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January 17 2014

Creating Japanese Food With Ingredients from Crete

Five prominent Japanese chefs and five of their Greek counterparts got together at a hotel in Crete on January 14, 2014 to create ten dishes representative of the respective origins using local products. At the culinary event dubbed “CRETE delicious” [el], Japanese chefs demonstrated how Cretan products can be incorporated into Japanese popular dishes, and exchanged their healthiest recipes. More about the event including the menu can be found here [ja/en/el].

Chania, Greece. 15th January 2014 -- Group picture of cretan and japanese cooks after the event. --

Chania, Greece. 15 January 2014 – Group photo of Cretan and Japanese cooks after the “Japan meets Crete” event, an initiative of Japanese and Greek entrepreneurs, star cooks and hoteliers. Japan's most famous chefs met with Cretan chefs and prepared foods using local fish and agriculture. Photo taken by Wassilis Aswestopoulos, ©Demotix

January 14 2014

30 People in Greece Have a New Job, Thanks to a Twitter Hashtag

Graffiti in Greek reads,

Graffiti in Greek reads, “I don't hope for anything, I am not afraid of anything, I am unemployed,” a rephrasing of a famous quote by a Greek author. Photo by SpirosK photography via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

At a time when unemployment has reached a staggering 27 percent in Greece, a hashtag on Twitter has helped about 30 people in the country find work.

#aggeliesergasias (jobadverts) was created by user @dimitrischrid in the beginning of October to help social media users share information about job opportunities in Greece and abroad. On December 11, the hashtag was a trending topic on Greek Twitter for 11 hours, thanks to its use by Twitter users and well-trafficked employment portals.

It has become a symbol of solidarity on the Internet against the increasing problem of unemployment in the country. Several Greek media outlets have referred to the initiative, characterizing it as simple, smart and effective. The blog Keep Talking Greece, dedicated to sharing the stories of “real” Greeks affected by the crisis, wrote:

Within a few days, the hell broke out: Twitter users started to post job offers they knew or heard about, while job seekers started to post their request. ReTweets and Favorites added quickly to the success of this modern, social media way to get to see a job offered in Athens or Xanthi, in London or Preveza, in Cete or in Geneva. 

Creator @dimitrischrid explained to news website Protagon the effect that the hashtag has had so far: 

Μέχρι τώρα, που είναι ακόμα πολύ νωρίς και πολλοί δεν γνωρίζουν προς το παρόν αυτόν τον τρόπο εύρεσης εργασίας, μου έχουν στείλει περίπου 30 άτομα μήνυμα που μου είπαν ότι προσλήφθηκαν και θέλησαν να με ευχαριστήσουν για το καλό που τους έκανα. [...] Ο καθένας από εμάς μπορεί να φτιάξει ένα hashtag, δεν υπάρχει τρόπος να πληρωθείς ποτέ την επιτυχία του, αλλά η ηθική ανταμοιβή που παίρνω καθημερινά, αξίζει όλα τα λεφτά του κόσμου».

Up until now, and it is very early yet and many don't know about this way of searching for a job, around 30 people have sent me messages telling me that they have been hired and wanted to thank me for this. [...] Each one of us can make a hashtag, there is no way to get paid for its success, but the ethical reward I receive every day is worth all the money in the world.

The effort has also expanded to Facebook.

October 01 2013

Video: Anti-fascist Solidarity from Turkey to Greece

“We made this video to tell you we are with us. We had nothing more in mind.”

A moving video with testimonials of anti-fascist solidarity from Turkish activists in the memory of Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, slain by neonazis in Athens last month, was uploaded on YouTube, subtitled in Greek. The video was set to a dirge written by Turkish composer Zülfü Livaneli and Greek lyricist Lefteris Papadopoulos, and performed by famous Greek singer and political Maria Farandouri, an icon of the struggle against the Greek military junta in the late 60′s.

July 11 2013

VIDEO: Police Brutality Under the Acropolis

Blogger alepouda remixed footage from a 2007 Greek tourism campaign promoting the “true Greek experience” with a video of police aggression against protesters at a rally on 10 July, 2013 in Thisseio in support of anarchist Kostas Sakkas, accused of terrorism and detained without trial since December 2010, who is in the terminal stages of a hunger strike.

April 22 2013

Greece: #BloodStrawberries Boycott Over Migrant Workers’ Shooting

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Supervisors shot and injured dozens of undocumented migrant workers from Bangladesh in the strawberry farms of southwestern Nea Manolada for demanding months of owed wages, the latest incident in a country where antipathy toward immigrants is on the rise.

The horrific show of violence on April 17, 2013 sparked uproar throughout Greece, prompting netizens to launch a boycott of the “blood” strawberries that originate at the scene of the crime.

Following national and international outcry, Greek police arrested three suspects in connection with the shooting, and charged them with attempted murder on April 19, 2013. The country's citizen protection minister promised that none of the victims would be deported from Greece, and the ministry announced that it is considering granting them residency permits on humanitarian grounds.

