Athens and several other Greek cities have been ablaze with riots sparked by the shooting of a 15-year-old boy by a policeman. Our team spoke to a student participating in the revolts, who described the atmosphere as protestors prepared for a new wave of riots yesterday.
It's not quite civil war, but it feels like it. The death of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot by a police officer, sparked a wave of angry protests so intense that they deteriorated into riots that ravaged the capital and several other college towns, as thousands of students clashed with police forces. The officer accused of killing the boy has been charged with homicide and another police officer with being an accessory.
But the revolt also expresses deeper social unrest. The country has been hard hit by the economic crisis, and the right-wing government headed by Costa Karamanlis is accused of failing to respond to growing social needs.
Zoe Kazakis, 22, was barricaded in her economics faculty with thousands of other students when she spoke to the Observers. She described the way students prepared for the second wave of revolts launched yesterday evening.
All left-wing parties called for massive gatherings in memory of the killed teenager. Even teachers have joined us. There is going to be a nation-wide strike.
We have been protesting against the privatisation of universities for a long time, but recently our arguments are gaining sympathy from a wider audience. The crisis affects everybody, but the government is completely out of touch with reality. My mother, for example, she directs a medical laboratory, but relies on loans to make ends meet because the state hasn't funded her organisation lately. The government is not taking its citizens seriously. We hear of billions being pumped into the economy, but life here is even more expensive than in Paris.
These revolts express exasperation. Our advantages as students are dwindling. There used to be free meals in university cafeterias: not any more. Nowadays, we are forced to live with our parents until the age of 30. There are no job opportunities unless someone pulls some strings for you. If you earn 700 euros a month after graduate studies, you're one of the lucky ones. The fact that an innocent kid was killed by a policeman not trained to carry a gun was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
The 1973 revolt against the military regime also started in the Polytechnic University. We're asking for the same thing our predecessors were: "Food, education and freedom!"
Tonight there will be many of us protesting. If the government provokes us, we will strike back. Last night around midnight I saw men who appeared to be agitators hired by the government. We'll see tonight."
[Editor's note: The protests that took place on Monday night, shortly after Zoe's testimony, quickly erupted into violent riots. At least 50 people were wounded and hundreds of shop fronts were vandalised in the capital alone. 87 people have been arrested.]
These photos were sent to us by Kristaq Vila.
The text on the poster says "Dolo phonoi" : "Murderers".