CULTURE

Writers in support of rights

In October 1999, Pantelis Kazakos shot nine immigrants in streets around Omonia. The attacks were in cold blood, at close range, without any kind of warning – committed out of sheer hatred. As Kazakos said in his first deposition to the police after his arrest: «I don’t regret what I did, because I believe I did my country a service by my actions. The problem with foreigners has gone too far.» Kazakos is behind bars and five of his victims are dead. «O dromos yia tin Omonia» («The Road to Omonia»), just out from Kastaniotis, is an attempt to help two of the survivors, Tommy Kofi from Ghana and Timothy Abdul from Nigeria. It is a collection of stories and poems by 20 writers who have agreed, as has the publisher, to donate the proceeds to Kofi and Abdul. The book begins with their story, as told to journalist Stavros Theodorakis. Kofi, who still has a bullet embedded in his skull, never intended to stay in Greece. His original destination was London, but somewhere on the slow, arduous trip from Ghana to Nigeria, Libya, Istanbul, Kos and Piraeus, he ran out of money. He was on his way to work one night as a peddler near Koumoundourou Square when Kazakos shot him. Now he lives in a hostel attached to the Attica Psychiatric Hospital, and needs expensive medicine for the epilepsy caused by the attack. Abdul came to Greece in 1997 on a tourist visa, fleeing the corruption of Nigeria’s military regime. He was walking home from a cafe with a friend when Kazakos shot him from the rear. One bullet destroyed a lung, one narrowly missed his spine and a third struck him in the belly. He spent months in the hospital and now lives in a tiny basement room. Both men tried to work by selling CDs in the street until the police caught them and charged them. Both have received help from doctors and other well-wishers, but without work have difficulty meeting even the most modest needs. «The Road to Omonia,» edited by Stavros Kasiotis and with photographs by Maria Theodoraki, supports a worthy cause, and the book is worth having for its own sake – some of Greece’s best-known writers are represented in it: Yiannis Varveris, Vassilis Vassilikos, Rhea Galanaki, Michalis Ghanas, Vassilis Gouroyiannis, Maro Douka, Pantelis Boukalas, Dimitris Nollas, Ersi Sotiropoulou and Dinos Christianopoulos, to name just a few.