I am stealing some time to write about current affairs since I got sidetracked on the previous post. To summarize what I wrote before these days we were commemorating the uprising at the Polytechnic against the Junta of the Colonels which ended on the 17th of November 1973. The heroes of the day were the students; the enemy was a totalitarian regime. The uprising was preceded by an occupation of the Athens Law School.
The commemorative events take place each year from the 15th to the 17th of November. November 17th is a holiday for educational establishments. The Polytechnic’s campus remains closed for the duration of the three days and several student groups organise events like gigs, film projections, exhibitions that showcase documents of that time.
So, here’s what happened this year: the students, protesting against current reforms being pushed by the government made a collective decision to occupy the Law School Building as well as other university buildings. The administration of the universities decided that an action of this nature would somehow cause further tension in the education sector during a crucial period so they issued an announcement shutting down the schools and cancelling any planned events. Their actions, were in their words motivated by a ‘sense of responsibility towards the university and the entire Greek community’.
What happened next is that riot police men were stationed outside the Law school building to prevent the students from entering. As one would expect that didn’t really do much to relieve the tension during such a crucial period and the students soon were protesting against the presence of riot police. The riot police, in their attempt to drive the assembled students away didn’t think twice about using violence. In the clashes that followed two students were reported as injured.
I’ve heard people on tv panels often refer to the students as ‘brats’, ‘troublemakers’, ‘ hooligans’ and there’s also this one term that is close to ‘ hoodies’ and is used to describe a young person covering his/her face during a demonstration- which is not very uncommon considering a scarf wrapped around the nose and mouth may enable breathing when teargas has been fired.
The odd part was that the heroes of the three-day celebrations, whom all democratic parties regard with the utmost respect were really not that far off from today’s so-called brats, who are constantly attacked on the street and on tv panels. The circumstances were different back then, that’s for sure, and we’ve come a long way since then. Is the difference that great though?
Well, kids don’t get shot and killed on the streets (except that one kid back in 2008-remember?). No one gets arrested and tortured (maybe a couple of immigrants and anti-fascists every now and then. Did anyone really pay attention?).There’s no fascists taking over the country (there’s only this group of nice guys with shaved heads who like to dress in black and help old ladies-by bashing in the faces of dirty anarchists). In any case, this is a country where freedom prevails and where we, the people, are free to choose our own future (right?)
Once again, I am writing when I should be sleeping and i need to be up early for work tomorrow so I have to call it quits. My English usually takes a turn for the worse around this time of day and I think it shows.