- For 13 days, and following the tragic occurrence of a kid being murdered, we've been in a wave [of events]; could it also be called a revolt of the school students?
- It is a revolt. & I've already said, a long time ago, that we'll find ourselves against a revolt of the young, not because of the fact [per se] that there's always a chasm between old & young, but concerning the current issue: there have been problems concerning the youth for so many years, [that] an explosion is bound to happen. & then the occasion was realized. The drop that spilled the glass came & the glass was spilled. The biggest problem of all is the commercialization of education - that's [what] the youth experiences. It's not permissible, under any circumstances, that education is free &, at the same time, that a family spends tons of money so that their children can study either foreign languages or with a private tutor. [This is a purely greek phenomenon & one that plays an important role in these precarious or near-precarious times: that a very large percentage of university graduates are self-employed solely in private tutoring, often in a black market manner: no health insurance or paid vacation, as well as no taxes paid to the state.] Education has been commercialized, & there's an [ongoing] attempt that it becomes [even] more commercialized through universities, through the privatization of universities. Youth sees no future - that is, it'll study & become what? That is, instead of technology contributing to the decrease of working hours, to the decrease of working days, & to the decrease of working years, we've reached the debasement - because [it's a] debasement... - to be cheering because the European Parliament voted for the 48-hour week [instead of the recently discussed 65-hour week]. That is, I never imagined [that we'll retreat] that far back. Instead of going forward. The youth sees these [things] & revolts. Next to these one finds the indifference that youth experiences - no one listens when the youth speaks - [& also] next to these, when it protests the answer [it receives] is violence - & a point is reached where, when[/although] obvious injustices are committed in plain view [& going all the way] up to young people being murdered, those committing these crimes or injustices are left unpunished. & the drop that spilled the glass was added now. We have a revolt - & the revolt will not die down. The revolt will not stop. & the revolt will be reaching new dimensions, as many as possible. & what saddens me is that certain people, instead of comprehending this phenomenon, are involved into this whole spectrum [of methods] that have been unravelled to twist the [meaning of] the school youth's revolt. & what I mean [is this]: when [one] starts [asking questions of the sort] "fine, but why should damages be incurred [on private/public property]?" But I'd like [to ask] all those shedding tears for the burned-down stores, how many tears have they shed when a bank - the banks - have confiscated houses & stores, & thousands of workers entered [the working force as an unemployed mass]. There, there's no[t a single] tear - tears [only] exist for the current situation.
[&] where I'm genuinely aggrieved - I'm being honest here - is when certain people try to... - us, the fighters, who have been striving for justice since the olden times up to now - try to tell us that we have to distance ourselves, they say, from the "hooded ones". But fighters have never been hooded! Those hooded were the snitches squealing on the fighters. & so, [can you imagine that I am] being called to pedantically state that I condemn the "hooded ones"? The "hooded ones" are known to everybody!
- Understood. The kids taking to the streets today are your grandchildern, maybe even grand-grandchildern, your [own] children are of a certain age.
- Grand-grandchildern already. What do you have to say, with such an age difference & with the experience you possess, to those kids who're in the streets today? What would you tell them if you were in a...
- But I tell them, I tell them, whenever I encounter the youth, I tell them clearly. You can doubt everything we're telling you - I offer no advice - doubt everything we're saying, but you have to pay attention to two things. First, you must try to refute that which is being said by us through arguments, & in the process of looking for arguments to refute us, the truth will come out. It's the only thing I tell them. & second, never become slaves of your [own] outrage & of your exasperation for what is [around you]. Be exasperated, be outraged, doubt everything, but don't become slaves of your [own] outrage & of your exasperation. & something else that must be discussed here, because there's an ongoing attempt -also sacrilegious: so, if the bullet was deflected, didn't Alexis Grigoropoulos's death find place? Wasn't a life snatched away?
- Are you a pessimist;
- I'm always an optimist, but I do consider that, at this moment, we find ourselves at a turning point, a decline, we're at what the poet described as "evil's ultimate step." That's where we are. But I believe we shall overcome. What has to happen, though, for [us] to overcome is that we cannot go on using the old methods. We've-we find ourselves in a new era. Which new era is that? That the era where others were deciding for us is gone. We're at an era where we'll be deciding our fates on our own & with each other. (...)
- How did you feel when you saw a banner with 'Resistance' all over it a couple of days ago in Acropolis. From young people, university students...
- I felt proud, because I saw that the young people are putting in good use a symbol which has resisted for a total of centuries - [&] it managed to resist because it is the expression of humanitarian values, it's not solely [because of] the beauty it gives off.
That era has put forth certain humanitarian values. These are symbolized by Acropolis, & [through] the fact that these humanitarian values resisted through time, Acropolis also becomes a symbol of resistance. Consequently, this resistance must have been-it has been put to good use by these young people, & I felt proud they did so.
- What do you have to say to the parents afraid of their kids being currently in the streets, of what's happening, of whether they're in danger & why?
- I know of no such thing, their parents being afraid.
- What would you say to a parent these days?
