the "Economy and Finance" Minister, a graduate of the "London School of Economics" and the appointment of Christos Markoyiannakis, a Cretan, as Deputy Interior Minister responsible for public order. [About Markoyiannakis, see below].
- Thursday, Jan. 8: General assemblies of students and pupils take place in all the universities and high schools of the country to decide on their future acts about sit-ins, protection of the campuses, danger of losing the semester, extension of the semester, etc.
- Thursday, Jan. 8: Unidentified persons firebomb a bank and a "Starbucks" coffee shop in Athens.
- Friday, Jan. 9: The most important demonstration, after the killing of the 15-year-old Alexis on December 6, '08, dedicated to Temponeras the high school teacher murdered by right-wingers at Patras in 1991, took place in Athens at noon. The demonstration, composed of students, pupils, and teachers, was peaceful up to the moment a riot policeman, for no reason, threw a (non-lethal) hand-grenade among the demonstrators. A group of young people answered throwing stones. The riot police attacked in an unbelievably vicious manner the crowd of protesters, who already had started to disperse. The police cornered a group of about 50 youngsters in a narrow street and started beating them. People from the upper floors of the apartment buildings of the street started shouting at the police demanding to stop the beating. A group of lawyers belonging to the "Legal Aid" tried to intervene and stop the barbarity. A young man with bandages around his head, just out of a neighboring clinic where he was taken care for head wounds, was attacked by the police and left unconscious on the pavement. The policemen abandon him and "raise their hands in a 'V' [victory] sign"! ["Eleftherotypia", Jan. 10, page 4]. Arrested were: an unknown number of demonstrators plus 15 lawyers of the "Legal Aid".
- Saturday, Jan. 10: Demonstrations by Greek labor unions, Palestinians, Arab migrants in Greece and political organizations take place in front of the US Embassy and the Israeli Embassy protesting the Israeli attack in Gaza.
- Sunday, Jan. 11: Bangladeshi immigrants in Athens protested for the killing by the police, on Jan. 3 [see above], of their 24-year-old compatriot.
- Sunday, Jan. 11: The Athens neighborhood of "Exarcheia" is considered the center of the anarchic scene in Greece. The core of the neighborhood is a tiny triangular park with its longest side measuring around 150 feet. The police raid Exarcheia regularly. For example, there was a virtual pogrom after the shooting of the policemen on January 5 [see above]. Around noon on Sunday, the inhabitants of Exarcheia, mostly middle class families, organized a lively fiesta, with dance, wine, and songs in an effort to reclaim their neighborhood from the police. This went on up to late in the evening in spite of the cold weather.
- Monday, Jan. 12: In the press: Kuneva is still fighting for her life. In the city of Volos, there was a sit-in at the offices of the Labor Center in support of Kuneva. The policeman wounded in the attack of January 5 [see above] is breathing unaided. His condition is said to be "stable and improving".
- Monday, Jan. 12: An Athens court, unanimously, acquitted the 24-year-old Syrian, Ahmed Alzuma Ibrahim, who pulled down the Israeli flag at the Israeli Embassy on Dec. 9, '08 [see above]. His act was considered as a means of protest against the massacres in Gaza. The Israeli ambassador did not dare ask for the prosecution of the man for insult of a national symbol.
- Tuesday, Jan. 13: "A shipment of some 3,000 tons of American munitions destined for Israel will not pass through the western Greek port of Astakos. Athens and Washington said yesterday, although the reasons behind the decision remained somewhat unclear". ["Kathimerini English Edition" attached to the International Herald Tribune, January 14, '09].
- Tuesday, Jan. 13: The personnel of all Universities and of all Technical Schools of Greece signed a proclamation in support of Kuneva.
- Wednesday, Jan. 14: The Greek government once more denies that American arms are moved to Israel through the Greek Port of Astakos. The Americans admit that they use the port and that the transfer was simply postponed, not canceled. More than 1,000 inhabitants of the small town of Astakos, led by the general secretary of the Greek Communist Party, demonstrate against the use of their port by the US to transport arms to Israel.
- Wednesday, Jan. 14: Members of various labor unions occupied the offices of the Director of the "Evangelismos Hospital" where Kuneva is treated in support of her. The lose of sight in one of her eyes is final.
- Wednesday, Jan. 14: A small Greek vessel, the "Arion", left Cyprus in the morning in a second attempt to take medical supplies to the people of Gaza. On board there were 26 persons, seven crew and 26 activists, journalists, etc.
- Wednesday, Jan 14: Eighteen Greek lawyers started proceedings against all persons responsible for their "abuse, violent treatment and unjustified arrest" during the events of the January 9, demonstration in memory of Temponeras [see above].