This grainy mobile phone video, posted on YouTube by Kathimerini journalist Kostas Onisenko, shows the injured migrant workers laying on the ground a few minutes after they were shot:

Racism and ethnic nationalism on the rise in the economically devastated country, with extremists, such as the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” party, thriving on racist rhetoric, systematic violations of human rights, and the ill-treatment of immigrants.

Just three days before the Manolada incident, Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias, as well as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, were criticized in a report issued by the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights for rhetoric stigmatising migrant. Dedalos (@dedalos_gl) commented on Twitter:

@dedalos_gl: What was the greek government's answer to the late report for the human rights in greece #Manolada#Dendias_resignation

Initially, mainstream TV channels barely — if at all — mentioned events in Manolada. It was Twitter users from Greece and those responding from abroad that drew public attention to the incident, as Craig Wherlock (@teacherdude) pointed out:

@teacherdude: Greek TV news shamed into covering #Manolada shooting. This afternoon, it was 6th item on NET and not reported at all on Star. See my TL

As news of the shooting spread, Twitter erupted in shock and outrage. User @MavriMelani shared a photograph of the wounded workers:

@MavriMelaniΦωτογραφια με τραυματισμενους μεταναστες μετα τη δολοφονικη επιθεση που δέχθηκαν#Manolada

@MavriMelaniPhoto of injured immigrants after the murderous attack they received #Manolada #rbnews

Giorgio (@Zorzinio) commented on the violent scene in the photograph, referencing the bombings that killed three and injured hundreds in Boston that same day:

@Zorzinio: Οταν είδα την φωτο νόμιζα ότι ήταν απο Βοστώνη!! #Manolada #rbnews

@Zorzinio: When I saw the photo I thought it was from Boston!

Cyberella (@Cyberela) invoked the American far-right white supremacist group the Klu Klux Klan:

@Cyberela: Reviving the KKK at #manolada. Migrants being shot because they demanded their 6 months owed fees. #bloodstrawberries

Questioning how something so terrible could happen, Katerina Kanelidou (@KatKanelidou) wrote:

@KatKanelidou: How do we allow such things to happen? Do we still call ourselves ‘civilized'? #manolada #Greece

Harris (@hchrono) saw the tragedy as a step backwards for Greece:

@hchrono: Slavery and barbarity. Greece welcomes the Middle Ages #manolada

Combining the titles of the famous song by The Beatles and a film about the Cambodian genocide, Bilibidon (@bilibidon) quipped:

@bilibidon: Strawberry Killing Fields Forever… #manolada


Boycott Manolada strawberries graphic, tweeted by @giannisg_

Graphic urging a boycott of Manolada, tweeted by @giannisg_

Citizen media boycott

A citizen media campaign [el] was launched to urge consumers and businesses worldwide to boycott the #bloodstrawberries, as protesters are calling them, from the Nea Manolada farm:

@moumouris#greece #manolada field workers are paid with bullets. don't buy #bloodstrawberries

@IrateGreek: My mum was at the fruit stand in the supermarket. An old man behind her whispered: “Don't buy strawberries.” #manolada #bloodstrawberries

@alepouda: 2 supermarkets in #greece are banning #bloodstrawberries of #manolada after emails send by people #boycott

@myScarletCarpet: Do you like strawberries? What about #BloodStrawberries? …

International response to the campaign prompted an official reaction from the EU Home Affairs Commissioner on Twitter:

@MalmstromEU: Shocking news about shooting of migrant workers in Greece. I expect full investigation by the Greek authorities/CM…

“My little sister is boycotting #bloodstrawberries”. Photo tweeted by Maria Sidiropoulou

A form of modern slavery

Although the severity of the incident is unprecedented, it's not isolated. Efforts have been made in the past to draw the attention of authorities to this form of modern slavery, such as a 2008 investigative report by journalists Dina Daskalopoulou and Makis Nodaros for which an English translation is available here.

There have been similar incidents before in the same area, with scant coverage in mainstream media, as the writer and activist collective The Multicultural Politic wrote:

[...] Activists from Greek Communist Party [initiated] a campaign in 2008 for a daily wage increase from 22 Euros to 25. The workers and campaigners were met with a violent confrontation in which many workers were beaten suffering serious injury. [..] Further investigations by journalists revealed how local municipal officials were selling fake documentation to migrant workers, and police prosecutions meant that employers in the town became very hostile to “Athenian” journalists which might partly explain the limited information that has been reported about the most recent violence.

In August 2012, an Egyptian worker was dragged with a car through the streets of Nea Manolada town, but the incident didn't trigger a closer look at the working and living conditions of farm workers in the area by authorities. One of three foremen awaiting trial for the latest shooting was the suspected perpetrator of the car dragging.

Journalist Yannis Baboulias explained the reasons for the continuing impunity:

The farmers of Manolada, praised many a times for their entrepreneurial spirit from government and media alike, have enjoyed this impunity for years. Nodaros’ report speaks of shacks in which the workers are forced to live and pay rent for to their bosses, illegal supermarkets among them selling expired products at two and three times their price, and a shocking tolerance from the authorities who have done nothing to stop this despite the 150 plus cases on file against them.

