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Violence and tear gas on Syntagma

29 June 2011 / 17:06:19  GRReporter
3572 reads


Anastasia Balezdrova

"The square of tear gas" a demonstrator wrote on the nameplate of the Athens Metro. Today, the police confirmed this definition by firing large quantities of chemical gases and light bombs at the protesters in the square.

The heavy clashes began shortly after 13:00. There was a heavy smell of tear gas at the metro station a little earlier. However, when the first line of demonstrators, who were close to the iron barriers, broke them down the police responded quickly. They began to spray tear gas while pushing the demonstrators down the square.

Some peaceful protesters tried to constrain the young people with covered faces who were about to take a stand against the police again and only the intervention of some cold-blooded demonstrators thwarted the fight between them.

Gradually, the police pushed the protesters and managed to "clean" part of the boulevard in front of the Parliament. Anarchists attacked them from three sides, which resulted in a series of tear gas spraying that made the air above Syntagma unbearable.

The demonstrators rushed down the square and the streets below, and continued to shout slogans against the government, the lawmakers, the austerity plan and the police. When the police officers appeared on the stairs from the boulevard to the square, they were booed en masse, and a protester said, "This picture has to go around the world. This is their democracy." All the people had small gas masks, surgical masks or simply hid their faces with scarves. Some had goggles, and most had put diluted syrup for heart-burn around the eyes to protect them from the tear gas.

A little later, the clashes deepened. The anarchists put barricades, and then took chairs from a café they attacked yesterday and started to throw them at the officers.

The air was filled with chemical gases and forced most peaceful demonstrators to leave the square. The "known - unknown" hooded youths remained there and continued to break the marble slabs and throw them at the police.

About an hour ago, the guests of one of the central Athens hotels located near the square were evacuated to another building. The management stated that the decision was taken "for the safety of customers, given the situation that completely got out of control."

5 doctors and 20 rescuers, who made the metro station a makeshift medical center, helped over 500 peaceful demonstrators, who suffered from gas asphyxiation. Around 40 people were wounded, some of which have burns as result of the explosions of tear gas and light bombs and others from attacks with hard objects. 30 people were sent to hospital in an unusual way. Their companions took them from the Syntagma metro station to the music hall station, where the ambulance was waiting for them, because no ambulance could reach the square in any way. Doctors say the victims were between 15 and 65 years old.

Tags: SocietyProtestClashesSyntagmaWoundedTear gas
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