- Thursday, Jan. 15: Today, finally, the eagerly awaited (especially by the police) admission of responsibility for the attacks against the police of Dec. 23, '08 and of Jan. 5, '09 [see above] was published in seven tabloid-size pages of the Greek weekly satirical paper "To Pontiki" [The Mouse]. The admission was made by the "Revolutionary Struggle" group. The most "important" points of the text were: To the policeman that murdered the 15-year-old Alexis they addressed this message: "The murderer['s]...stay in prison, we are certain, will be of short duration. We wait for him to be with us...". They characterize the riot policemen, that they attacked, as "cowardly thugs" who though they were more numerous than the attackers and better armed they did not dare defend themselves. About their social vision they say: "Let us imagine...that for the first time in the Greek revolutionary history we attempt the creation of a revolutionary [C]ommune [in Athens]".
- Thursday, Jan. 15: Alexis Tsipras, the President of the "Coalition of the Radical Left", a young civil engineer, led a demonstration at the Port of Astakos against the use by the US of the port to transfer arms to Israel.
- Thursday, Jan. 15, 3:00 a.m.: The Greek ship "Arion" was intercepted, in international waters, by three Israeli warships, which used powerful searchlights to blind the captain of "Arion", while in the meantime they threatened to open fire against the "Arion". The captain, after consulting with the activists on board returned the ship back to Cyprus.
- Thursday, Jan. 15, 2:00 p.m.: Massive and peaceful demonstration took place in Athens by university students and high school pupils. The police did not provoke any violence. Two hours earlier the labor union of policemen demonstrated in the center of Athens demanding that the violence against the police should stop. Present in the demonstration of the police were parliament deputies, even from the Greek Communist Party.
- Thursday, Jan. 15: The Greek government decided to award a pension to Kuneva, but declared it cannot control the private companies that use migrants like Kuneva as slave labor in the cleaning sector. [See comment below].
- Thursday, Jan. 15: George Mouzarakis, a 22-year-old inhabitant of the city of Chania, in Crete, was beaten by a police officer in the police station because he did not like the way the young man spoke to him on the phone.
- Friday, Jan 16: A half-page long advertisement appears in the Greek press announcing that the Greek company "MSC" [Mediterranean Shipping Company] has nothing to do with "MSC" [Military Sealift Command] of the American Navy that is transporting arms to Israel through the Greek port of Astakos.
- Friday, Jan. 16: The ballistics report on the murder of 15-year-old Alexis is published. In the report, it is accepted that the bullet that killed the kid ricocheted before hitting him. However, it is concluded that the policeman did not fire in the air, but aimed towards the kid.
- Friday, Jan. 16: A Greek Christian Orthodox priest in the town of Amaliada in Peloponnese , for no reason at all, attacked and beat four Albanian immigrant workers. It is said that the priest attacks foreign workers systematically with the tolerance of the local head of the church and the local authorities.
- Saturday, Jan. 17: Hundreds of persons in the city of Volos demonstrated protesting for the arrest of teenagers during the December uprising for the killing of Alexis. The police tried to attack but ordinary citizens and especially women formed a protective shield in front of the demonstrators and prevented the police of beating them.
- Monday, Jan. 19: A memorial service for the murdered 15-year-old Alexis was held over his grave. The headstone on the grave reads: "Had I but time- ... death, Is strict in his arrest,- O! I could tell you ... I am dead; Thou liv'st; report me and my cause aright To the unsatisfied". [Shakespeare, "Hamlet", lines:347 to 354].
- Monday, Jan. 19: It is announced in the press that the prosecutor investigating the attack against Kuseva sent back the file compiled by the police ordering the police to carry out further specific steps to investigate the case. The prosecutor considered the police file as incomplete.
- Monday, Jan. 19: Anarchists in Salonica collected 12,800 [about US $ 16,700] to rebuild the [newspapers] kiosk of a 70-year-old woman, burned during the December riots.
- Monday, Jan. 19: Neo-Nazis of the "Golden Dawn" under the protection of the Greek police attacked Afghan migrants in the Athens neighborhood of "St. Panteleimon" who were protesting for the appalling conditions they live in the area. The chant of the neo-Nazis: "Blood,Honor,'Golden Dawn'"!
- Wednesday, Jan. 21, 6:00 p.m.: Massive and powerful demonstration in Athens by students, workers , anarchists, unionists, etc, in support of Kuneva, protesting the murderous labor-traders and slave labor that almost killed her. The police attacked the demonstrators violently, after some of the demonstrators threw stones against the police. A similar peaceful demonstration in support of Kuneva took place in Salonica.
