The Marfin Bank tragedy, one year later

Ar­rests yet to be made over the deaths of three em­ploy­ees in a down­town Athens branch dur­ing a May 5, 2010 fire­bomb at­tack

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY PASCHOS MANDRAVELIS

Ayear ago to­day, dur­ing a large na­tion­wide strike on May 5, a group of youths de­cided to de­liver a blow to the cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem. Af­ter fail­ing to burn down the Ianos book­store in cen­tral Athens, they set fire to a branch of Marfin Bank, along with the peo­ple who were in­side, peo­ple whom the pro­test­ers had de­rided as “scabs.”

It was no ac­ci­dent; it was a tragedy wait­ing to hap­pen. The thou­sands of petrol bombs hurled by “an­gry youths” ev­ery year were bound to hit their tar­get at some point. The tar­get on May 5, 2010, was three young peo­ple: Paraskevi Zou­lia (35 years old), An­ge­liki Pa­p­athana­sopoulou (32) and Epameinon­das Tsakalis (36). They gasped their last breath in the fires of the “revo­lu­tion.”

It was no ac­ci­dent;

it was a mur­der an­nounced. The streets of Athens are still marked with the black spray-painted slo­gans en­cour­ag­ing this heinous act: “This is just. Set fire to the bank­ing sys­tem.” The bank­ing sys­tem, of course, healed im­me­di­ately, but three fam­i­lies lost one of their own for­ever.

Mur­ders are com­mit­ted all over the world, but so­ci­eties are judged the day af­ter, by their sense of out­rage and their re­ac­tion, by whether they say “Enough!” or they al­low evil to go for­got­ten. There is one de­tail that must not es­cape us: As the blaze grew in­side the bank and the vic­tims were out on the bal­cony plead­ing for help, cer­tain pro­test­ers shouted, “Burn, scabs!” and went on with the march, re­peat­ing their an­them: “Don’t bow down, peo­ple. Re­sis­tance is the only way!” Was it in­sen­si­tiv­ity? Maybe. Then again, maybe the pro­test­ers hold­ing their lit­tle red flags and see­ing their fel­low coun­try­men in dan­ger be­lieved that ev­ery revo­lu­tion de­mands a sac­ri­fice. Maybe, though, it was some­thing even deeper than that. We live in a so­ci­ety that has an al­most meta­phys­i­cal be­lief that evil will not come knock­ing. Maybe this meta­phys­i­cal con­vic­tion ex­plains the to­tal dis­re­gard for any safety mea­sures and the ap­a­thy for the rain of petrol bombs hurled at ev­ery rally. Each and ev­ery one of those Molo­tov cock­tails is a po­ten­tial mur­der weapon. Yet af­ter ev­ery rally, the only charge made is that the riot po­lice at­tacked peace­ful pro­test­ers. The “an­gry youths in black” not only dis­ap­pear into the masses at the rally it­self, but they also dis­ap­pear from the pub­lic dis­course that fol­lows.

One year later and noth­ing has changed – we have learned noth­ing. The po­lice claim they are stymied and can­not solve this triple homi­cide. The self-pro- claimed “trou­ble­mak­ers” con­tinue to weave their way into the march­ing groups of var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties and move­ments with­out rais­ing a sin­gle eye­brow or fear­ing that some­one will point them out to the authorities. The Molo­tov cock­tails con­tinue to look for new vic­tims. And, when they find them again, we will all ex­press shock. Po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the me­dia will talk about their ab­hor­rence and the peo­ple will ask how it hap­pened.

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