Police murder of 15 year old boy sparks mass anger
Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI in Greece)
Last Saturday evening, a group of young school students shouted at a police car that was passing by a cafe in which they were sitting, in the center of Athens, and threw two plastic 0,5 litre water bottles at the police car. The two policemen (special guards) stopped the car some distance away, came out of the car and approached the school students. One of the officers pulled out a gun and fired at the youths, killing one of them. The two policemen then simply turned their backs and walked away!
Greek society is naturally shocked. There was an immediate gathering of thousands of people in the center of Athens in protest. There were demos in all the main cities of Greece on the following day, Sunday. New demos were called for Monday, Tuesday and Wednsday, in the mornings and afternoons. There is massive rage and anger! There is so much tension inside society; due to unemployment and poverty, due to 23 years of continuing austerity policies, due to scandals and corruption and, now, a cold blooded murder, the execution of a 15 year old by the police! This has opened the lid and enormous anger has burst out.
The government tries to argue that this is an ‘isolated incident’ – the usual argument. People are not willing to listen. For the huge majority of workers and youth the policeman acted in the way they are trained. They are seen as racists, extreme right-wingers and liars, who hate social movements and viciously suppress strikes and demos. There are so many incidents to prove this that nobody really needs to be convinced.
The government is in absolute paralysis. With a majority of one MP (151 out 300) the government is inherently unstable. The latest developments could be the trigger to bring it down.
“Down with this government of murderers” is the central slogan with which Xekinima (CWI in Greece) is raising during these events. We are calling for occupations of all schools and universities, and for strikes, with the aim of bringing down the government. At the same time, we call for a left government, based on the forces of SYRIZA (a new left formation made up of about 11 different organizations and parties of the left. Xekinima (CWI in Greece) is one of these) and the KKE (Communist Party of Greece), to aim for power, on the basis of a socialist programme, in the service of the interests of workers, youth and the poor peasants in Greece.
Mass movement can bring about real change
This government can be brought down through a mighty movement of workers and youth, but not through the rioting and massive destruction that we have seen in every city, caused by anarchist groups (in the ranks of which there are many agent provocateurs) in the last few days. Over the last two days, these groups have had a free hand in destroying everything they can lay their hands on. But if this continues, it will play into the hands of the government and the state. Initially, workers could accept a few excesses by these groups, but especially after last night’s riots in all of Greece’s cities, the mood will change. The arguments for “law and order” will begin to gain ground. Thus, these groups, which show no respect to the mass movement and particularly the workers’ movement, will provide the best rescue for a paralysed government and state apparatus to try to regain control.
Only the mass movement and particularly the working class can bring down this government, through mass action. Only the working class can provide an alternative to the government and capitalist system.
Already, the whole of the education sector has come to a halt. There are many occupations taking place. The university teachers have called for a 3-day strike. The primary and secondary education teachers have called for a 2-day strike. Tomorrow, Wednesday 10 December there is a general strike called by GSEE (Greek Confederation of Greek Workers (Greek TUC)). It was initially called to protest against the budget, but with the new developments it will take an entirely different form.
The main question now is how to continue with the movement after Wednesday? The youth can be a decisive factor – they can take the initiative and thus assist the working class to enter the struggle decisively. One of the most important factors is the fact that SYRIZA, as a whole has come out with the slogan, “Down with the government!” This can give a direction to the whole movement and society.