Thursday, 5 April 2012

Suicide in Athens - Remember what touched off the revolution in Tunisia?

That's right, a very public suicide. Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself in December 2010; less than a month later, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had fled the country. The Arab Spring got going in earnest. Now comes the news that a pensioner shot himself in Athens, followed quickly by a wave of rioting (via BBC):

Protesters have clashed with riot police in the Greek capital, Athens, hours after a pensioner shot himself dead outside parliament.
The 77-year-old man killed himself in the city's busy Syntagma Square on Wednesday morning.
Greek media reported he had left a suicide note accusing the government of cutting his pension to nothing.
Flowers have been laid at the spot where he died and tributes have been paid online.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the square outside parliament on Wednesday evening, the scene of many large protests in recent months.
Violence erupted, with petrol bombs hurled at police, who fired tear gas in response.
Depression and suicides are reported to have increased in Greece as the country introduces tough austerity measures to deal with huge debts.
 'Dignified end'
The man has not been officially identified but was named in Greek media as Dimitris Christoulas. He was said to be a retired chemist, with a wife and a daughter, who had sold his pharmacy in 1994.
He shot himself in the central square just before 09:00 (06:00 GMT), Athens News reports.
In the alleged suicide note, found by police and reported by Athens News, he said: "The government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state.
"And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting... I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don't find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance."
Dozens of people left handwritten messages and flowers at the spot where Mr Christoulas killed himself.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the same course of events will come to pass in Greece... but when people only see their choices as suicide or living out of garbage cans, after paying into the pension system for 35 years, something is VERY wrong. Apparently, the Greek pharmacists' pension fund held a lot of Greek debt, which now got "voluntarily restructured" to be worth 20 cents on the €. 

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