@Cyberela: In conclusion it seems that #Greece‘s officials knew about the conditions & celebrated @ European forums the “red gold” innovation #Manolada

At the time of writing this article, a dedicated blog has been set up to promote the boycott call in seven languages [en, de, es, fr, it, pl, pt], and cancellations for standing orders of strawberries from Nea Manolada are continuing.

The incident was storified by journalist Nikos Moumouris and by GV author Asteris Masouras, who contributed to this report, while BeatriceDeDante collected the imagery of the incident.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Chronicles of the Unemployed in Greece

Journalist and author Christoforos Kasdaglis started The Diary of an Unemployed [el], a project to collect stories [el] and data [el] on Greek unemployment, consistently driven to record figures for years on end by the debt and austerity crisis. 27% of Greeks were jobless in January, a rate that has tripled since the crisis began in 2009, while youth unemployment is reaching 60%. More than 120,000 Greeks are estimated to have left the country since the crisis began.


April 21 2013

Detained and Desperate – Undocumented Migrants in Greece

Stories of despair were transmitted through Twitter, when politicians, journalists and anti-racism activists visited a detention facility within the Drapetsona police station in Piraeus city, where more than 100 unauthorized migrants are living in cramped, dark and deplorable conditions.

One detainee said he hadn't seen the sun for months. Another had attempted suicide.

I was part of the group that visited the detention facility outside capital city Athens on April 6, 2013. In this post, I describe the conditions of the migrants through my tweets and include testimonies from other people who also visited the facility or #GreekGuantanamo, as it was referred to on Twitter.

Protest against inhuman immigrant detention conditions in Drapetsona. Photo by author

More than 60,000 migrants have been detained in police stations ever since sweep operations, under the name of “Xenios Zeus” (ironically, the name of the Greek god of hospitality) were initiated in August 2012. Only 4,000 have been formally arrested.

Since the 1990s, Greece has become a popular entry and transit point into the EU, for hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Anti-immigration, fascist groups, including the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” party, have increasingly become vocal in a country with a weakened economy and few jobs. According to some statistics, illegal immigrants currently make up 10% of the Greek population.

For the second time in two months, a delegation visited this particular police station to record the conditions under which unauthorized migrants that fail to meet Greece's legal living  requirements are forced to endure.

Most members of the visiting delegation were motivated by a detailed letter [el] from George Karystinos, a member of the Antifascist Front of Piraeus, who was a part of the first delegation that visited the police station and witnessed the conditions there. What he described was utterly shocking. About 100 migrants were detained in a 70 meter-square space, some of them for more than 9 months.

Some migrants were on hunger strike after a fellow 28-year-old Palestinian detainee, had tried to commit suicide because of the conditions there, and they were allegedly beaten by police officers to end their strike.

During the first visit, one of the detainees started injuring himself in front of the committee as a way to show his despair. George Karystinos writes [el]:

The police department commander announced that the detainee who injured himself, as well as the Palestinian who had tried to commit suicide, would be set free. What was his message? You will have to attempt suicide in order to be released, and if you get lucky, you'll survive in a hospital.

Recent photo from the Drapetsona precinct detention. No windows, no outdoors. Photo posted by @eleniamorgos on Twitter

Recent photo from the Drapetsona precinct detention. No windows, no outdoors. Photo posted by @eleniamorgos on Twitter

Our visit coincided with a protest outside the facility. Twitter users present at the protest reported the extensive presence of police forces outside the police station [el]:

@Cyberela: Εχουν κλείσει τα ρολά του ΑΤ. 3 σειρές απο ματ. #greekGuantanamo

@Cyberela: Police station's shutters down. 3 rows of police special forces. #greekGuantanamo

I was also outside the police station, about to enter as a member of the committee, and tried to report what was happening on Twitter through my account @WonderMaS:

@WonderMaS: Outside the police station of Drapetsona with the Antifascist Front of Piraeus, Amnesty International, and two members of Parliament, Dritsas and Lafazanis who are just coming out of the police station.

After MP Dritsas, of the Syriza party negotiated the number of people that would be allowed inside, with the precinct commander, we entered and I tweeted:

@WonderMaS: Just came out of police station in Drapetsona, Pireaus. Immigrants there living like animals, eating twice a day, first meal at 16.00 #rbnews

@WonderMaS: One immigrant told me he hasn't seen the sun for months #rbnews

A member of the Antifascist Front of Piraeus tweeted [el]:

@eleniamorgos: Δεν σταματάει η κράτησή τους όταν περάσει ο νόμιμος χρονος, λόγω γραφειοκρατίας του αλλοδαπών

@eleniamorgos: Their detention isn't terminated even when the assigned period of time has come to its end, due to Immigration (ministry's) bureaucracy.

@eleniamorgos: 2. Δεν παρέχεται ιατρική περίθαλψη όταν νοσούν ή κάνουν απεργία πείνας

@eleniamorgos: They are not provided with any medical care when they get sick or when they go on hunger strike

The precinct chief also made clear that they are trying their best to improve holding conditions, with little or no help from the Ministry. Teseris told us that he has to bring medicine from home to cover the department's deficiencies.

