Protesters in Greece have gone again in rebellion in the aftermath of the suicide of a pensioner depressed over the economic crisis. The retiree said that the state was moving toward fascism., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Greece crisis: everything becomes nothing
World, debt crisis in Greece, Society, Commentary
Mamonov Roman, Yulia Ashcheulova
Apr 5, 2012 17:02 Moscow Time
A new wave of unrest has swept through Athens after a pensioner shot himself dead outside the parliament building. Local news media reports say that living standards are deteriorating at an alarming rate in Greece forcing families to seek help from charities and parents to place their kids in the care of orphanages while they are looking for work.
The Greek unrest is showing no signs of letting go. Public sector employees, students, small businessmen take turns to go on strike. A pensioner shot himself several dozen meters from the parliament building on Wednesday in protest against government cuts. He left a note saying that the government had deprived him of any hope for survival or for seeing justice. In his note, the pensioner said that he was left with no other choice but die with dignity before he was forced into scavenging for food.
According to sociologists, social apathy and public disillusionment in the Greek society are getting more and more pronounced. Marina Krasilnikova of the Levada Center warns that cases of suicide are bound to become more frequent.
Faced with financial straits, people tend to become depressed and might try to kill themselves. It all depends on how independent this or that individual feels as regards the state system and on their abilities to overcome difficulties. The less independent the society, the more tragic people’s reaction to financial hardships will be.
Though it might sound cynical, the death of a pensioner might mark a new chapter in people’s protests against the government. People are bringing flowers and lighting candles on the site of the tragedy. Riots gripped Athens overnight with young people hurling stones and petrol bombs at the police and the police responding with stun grenades and tear gas.
Having signed an austerity package with the EU, the government is not giving in. It is set on cutting pensions and social benefits. An audit has revealed that thousands of Greeks bribed officials into receiving social payments.
The political consequences of the current events in Greece will become clear after the early parliamentary elections at the end of April – at the beginning of May. In all likelihood, the elections will take place on April 29th or on May 6th . The ruling centrist coalition is unlikely to muster enough support to form a one-party government. Given the situation, the left-wing and ultra-right parties come to the fore. This means that the election returns might be unpleasant, to say the least.
Greek man’s public suicide sparks fresh riots
April 5 2012 at 09:26am
Athens- A Greek retiree shot himself dead in Athens’ main square on Wednesday, blasting politicians over the country’s financial crisis in a suicide note that triggered clashes hours later between police and anti-austerity protesters.
Riot police fired tear gas and flash grenades after protests attended by about 1 500 people turned violent, and youths hurled rocks and petrol bombs outside Parliament.
The 77-year-old retired pharmacist shot himself in the head near a subway exit on central Syntagma Square.
The incident jolted public opinion and entered political debate, with the prime minister and the heads of both parties backing Greece’s governing coalition expressing sorrow.
Greece has relied on international rescue loans since May 2010. To secure them, Athens implemented harsh austerity measures, slashing pensions and salaries while repeatedly raising taxes.
But the belt-tightening worsened the recession and led to thousands of job losses that left one in five Greeks unemployed.
“As a Greek, I am truly shocked,” said Dimitris Giannopoulos, an Athens doctor. “I am shocked because I see that (the government is) destroying my dignity… and the only thing they care about are bank accounts.”
Police said a handwritten note was found on the retiree’s body in which he attributed his decision to the debt crisis.
The man said the government had made it impossible for him to survive on the pension he had paid into for 35 years.
“I find no other solution than a dignified end before I start searching through the trash for food,” read the note.
Greece has seen an increase in suicides over the past two years of economic hardship.
By last night, dozens of messages had been pinned to the tree under which the man shot himself, some reading: “It was a murder, not a suicide”, and “Austerity kills”.
Prime minister, Lucas Papademos, said in a statement: “It is tragic for one of our fellow citizens to end his life. In these difficult hours for our society we must all – the state and the citizens – support the people among us who are desperate.”
Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Socialist party, said the suicide “is so overwhelming that it renders any political comment unbecoming and cheap”.
Conservative party head, Antonis Samaras, said the tragedy highlighted the urgency of getting Greece out of the crisis. – Sapa-AP