- Saturday, Jan. 24: A report by two [private] "technical advisors" on behalf of the family of the murdered 15-year-old Alexis was made public today. The conclusion of the report is that the policeman aimed straight at the kid and that even a deviation of about 9 degrees from the straight line, and the fact of a ricochet of the bullet, do not cancel the policeman's intent to hit the kid.
Comments on the events
The crucial question after the December, '08 uprising of the Greek teenagers was: Will this uprising have a sequel or will it fizzle? The above list shows that in these 34 days, covered by the list, there were 12 demonstrations or acts of protest by the young people concerning their problems. Also, there were 8 demonstrations against Israel and the US concerning Gaza and 7 demonstrations concerning the atrocity against Kostadinka Kuneva; a total of 27 acts of protest in which the youths participated.
However, there were two factors that influenced the attitude of the students and the pupils. The first was the threat by the Greek state to"fabricate" the lose of an entire semester by dictating that if the days lost in sit-ins and demonstrations are above a certain percentage then the semester is lost. The second was the armed attacks by the "Revolutionary Struggle" against the police and the serious wounding of one policeman. These attacks numbed somewhat the movement, as it caused the police to be turned into the "accusers" for the wounding of one of them and not the "accused" for the murder of the 15-year-old Alexis. Also, it turned them into more violent and vengeful instruments of the state, as was proven by their behavior during the Temponeras demonstration of January 9. As a matter of fact, to initiate this kind of behavior by the police, Karamanlis [nephew], the rightist Prime Minister of Greece, chose a man named Christos Markoyiannakis to supervise this gentle group of humans; the police.
[Parenthesis: Markoyiannakis is a 62-year-old lawyer who started his career as a prosecutor in 1972 during the military dictatorship in Greece. He was forced to resign from his post as Deputy Minister of public Order, a couple of years ago, because he called the prosecutor of the Supreme Court "stupid" and "illiterate". He is, also, accused of allegedly being instrumental in helping a murderer serve only a few years of a life-sentence and be released from prison. Whether the accusations are true or false is rather irrelevant. He was chosen by Kramanlis for his "ability" to be tough with the uprisen teenagers.]
My estimate is that the "case" of the uprising is not closed yet.
The list of the events is dominated by the incredible drama of Kuneva and the unthikable barbarity of Israel and the US in Gaza.
The people who used acid to burn the body of Kuneva are in trouble. The honest part of the Greek society shall not let the case be closed. But who are these people? They are the middlemen who trade the labor of cleaning women like Kuseva. The women are officially shown to be paid around US $ 2,200 per month. Of these the women take home only US $ 650 per month and another US $ 390 is paid by the employer for her social security benefits. The rest, that is US $ 1,160, is stolen by the trader of the labor of the women. There are 100,000 women cleaners in the wider Athens area. Of course, the traders [and their thugs] enjoy one more benefit from this transaction: Free sex from the women who are mostly migrants from Slavic countries. And, of course, in cases of intransigence rape is applicable. As to who is qualified to be a trader of the labor of women, the answer is not that difficult: the people of the ruling political party of the country. Apparently, this trading, etc. is not a Greek peculiarity it is prevalent in all Christian nations of the civilized West. The truth of all the above becomes apparent if one were to multiply US $ 1,160 by 100,000 each month. This is what Kuneva fought against, as a labor unionist. Now, on the walls all over Greece it is written: "Kostantina we are with you"!
John Kanellakis is a Greek journalist who had lived more than a decade in Manhattan as a correspondent. On January 15, 2009 he was on the "Arion", the Greek ship that had the impertinence to challenge the American State of Israel. In the news I heard Kanellakis's voice describing, live from the deck of the "Arion", the approach of the Israeli ships, the blinding searchlights, etc. [see above]. What follows is a paragraph from an article of his in the paper "Eleftherotypia" of January 23, 2009:
"[E]ach morning the warships of Israel open fire to prevent the [Palestinian] fishermen to earn their daily bread, here in Gaza...The fishermen in their effort to catch a few fish defy the artillery shells that fall by their skiffs and continue to fish... The fleet of the Israeli forces...ply the waters of the Mediterranean all 24-hours having as opponents the fishermen and the skiffs!"
I wonder what is the opinion of Barbara Bush and of Obama's wife about this practice of the Israeli fleet. I hope my translation from the Greek of Kanellakis's paragraph is accurate enough for the ladies. Also, I hope that they visit the ZNet site frequently to gain a daily picture of the world. By the way, the ladies can comment on Kanellakis's piece on the basis of their study of the famous book that was compiled years ago close to the coast of Gaza and close to the beautiful coasts of Greece. The book which is, also, known as the "Good Book" or the "Byblos" [Bible], was used a few days ago for Mr. Obama to swear that he will be a moral person as President of the US, as did Barbara's son a few years ago.