@WonderMaS: commander of police dept, Teseris says this isnt a proper place to detain ppl for months, only for 2-3 days detentions #rbnews

Some of the detainees told me there are no proper health facilities, and sometimes they don't have soap. Others told me that not all police officers are civil to them, even though they don't beat them. Most of them don't have any lawyers or contacts outside, and the ones that do have legal help, told me there hasn't been any progress in their situation.

The majority seemed desperate, and were looking at me as if I were their only hope.

As I tried to have a look inside their cells, I noticed some washing hanging from clotheslines. With all their inconvenient conditions, they still try to keep their prison proper, a fact which only reminded me that these people are coming from homes and families that taught them how to be civilized and cherish dignity. For some maybe their quest for dignity, brought them to these living conditions.

Their attendant psychologist was firm on the desperation these detainees were experiencing:

Abatzidi Dionusia is a psychologist at Drapetsona police dep, said those ppl are desperate

Some of the detainees told the delegates that there was no physical violence; this time, at least, as an activist pointed out [el]:

@Cyberela: Το ότι δεν διαπιστώθηκαν ξυλοδαρμοί στους κρατούμενους στη σημερινή επίσκεψη δεν σημαίνει ότι ξαχάσαμε τους προηγούμενους. #greekGuantanamo

@Cyberela: The fact that there were no visible beatings administered on the prisoners prior to today's visit doesn't mean we have forgotten about the others #greekGuantanamo

One of the detainees also told us that since the first protest and outside visit, some things had changed, “they fixed our lights, the lamps had been off for days”. Other visitors concurred:

@Cyberela: Δριτσας: οι κινητοποιήσεις έχουν βοηθήσει την κατάσταση των συνθηκών. Οι χώροι αυτοί είναι για κράτηση το πολυ 48ωρου #greekGuantanamo

@Cyberela: [Syriza MP] Dritsas: the mobilization has helped their situation. These facilities are made for a 48 hour detention, at the most #greekGuantanamo

A few days after the visit, Mr. Dritsas announced [el] a parliamentary inquiry, demanding from the Citizen Protection Minister to call off the “Xenios Zeus” program of immigrant sweeps, that clearly results in a series of human rights violations.

Photographer Stefanos Koufopoulos published a photoset of the Drapetsona protest on the Dromografos blog. Global Voices author Asteris Masouras collaborated in editing this report and curated resources on Storify.

April 12 2013

You're Sponsoring Neonazis on Greek TV!

@northaura#xa_advertising is about a twitter movement protest by email in #Greece to push advertisers off ever again supporting pro-neonazi TV shows.

Blogger @ypopto_mousi started a campaign to inform the sponsors [el] of a highly controversial SKAI TV panel featuring four neonazi Golden Dawn MPs, that they are sponsoring hate speech. The blogger is urging netizens to email advertising companies, providing sample emails [el] and addresses of advertising companies, while blogging [el] and posting regular updates on Twitter on the campaign's results under the hashtag #xa_advertising.

Greek Government Shutters Athens Indymedia

A leading alternative news site in Greece, Athens Indymedia announced it was being suppressed by Greek judicial authorities, along with two radio stations, and provided a Tor link [el] for alternate access. Potmos asserted on the significance of the site for independent news in Greece:

@potmos: Fast and accurate info posted on Athens #Indymedia led to life sentence for cop who murdered 15yo Alex. Grigoropoulos in 2008.


March 20 2013

Cyprus Cuts Access to Banks Amid Bailout Crisis

If you are in Cyprus, your life's savings hangs in the balance, as the government deliberates a controversial €10 billion bailout agreement reached with the Eurogroup that puts the country's saving deposits down as collateral.

The unprecedented bailout measure threatens to snatch €5.8 billion from all savers in the country. Cypriots have had no access to their bank accounts ever since the government entered into the agreement on Saturday, March 16, 2013 and put all accounts on lockdown to avoid a bank run or a series of account withdrawals.

Leading up to the shock announcement, concern and uncertainity was abound among Twitter users in Cyprus:

‏@madamitsa: #Eurogroup go home, you're drunk.

@ktrnstefanou: Και έψαχνα στο λεξικό να βρω τι είναι εκείνο το watertight που περιείχε η δήλωση Λαγκάρντ. Μάλλον στα κρύα του λουτρού σημαίνει

@ktrnstefanou: And I was looking at the dictionary to find the meaning of “watertight”, mentioned in [Christine] Lagarde‘s announcement. Probably it means “left out in the cold [water]“

The most prominent feeling was the uncertainty on whether the night would end with a successful agreement or not:

‏@nchrysoloras: Official 1: “We don't yet have a DSA, but I believe we will by tonight” Official 2: “There is progress. Let's see”. #Cyprus #Eurogroup

At 2:00-3:00 a.m. in the morning, there were references about a “haircut” on bank deposits to use that as collateral for the bailout, and rumors that President Nicos Anastasiades had threatened to abandon all negotiations. While those were happening, Cyprus was in a carnival mood – the shock would come the next day:

‏@ZENONZINDILIS: Τι έκαναν οι Κύπριοι το βράδυ που παιζόταν το μέλλον τους #eurogroup; Ετοιμαζόντουσαν για αποκριάτικο γλέντι και γενικώς “δεν φακκούσαν πένα”

