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The protests of schoolchildren exacerbated the confrontation between government and opposition

06 November 2014 / 19:11:35  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

On the day of the first protest of schoolchildren against changes in the education system the actual loss to the government occurred not on the streets and in parliament. Deputy Minister of Education George Stilios from New Democracy resigned after a hot dispute with deputy Liana Kannelli from the Communist Party of Greece.

The discussion in parliament concerned the issue of malnourished schoolchildren that she had presented. Commenting on the response of the Deputy Minister Kannelli pointed out, "It reminds me of Marie Antoinette and the story about the cakes." This angered Stilios who replied, "Mrs. Kannelli wants me to become Kasidiaris, but I will not do so." We recall that imprisoned spokesman for Golden Dawn had beaten Liana Kannelli during a television broadcast.

Immediately after the incident, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called for the resignation of the Deputy Minister, who submitted it, having previously apologized to Kannelli with the words, "Tension often leads to verbal exaggerations. Mentioning Mr. Kasidiaris whose actions I condemn was a mistake. I apologize to Mrs. Kannelli."

She in turn expressed her satisfaction only by saying, "This time the government did what it should."

At the same time, hundreds of schoolchildren gathered at the University of Athens to protest against the educational policy of the government, holding in hands placards with slogans such as, "Money for education and health, not for banks, ministries and foreign debt." The schoolchildren held a procession and then returned in front of the university to take part in the general procession, along with university professors and administrative staff.

Before the start of the procession of schoolchildren, the following message was heard over the loudspeakers:

"The government and the chiefs would not hesitate to close schools and universities to continue giving out billions to bankers, burdening us with the crisis. They provoke us when they say they have no money for universities, schools and salaries of teachers but have money for the NATO bombs and for sending a frigate to the Middle East.

The response of schoolchildren is that they are already out in the street. Hundreds of schools are under occupation, a number of student unions in Greece have started to make decisions in fighting trim on occupations of faculties and main university buildings and to organize student protests. The time has come to intensify our actions. The need to organize massive general meetings everywhere, make decisions for the organization of occupations in buildings is pressing. We can win. Take part in the general protest of schoolchildren en masse. Schoolchildren, students, university professors and administrative staff unite together to no changes in education, no privatizations and wage cuts, to no expelling of (eternal - author’s note) students and presenting the database with the exam topics, to no layoffs of teachers and administrative employees."

The procession took place peacefully, involving about 3,000 people, according to the organizers. Outside the parliament building, a group of schoolchildren threw wild oranges at the policemen who were guarding the courtyard but the incident ended quickly, without much tension.

Meanwhile, the confrontation between the government and the opposition SYRIZA party in connection with the occupations of schools is continuing. On Monday, their number reached 500, and currently 364 schools in the country are under occupation.

This has provoked the intervention of the prosecutor of the Supreme Court, who refers to a resolution issued in 2011. It provides that in the event of damage to school property, those adults who have been involved in the occupation shall be detained and sued under the fast-track procedure.

SYRIZA's response to this measure was sharp whereas the government accused the left party of inciting the protests and occupations through social networks. In statements to the media SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis defined the occupations as "a healthy reaction against decisions that erect more class barriers before the majority of the citizens," and the youth organization of the party openly supported this type of protest waged by schoolchildren.


Tags: SocietyProtest of schoolchildrenOccupations of schoolsPolitics in educationGovernmentOpposition
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