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"Civil" protest with Molotov burned fire trucks

14 December 2010 / 11:12:41  GRReporter
5297 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The civil protest against the landfill construction in the area of Ovriokastro continues. Prosecutor’s decision ceased all activity and ordered the police forces to withdraw hours after the serious clashes between the residents of Keratea and neighbouring areas and the police. However, they stayed near the site. In their attempt to get to the landfill the residents were again repelled by force and use of tear gas. It appears that there will be clashes tonight.

Over 2000 people, 500 of them high-school students, rushed to the street barricade early in the morning. The pouring rain dispersed some of the people but at least 800 citizens stayed firmly behind the barricades. The protesters' clashes with police began on Saturday. Here's how Tellis Molfetas, a member of the organizing committee, presented the events: "We had gathered Saturday morning and we had only visual contact with the police. Suddenly they attacked the people to crush their spirit but this caused great stress. Some people were gone and the district prosecutor ordered the men from the riot forces to pull back. They not only didn’t pull back but attacked the participants in the protest that were there. This challenged the protesters and they "responded" with stones, Molotov cocktails and fires. Some of them met on the road three large fire trucks of those used to disperse people in demonstrations. They burned one of the trucks and caused serious damages to the other two." 

Clashes on Sunday morning began early after angry residents attacked the policemen that were guarding the area designated for the landfill. Around 1000 inhabitants in the presence of the mayor tried in the afternoon to break the police chain towards Lavrio to reach the place and prevent the construction company machines to start working. Then violent clashes raged to which the police responded with tear gas. Among the residents there were groups of youths with covered faces who threw Molotov cocktails at the police. During the clashes, which continued until the early hours on Monday, a television journalist from ALTER TV was injured as he was hit with a baton on the head. Furthermore, the law-keepers banned TV crews to film the events.

Police said the "battle" continued in the neighbouring fields and some residents had climbed the surrounding hills and fired into the air to frighten the police officers. According to unofficial information, five protesters were captured. According to the civil committee, police force is constantly increasing. "We're talking about 18 units of the riot forces, i.e. 600 representatives of the special forces and another 1000 policemen. There are no policemen in Athens now and many are coming from other places," said Tellis Molfetas for GRReporter.

Residents have been protesting against the landfill construction since 1996. In their opinion the construction company is illegally within the territory designated for the landfill because the fields are not yet expropriated. Their case was heard earlier today by the district court in Lavrio. It decided in favour of the owners and encouraged the people. The claim of Keratea municipality against the Greek state through which the municipal council characterized the presence of the construction company in the area of Ovriokastro as illegal will be discussed next Friday.

According to the newly elected Mayor Costas Levantis, not only the property is not expropriated yet but the documentation does not include the report of the Archaeological Service, which allows the intervention there. "What they do is unfair and illegal under the state laws, not just in our opinion. Since 1996 the three municipal councils that were elected have accepted unanimously the decision to resist the construction of a landfill in Ovriokastro. We have been fighting more than 14 years and this is every resident’s awareness. We held a meeting in the municipal cultural center on Saturday after the machines entered the territory. We were over 1000 people there and nobody said "who is to blame for what is happening," as happens in such cases but all asked what will be our next step. We are all united in our decisions and I think this is most important. So, we will continue to defend our position completely although the situation was beyond control in the past two days."

Ovriokastro area was declared in December 1995 an archaeological site of great natural beauty and the fortress itself was declared "Zone A, fully protected because of archaeological interest." The remains of an ancient fortress were found at the bottom of the hill and this is where its name comes from. Pieces of pottery and tools from the final stage of the Late Neolithic, early Greek and middle Greek periods were found. Interestingly, the decision to build a landfill was taken on the same day when the area was proclaimed an archaeological site.

The protests involve municipal authorities and residents of the neighbouring municipalities. They intend from the organizing committee to block all roads leading to Lavrio in the coming days thereby isolating the port from where ships depart to many Greek islands. The power plant supplying Athens is also located in the region and it is likely the Greek capital to stay in the dark in the coming days.


Tags: KerateaCivil protestIllegal landfillPoliceShootingSociety
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