@ZENONZINDILIS: What were the Cypriots doing the night their future was on stake? #eurogroup They were preparing for carnival fun and generally “they didn't give a fuck” [idiom in Cypriot Greek]

The next day's reactions varied from anger and indignation to stoic acceptance. In social media platforms and mainstream media, the debate on whether the Parliament must approve the haircut plan or not remains and both sides have their own strong arguments; however, the true nature of people's uncertainty is that nobody knows the real consequences of each choice:

‏@ChrysanthosM: Άκου τι λέει ο κύριος στο ΡΙΚ Την επόμενη φορά θα προστατέψουμε τις καταθέσεις τους πάση θυσία: Και να μας έχουν εμπιστοσύνη οι καταθέτες!!!

@ChrysanthosM: Listen to what this gentleman says in CyBC. Next time we will protect their bank deposits at all costs: the depositors must have faith in us!!!

@antistrofos: Είχα διάθεση να μην κάνω κριτική μέχρι να δούμε τα έργα του. Η απάντηση ήλθε σαν αστραπή: Ακατάλληλος δεινόσαυρος, copy-paste Χριστόφιας

@antistrofos: I was not in the mood to criticize him [President Anastasiades] till we see his opus. I got a flash response: Ineligible dinosaur, a Christofias “copy-paste” [the previous President of Cyprus]

@iNeoNeo: Το ότι το τι γίνετε στη Κύπρο έχει μπει καθαρά στο κομματικό επίπεδο για νούμερα. Και αυτο είναι χειρότερο από κάθε μνημόνιο. #Cyprus

@iNeoNeo: What happens in Cyprus has entered the level of political parties and numbers. This is the worst thing, worse than any memorandum. #Cyprus

@SkonteBlogspot: Ψηφισα κ ´γω Νικο αλλα οσοι το ´καναν νομιζομενοι οτι θα βγει θριαμβευτης με τους Ευρωπαιους κ την Τρόικα, ειναι βαθια νυχτωμενοι

@SkonteBlogspot: I also voted for Nicos [Anastasiades], but all those who did it, thinking he will triumph over the Europeans and the Troika, are deeply benighted

@JamesKerLindsay: Probably a good thing that Google Translate can't get its head around Cypriot Greek this morning!

A part from the government's point of view and many citizens’ objection to Eurogroup's presumed blackmail, there is also a third approach in Cyprus, summarized in a post by blogger Strovoliotis, who supports the memorandum approval by Parliament from an oppositional point of view:

@Strovoliotis: Σας τα ‘λεγα εγώ, αλλά δεν έχει πλέον καμιά σημασία. Το κλειδί: Ψυχραιμία!

@Strovoliotis: I was saying all this from the very beginning, but now it doesn't even matter. The key: be calm!

As expected, the anti-Eurogroup statements that “no deposits’ haircut is going to happen” by President Anastasiades and Minister of Finance, Michael Sarris, were especially popular around the Cypriot and Greek-speaking web in general.

As the Monday parliamentary vote process was approaching, there were gradually more and more arguments that the unprecedented Eurozone's ministers’ decision is bad for the European Union. Many Cypriot social media users shared this article from the Economist:

‏@StavrosZenios: Τζιαι θέλεις τον Ικονομιστ να σου το πει? The Cyprus bail-out: Unfair, short-sighted and self-defeating-The Economist

@StavrosZenios: And do you want the Economist to tell you the obvious? The Cyprus bail-out: Unfair, short-sighted and self-defeating-The Economist

On Tuesday, March 19, the government's request to suspend all bank operations is being interpreted as an effort to emphasize the rigid nature of the Cypriot economy. Α possible bank run (domino of bank withdrawals) in Spain and other countries is already being considered a probable outcome:

‏@offshorebella: if they can do this to Cypriots they can do it anywhere. I reckon putting your money under the mattress is safer. #Cyprus #bankrun

@kik__14: To telos tis europaikis dithen enosis ine konta arxi genomenis apo aurio.

@kik__14: The end of the European purported Union is near, starting from tomorrow.

@MsDeeCM: Dear Italians and Spaniards, please do a #BankRun tomorrow morning. Lots of love, the people of #Cyprus. #CyprusBailout #EU

However, some Europeans didn't remain indifferent to the solidarity calls:

@Igualitarista: Spaniards using hashtag #somosChipre (we are Cyprus) out of solidarity & to oppose locking out depositors from their accounts.

Finally, the parliamentary vote process was postponed; thus, it's possible that banks will remain closed for the rest of the week:

@KallergisK: Cypriot sources say that the Cyprus bank deposits tax vote is postponed for Friday – all banks to remain closed to avoid a #bankrun #Cyprus

“Cypriot banks have frozen even interbank transactions”. Screenshot by @georgiemark at Twitter


Uncertainty now reigns over the bank system itself and the European Union's existence.

@zoemavroudi: ”This Union has been cancelled due to a technical issue. Cannot complete democratic processes at this time. Try again later.” #EU #Cyprus

User Coolplatanos has put on Storify the first reactions on the Cyprus haircut announcement in Greek Twitter-sphere.

