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Quit while you’re ahead

My Big Fat Greek Week

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23 June 2017

● Case #1. The Greek government has yet to address accusations, made by human rights organisations such as the Stockholm Centre for Freedom, that it has been breaching international laws, by secretly sending Turkish refugees and asylum seekers back to the Erdogan regime, which jails them as dissidents.
● Case #2. Iriana Konstantinou, a 29 year old PhD student, is facing a sentence of 13 years in prison for terrorism charges, although there’s no evidence to support the case. The only things linking her to the terrorist group ‘Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei’ is (a) her former partner, who was arrested (and acquitted) as a member and (b) a DNA sample, which is not admissible as evidence in court and which the authorities have lost, making it impossible to reexamine.
● Case #3. A convict, jailed for life as a member of a ring of drug smugglers which brought to Greece 2.1 tonnes of heroin aboard the tanker Noor 1, is claiming that he was pressured to implicate Vaggelis Marinakis, shipping magnate, media mogul and owner of Olympiakos FC, to the case.
● Makis Giannousakis is one of the five crew members jailed for the smuggling in a case notorious for a series of witness deaths occuring during the trial. He has claimed that he was contacted by the Minister of Defense, Panos Kammenos, who tried to persuade him to point to Marinakis.
● An intercepted telephone conversation between the convict and an officer of the Coast Guard surfaced this week, again implicating the Minister (and leader of the Far-Right party, Independent Greeks), which raises many questions, particularly regarding the point of the minister of Defense meddling into affairs not at all relevant to his portfolio, to say the least.
● Any of these three cases would be enough to cause turmoil and potentially cause severe damage to the government.
● Yet none was mentioned at a rally of citizens aiming to bring it down.
● Or rather, to be precise, the anti-government protesters urged the Tsipras-Kammenos government to ‘Resign’, as it is the name of the group.
● It was their second annual attempt to achieve this goal, after last year’s protest, which was not that successful, having managed to get no more than 5,000 people to the rally.
● This year, they were even less successful. By all accounts, only about 1,500 protesters gathered at Syntagma square, holding signs and shouting slogans against the leftist government.
● The protesters, who organised through social media, accused leftist trolls for the rally’s failure, but also the fact that they didn’t have support from the opposition.
● Of course, if they did, they would hardly be able to claim that they are independent citizens, concerned for the fate of Greece and the terrible handling of the Crisis by Tsipras and his posse.
● The “Resign” protesters were subjected to much ridicule from pro-government, leftwing media, which accused them of being elitist, and of rallying on grounds of an upper-class entitlement.
● These are the people who ridiculed the - much stronger and larger - movement of the ‘indignants’ who held daily protests in front of the Parliament for months, at the beginning of the Crisis (and which are thought to have led to both the prevailance of Syriza in elections, but also to legitimizing the neonazi thugs of Golden Dawn).
● Now, it’s their turn to protest, but apparently, they don’t know how to do it.
● Who protest against a corrupt government with the slogan ‘Resign’?
● Do they really think that a ‘power-hungy’, ‘corrupt’, ‘inept’ government would just comply?
● And that is not the biggest irony.
● The main argument against them is that they espouse the austerity policy that Tsipras implements, though they’d prefer for it to be applied by Kiriakos Mitsotakis.
● Which partly explains why the rally was a failure; Greek people are already exhausted by austerity to engage in a debate over who is better qualified to implement it.
● The Greek people managed, however, to gather in large numbers, about 1km north of Syntagma, at the “Kallimarmaro’ Panathenian Stadium, where a tribute concert to Mikis Theodorakis took place. A choir of 1000 voices sang the Greek master composer’s perennial songs to an audience of 50,000 people.
● Theodorakis himself arrived in a wheelchair and not only attended, but also directed the orchestra and choir, from his wheelchair, for the final part of the concert, before taking the microphone to say just one phrase: “I love you”.
● It was an emotionally charged moment, the people joining their voices to acknowledge a man who is arguably the last of the Great Greeks.
● The music of Mikis Theodorakis is rarely heard on the Athens radio, these days, but it is definitely part of the Greek psyche, embedded in our cultural DNA.
● These songs evoke a kind of greatness and truth and clarity, making testament of an idea of Greece which was strong in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, but is nowhere to be found today.
● Athenians felt this kind of greatness on Tuesday, when they were exposed to this rarely heard music.
● And then, they landed back to reality, to a city swamped with garbage, left to rot in the sidewalks of the city, as these days also mark an ongoing strike of the rubbish collectors.
● The annual strike of rubbish collectors, we might add.
● 330 km north-west of Athens, on the island of Antipaxos, a family of tourists were also faced with heaps of rubbish contaminating a beautiful beach.
● So they decided to take matters in their own hands and start cleaning up themselves.
● It was the family of Hollywood star Will Smith, his wife Jada Pinkett and their daughter.
● Now can we get another Hollywood star to find out what happens with the Turkish dissidents?

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