October 28 is the National Day of Greece. On October 28, 1940 Mussolini asked Greek government to surrender. When the Greeks replied “NO”, Italians invaded the country. Surprisingly, Greek army won the war over the wanna-be Roman Empire of Mussolini. Only after a second German invasion, Greek army collapsed. Every year after the Liberation, on October 28 Greeks celebrate the historic “No” with a huge military parade in Thessaloniki and school parades in all municipalities.
But this year’s October 28 was different. All over the country, parades turned to anti-government and anti-austerity demonstrations. People who lost their jobs, students and pupils, “indignados”, professors and teachers, everyday working people with no political background, expressed their anger for the IMF-EU-Greek government austerity plans. They demanded government officials to leave the parades and in many cases politicians were forced to leave.
In Thessaloniki there was the most massive protest (photo). Thousands of demonstrators were shouting “Bread, Education Freedom. Dictatorship was not over in 1973” and “Government are traitors”. Finally, Carolos Papoulias, the President of the Republic, had to leave for security reasons. For the first time since Liberation, the Armed Forces didn’t parade on October 28. A very angry Papoulias said “I was an antifascist partisan when I was 15. I don’t allow anybody to call me traitor”. People accuse Papoulias for signing all the austerity bills voted by the Parliament.
Today’s events are a considerable blow to Papandreou government. Yesterday Papandreou tried to present as a national triumph EU’s decision for cutting 50% of Greek debt. Nevertheless, it seems that people don’t share Papandreou propaganda. First of all, the agreement dictates that for the next 10 years austerity will be very strict. It is certain there will by thousands of new lay-offs in public sector, a complete sell-off of public property, and new salary cuts. In addition to that, European “surveillance” over Greek government is considered as loss of national sovereignty. There is a wide spread feeling of national humiliation and many say that this “the second German occupation of the country”.
It is highly possible that on November 10 there will be a new general strike. Keep an eye on us; this is a real hot country.
Yannis Almpanis, 28/10/11