#CancelGreekDebt: UK campaigners condemn ECB’s ‘act of financial war’ against Athens
The solidarity protest has been organized by social justice groups Jubilee Debt Campaign, Global Justice Now, Greece Solidarity Campaign and War on Want. Each group has campaigned heavily on the Greek debt crisis, following six years of austerity peddled by international creditors and Europe's technocratic elite.
Campaigners will gather in Trafalgar Square at 18.00 BST, as leftist Greek government Syriza’s debt stand-off with the Troika (EU/IMF/ECB) intensifies.
— JubileeDebtCampaign (@dropthedebt) June 29, 2015
Elected in early 2015, Greece’s anti-austerity government has stoked the ire of EU leaders and international creditors. But campaigners attending Monday’s protest argue Syriza’s only crime has been to prioritize the human rights of its citizens over business and financial interests driving European policy.
'Inhumane austerity diktats'
Speaking ahead of Monday’s protest, Global Justice Now’s Nick Dearden said thousands of Europeans are demanding a debt write-down for Greece.
“Across Europe tens of thousands of people are calling for there to be a cancellation of Greece’s debt in the same way that Germany’s debt was cancelled in 1953,” he told RT.
As tensions between Athens and Brussels mount, Dearden warned the EU’s “hardline and inhumane” diktats could spark an international crisis.
“The EU and the IMF seem to be hell-bent on ruthlessly punishing Greece for daring to stand up against grossly unfair debt conditions that are causing enormous amounts of suffering,” he said.
“This violent imposition of austerity in Greece will leave yet more blood on the hands of the EU’s financial class.”
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) June 29, 2015
The Greek electorate has set up a special commission to examine the fairness and legitimacy of Greece’s debt burden. However, the Troika has blocked democratic participation in challenging its bailout terms.
As the threat of a bank run looms over Athens, the Greek government has called a referendum on the Troika’s latest round of economic demands. Following the Troika’s refusal to unlock further emergency funding for Greece, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has resolved to let the people of Greece decide on a path forward.
The referendum is scheduled for Sunday.
Speaking on Greek television on Sunday night, Tsipras accused EU ministers and the ECB of attempting to blackmail the people of Greece and hinder Sunday’s vote. He said they would fail in both objectives.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who will attend Monday’s solidarity rally in London, called upon Britons to consider the “terrible human impacts” of Greece’s crisis.
Writing in a blog for Global Justice Now, she said Greece is facing a humanitarian crisis.
“Over 40 percent of children are living in poverty, a quarter of the workforce is unemployed, youth unemployment is at almost 50 percent and the healthcare system is close to collapse,” she said.
“Beyond the hackneyed headlines of a ‘Greek tragedy’ are people living on the brink, struggling to feed and clothe their families.”
Lucas said the Troika’s austerity agenda has been a failure in human and economic terms. She stressed less than 10 percent of Athens’ bailout funds have reached those who need it most.
“Greece’s government debt has grown from 133 percent of GDP in 2010 to 174 percent today,” she said.
“Since 2010, the Troika has lent €252 billion to the Greek government. Of this, the vast majority of the money was used to bail out banks, pay off the private sector … and repay old debts and interest from reckless lending."
— Global Justice Now (@GlobalJusticeUK) June 29, 2015
In April, Britain’s Jubilee Debt Campaign calculated the IMF made €2.5 billion worth of profit out of loans it had issued to Greece since 2010. If Greece repays the IMF in full, the campaign estimates this will rise to €4.3 billion by 2024.
The group's policy officer Tim Jones warns the ECB has potentially racked up more substantial profits under Greece’s bailout terms.
Jubilee Debt Campaign's director, Sarah Jayne Clifton, says Greece’s debt burden must be reduced.
“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 told RT earlier this month.
“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.”