Being in Athens today is of course very particular: day of general strike, day of protest.
The question is, should I join the demonstration or not? The Greek people are protesting for us too, for the populations in Europe, they are only the first who are demanded such a tremendous effort. And today 100 000 protestators of angry people took to the streets of Athens as Greek Parliament is about to narrowly vote a new austerity package.
This afternoon I walked through Plaka and went to Syntagma Square, where the protest was to start, and I really was astonished by the quantity of police, army – heavily clad – getting ready for the demonstration starting at 5pm. I went back to the hotel and had to decide should I stay or should I go …..
No, this was not as easy as a song by The Clash! At the same time, I feel deeply and genuinely concerned. But I started demonstrating when I was 15, when I was living in Algeria and the country was at war. Since then, demonstrating and taking to the street have been numerous. And ever since, demonstrating has been part of my life every time I have been convinced that my beliefs, my convictions were being threatened, be it to protect the rights to a non religious education, which is part of what we call Laicite in France, be it against nuclear defense and energy, incinerators, pensions ….. all along my life the reasons to demonstrate and take to the streets have been numerous.
But lately I have realised that, at least in France, I have seen too many white-hair in demos, compared to younger hair, and I have started wondering if it was not time we, older people left the streets to younger people, my future is quite behind me now. And although I completely agree with providing advice, ideas, sharing experience, I wonder if by taking to the streets in times of protest, we seniors don’t give a false comfort to the younger generation, people are fighting for their rights, why should they worry?
But that is in France, and this afternoon as I was walking the streets in Athens I realised that the demonstrators were mainly young, anf if I noticed that the crowd ranged all ages, there were fewer white-haired people.
Anyway, I decided not to stay besides history and went to Syntagma square, the crowd was impressive and among them I saw a lot of young men …. dressed all in black … I don’t know if it is the sound of the language but never have I seen such an angry crowd, even in the times of war in Algeria. As I was walking, I realised that that the police had set a real trap, they were ready to block all the streets, hidden in parks and gardens, even saw police not wearing uniforms, in groups of four or five really looking as if they were ready to provoke problem. I also saw among the demonstrators young men carrying very short red flgs which definitely were weapons.
Anyway, I decided to stay as long as I could but when I saw crowds starting running towards the police, I decided to come back to the hotel and I was right. I am watching the events on television as I can hear gas grenades, police cars, ambulances and helicopters in the sky. It seems some people succeeded in entering a government buiding and the police are also using water canons. But this is not blogging anymore, this is history being written …….. it is now raining very very heavily over Athens!