7 Dec 2014

Jailed Greek student Nikos Romanos’s family fear son will be ‘martyr’

From behind the bars around his bed, on the third floor of Athens’s Gennimatas hospital, Nikos Romanos could hear the thousands who took to the streets last week screaming his name, as heavily armed police looked on. Monitored by machine-gun-wielding riot police himself, the 21-year-old anarchist, imprisoned for participating in an armed bank robbery two years ago, has no desire to become a “martyr”.


“He is a fanatical lover of life. He wants to live,” his father, Giorgos Romanos, said in an exclusive interview with the Observer. “But this is his 27th day without food and his condition is deteriorating. He is getting weaker.” Death is not a word that crosses the dentist’s lips as he describes the descent of his son – his only child – from being a ski-loving model student to mascot for a seething segment of Greeks baying for a fight with officialdom at large.

But “martyrdom” is a distinct possibility. As protesters marked the sixth anniversary of the police killing of teenager Alexandros Grigoropoulos – an event that would trigger weeks of violence widely seen as the prelude to Greece’s great economic crisis – the 58-year-old acknowledged that the desire for a martyr is real among the country’s growing contingent of angry, unemployed youth.

Clashes between 6,000 protesters and riot police erupted in central Athens on Saturday as teargas and water cannon were used to beat back protesters in the bohemian Exarchia neighbourhood, where about 200 black-clad youths hurled stones and molotov cocktails. A cloud of smoke billowed into the sky from the clashes. Dozens of shops were damaged and nearly 100 demonstrators were detained.

More at The Observer - Reverse Countdown by Nikos Romanos at The Anarchist Library