‘Debt vs democracy': Anti-poverty campaigners stage Greek solidarity protest in London

A woman waves a Greek flag during an anti-austerity pro-government rally in front of the parliament building in Athens, Greece, June 21, 2015. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)
Campaigners will gather in central London on Tuesday evening in solidarity with the Greek people. They warn Troika austerity diktats have been unnecessary, economically unsound and have left a trail of poverty, homelessness and suicide in their wake.

The solidarity protest has been organized by social justice groups, the Jubilee Debt Justice Campaign and Global Justice Now. Both groups have campaigned heavily on the Greek debt crisis, following six years of austerity peddled by international creditors and Europe’s technocratic elite. Activists from anti-poverty campaignWar on Want are also due to attend the protest.

Campaigners will gather in Trafalgar Square at 18.30 BST, as leftist Greek government Syriza’s debt stand-off with the Troika (EU/IMF/ECB) intensifies.

Elected roughly 6 months ago, Greece’s anti-austerity government has incurred the wrath of EU leaders and right-of-center commentators worldwide. But campaigners attending Tuesday’s solidarity protest in London argue Syriza’s only crime has been to prioritize the rights of Greek people over financial and business interests driving EU policy.

“Greece has been victim of some of the most brutal austerity of modern times, suffering mass unemployment, rocketing rates of suicide, murder, HIV infection, depression, drug use, and homelessness,” Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said.

Dearden, a leading voice on debt justice, said Greece's “great depression” could have been avoided if the welfare of Greek citizens was prioritized over “the profits of European banks.”

“The European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have formed an imperial Troika, suspending even the veneer of democracy to impose policies on Greece, which have failed even in their own stated aims,” he said.

“Debt has not decreased but has rocketed as the economy has gone into free-fall.”

Protesters gather in front of the parliament building during an anti-austerity pro-government rally in Athens, Greece, June 21, 2015. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

As negotiations on Greece’s debt and bailout program continue in the heart of Brussels, the crisis the Greek people face shows no sign of abating. Nevertheless, Syriza remains determined to carve out the best possible deal for the people of Greece.

Speaking to RT, Jubilee Debt Campaign director Sarah Jayne Clifton called for Greece’s debt burden to be reduced significantly.

“Debt relief will only work if it means significantly reduced debt payments both now and in the future. Anything else will simply prolong the crisis, the injustice for the Greek people, and the uncertainty for the eurozone,” she said.

“Greece is still saddled with debt because the banks and financial speculators were once again bailed out for their reckless lending. If there is no agreement on debt cancellation then Greece is fully within its rights to default,” she added.

Anti-poverty activists attending Tuesday’s solidarity protest say Greece’s battle is about more than debt justice. They stress the Greek people are engaged in a seismic battle for the “future of European democracy” itself.

Their sentiments were echoed by global tax justice expert and UK accountant Richard Murphy on Sunday. Writing in his Tax Research blog, he said Greece’s debt crisis is about imposing “a neoliberal dogma” and “ending a left wing government.”

“[This] is the politics of punishment. It shows that this whole crisis is manufactured and wholly artificial. It is a game bankers are playing to show who us who is in control.”

“It is a ruse to show that debt is above democracy. It is a device to show that states must bow to banks. It is contrived to show people matter less than money.”