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War with Molotov and tear gas on Syntagma

23 February 2011 / 14:02:13  GRReporter
5512 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Marina Nikolova

Riots downtown Athens during the protest march organised by the two largest Greek unions. The war between police and anarchists who split the procession is taking place on two fronts.

First, the known "unknown persons" dressed in black clothes threw Molotov cocktails at the building of the Greek Ministry of Finance on the corner of Syntagma Square and Nikis Street. The special riot forces responded with tear gas. Then, another group of anarchists began to throw Molotov cocktails at the building of the Greek Parliament near the traffic lights at the crossroad of Vassilis Sofias and Akadimias avenues. A policeman from the Delta forces was hurt as protesters set fire to his motorcycle.

Using a lot of tear gas the police managed to disperse the demonstrators from the square and now they are in the surrounding streets. Anarchists, in turn, are intensifying the petrol bombs attacks. There are street clashes with the special forces. The mass protest which began shortly after 11 am is not over yet. The streets and avenues around Syntagma Square are full of people who came to express peacefully their disapproval of the economic programme of the government of George Papandreou. Despite the turmoil most people аre staying downtown Athens. Trade union representatives with megaphone in hand are urging them to stay on Syntagma until the government and parliament fall.

Yesterday members of the radical left coalition urged Greek citizens to turn Syntagma Square into the Athens’ Tahrir.

Employees of ministries, health insurance funds, banks, super markets, ships, buses, traders,   producers, taxi drivers, workers in printing offices, associations of residents from different neighbourhoods of Athens and the country, people working in the airline industry, pupils, students, free entrepreneurs, journalists, television technicians, foreigners, teachers and merchants took part in the big rally today organised by the trade unions of the employees in the public and private sectors, and the Communist Party.

 

The members of the Communist Party gathered in Omonia Square at 11 am and their procession headed to the parliament led by the general secretary of the party Aleka Papariga. When the procession got to Syntagma Square it turned down to the Grand Bretagne Hotel and passed by the parliament well guarded on both sides by boys with flags to prevent riots. The main protesters’ slogan: "Work for all, education, health - the rich to pay the crisis." The trade unions of employees in the private and public sector GSEE and ADEDY gathered their members from different professional sectors at 11 am and they spread with their posters along the Patisia Avenue from Omonia Square to the park Pedio tou Areos. Defence Minister Christos Papoutsis invited the political parties and trade unions to keep the demonstrators with their people.

Police officers from across the country have come to Athens for the stringent measures taken for the citizens’ safety. However, the police presence during the peaceful demonstration along the Stadiu and Patisia avenues was quite delicate. Rows of special police forces guarded only the parliament square as clashes were apparently expected.

Tens of thousands of protesters came out with big posters reading "They do not pay me and I do not owe anything to the debt they made," "They steal our future, let’s throw them into the past," "We stand up for employment contracts, constitution, democracy," "We are what we do, not what we protest against" and chanted "Bread, education, freedom, dictatorship didn’t fall in 1973" and "Take your memorandum and get out of here."

Today's 24-hour strike is the tenth in a row in the last 13 months during which demonstrators state they will not allow other measures to cut the revenues at the expense of working people and pensioners. There is no television, radio and web news in the country today due to the journalists' strike, and there will be no newspapers tomorrow.

 

The Athens underground was running as usually today, the electric train was running only between 9 am and 5 pm, trams are running from 6 am to midnight, but buses, trains and suburban trains are on a full-day strike. Vessels will remain at the docks until midnight as the Greek maritime federation announced a 24-hour strike throughout the country for all crews of various types of ships and requested the immediate withdrawal of political mobilization of fleet officers. Airplanes also remained on the strips between 12 at noon and 4 pm because of the air traffic controllers strike. 35 flights of Olympic Air are cancelled and departure times for another five flights of the company are changed. 13 of Aegean Airlines didn’t took off and departure time of another 32 flights are changed.

Tags: General strikeRiotsProtest marchSyntagma SquareTrade unions
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