5 May 2016 Helliniko
Two day Event in Geneva for M. Community Clinic at Helliniko
On the 27th and 28th of April, three important events were held for the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko, but more generally for Greece as well. But let’s start at the beginning.
It all started in October of 2014 when Philippe Gerard, a secondary school music professor, happened to be listening to a report on Swiss pubic television about MCCH and her learned, of the tragic effects on the memorandum policies on the health situation in Greece. Being a philhellene, he decided then and there to do something to help. The following day he discussed it with his colleagues whereupon they decided that the school orchestra would perform “Axion Esti” (It is Worthy) of Mikis Theodorakis in the Victoria Hall in Geneva. They immediately started rehearsals, which went on more than a year because they wanted to present it in Greek. We at MCCH were informed of this in November of 2014 and that the presentation would be the 27th of April, 2016. When we heard about it frankly it sounded distant – far in the future. In the turmoil and whirlpool of our daily challenges and struggles, we almost forgot about it. But the students and teachers of the Swiss school were meanwhile practicing and daily sharpening their skills.
In April of 2016 in two days there were three important events:
- At Victoria Hall a performance by the public College Sessure of Geneva of “Axion Esti” by M. Theodorakis in honor of the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko!
- A speech to the students of the College Sessure de Geneve.
- A discussion at the University of Geneva prepared by members of “Volunteers for Greece” (an organization which has often helped us with medicines).
The performance of Axion Esti by the school chorus was a stupendous introduction to the events. VictorialHall was packed, 1,600 in the audience plus another 300 outside who couldn’t find a seat. The presence of Greece was felt to the very corners of the hall, with Mikis’ songs and the poetry of Elytis and it was beautifully reinforced by the mainly Swiss spectators as they all joined in the singing and clapping – many of them teary-eyed. (Here you can see a small sample of the performance https://www.facebook.com/dr.vichas/videos/1034197393334435/ ).
Perhaps the most emotional moment was when our Dr. Vichas read a message from Mr. Theodorakis in Greek followed by Philippe Gerard’s translation in French. A few seconds ticked by in utter silence, and then the place exploded in applause that clearly reflected how the audience had been moved.
Once the performance was over, there was a prolonged rhythmic applause of 10 minutes, the maestro and the soloist came on stage and when they performed an encore of “Perceivable Sun of Justice”, the applause shook Victoria Hall to the rafters.
The love and the solidarity of the Swiss people were overwhelming. They asked us to convey to our country the following message: We do not forget Greece.
The speech was held in the high school auditorium and it was full, even though attendance was optional. The students were intensely interested and there was absolute silence. Most impressive were the many and insightful questions of the students which gave rise to a wonderful and meaningful discussion.
Some of those questions were:
Why doesn’t the government free health from austerity since the devastating effects of these policies have been well documented?
What are the reactions of the governments to MCCH throughout the years?
Where does the money go that is not given for health?
This situation that you have described to us is as if Greece is undergoing a slow and tortured death. What is your opinion regarding Greece leaving the EU?
The talk at the University of Geneva developed into an interesting debate between our volunteer Dr. George Vichas and the other speaker, a professor of international law specializing in health issues, Stefanie Dragon.
The debate focused on two main points, the term “genocide” which seemed excessive to her and she disagreed with it. She also doubted that austerity measures in the health sector were dictated by the memorandum agreements.
Dr. Vichas’ talk preceded her own, and he cited specifically what is happening in the health field these last years and that, according with the definition used by the UN, that this constitutes genocide.
In her talk, she mainly disagreed with the points raised by Dr. Vichas. In the discussion that followed, Dr. Vichas again brought up the term genocide and asked her to support her disagreement with examples. She replied that the basic and sole legal argument for genocide must be intent on the part of those who impose the measures.
“In other words,” asked Dr. Vichas, “if we can verify that it was the intention on behalf of those imposing these measures, then you would agree that genocide is what is happening in Greece?
“Yes,” she answered.
And then, our doctor added, “Tell me, how do you explain the irrefutable fact that after five years of various Greek governments and Greece’s creditors seeing the disastrous effects of austerity measures in the health sector on both mortality and morbidity, and yet they continue to apply them, does this not show intent?”
Silence followed. Specifically, whether or not it is written in the memorandum agreements, the policies which have been instituted in the health sector in the last five years have had disastrous results. Certain specific examples were cited to Mrs Dragon and then she surprisingly said, “I don’t know what you are referring to, because I have not read the memorandum.”
Also during the discussion she stated that the Greek government should have done a detailed analysis of all the impacts on health and that there was recourse to the European Court as well as the UN and the Council of Europe. And when asked what could be accomplished by this, in her opinion, she answered “The question isn’t what can be achieved, the question is why not do it.”
There are two main points from the talk at the university:
In the first public debate with a lawyer, she was unable to refute the arguments for genocide; quite the contrary. Also, the audience as they were leaving voiced their belief that austerity kills and that the policies imposed in Greece were contrary to any international definitions of legal rights, not to mention being totally illogical.
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO
(MONDAY – FRIDAY 10:00 – 20:00) and (SATURDAY 10:00 – 14:00)
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base,
(200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality
of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko)
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece