Remembering Dimitri

Dimitri Papaioannou died in hospital in Parma on 27 November 2009 from a tumour which had affected his spine and brain. He was only 30 years old. All our comrades, and indeed everyone who had the good fortune to meet him, found him intelligent (he spoke three languages fluently), sympathetic and a real militant. His militancy and contribution only increased when his illness forced him to spend the last two years of his life in a wheelchair. The following message was read out by a comrade of Battaglia Comunista as the last salute to Dimitri before his cremation. The coffin was draped in the red flag and the International was sung to conclude the ceremony.

When a comrade dies, and you have to commemorate his existence, you don’t know where to stop before crossing the boundary between remembering and rhetoric.

The feeling of sharing the same ideas pushes you to hold him up as an example, particularly if it is a comrade like Dmitri, but the affection which linked you to him, and links you to him as person, gives rise to a thousand scruples. You are almost fearful of exploiting his death with a militant eulogy. But when you think of his life, particularly in these last few years, and when you think of all those comrades (young, and not so young) who are in need of an example, then you can tell them of Dimitri’s will to continue the struggle and that he never in the slightest gave in to the illness which was consuming him.

For the last two years the thing which struck you was the spirit with which he accepted his fate, an acceptance which was never resignation, even if he was conscious that things could get worse. Hardly had he made the journey from the hospital to the “normal” life he was allowed than Dimitri returned to do what he had always done: to fight for a fairer society. He did this at a time when the wind was not in our favour and above all in an organisation in which at times it is easy to be despondent when for example we find ourselves in such a small number in workers’ assembly, perhaps because we pay for our own coherence in terms of isolation and few members, perhaps because in general terms the times are what they are – a period of disengagement and passivity.

Another thing he could have said “what can I do in my condition?” Instead he knew that in that area of his life nothing had changed.

Right up to the end he was always available, coming to the section and throwing himself into every aspect of militant activity.

I remember a person of extraordinary gentleness appreciated by all, never in conflict with anyone, neither on the political nor personal level. A generous and peaceful person, he was always ready to talk to anyone. In losing him, every one of us has lost a piece of themselves, but we have gained from his example: he has given us the incentive to fight in the times to come.

Thanks Dix and bon voyage.

Revolutionary Perspectives

Journal of the Communist Workers’ Organisation -- Why not subscribe to get the articles whilst they are still current and help the struggle for a society free from exploitation, war and misery? Joint subscriptions to Revolutionary Perspectives (3 issues) and Aurora (our agitational bulletin - 4 issues) are £15 in the UK, €24 in Europe and $30 in the rest of the World.