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A hush after the storm on Syntagma Square

23 February 2011 / 19:02:10  GRReporter
5007 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

About 200 people are on Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament and refuse to leave until the George Papandreou government falls. The Parliament is guarded by hundreds of policemen.

There were more than three thousand demonstrators there earlier. The region is calm despite the sporadic small clashes between the people and the police.

Broken marble slabs, burnt bins, burnt police motorcycle, broken beer bottles which were turned into Molotov cocktails and used tear gas vials. These are the evidences of the events that turned the most central square of Athens in a stage of clashes between police and demonstrators.  

The procession had already started to climb up Otonos Street to the Parliament building when young people in black clothes and hidden faces started throwing Molotov cocktails near the building of the Ministry of Finance. Small fires appeared and black smoke rose over the square.

The young people not more than 40 in number began to burn bins and crush marble slabs, throwing them at the police. The special riot forces responded to the known "unknown persons" with tear gas and smoke and light grenades. They echoed hard and gave the impression of a falling bomb. One of the Molotov bombs set on fire a police motorcycle and it burnt to ashes.

The chase went to the upper side of the square, the amount of tear gas being so intense that formed a cloud over Syntagma. The procession was interrupted in this way and the demonstrators returned back to the Stadiu Avenue because it was difficult for them to breathe.

Police forces acted and managed to disperse all the demonstrators that were present in the square, shouting slogans against them. People rushed down to the streets around Syntagma, where street fights with the police started again, involving mostly young people, but many adults participating in the procession too.

Those who were keener tried to build street barricades with iron barriers they dislodged from the sidewalk. At the same time, they set fire to empty boxes and bins and chanted slogans against the government. "Do rebel, anyway we will all go to jail," shouted the demonstrators while a new wave of tear gas was after them. People started running back with red eyes and faces hidden behind scarves or surgical masks.

A little later the broken procession set off again on its way from Stadiu Аvenue down the Syntagma Square to the Parliament building. Hundreds of policemen were awaiting them there as well demonstrators with speakers who asked them not to leave but to stay in the square to overthrow the government. Then, the police used tear gas again and managed to disperse much of the assembled people. Minutes later, the procession was over.

Many of the strikers returned to the Parliament building and they are still there. Three hours later, the traffic on the central Stadiu, Akadimias and Mitropoleos avenues is normal.

The police captured 21 people for involvement in riots and five of them are expected to be arrested. According to the authorities, three policemen were injured during the clashes.  

Tags: SocietyStrikeClashesPoliceDemonstratorsMolotov cocktailTear gasCrime news
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