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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 11 July 2015
2 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 11 JULY 2015 GREECE IN CRISIS Mazi: Together we stand Sydney universities unite to support Greece NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU A new campaign to encourage solidarity with Greece is being coordinated by Greek Australian students in Sydney universities. Called Mazi (Greek for 'together'), the campaign hopes to raise awareness about the real affects on ordinary people trapped into the debt saga. Nicholas Conomos, vice president of Sydney University Greek Society, is sure of one thing - to rise from the current crisis only unity can provide a solution. The Combined University Association is made up of societies from Sydney Universities including USYD, UNSW, UTS and MACU, run by Greek Australian students. "UTS Hellenic alone is made up of thirty university students of Hellenic heritage," Stephanie Papaioannou, president of the University of Technology Sydney's Greek Society, tells Neos Kosmos. "The movement centres around societies run by spreading little blue stickers around Sydney with the hashtag #mazi written on them." Rather than focus on di- visive politics or point the finger, the campaign aims to portray Greece's predicament through togetherness, aside from numbers and statistics. "Blaming others, squabbling and in-fighting only worsens the conditions at hand; however obvious it may seem, it is often restrained from practice," Conomos says. "All hope rests on an agreement between debtor and creditor. Only unity can solve this problem, without political division." Mazi aspires to continue its course as an active, cohesive part of multiculturalism in Australia, spreading the movement across suburbs and states. The campaign encourages people to continue to travel to Greece and to support Greek businesses, involving as many people and associations as possible. "It is times like these where we Greeks need to stick together," Papaioannou adds. Amongst their long-term goals are sparking and launching investment by diasporans, lobbying and eve holding fundraising initiatives. "The more people we can reach the more we can assist those in need," she explains. "The aims of the movement develop as the movement grows." Conomos feels for the Greek people who have been suffering unknowingly, often without reason given or understood. He believes Greek Australians should support them in this endeavour to determine their own fate. Calls for solidarity events are being posted on the web under the hashtags #mazi, #WeAreAllGreeks. "When we think of Greece most of us imagine beaches with crystal clear water, warm undying sunshine, feta cheese and olives, but after five years there exists anoth- er side to Greece," he says. "Imagine pensioners rummaging through street bins searching for food, the homeless shooting up in broad daylight in the centre of town. Streets of empty, deserted shops, graffiti covered walls, and beggars the only people present to notice those who pass. Both of these images exist together now." Brisbane turns out for Hellas Melbourne rallies to the cause Members of Brisbane's Greek community rallied last Saturday in King George Square to show their support for the people of Greece. About 50 people turned out, holding flags and signs baring messages of hope for their distant homeland. Community member John Savvas addressed the crowd with a heartfelt speech, focusing on the humanitarian aspect of the crisis, rather than economic and political differences. "We don't know how they're going to be voting tomorrow. It's their choice," he said. "Either way, it's going to be hard but we feel that we can show some solidarity. We can suggest people take a holiday in Greece, which would be a bonus and a shot in the arm to its economy." Mr Savvas suggested people do their bit by opting for Greek products or supporting a Greek charity. "Australia is a blessed country and we all need to stand shoulder and shoulder to save the dignity of Greece," he said. Rally organiser Dimitria Baveas expressed her concern for the looming humanitarian crisis that could result from ongoing financial turmoil. "This is not about even talking about austerity. This is about saying 'the Greek people are suffering and when Australians see suffering, they stand together and always help'. "We need to do that now," she said. Melburnians showing solidarity with Greece defied the rain last Saturday, with hundreds of passionate supporters turning out. Organisers estimated that up to 1,000 people attended the rally which took place in front of the Victorian parliament on the eve of the referendum. Speaking to reporters, event co-ordinator Evy Yannas said the purpose was "to show Greek people that we're by their side". One man in the crowd, who gave his name as Arthur, said he had returned to Australia to escape unemployment in Greece. "A lot of people don't have that option," he said. "They're not Australian citizens and only have a Greek passport ... they're doomed living in Greece." The majority of the crowd Brisbanites show their support. PHOTO: ANTONY SHOWS V.P. were vocal in their criticism of renewed austerity measures imposed by Greece's international creditors. Greece's ambassador to Australia, Mr Haris Dafaranos, sent a message to the organisers thanking them for their show of solidarity. DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM A young supporter of Greece in Melbourne. PHOTO: PETER KAKALIAS.
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