To close these comments on Gaza, here are some items from an "Open letter of the Israeli Embassy [in Athens] to the readers of [the Greek paper] Eleftherotypia".
Says the Israeli Embassy's Press Representative [?], a certain William Anagnostaras:
"First claim: The operations by the Israeli Armed Forces are carried out for pre-electoral purposes."
"Second claim: There is a tremendous disproportion between the operations of the Israeli Armed Forces and the attacks by Hamas with rockets. The Israeli casualties are insignificant compared to those of the Palestinians."
"Third claim: Israel is targeting noncombatants intentionally".
"Fourth claim: Israel is committing a new Holocaust and genocide in Gaza like the Nazis".
"Fifth claim: Israel does not understand that the only resolution to the conflict is the creation of a Palestinian state".
As expected, according to the Israeli Embassy all five claims are "wrong"! The childishness of the refutations is so embarrassing that they are unprintable. Also, notice that the word "Holocaust" is written with a capital "H", which proves how right is Norman G. Finkelstein in his book "The Holocaust Industry".
By the way, can the Israeli Ambassador in Athens clarify if the US is using the port of Astakos to transfer US arms to Israel? All the Greeks are very keen to know, as Astakos, a town on the mainland shore of Greece is only a mere 20 miles away from the Island of Ithaca, and therefore, it is probable that Astakos was a watering hole for Ulysses. The one of the Odyssey saga, etc.
The street of "Booboolinas" is arguably the most important street in the history of modern Athens. Booboolina was a Greek revolutionary, during the 1821 Revolution of the Greeks against the Turks. She got her name from the surname, Booboolis, of her second husband. Personally, I had spent five years of my life in a first floor classroom with windows overlooking Booboolinas Street, as a student of the Polytechnic [Technical University of Athens] from 1950 to 1955. About a hundred yards from the above windows there is a 5-storey building painted pink. The building was built in 1932 by a professor of mine at the Polytechnic, who was a ringer of Alan Ladd, the American actor [of "Shane", etc.]. The building belonged to a doctor who became a Nazi collaborator.
From 1950 to 1985 the building served as the headquarters of the CAI [Central Agency of Intelligence], that is the Greek "branch" of the American CIA! What happened in Greece during the last 50 years was managed and supervised from that building by Americans who, if still alive, enjoy their pensions in various parts of the US, and maybe are neighbors of the reader of this article. However, the most "glorious" period in the history of the building was that of the 1967-1974 military dictatorship. At that time the resident master torturers in the building were Lambrou, Malios, and Babalis. Malios and Babalis were condemned to a few months [!] imprisonment by the official Greek justice system, but were shot to death in the streets of Athens by unidentified persons. Lambrou escaped and, if alive, is also enjoying his pension. About Lambrou see my ZNet Commentary of December 12, 2001, "Do the (Ordinary) Americans Know?"
It was in that building that the young Greek poet Leloudas experienced the kindly "treatment" by the above threesome and their US supervisors, recorded in the above mentioned Commentary thus: "[T]he lack of water is excruciating...I managed to drink from the water pipe leading into the turkish (type) toilet, my hands and my lips touching the excrements others like myself had left floating there..." [The English is of Leloudas himself]. Leloudas died a few years ago at the prime of his life. Can Obama and his wife undo the martyrdom of Leloudas? Can they undo the martyrdom in Guantanamo? No! What they can do is learn about the Leloudases of this world and about the above mentioned American pensioners.
It was in that building that the great composer Mikis Theodorakis composed in his cell as a prisoner the "Songs of Andreas". Andreas being another prisoner, Andreas Lentakis, who was being tortured in a small room, originally serving as a wash-room, on the roof of the building of Booboolinas Street.
In 1985 the Communist Party of Greece [!] bought the building (quite cheaply) and installed the Athens Party Organization. In 1993 the Greek government bought the building back (quite expensively) and installed the Culture [!] Ministry.
The 15-year-old Alexis was murdered not far from the building. The attack against the police and the wounding of the policeman took place a few yards from the building. The tiny "anarchist" park of Exarcheia is a couple of blocks away from the building. The steel door of the Polytechnic that the tank of the dictators overrun during the student uprising of 1973 is about 150 yards from the door of the Booboolinas building.
The days ahead for Greece are days of Kostadinka Kuneva, days of the Greek teenagers, and of support for the people of Gaza.