March 18 2013

Video: Crisis Engenders Greek Documentary Boom

The 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - ongoing from March 15 to 24, 2013 – includes five crisis-themed Greek films [el] in its’ lineup, as was the case last year [el]. As the Festival, and Greece at large, continues to labor under the mounting debt and austerity crisis, fiction and documentary filmmakers alike are increasingly focusing their work on its’ effects on society.

This year, the Festival's poster and trailer feature a sheep whose blindfold is pulled from over its’ eyes by the deluge of images from a society in crisis:

Two of those documentaries to be screened this year, Greedy Profit by Yannis Karypidis, and Cassandra's Treasure, by Yorgos Avgeropoulos, focus on the conflict surrounding gold mining in the forest of Skouries in Chalkidiki, and how it affects local communities. Karypidis and Avgeropoulos have collaborated in the past, to produce an award-winning chronicle of the first successful breaching of the naval blockade around Gaza.

Stelios Kouloglou's “Holocaust of memory” traces the enigma around the virulent resurgence of Nazi ideology in a country, like Greece, that suffered so much at the hands of Nazis during World War II.

Not all crisis-themed films are downbeat. Hardships and Beauties tells the story of a modern-day Greek cowboy, an empirical philosopher and the owner of one of the biggest farms in south-western Greece, whose road trip into the heartland of Greece becomes a symbolic trip into a country that will never be the same again:

Living in Interesting Times follows four charming people living in a sunny but gloomy Athens. They are confronted by the harsh reality of the crisis; they have to fight for what is their due; they have to come to terms with absurdity

A web cottage industry?

Inside and outside the festival distribution track, documentary film-making in and about Greece in crisis is undergoing a boom, as affordable high definition cameras are becoming ubiquitous, and web-savvy young creatives and journalists -many of them returned from studies abroad- are putting their talents to use, chronicling the plight of their country and its’ people.

The trend started with Debtocracy and Catastroika, two web-published, Creative Commons-licensed, crowdfunded documentaries by journalists Aris Hadjistefanou and Katerina Kitidi, which attempted to chart the historical mutation of capitalism into the voracious debt “virus” attacking societies and countries today.

Last year, a group of 14 young photographers pieced together The Prism, a compelling, multihued, and competently filmed narrative of 27 multimedia stories, which they produced into a 63′ feature film called Krisis.

This year, several independent, web-based, documentary projects have emerged to fill the gap left by shrinking mainstream media coverage of the crisis’ effects on Greek society.

Debt Management” is a 42′ documentary in English by a group of young artists and scientists, living in Thessaloniki and collaborating for the creation of alternative documentaries, that explores this “symbolic war between people's determination to preserve common values, human conditions, rights and needs, versus an Orwellian financial world”:

The City at a Time of Crisis [..] is a research project that seeks to trace and research the effects of the ongoing financial crisis on urban public spaces in Athens, Greece.  It will comprise a holistic, cross-disciplinary study of changing notions of the ‘public', with urban public spaces as its main research subject extending into areas related to ‘public interest’, ‘public security’, ‘public provision’ and the ‘public good’

Into the Fire [..] is an investigative documentary looking at the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece, in the face of severe austerity measures and rising racism. We spoke with refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and undocumented in Greece, to try and get an idea of the state of the asylum procedure in this European border country and what it is like to live in constant fear of being attacked – for having the wrong skin colour.

Portraits of Greece in Crisis is an ongoing project of multimedia stories, of people and constitutions that have been significantly affected by the crisis. It is an attempt to approach the greek crisis, as it is depicted in each portrait.

2 artists on a journey all around Greece aim to highlight the personal stories of the people of the land, and focus on the richness of human testimony. The Caravan project will compose a mosaic of images, narratives and documentaries, in order to emphasize a different way of life than the one systematically promoted by the media, and to shed light on a land that continues to create, dream, and proclaim that “Another World Is Here”!

Welcome Spring and Good-bye Evil Eye

File:Martenitsa E5.jpg

Martenitsas on a blossoming tree.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Μάρτης [el], мартеница [bg], мартинка [mk], mărțișor [ru]…however you call it, an ancient tradition [el] with multiple variations that takes place in the Balkans. So, weave your red-and-white threads for protection against the “evil eye” or to welcome Spring!


March 11 2013

Video: Greece Austerity Protests Teargassed

A reportedly peaceful attempt to revive the mass anti-austerity ”indignant protests” of 2011 on the evening of March 10 in Syntagma square, Athens, was met with teargas and police brutality, as shown in this video of an arrest, uploaded by Eleftherotypia daily:


March 08 2013

Crowdmapping Media Layoffs in Greece

Journalist Ioanna Iliadi has created a crowdmap to monitor press layoffs in Greece, mounting in numbers and frequency, as an already brewing media crisis has been compounded by the financial crisis.


PHOTO: No Chavez in Greek Politics

“This is the difference…So simple…”.
Photo via Facebook timeline.