- But, up to this point, I've had no parent tell me "I'm afraid". I didn't, at least. I've had no [such] parent. I believe that the situation would be horrifying, if the parents did not want their kids to go [to protest demos etc.]. What I believe is that they let their kids go to achieve what all of us failed to do. What we didn't achieve to do. We achieved to liberate Greece [a reference to the german occupation during WWII], but we didn't achieve to make it independent [a reference to the degree to which greece has been dependent on the american hegemony], we didn't achieve to make it as democratic as needed, & we didn't reach a solution to its social problems. This is something we have to confess.
Her steps took her, on Tuesday [9 December] afternoon, to the graveyard of Paleo Faliro for Alexis[' funeral], while, every Saturday & for 23 years, she's been going to Zografou where she said the final goodbye to [her son] Michalis [Kaltezas] in November 1985. "I buried Michalis once again," Mrs. Zoi Kalteza tell us & her voice catches from emotion. On Sunday morning, turning on the TV, time rolled backwards. She had not watched the news on Saturday night & she thought that they were discussing her son without an apparent reason. Unfortunately, the next few minutes proved that this was not the case. History was repeating itself. Exactly in the same tragicomic sequence.
A 15-year-old in Exarchia square & a policeman that snatches life away from him without a reason. That was Michalis. That is Alexis. "I was speechless after this unjust murder. Not the same old again. As far as I'm concerned, I was being told [of the event] by a reporter who sought me out. He didn't tell me immediately that he was killed. There had been some unrest & I had to go to [the] Evaggelismos [hospital] where he lay wounded. There, in a room, the revealed [the truth] to me. I collapsed." Mrs. Kalteza speaks about the unjust loss of her son, about an apology that was never offered, about a justice that was never served, about the murder of Alexis, about his mother...
- Did you know that he'd be going to the protest march on the occasion of 17 November? [In 17 November 1973, & while the colonels' junta was still in power in greece, university students barricaded themselves inside the Athens Polytechnic protesting the junta, only to be mowed down by a tank who invaded the Polytechnic; protest marches on 17 November are organized ever since throughout greece.]
- No. They'd be going to Kefalari with his friend Nikos & others. In the end, they didn't manage to meet each other, & while his father & I had been waiting for him since 18:00 - he had left the house at 13:00 - until 23:00 & [even] 01:00, me pacing in & out of the balcony wrapped up in a blanket, a young gentleman came by taxi & I went to Evaggelismos. He had never been in a protest march before. He probably did do because he didn't manage to meet his friends. They said he threw something to the policemen. Was this excuse enough for them to kill him? The bullet entered [his skull] right under the right ear. The wound was blind. He had been so beautiful that morning. Maybe because he'd.. leave. He was a kid without malice.
- Was Michalis an anarchist?
- A few days after [the murder], his friend Nikos went [to meet the anarchists] & asked them whether they knew him, whether they had seen him before. They told him they were seeing him for the first time &, in fact, thought that he had been planted by the police. Anarchists attended his funeral & his 40-day memorial service, but they came as proper gentlemen & left as proper gentlemen. What we're witnessing these last few days did not happen [back then] notwithstanding the amount of people.
- What happened at court?
- The policeman who killed my son was found innocent. Two & a half years on parole & he stayed in jail for under a year. Is that what my son was worth? When the verdict was being announced in the second trial [where Athanassios Melistas, the murderer, was found innocent], I didn't go. To [do what?] listen to the policemen clapping [in approval]? It was already clear what would happen. [Alexandros] Lykourezos [currently one of greece's highest-profile lawyers] turned Melistas into an innocent person & what did he get out of it? To me, he didn't direct a single question [during the trial]...
- Did somebody ever apologize?
- No apology, no compensation - although I wouldn't accept it [eve if it were offered], what I needed & need is my son & not money, not even [the expenses of] his grave. We also paid for that. Only in the first trial, when they were bringing in Melistas, he looked at me & whispered "I'm sorry". But then he [went &] claimed that he shot form on top of the police truck. & how did the bullet follow an upward & not a downward trajectory as it should if he had shot from high up?
- Have you excused them?
- If I didn't have my daughter, I'd have become Papadosifos number two. [In 1988, Ioannis Papadosifos killed his son's murderer, Ioannis Venierakis, in the courthouse.] She's the one that kept me... I had to go on for her & for my husband. He, even to this day, doesn't want to talk [about the murder], it doesn't do him good. I've been, I'm strong by nature. nevertheless, when I was going to or coming back from workk, I was crying. How could I persevere having lost my son so unjustifiably & unexpectedly?
- Do you hate them?
- I feel no hate - only outrage.
- What made you go to Alexis' funeral?
- I didn't even think about it. I went spontaneously. As if I had to go. There was a lot of people & I walked into the graveyard. I'll go, though, another day, later on, to carry some flowers for the child & give Michalis greetings...
- Are there any words that you could tell to Alexis' mother?
- I wish there were. A nail in her life for a lifetime. Any strength [she can muster] will be found in her other child, but the empty spot cannot be filled... &, above all, to shut her ears towards anything that will be said about her kid. They has also said a ton about Michalis, even that he was lodging with his grandmother in Liosia [instead of with us], while none of his grandmothers was alive, & so many more... To justify an unjustifiable death!
- Would you like to meet her?
- Yes. But mush later on. She's now living through the world's greatest grief.
- What gives you strength today?
- The eyes of my 8-months-old granddaughter, which are identical to those of my Michalis...