These are six reasons why Greek youths protest the 6 December in the streets
Young Greeks commemorate the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos by demonstrating against repression, whether it’s in the form of police brutality or austerity.
December 6th is the 8th anniversary of the death of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos who was shot and killed by a police officer in Exarchia, the “anti-authoritarian” district of Athens. Following his death, protesters took to the streets in many cities in Greece and even in Europe. At the time it was the biggest and fiercest riot in modern Greek history — since the reconstitution of Democracy in 1974.
Every year on 6th of December for the last eight years, young Greeks commemorate the murder of Grigoropoulos by demonstrating against repression, whether it’s in the form of police brutality or austerity. But after getting out on the streets myself and talking to protesters, I found that there are many different reasons for students to take to the streets this year. Here are the six most important:
1. Police violence
It’s still the prime reason to protest. “We won’t forget what happened, and we don’t want it to happen again”, says Anna (23). The murder of a 15-years old guy caused a debate on police violence in Greece. “Most of the protesters become angry when they see a policemen, because the cops are not doing their job”, says Alexia (21). “But you want to feel safe as a citizen.”
2. The prospect of “no hope”
The generation that is now in their twenties seem to have no hope. “We study here, but can’t find paid work afterwards”, says Electra. “And then the government makes you say ‘I’m the problem’ and that you just need to study harder, but that’s simply not true.” She thinks that the government really doesn’t care about the Greek people.
3. Poor study conditions
For students it’s the most obvious grievance. “Of course we are also protesting against the circumstances at universities”, Artemis (24) says. “All the public universities have no money for teachers, for books, for the faculty buildings. We don’t even have a heating system that works here.”
4. Increasing taxes
“Taxes became higher during the last few years”, Electra says also, “But people should not pay them, because they don’t have a job, so why should they pay such high taxes?”. According to her story, for her family the house tax and the social insurance contribution is the most burdensome tax. “But in the end, you don’t even get a good medical treatment here.”
5. Discrimination against refugees
“There are so many refugees, but the government doesn’t let them go to other European countries”, Electra says. “In the camps the situation is so bad. They don’t have food and they need to stay in tents. And the refugees don’t have many rights here. So we should fight together.”
6. The permanent crisis
In the end, different reasons to protest seem to culminate in a general frustration about the ongoing financial crisis, that started in 2008. Since then, general living conditions in Greece have worsened. Alex (22) is sitting at the Polytechnic university with his friend Eva (21). She says: “On Tuesday we go out on the streets for the right to live in a better situation, a better system, with higher pensions and a better health system.” And Alex adds: “But it’s important not only to go out on the streets on 6 December, but on other days also.”
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