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live Molotov cocktails, stones and tear gas during the first strike against SYRIZA

12 November 2015 / 14:11:07  GRReporter
2197 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The national strike announced by the two largest trade unions in the country paralyzed the whole of Greece and thousands of people gathered in the centre of Athens to protest against the policy of financial constraints and austerity.

The protest was marked by clashes between anarchists and the police - the former used Molotov bombs and stones, and the latter tear gas.

The clashes began when a group of anarchists arrived at the bottom of Syntagma Square. Youths wearing black clothes and black masks began to break off pieces from the marble cladding of the building that houses the National Bank of Greece and hurled them at the riot police officers who were deployed in the street. At the same time, other youths began to throw at them Molotov bombs and the police responded with tear gas. Others hurled at the police officers a crowbar and a piece of wood.

The citizens on Syntagma Square shouted at the police, "You are attacking your children for 800 euro" and others, "Tsipras, resign."

About five minutes later there was another clash on Vassilis Sofias Avenue in front of the Greek parliament, which had previously been blocked by two police buses. The youths in black threw marble pieces and Molotov cocktails and the police responded with natural gas.

Immediately afterwards, the group of anarchists set off to a central Athens street where they broke parked cars and smashed several shop windows. The clashes continued outside Athens University and then in Omonia Square, where the anarchists set fire to a mini-bus.

Clashes between anarchists and the police occurred in other major Greek cities such as Thessaloniki and Patras. According to the media in Thessaloniki, the members of anarchist organizations wrote slogans on the windows of banks and shops, broke shop windows and splashed them with paint. They focused mainly on shops that were open today, despite the call for participation in the national strike.

They even broke into a chapel on central Egnatia Street, causing damage to both the icons and the building itself.

The strike had been taking place peacefully until they appeared there. The representatives of various professional organizations and associations passed by, holding slogans against the budget measures provided in the third rescue programme.

"We block their plans and say ‘no’ to the destruction of social security, to new taxes, new cuts in wages, confiscation of homes by banks. We demand the abolition of all memoranda." This was the main slogan of the strike organized by the two major trade unions in Greece, of public sector employees ADEDY and private sector employees GSEE.

A small number of participants in the strike surrounded the rostrum where the representatives of various professional organizations and leftist movements delivered their speeches and in the pauses, sang songs with revolutionary lyrics and melodies of Russian songs could be heard as well as Soviet anthems.

Many of the participants in the procession, such as members of the union of hospital doctors, directly attacked the current Greek government. They held large balloons with the inscription, "The words of Alexis."

Former SYRIZA MPs who have disaffiliated from the party and formed the Popular Unity party were greeted with cheers and applause. Former chairwoman of parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou, party leader and former Minister of Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis, former Deputy Minister of Finance Nadia Valavani, former Minister of Defence Costas Isichos and colourful MP ​​Rachel Macri led the 500-member procession of party supporters. They shouted slogans against the government and the huge public debt that they define as "illegal".

Their main slogan was, "Cancel all memoranda. No to austerity measures and privatizations."

The procession of the union of the Communist Party of Greece PAME passed by the Greek parliament a little earlier. The participants followed a different route so as not to run into the subsequent procession of the trade unions.

It is worth noting that no slogan of the ruling SYRIZA party appeared during the strike and the protest rally, although it had officially called for participation in the strike. Here is how famous Greek cartoonist Dimitris Chantzopoulos has depicted in the daily Kathimerini the Greeks who are on strike today.

 

Tags: StrikeSYRIZATrade unionsProtestAnarchistsPoliceMolotov cocktailsTear gas
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