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News ::
"The Greatest Celebration on Earth" ???
27 Aug 2004
Wanton propagation in wretched, municipal shelters, where animals are
trapped in perpetual misery-- diseased and starving, results in new born
puppies being cannibalized by animals struggling for survival. These grisly
scenes have been captured on video.
ATHENS 2004
"The Greatest Celebration on Earth" ???
(By Marijo Anne Gillis - Founder, WAG, New York (Welfare for Animals Global
/ Welfare for Animals in Greece)

I peered out the window of the giant airbus as the powerful jet screeched to
an abrupt halt. It was 10:30 am and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
Elefterios Venezelou Airport was eerily quiet. In early summer, Athens is
usually a frenetic hub of activity. Tourists from all over the world flock
to the "Cradle of Western Civilization" for fun in the sun and trips to the
majestic monuments of a once exemplary civilization.

My history and love affair with Greece spans 30 years-dating back to my
early college days. I lived in Greece for 14 years, while married, and ran
a lucrative yacht chartering business. I like to believe that over the
years, I became somewhat of an expert on Greek cultural and social mores.

Modern day Greece pales in comparison to the mighty imprint she relinquished
so many millennia ago. She is but a faint shadow-- a dim memory of her
ancient and glorious past. I guess you could say that she has devolved into
a disabled offspring of colossal greatness.

I disembarked, cleared customs, said a prayer to the Lord for strength and
began a sad journey into the desperate, despairing world of the animals of
Greece. Unwanted, abandoned, brutalized, the fate of these creatures, both
companion and farmed are tenuous at best--especially in light of the 2004
Olympic Games.

I have made three investigative trips to Greece in the last nine months and
have filmed and photographed the innocent victims of abuse, neglect and
disease in horrifying municipal shelters, parks, back alley ways, farms and
even private homes. Fear, loneliness, starvation, brutality, pain and death
are not just vocabulary for the companion and farmed animals in Greece, but
living expressions of reality.

Low cost spay/neuter programs do not exist . Greeks believe that animals
deserve a sex life. Sadly, some Greek veterinarians are more concerned with
profits from all too often botched spay/neuters, which they perform
reluctantly, than with the hideous conditions of the animals they were
trained to help. "Voluntary" vets, from around the world have been denied
access to practice in Greece, lest they curb the inflow of bucks to the home
grown variety. To hell, I guess, with the nightmare of animal suffering in
Greece.

Greeks proudly state that they do not practice euthanasia, yet, ironically
mass poisoning is their barbaric form of animal population control. Death
sneaks up furtively upon the starving animals as they ravenously devour food
laced with a lethal cocktail of rat poison, herbicides and pesticides. The
end is slow and brutally agonizing.

Wanton propagation in wretched, municipal shelters, where animals are
trapped in perpetual misery-- diseased and starving, results in new born
puppies being cannibalized by animals struggling for survival. These grisly
scenes have been captured on video.

Man's dominion over animals - an appointment by God, has apparently been
stripped of mercy, compassion and humanity.

Over the past year, my meetings and negotiations with Greek ministers,
mayors, and officials of the 2004 Athens Olympic Committee have produced
promises to raise the standard of animal welfare and embrace social
responsibility, especially in light of the "Games". Unfortunately for the
animal victims, promises are empty--rhetoric is meaningless.

Graphic reports of animal abuse in the daily papers and on TV do little to
mobilize a humane response by citizens. Government generated press releases
deny allegations of slaughter and criminal abuse and are little more than
slick smokescreens meant to mislead probing journalists and the
conscientious world.

My investigations over the past two years, clearly point to a well planned,
systematic "house cleaning" campaign. Allegedly orchestrated by Greek offici
als in cooperation with the 2004 Athens Olympic Committee, "gentrification"
of the streets in time for the onslaught of tourists to the summer games has
resulted in a massacre. Reports from Greece indicate that the animals are
not the only ones who are disappearing and taking the proverbial bullet for
greed and inhumanity. Several, Greek TV viewers state that a late night
news report indicates that allegedly, the homeless, gypsies, and other
aesthetically "undesirables" will be spirited off to mysterious venues for
the duration of the games. Perhaps to an island spa? - I shudder as I
déjà vu Gestapo tactics !

While in Athens, I brought provocative expose material--facts, photographs
and film to the attention of a very powerful television journalist, Maki
Triantafylopoulos. His programs "Yellow Press" and "Jungle", air twice
weekly on Alter TV, a major network. Both broadcasts vie for the number one
spot in the ratings. He is feared for his relentless inquisitions and
cunning reportage on corruption and abuse and he wreaks havoc on the human
pollution of Greek society. He travels with a body guard and threats upon
his life are taken seriously. I like him very much. He is a gentle and
compassionate man and is hell bent on securing justice for the proverbial
underdog. Please, no pun intended. Several years ago, Mr.
Triantafylopoulos' award winning expose on Greece's hideous and macabre
mental hospitals reached the television audiences of one of America's most
credible documentary programs.

I am grateful for this journalist's trust in WAG's campaign for the animals
of Greece. He "gifted" me, Athens attorney, Amalia Katsoula and South
African activist, Angela Fleming the opportunity to participate in a live
one hour program called "Yellow Press". A well known panel of guests,
including government officials and people from the entertainment and
publishing world were invited to express their views. I believe that we
ignited an un-extinguishable "torch". On the air, Mr. Triantafylopoulos
promised to me and his millions of viewers, that he will thoroughly
investigate allegations of mass exterminations and the disappearance of
countless animals and he hopefully will uncover the identification of the
perpetrators.
After my rabble rousing visit to Greece in June of 2003, , at the invitation
of the Greek government, Athens Olympic Committee director, billionaire,
Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki held a major press conference and promised
financial aid for the welfare of abandoned animals affected by the
infrastructure for the games. I am curious to learn the whereabouts of the
"millions of euros" that she promised for the animals. Did someone open a
Swiss bank account?