March 07 2013

Greece: Corruption, Police State and Struggle in Skouries

In the Skouries region of Chalkidiki, Northern Greece, Canadian company Eldorado Gold obtained mining rights for the Kakkavos Mountain gold through its Greek subsidiary, Hellenic Gold, after a controversial transfer process in 2004. Local residents have been opposed to the company owing the mining rights during the last decade. Ierissos city feels like a police state, and many suspicious events are taking place.

The surrounding forest, which will be destroyed as per 0.4% (according to the company's research), is one of the rarest European primordial forests; moreover there is likely to be significant danger to the health of nearby residents. The company's environmental impact report is deficient [el], according to Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Megali Panagia village, view from Kakkavos Mountain. Photo by author Andreas Kakaris


Financial scandal

The mining rights purchase was orchestrated with the assistance of Greek politicians, some of whom have recently been involved in corruption scandals. Among them are Christos Pachtas [el], the former Deputy Minister of National Economy and now the Mayor of Aristotelis Municipality, and George Papakonstantinou, the former Minister of Finance and Minister of Environment. Greek media magnate George Bobolas also played a key role through his construction company, AKTOR.

Journalist Fotis Kollias summarizes the history of the scandal on his blog in 2011 [el]:

Μια εταιρεία με κυριότερο περιουσιακό στοιχείο τα μεταλλεία Κασσάνδρας, που τα είχε αγοράσει μόλις 11 εκατ. ευρώ παραμονές των εκλογών του 2004 επί Κ. Σημίτη, αποτιμήθηκε 1,8 δισ. ευρώ. [..] Παραχωρήθηκαν έναντι πινακίου φακής στην «Ελληνικός Χρυσός», η οποία μάλιστα απαλλάχθηκε από την υποχρέωση καταβολής φόρου μεταβίβασης

With Kassandra Mines as its main asset, purchased for 11 million euros on the eve of the 2004 national elections under PM Costas Simitis, the company [AKTOR] was valued at 1.8 billion euros. [...] Kassandra Mines were bestowed for a mess of pottage to Hellenic Gold, which was even relieved of transfer tax payment

Even the European Union was embroiled in the controversy. As reported by Mr. Toskas, member of the Struggle Committees Against the Mines, in a documentary by Greek journalist Giorgos Avgeropoulos [el]:

Και όταν η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση ζήτησε να επιστρέψει η «Ελληνικός Χρυσός» 15,5 εκατομμύρια ευρώ στο ελληνικό δημόσιο, ο τότε Υπουργός Περιβάλλοντος, ο κύριος Παπακωνσταντίνου, προσέφυγε στο Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο, για να μην πληρώσουν οι ιδιώτες τα 15,5 εκατομμύρια στο κράτος

When the European Union asked Hellenic Gold to return 15.5 million euros to the Greek state, Mr. Papakonstantinou, then the Minister of Environment, appealed to the European Court, so that the private entities involved wouldn't have to pay the 15.5 million to the state

Recently, Hellenic Gold has increased mining activity due to a price hike for the precious mineral, and the resistance by local residents has grown even stronger. The case has grown big nationally and public opinion sides with locals. The same is true in the Greek twittersphere under the hashtag #skouries.

Here are some examples [el]:

@leonidas108: Οι Σκουριές είναι κλασική περίπτωση έμμεσης και παράνομης χρηματοδότησης πολιτικών κομμάτων και προσώπων #skouries

@leonidas108: Skouries is the classical case of indirect and illegal funding of political parties and figures #skouries

@ypopto_mousi: Μην εξοργίζεστε. Η λάσπη και τα “ρεπορταζ” για τις #skouries είναι μέρος αμυντικής στρατηγικής.Τώρα ακολουθούν την ατζέντα δεν την φτιάχνουν.

@ypopto_mousi: Don't become exasperated. Mudslinging and the “reports” on #skouries are part of a defensive strategy. Now, they follow the agenda, they don't make it.

@kkostaskk: Από αυτό το εργοτάξιο ζουν 1200 οικογένειες στη Χαλκιδική. Από αυτό το εργοτάξιο πεθαίνουν όλες οι οικογένειες στη Χαλκιδική. #skouries

@kkostaskk: 1200 families in Chalkidiki live because of the [work in the] mining site. All families in Chalkidiki die because of the mining site. #skouries

@MalliarMargar: Για να καταλάβουμε τι γίνεται,γύρω από τις σκουριές αν πεις ότι είσαι οικολόγος θεωρείται κάτι ανάλογο του παιδεραστή #skouries #propaganda

@MalliarMargar: In order to understand what's going on, if someone declares himself an ecologist while on Skouries area, he is considered something like a pedophile #skouries #propaganda

Arson at the mines

Tensions culminated on Saturday, February 17, when a group of 40 masked people attacked the Skouries gold mine site with molotov cocktails, damaging machinery, containers and vehicles. According to the police, the culprits had left the scene by the time they arrived.

The following videos, leaked by security guards to the media, show what happened.

