Zoe Lanara, international officer of the Greek trade union confederation GSEE, sent us this news about the suicide of a Greek pensioner yesterday morning. It explains the human side of the dry word “austerity” which sometimes implies a rather gentler restraint on living conditions than Greek people are facing.
Stunned, Greece mourns Dimitris Hristoulas, 77, who shot himself in front of the Parliament right on Syntagma (Constitution) Square in Athens. The suicide occured shortly before 9am, as people went about their business. He died from a single shot to the head. Within hours, dozens of notes and flowers were pinned to the tree under which he had stood. Citizens rushed to Syntagma to pay their respects including priests, despite the stigma attached to suicide by the Orthodox church. Once more, Greek riot police are making heavy use of chemicals to prevent access to Syntagma (even right now).
The tragedy casts into sharp relief the human cost of the crisis that has brought Greece to the brink of the abyss, pushing Greeks to desperation. Hristoulas, a retired pharmacist described as an ‘upstanding and progressive’ family man left a handwritten note likening the government to Greece’s first cabinet under German occupation in WWII.
“The collaborationist Tsolakoglou has literally deprived me of any ability for survival which depended on a decent pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no subsidy from the state. As my advanced age does not allow another more dynamic way to react I cannot find a solution beyond ending my life in dignity before I begin foraging through rubbish bins to survive and become a burden to my child. If a fellow Greek were to grab a Kalashnikov though, I could be right behind him. I believe that our young people who are left with no future, will one day rise up in arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma Square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945 in Milan’s Piazza Loreto.”