Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

'The anarchists are misunderstood'

Anna Giabanidis
Anna Giabanidis says law and order has broken down in Athens

Dozens of people have been injured and hundreds of properties torched in days of rioting across Greece over the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy.

Trainee lawyer Anna Giabanidis has met the anarchists responsible for some of the violence and explains their perspective on events.

The views are the personal views of the contributor and do not intend to represent any one group in Greece. Anna Giabanidis has been along to protests but has not taken part in any violence.

What I have to say may be easily misunderstood - I'm not with the anarchists. But I sympathise with what is happening right now.

The feeling here is if you have money and status you can pretty much do what you want

I think these people have been very much misunderstood. Everything has escalated since the death of Alexis, as we know him over here.

It all dates back to about 1984/5. I don't know the full details as I wasn't born then but there's a deep-seated and long-standing concern about the way things have been handled by the police and the authorities, and the death of the teenager has made things worse.

The feeling here is if you have money and status you can pretty much do what you want.

We have a saying here: "If you've got money, you're innocent."

There's a feeling that it's the rich versus the rest, and there's unity between those who aren't rich.

You just have to look at the reaction over the last few days to see how people have come together.

There are three groups involved. There are the communists, who believe in peaceful protest and are not damaging property. They are the ones who try to stop the others destroying buildings or burning banks.

The anarchists are the ones you may have seen on television wearing masks. They are burning the banks and state property. They do have support from some communists.

There's been a total breakdown in law and order.

The third group are the younger people who like to think that they are anarchists but they don't know what they stand for.

They are the ones who have been looting - they are neither anarchists nor communists.

They are calling themselves anarchists but making things 20 times worse.

I sympathise with them. I went inside the university and spoke with some of them.

They feel the only way to make themselves heard is to do these things.

People have lost faith in the authorities or anyone in government - they are so angry.

They have started smoking and drinking on the metro - all rules are out. There's been a total breakdown in law and order.

I put an empty plastic bottle into a bin and somebody laughed and asked: "Why are you doing that?"

Even ordinary people are questioning authority and I can't see it getting back on track for a long time.

We'll need an election to get things back on track, we need a government response.

I fear it could escalate, I think someone's going to die, because what I see first hand is not safe at all.

I'm making Greece my home - I've lived half and half between the UK and Greece but I want to live here permanently.

I love the people, the life and the culture - it matches my personality.

If anything, what is happening here now has strengthened my desire to make Greece my home.

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