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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Pour une démocratie réelle: paroles d’indignés grecs

by Fabien Perrier

Greek Indignados Demand a Real Democracy

Translated Monday 20 June 2011, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

At the heart of the massive protest movement on Thursday, June 16th, when Greek unions and Indignados orchestrated a joint action, our special correspondent collected testimonies from several participants.

Sissi Franasou, 40, secondary school teacher (Thessalonica)

I have taken part in the mobilization right from the start; I come every afternoon after my classes. This movement started from a call on Facebook. Since then we have set up an organization, with a secretarial team, a team of stewards to maintain good order, a PR department… We also have special discussion groups on education, culture…We try and visit the popular districts to call people to join us at the tent camp by the White Tower and to take part in the local popular assemblies where decisions are made. We are most active on Sundays, when more people join in.

What incited me to take part in the movement was above all the implementation of the troika’s measures: lower wages, yet more unemployed people, cuts in the social services. Being also a member of the teachers’ union, I encourage my colleagues to join in and encourage the Indignados to visit the schools.

We have three basic claims: one, we mustn’t shoulder a debt that we never ran up; two, those that have led us into this tight corner and to the memorandum must go; and three, real democracy right now. It’s essential for us to reach one or two of those ends in order to prevent the implementation of the memorandum. The two big parties want to implement the memorandum and bring everyone down to the lowest condition. The local resistance here does not raise the issue of what should be done next, but wants to put a stop to the current political course. That’s the most urgent point!”

Alekos Vernardakis, 65, a former union leader.

I support the Indignados’ movement. This is what happens when unions do not fulfil their mission or when division sets in between them. Fragmentation and erosion have followed. It’s always been common practice in Greece in the past for those in office to try and control the unions, but the unions have managed to defeat the attempt.

So I come here nearly every day. I take part in the popular assemblies. We work collectively. The movement needs to be politicized. Any worker who feels there’s not much he can do at his workplace feels free to speak out here.

It goads the unions’ bureaucracies when they see their role challenged. But if the balance of the forces within the union movement stays put, we’ll never make our way out of this deadlock.

I turn up wherever a political event is taking place, whether initiated by the anarchists or by the right - even though I belong to one of the component forces of the communist left.

Because here’s the place today where the proletariat can be organized and we’ve got to be there and talk politics.

Elina, 19, philosophy student.

I myself take part in the unions’ demonstrations and in the Indignados’ movement. There’s no future for me here in Greece. If we win I hope I can get a job. But in order to win, we must stage general strikes, and renew them from day to day, and we must occupy universities.

I come to Syngtama square in the evening with the Indignados. This movement should not replace the unions and the actions at the local workplaces. But it’s important to be here and put our shoulder to the movement. Many of those that come here have never taken part in a demonstration or gone on strike. Some are afraid the parties can highjack the movement. What unites us is anger, indignation at those measures imposed by the government.”

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