(..and the tough bullies are now hiding behind their mothers’ skirts)
Friday, February 6th 2015
Vagelis Giakoumakis, a 20-year old student in the Ioannina Dairy School left his room in the halls of residence leaving his wallet and mobile phone behind. The next day, and after many failed attempts to communicate with him, his family officially reported him as missing.Since then, a disturbing case has been unfolding by the police, private investigators, TV reporters, family, friends and the School’s administration – revealing the awful bullying Vangelis was a victim of by a group of his own peers.
Very soon it became obvious that he was systematically and for a long time the victim of severe psychological and physical abuse by a small “tough” group of students – who are known to harass other students also. Ugly details were brought to the light: for instance, they are known to have been locking him in a closet as a “human jukebox” – thowing him coins to sing for them before they allowed him out. Turns out, Vangelis’s polite and quiet nature did not find a way to handle the school’s “tough” group – to the extend that he is said to be fearful of leaving his room at night. And there is even more to it. Apparently the school was aware of the issue – but did not impose other measures other than to move Vangelis to another room during the year – so as to avoid too much contact with his bullies. And there is also the case of a politician – an MP- that is supposed to have interfered with the school’s management so that the bullies’ group will not be accordingly punished.
After 40 days of agony, drama –and an escalating rage in the public opinion – the body of Vangelis was found buried close to the school. He is found with scars in his hands and body – with a knife close to him. Now the question is whether it was suicide or plain murder.
Either way, in the public’s common conscience – even before the trial- we are assured that the group of 5 bullies are responsible for his death – and should be exemplary punished. But not only that. This group of self proclaimed “toughs” is now fixed in the public opinion as a bunch of senseless and mindless cowards, vicious parasites who feed on others’ weaknesses, disgusting evidence of how far we are straying as a society. We don’t want citizens like that. Our society can not put up with fascistic beings. We will not forget them. We will know their names and follow their lives, and make sure they are reminded of their actions. All in due time.
But today is the day of Vangelis. He is now History.
Not of the old, cold, pasteurised kind of history – but history which is alive, ever-present and didactic. His life, his quiet personal drama, his unjust death will be here to remind us not to turn away, not to give a blind eye to every Vangelis out there that is suffering because he is not compatible with the “norm”.
The boy is dead.
And his death is a call of action.
Action against bullying.
Action to promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance.
Action defying social norms and fostering limitless self-expression.
Action supporting everyone to stand up for their passion and individuality.
To actively build an open, tolerant and inclusive society.
Thessaloniki, Sunday, March 15, 2015
In memory of Vangelis Giakoumakis. RIP.