Daily Archives: 07/12/2011

Plainclothes justice

The majority of foreign journalists with whom I have worked with here in Greece found it very hard, if impossible, to believe the role (if not the existence itself) of plainclothes policemen during various demonstrations in Greece. When I’d first mention their existence they would think I’m some kind of hardline leftist who sees parastatal ghosts around him all the time. At times I would be in a position to show them one of the photos that have been circulated in Greek websites and blogs, but still, it wasn’t that impressive. So here’s a video from yesterday’s demonstration which commemorated the 3rd year from the assassination of 15 years old Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police man 2010. [Update: Thanks to my friend M.B. who pointed out to me that the video was from the demonstration of the 15/12/2010 general strike – I have hastily embedded the video and mistook it as a yesterday’s incident because of its Youtube upload date. The point of the post remains the same. Apologies.]

In the video several plainclothes policemen hang around side by side with riot police. At some point a bunch of hooded plainclothes policemen approach a teenager and proceed in his arrest. The teenager says “I was at my university school”. Here’s the incident from a second mobile phone recording.

There have been many occasions where protesters have accused plainclothes policemen of causing the typically Greek (and radically vain) “molotov cocktail” violence in order to justify tons of tear gas spraying by riot police which have repeatedly dispersed powerful and peaceful demonstrations in the past.

I don’t care if this kid has actually done something wrong – I just don’t like to live in a country (remember that “cradle of democracy” cliche?) where plainclothes policemen simply have the power to arrest people in this way.

Not in my name, “gentlemen”.

PS: I wonder what the Minister for Citizen Protection (sic) has to say about this video.

Update: Read also “Plainclothes justice 2.o

Two more tragedies joined the statistics

Last Monday, a young man from the north-western Greek city of Ptolemaida committed suicide. He was 37 years old and was facing serious economic problems. He constructed a makeshift gallows at home and hung himself. Seconds before he sent an SMS to the wife of his brother who arrived at his apartment and saw him dead. A note was found next to him where he explained that he took that decision because he couldn’t take it any more being chased by the banks for his debts.

Two days earlier, on Saturday night another man in the nearby town of Proastio Eordeas committed suicide for similar reasons. He was 58 years old and was found hanged inside his home’s garage by his daughter.

The Police hasn’t found any clues that would connect the deaths to an assassination or accident.

They are the two last additions to a long list of suicides which have taken place in Greece due to the economic crisis. Even though we are discussing the consequences of a capitalist phenomenon, I will paraphrase Stalin’s famous quote and say “When two men die it is a tragedy, when thousands die it’s statistics”.

According to Kostas Lolis, Director of Sismanoglion Hospital’s Psychiatric Clinic, in 2009 there has been about 1 suicide per day in Greece. In 2010 this number was doubled. This is generally attributed to the economic crisis as media reports often mention suicides of either businessmen who went bankrupt or people who were unemployed for a long period of time. The island of Crete has a special mention in this (although there is no explanation as to why the number is higher there). Additionally, the number of people who called the “1018” emergency number to seek advise on the issue, has also been doubled in 2010. The study of Mr. Lolis can be found here (in Greek.