The videos were edited by the news portal

Greek mainstream media reported that unknown people doused security guards in petrol, but this hasn't been confirmed. On the contrary, Polygyros Hospital, where the guards were transferred, said they had only seen abrasions and superficial wounds. But the company didn't only suffer these damages. Its sharemarket value plunged the very same day, as cited by @northaura via the following chart:

Eldorado Gold (principal inv. company at #skouries gold-mine, N. #Greece) down 6% today = 400mil $ #rbnews

The day after the arson attack, police detained 27 people who were later released. The detentions continued in the following days as well; several local residents were detained singly or in pairs and were subjected to a DNA test. As @Freenet eloquently says:

Στις Σκουριές τις τελευταίες μέρες εξελίσσεται εκτεταμένη επιχείρηση συλλογής και φακελώματος DNA κατοίκων #skouries

In Skouries, an extensive operation of residents’ DNA collection and profiling has been taking place during the last days  #skouries

These police tactics have earned intense criticism by citizens and legal experts as a flagrant violation of human rights. Taking DNA samples is not legal without charges. According to the Hellenic Mining Watch blog, which plays a key role in activism and updates on the case, the situation is spinning out of control [el].

@IrateGreek summarizes some typical reports:

#Greece Detainees “disappear” in Halkidiki ie are taken to police in Polygyros & friends/relatives/lawyers can't get info #rbnews #Skouries

Also by @Inflamatory_:

Police cars reportedly outside the cafe where a meeting is held by citizens/groups against gold mining in #skouries @antigoldgreece#rbnews

While @potmos reports that [el]:

Δικηγόροι ενημερώνουν τον κόσμο για τα δικαιώματά τους στο Συντονιστικό στην Ιερισσό. Περιπολίες και προσαγωγές στο χωριό. #skouries #rbnews

Lawyers inform citizens of their rights at Ierissos coordination point. Patrols and detentions in the village. #skouries #rbnews

In an interview in Thessaloniki [el] on Friday, February 22, seven lawyers talked of the “constitutional aberration” in Skouries, referring to the incidents of the previous week.

Independent online news


Proto Thema newspaper headline: “The Gold Nuclei”, Sunday 24.2.2013. Headline insinuates ties with radical anarchist organization “Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei

While all this happened in Chalkidiki, numerous mainstream Greek media followed a special defensive line in favor of the company. This came as no surprise since Hellenic Gold spends big money on media advertising for positive publicity on its investment. A chief example is a publication by popular newspaper Proto Thema (First Issue), which correlates the actions in Chalkidiki with terrorism.

The residents didn't give up. On Sunday, a peaceful demonstration against the gold mines took place in Megali Panagia, one of the closest villages near Kakkavos Mountain, organized by thousands of local residents, groups, and parties supporting the villagers’ struggle.

The demonstration had the form of a press conference open to anyone interested and succeeded in attendance and dissemination of residents’ message to the public. Unprecedented, though, were the measures taken by Greek Police, sending hundreds of police officers for fear of violent incidents. Police officers kept their distance from the protesters and were reportedly checking license plates. The speakers described the events, the unprecedented security measures and also the course of their litigation with the company. The last to speak were two women who were among the 40 detained [to date], one of whom described her shocking experience [el]:

Η αστυνομία μπαίνει στα σπίτια μας με επιθετική διάθεση και χωρίς κανένα σεβασμό. Προχτές μπήκε ο εισαγγελέας για την προσαγωγή μου με αποτέλεσμα να σοκαριστεί το παιδί μου.

Police entered our houses aggresively and with no respect. The day before yesterday, the prosecutor came in for my detention; as a result my child was scared.

Thousands of residents in a demonstration at Megali Panagia village, 24.2.2013. Photo by author Andreas Kakaris

Citizen journalists were also at the demonstration, which they covered by all means possible, multilingually and with objectivity, taking the place of the traditional media who were conspicuous by their absence. As Professor of Political Economy Nikos Smyrnaios remarked in a his research on coverage of the case on Twitter [el]:

communities formed in Twitter are able to operate autonomously across the news spectrum, from the production of primary news update till fact-checking and news dissemination without any journalist's participation.

All speeches appear in the following video, edited and uploaded by iosifsk on his Youtube channel:

Tension continues to reign in the area. Given the severity of the situation, we will return to the case, should more news emerge.

Spanish group Todos somos griegos (We are all Greeks) made a Storify collection of Greek and other multilingual tweets about the recent events in Skouries. Global Voices author Asteris Masouras also made a Storify collection of these troubled two days’ tweets and contributed to the creation of this article.

Reposted bydarksideofthemoon darksideofthemoon

January 29 2013

Spain: Catalonia's “Declaration of Sovereignty” Translated into 36 Languages

On January 23, 2013, amid rising tensions with the Spanish government, the regional parliament of Catalonia approved by majority vote a Declaration of Sovereignty [ca] — seen widely as a prelude to a referendum on independence, expected to be held by 2014. Thanks to a diverse team of collaborators, the online Catalan-language publication Vilaweb [ca] has been able to publish the document in thirty-six languages.

January 26 2013

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, sign at entrance, Katakolon (Peloponnese, Greece). Photo by Drjwolfe, public domain.

Ever wondered how ancient temple gates would opened automatically after altar sacrifices?

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