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live Unrest and clashes in the heart of Athens

18 October 2012 / 13:10:12  GRReporter
1809 reads

Victoria Mindova

Unrest and clashes were triggered on the day of the nationwide strike following the decision of the Greek riot forces to unexpectedly separate the procession of trade unions in two.

At 1:15 pm, the special forces ran into the protest procession of the members of the confederation of artisans and tradesmen. They separated the protesters at King George Hotel in Syntagma Square in two and did not allow them to continue to reach the parliament.

The officer in charge of the police detachment did not explain why he stopped the planned protest procession. People began to resist. Tensions began to escalate. Streams of protesters began to gather on both sides of the broken procession. "Cops, pigs, murderers!" voices in the crowd shouted. The crowding of angry protesters made the police officers nervous. Spurts of tear gas followed then that dispersed the approaching crowd. Shortly afterwards, the police opened the blockade and allowed the members of the confederation of artisans and tradesmen and several trade unions to pass through.

However, the tensions drew the attention of supporters of anarchist organizations. Police officers equipped with body armour, helmets, shields, batons and tear gas bottles began to invade and to gradually split up the meeting. They used tear gas and light bombs. The boys in black responded with two Molotov cocktails, which exploded in front of the Grande Bretagne Hotel. Ordinary protesters began withdrawing along Panepistimiou Street towards the National Library. There was a riot force detachment at each crossing, ready to act if riots intensified.

The protest has claimed its first victim, SKAI TV reported. A man aged 67, who took part in the protest procession, fainted and was taken to Evangelismos hospital. The attempts of doctors failed and the protester died. According to the available information, the man was a supporter of the Communist Party and before reaching retirement age, he was on the list of long-term unemployed. During the protest procession, he felt faint and died on the way to the hospital. The cause of death is believed to be a heart attack.

The meetings began early in the morning. First, the supporters of the trade union of the Communist Party of Greece PAME gathered at 10 am on Omonia Square. The followers of the union of private sector employees (GSEE) and the union of public workers (ADEDY) gathered at  Pedio tou Areos park at 11 am. Despite the scorching sun and high temperatures, thousands of Greeks attended the two meetings. By noon, the majority of the protesters had already withdrawn to Syntagma Square in front of the National Assembly, where all the strikers united in a joint protest.

The police had taken the usual precautions. There was a barrier in front of the entrance of parliament on Vassilis Sofias Avenue. Before the clashes between police and protesters began, unionists of local government organizations (ПОЕ-ОТА) came to the fence. They hung the flags of Spain and Portugal on it in solidarity with other countries that have fallen into financial disgrace. "Thieves, robbers, capitalists – your profits cost human lives." Tension and anger prevailed at one point and some participants in the strike of municipal employees began pushing the fence. Once they realized that they would not be able to destroy it, they scattered and mingled into the crowd of the meeting.

 

Tags: SocietyStrikesProtestsAthensGreeceCrisisTear gas
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