I have finally returned to regular posting at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY after a lengthy absence. There has been no shortage of human rights news, just an inability to hear or read about anything other than the financial crisis occurring here in Greece. Most people here are suffering. Regardless of who is at fault and who did or didn’t do what, it’s the ordinary people who are paying the price, especially the most vulnerable of the population. People who simply want to feed, house and clothe themselves and their families. The ordinary people who have not stolen, cheated and lied their way into making money out of the “good times”.
The Greek people are sick and tired of losing their jobs, having their salaries or pensions slashed, being taxed left, right and centre. It is true that many, many people here in Greece did very well in the good times and that many people avoided paying taxes, avoided working as much as possible, received bonuses that they should not have received. But many, many people did not. I blame the system that allowed those that did, get away with it. That practically encouraged people to be dishonest or made it very difficult to get anything done in an honest way.
While the country flounders about trying to secure future loans that will keep Greece on its knees, possibly for a generation, people are becoming more desperate and are looking for answers. We have now had a coalition interim government forced upon us which may or may not contain some very unsavory characters from the extreme right wing Laos party (we will know on Friday). As we have seen in many countries in Europe, past and present, desperate times is often a trigger for a turn towards extremism.
In Athens, it is plain to see. I work in one of the “trouble spots” in the city and I see the tensions on a daily basis. Everyone is desperate. I see people turn on each other over the smallest thing. There are many loud “discussions” about the good old days. I’ve heard more and more people talking about the Junta (the military dictatorship) being better than the situation we have now.
For foreigners, the tensions are at an all time high. Mostly I see people trying to be as hidden as they can. Not to make waves. Not to be on the receiving end of another diatribe against them and all foreigners. It is extremely easy to blame foreigners for some of the mess the country is in, to see them as part of the problem and to feel that if they were not there, at least part of the crisis would be solved. That is, there would be more jobs for Greek nationals, less money spent on health and education for immigrants. Of course, this is a simplistic and naive view of the actual truth but that is what the extreme right wing relies on.
I just came across this online article from last week on the same issue and wanted to post it here.
Migrants, especially those with a different skin colour, are caught in tough situation in Greece: even more vulnerable to economic pressures than the rest of the population and also increasingly being targeted by violent, extreme right-wing groups that thrive on the desperation that comes with growing poverty.