Kostas Georgakis

Kostas Georgakis

Kostas Georgakis was a Corfiot student of geology studying in Italy, who, in the early hours of 19 September 1970, set himself ablaze in Genoa as a protest against the Greek military dictatorship. His last words were "Long live free Greece."

Georgakis is the only known junta opponent to have committed suicide in protest against the dictatorship and he is considered the precursor of the later student protests, such as the Polytechnic uprising. At the time, his death caused a sensation in Greece and abroad as it was the first tangible manifestation of the depth of resistance against the junta. The junta delayed the arrival of his remains to Corfu for four months citing security reasons and fearing demonstrations.

The Municipality of Corfu later commissioned a memorial by sculptor Dimitris Korres in his honour. On it is an inscription which reads Kostas Georgakis, Student, Kerkyra 1945-1970 Genova, He self-immolated in Genoa Italy on 19 September 1970 for Freedom and Democracy in Greece. Beneath are inscribed his words: "I cannot but think and act as a free individual".

In his final letter to his father Georgakis wrote: "My dear father. Forgive me for this act, without crying. Your son is not a hero. He is a human, like all the others, maybe a little more fearful. Kiss our land for me. After three years of violence I cannot suffer any longer. I don't want you to put yourselves in any danger because of my own actions. But I cannot do otherwise but think and act as a free individual. I write to you in Italian so that I can raise the interest of everyone for our problem. Long Live Democracy. Down with the tyrants. Our land which gave birth to Freedom will annihilate tyranny! If you are able to, forgive me. Your Kostas".

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