Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Riots in Athens

Just wanted to post a brief note to apologize for neglecting the blog. We got back from Crete on Sunday morning and things have been a bit hectic since. The last week before break is pretty busy here at the School, and I've been trying to get my AIA paper squared away and finished up before heading back to the States for Christmas goodies. But! I've got some fun post-topics planned for the very near future, so check back soon.

As for the riots here, as many people have commented, this is the worst rioting and violence seen in Greece since the Polytechneion uprising against the Junta in 1973.

Ever since that event (the deaths of some 22 students when the University was stormed by Junta tanks), there has been a long-lasting tradition of student uprisings and violent protests against the government.

All of that anger and love of total destruction has exploded here, following the fatal shooting of a teenager by police this weekend. Last night saw the worst of the violence so far, with urban warfare taking place not only throughout Athens, but all over Greece (Heraklion, Chania, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Patras, Larissa, Corfu, etc).

The rioting here has pretty much spread throughout the city, hitting Syntagma Square, the area of the University (the Polytechneion), Kolonaki, Piraeaus, etc. Who knew a bunch of high school and college kids could employ molotov cocktails to such devastating effect?

But fear not, parents and family members of Katie. We are safely hidden away up here. And no, I'm not crazy enough to wander down to the rioting to take pictures; those on my blog are all from the Internet. Besides being confined to the School compound, we haven't had much trouble, although some of our activities have been cancelled. No trips to the Archaeological Museum because it is right next to Exarchia and the Polytechneion (the home base of most of the molotovs) and because there were a bunch of bonfires in front of the Museum last night; don't worry, as of now, the antiquities are still safe and sound. There's a general transportation strike on Wednesday, so our joint seminar with Olga Palagia and her students has had to be postponed. The School is developing a contingency plan for any potential emergencies. We haven't heard much from the US Embassy other than to stay out of trouble:

U.S. Embassy, Athens, Greece
December 8, 2008

The United States Embassy alerts U.S. citizens to the continuing possibility of civil disturbances and demonstrations throughout Greece in the wake of the violent demonstrations that occurred on the weekend of December 6th and 7th. A national day of mourning is planned for Tuesday December 9th. A general strike, to include the transportation sector, is planned for Wednesday December 10th. We remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstration. American citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
The US Embassy

If you'd like to keep up on the news, stay tuned to Kathimerini (the english edition of Athenian news) and the BBC. I'll post updates if anything noteworthy occurs.


Sean said...

Greece is all up in the news here. You better quit being a nerd and get down there and watch it.

Julie Rask said...

During WW II high school kids and younger were very adept at using molotov cocktails. In fact, molotov cocktails have been the weapon of choice for resistance fighters for many years. They are easily procured and fairly simple to use. Right behind molotov cocktails are pipe bombs and potato guns.

Stay safe at least until after the holidays. You don't want to spend Christmas vacation in a Greek hospital.

Claire said...

Does the US Embassy really sign their warnings "Love"?? Just curious....
Stay safe!

Katie said...

Ha ha ha. No, I just insert the 'Love' that I know they are feeling for all their wayward ex-pats :)