Indulgences for the Olympic Games ( expenditures will indeed have dramatic
consequences for Greek citizens) idle in the billions of dollars and are
dramatically over budget. Thankfully, the international animal welfare
community has called for an active, united BOYCOTT of Greece and this action
will undoubtedly impact an already compromised economy. Oblivious to all
but the "glory of the Games", the 2004 Athens Olympic Committee turns a
blind eye to financial disaster, as well as to the grim animal issue which
screams for a humane solution.

Forever lobbying and pressuring officials, I arranged a formal meeting with
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Alexandros Kontos, the minister's counsel,
animal advocates and three brilliant Athenian attorneys, (Amalia Katsoula,
Elias Pavlakis and Vasilis Alavanos), who are working together, pro bono, to
effect justice for animals and animal advocates. Prior to this meeting, the
Ministry refused communication with the animal welfare community. I am happy
to report that this dialogue between people and state continues. Another
meeting ( attorney's in tow) with the Deputy Mayor of Athens, Tonia
Kannelopoulou, charged with animal welfare in the Olympic host city was
extremely cordial. Once again, the mayoralty made promises for reform that
I feel sure they would like to keep; however, rejecting assistance from
foreign animal welfare organizations is not wise. The Athens municipality's
primitive, well intentioned actions have yet to prove the verity of
political oratory.

WAG and the heaven sent Angela Fleming, general secretary of Athens'
Frontida Zoon (Caring for the Animals) physically rescued several very ill,
abused young dogs from the garbage dump at Loutraki, a wealthy seaside
resort some 80 kilometers from Athens. Loutraki's claim to fame is a popular
gambling casino. Infamous is the town dump which doubles as Loutraki's
municipal animal shelter. It is despicable as are the indifferent officials
of the town, (partners in the casino). Words cannot describe the condition
of the animals. At this moment, I find that I cannot find the fortitude to
describe the misery, pain and desolation that I witnessed. A happy ending
for these rescued creatures, is that WAG has provided veterinary treatment
for the rescued dogs, (two were 3 week old puppies discarded as rubbish )
and foster care with loving families. They are presently being medicated,
loved, spoiled, fattened up and are awaiting a mercy airlift and re-homing
in Belgium. But, what about the tens of thousand left behind?

During my 17 day stay in Greece, I had daily meetings with animal rights
activists and phone conferences with these wonderful people nation wide;
the only members of Greek society who seem to care about her tormented
animals. Sadly, these human bastions of animal rights continue to be
ridiculed, slandered, intimidated and marginalized by citizens and
government officials alike, and some of their actions appear to be governed
by fear. The vicious Greek e-zine, Tetrapodologein has made an egregious
mockery of their compassion.

Happily, on June 6, 2004, the venue of the Greek Parliament played
involuntary host to a boisterous and passionate street demonstration.
Gathering courage, over 1000 angry animal activists took to the streets,
with banners and loudspeakers, protesting the mass poisoning of thousands of
dogs and cats and the government and the 2004 Athens Olympic Committee's
alleged, reckless complicity in the disappearance of the country's strays.

Even better news is the fact that the European media is covering Greece's
"little shop of horrors" with vitality and serious intent. As well, WAG
just completed production on a 5 minute, narrated documentary film which
details animal abuse in Greece . WAG will distribute the visual images to
major media outlets throughout North America and Western Europe. A major
American network has expressed interest in the expose. Adverse publicity
will certainly impact the influx of Greece's tourist dollars. Money is
something that the Greek nation's governing force comprehends -- the
diminished ching-ching of that damn Greek cash register god may catalyze
positive action.

As the Olympic games draw near, much is being questioned about vital
security in defense of global terrorism and construction delays of the
city's infrastructure are foremost concerns. The Greek government blithely
reassures the media and turns it's arrogant attention to putting their city
in the best possible light.

As the world lobbies for assurances that the 2004 Athens Olympic Games will
be a safe and successful pageant, the needless and barbaric slaughter of her
animals continues. The world is perplexed and somewhat stunned by this
country's resistance to compassion.

As Greece assumes center stage, let us remember and never forget, that
athletes from around the world will exercise their prowess upon the blood
stains of the thousands of voiceless, vulnerable victims of greed and
inhumanity. This will surely outrage the millions of people who cherish
their animals and the creatures with whom we share this planet.

Alluring TV commercials and crafty print advertising, artfully displayed,
proclaim that the 2004 Athens Olympics will "unite the world". A full page
ad in a New York City newspaper, presented by the Hellenic Ministry of
Culture, states:

"At the dawn of the third millennium, more than 2,700 years after the first
Olympic Games, history will repeat itself as the Olympics return to the
country of their birth. The Greek nation and the whole world will embrace
the unique revival of the games, turning them into "the greatest celebration
on earth".

Knowing what we know, this image strains credulity.

And so, dear readers, Greece continues to rape her own image with social
irresponsibility and moral bankruptcy. The 2004 Athens Olympic Games will
hoist a bright torchlight over the failures of Greek society and civic
institutions to live up to their obligations to meet the most basic, simple
needs of animals.

Welcome to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games as GREEK ANIMALS RACE for their
LIVES!

Marijo Anne Gillis - Founder
WAG, New York (Welfare for Animals Global/Welfare for Animals in Greece
(5013c)
1775 York Avenue # 7H
New York, New York 10128

This work is in the public domain
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