SPECIAL REPORT – We are not numbers… We are humans!

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and the people of Greece are no exception. We are not numbers, we are human beings. Our government must understand why we demonstrated today. We demand our human right to object and we demand that the government holds elections immediately. We declare that we are against the measures that the government wants to implement on this society and we refuse to be ignored. We can no longer live under this regime. The PASOK government of George Papandreou cannot give us freedom and dignity. This government and our politicians cannot be permitted to appoint themselves sole rulers. They cannot decide for us, with out us because we are not numbers… we are humans!

Unfortunately our basic human rights were once again subjected to brutality and to terror today. In the streets and squares of Greece, one of the biggest protests in years is at this moment descending into further violence, but I was proud to be there and to have experienced it.

I joined the march to Syntagma Square from Omonia today with a couple of friends from one of the major unions. I was not afraid this time because of the overwhelming emotions I have for our democracy are stronger than fear.
I gained even more strength along the way. I met people that were united, despite great efforts from the PASOK government to divide them. It was almost like today’s movement was a move to gain freedom for all regardless of age, gender or creed and it was a move to claim back our dignity as a nation.

This made me proud and this gave me hope.

As we marched to Syntagma Square, I was also surprised, and moved, to see people from all walks of life stopping and paying homage to the victims of Marfin Bank who died in May of 2010 in a similar protest after anarchists (or provocateurs wanting to break up the protests) pelted the bank with petrol bombs. The result was the death of three adults, and one unborn child.
I spoke with hundreds of people and can responsibly say that no one is in favor of the new austerity measures that the PASOK government is tabling in Parliament today. I can also safely say that if these people were provoked then rage could take over and prove to be uncontrollable.

This is why I believe that the riot police retreated for a while when many demonstrators dangerously reached the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

My friends, who have taken part in many similar demonstrations suggested that we move away from the square and we all made our way to the corner of Fillelinon Street. 
All of a sudden youths began attempting to tear down the crowd control barriers at the side entrance to the parliament thus provoking the riot police who in return began throwing toxic tear gas at the hooded youths. This angered the anarchists who began to hurl petrol bombs and rocks at at the police, and before we knew it their pitch and catch game made its way straight into the thousands of people that were massed on Syntagma Square.

You would think that after the media exposed these so-called “provocateurs” in late June, that the Greek government of George Papandreou would use a different formula to break up the crowd, but no… they resulted to the same recipe. They once again used their faithful provocateurs to provoke the police so as to give them an excuse to throw toxic gases in the framework of breaking up the massive crowd.

What was surprising to them though, is that every time they hurled tear gas, more and more people gathered in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was almost like people were reluctant to leave. 
They continued to chant “elections, elections”. 
People made a straightforward ultimatum – that government of George Papandreou must go – and kept on saying it over and over again just like the people in Tahrir Square in Egypt did and we all know what happened there. 
But this is a different type of “regime” that is governing us. Mumbarak looks like a God in the face of Papandreou.
And wouldn’t you know it… all of a sudden the guard sentry box at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider
went up in flames, and more units of riot police began coming out from the Parliament’s parking lot and took position from every angle of the square. 
The pitch and catch game with the provocateurs and the intensity of the toxic gas at this point pushed the crowd down towards the side streets of Fillelinon, Mitropoleos and also to Panepistimiou. 
I immediately sprayed my eyes with a Maalox solution.
I wrapped my face with a wet handkerchief and began to walk down Mitropoleos street to make my way to the train station. I knew that the riot police would not stop throwing toxic gas until everyone cleared the square. 
But this time I was not afraid, I was completely relieved to have taken part.

What’s more, I did not even panic when I began losing my breath, and the pain from the toxic gas began penetrating into my lungs and believe it or not I did not even break out into fear when I lost my senses and passed out. Fortunately I was not alone this time.

When I came to, my friends helped me get safely to the train station and I made my way home.

This time I did not hug my pillow and stare into oblivion. I did not even sit and cry…. I immediately opened my computer to catch up on what happened after I left.

I read that organizers announced that as much as half a million people demonstrated in Athens alone, while similar protests were held all over the country in every major city and town. This is true, since the General
Confederation of Greek Labour (GSEE) was telling journalists at the protest that this was the
biggest trade union demonstrations since 1974. 

With the whole of society against these measures, one would wonder why is this government insisting on  them? Why are they deciding our fate and the fate of our future generations?
Doesn’t Papandreou, and our European leaders know that we are not numbers…. we are humans!
We are just protecting our human rights for healthcare, housing, jobs, pensions. We do not want these to be controlled by global banks, corporations and financial markets. 
Our tomorrows are being determined by people and institutions that decide where to start the next war, by corporations who probably sell them the arms to stage these wars, by people who traffic humans, narcotics and by greedy oil bastards that want to get their hands on our natural resources. 
Greek people do not want to lose control over their lives, their reserves, their country. 
This must stop, and it will stop. 
This is not what democracy is about. The IMF, the WTO, the global markets, the multinational banks, the G8/G20, the European Central Bank and even the UN security council are institutions that must not be allowed to run people’s lives without their consent. 
Can’t they understand that we are all born equal, rich or poor. Every Hellene is equal to every European and the above mentioned institutions must reflect on this, or just simply LEAVE.
The citizens of this country, and the demonstrators that took to the streets today are just taking control over the decisions that influence them on all levels. This is what democracy is all about. They have to stop deciding for us… without us.

Marina Spanos


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