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Anti-Austerity Clashes in Athens During General Strike
10/20/2011, 2:26 PM
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Greece: Clashes with police during two-day general strike

According to LA Times:

“Riot police fired tear gas at youths hurling rocks and petrol bombs near the Greek finance ministry Tuesday, trying to quell the anger unleashed during mass protests and a general strike as parliament debated new cost-cutting measures.

The latest austerity measures must pass in two parliamentary votes Wednesday and Thursday if Greece is to receive another batch of bailout funds to see it beyond the middle of next month. If the votes don’t pass, Greece could become the first eurozone nation to default on its debts, sending shock waves through the global economy.

The clashes came at the start of a two-day strike called by unions furious that the new (euro) 28 billion ($40 billion) austerity program will slap taxes on minimum wage earners and other struggling Greeks. The measures come on top of other spending cuts and tax hikes that have sent Greek unemployment soaring to over 16 percent.

“The situation that the workers are going through is tragic and we are near poverty levels,” said Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union blockading the port of Piraeus. “The government has declared war and to this war we will answer back with war.”

A peaceful demonstration of 20,000 people in Athens was soon marred by outbreaks of violence, when two groups clashed. One side took refuge near a coffee shop, and police fired tear gas in an attempt to clear the crowds and get them out.

The situation quickly degenerated, with masked and hooded youths pelting police with chunks of marble ripped off building facades and steps. They set fire to giant parasols at an outdoor cafe, using some to form barricades, and smashed windows of a McDonalds outlet and other snack shops.

Peaceful protesters nearby braved thick clouds of tear gas to stage an outdoor street party, banging pots and pans in time to music on loudspeakers.

Staff at upscale hotels handed out surgical masks to tourists and helped them with rolling luggage past the rioting, over ground strewn with smashed-up marble and cement paving stones.

Youths torched a satellite truck parked near parliament. The fire caused a freezer at a neighboring kiosk to explode, and hooded youths ducked behind the burning truck to help themselves to ice-cream cones.

The scale of the strike bought large parts of the Greek economy to a standstill. Everyone from doctors and ambulance drivers to casino workers and even actors at a state-funded theater were joining the strike or holding work stoppages for several hours.

An ongoing strike by electricity company workers kept up rolling blackouts across Greece. Not far from the violent protest, cafes and ice cream vendors popular with tourists used portable generators to keep the power on.

Hundreds of flights were canceled or rescheduled as air traffic controllers walked off the job for four hours in the morning. Another walkout is scheduled for later. Strikes by public transport workers snarled traffic across the capital and left tourists stranded around Piraeus.

Many Greeks insist they should not be forced to pay for a crisis they believe politicians are responsible for.

“We don’t owe any money, it’s the others who stole it,” said 69-year-old demonstrator Antonis Vrahas. “We’re resisting for a better society for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”

Despite the discontent being displayed – a sizable but peaceful demonstration was held in Greece’s second city Thessaloniki – the country’s lawmakers are preparing for their second day of debate over the austerity measures. The package and an additional implementation law must be passed so the European Union and the International Monetary Fund release the next installment of Greece’s (euro) 110 billion ($156 billion) bailout loan.

Without that (euro) 12 billion ($17 billion) installment, Greece faces the prospect of a default next month – a potentially disastrous event that could drag down European banks and hurt other financially troubled European countries.

But even lawmakers from the governing Socialists have been upset over the latest measures and Prime Minister George Papandreou has struggled to contain an internal party revolt. He reshuffled his cabinet earlier this month to try to ensure his party’s support for this vote, but the Socialists still only have a 5-seat majority in the 300-member Parliament.

Papandreou urged lawmakers Monday to fulfill a “patriotic duty” by voting in favor of the new measures, but two of his own lawmakers have suggested they won’t.

European officials have also been pressuring Greece’s the main conservative opposition party to back the austerity bill.

“Both the future of the country and financial stability in Europe are at stake,” European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said. “I fully respect the prerogatives and the sovereignty of the Greek Parliament in the ongoing debate. And I trust that the Greek political leaders are fully aware of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders to avoid default.”

But conservative party leader Antonis Samaras has refused, arguing that while he backs some austerity measures, the overall thinking behind the package is flawed.

As well as looking to get the next batch of bailout funds, Greece looks like it will need another financial rescue.

The initial plan had assumed that Greece would be able to return to the markets next year.

That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen so Greece is looking for more money. Papandreou has said a second bailout would be roughly the same size as the first and hopefully on better terms.

“I call on Europe, for its part, to give Greece the time and the terms it needs to really pay off its debt, without strangling growth, and without strangling its citizens,” he said.

Even with the new austerity measures and a second bailout, many investors still think Greece is heading for some sort of default because its overall (euro) 340 debt burden is too great.”



Greece: General Strike and Clashes Over Attempts to Surround Parliment Called for by Syntagma Square Occupation
06/16/2011, 6:59 PM
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Athens: Report from the General Strike demonstration
12/15/2010, 6:32 PM
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From Occupied London:

“More than 100,000 people marched in central Athens today against the freshly-voted labour relations law and the austerity measures imposed by the government and the EU/IMF/ECB troika. One of the most mass demonstrations the city has seen in recent times was met by brute police violence; the police, nevertheless, proven unable to quell peoples’ anger. A former conservative minister, Kostis Hatzidakis, made the unfortunate decision to be present at Stadiou Street at the time of the demonstration and felt the anger of the demonstrators, quickly leaving the scene injured. Street-fighting erupted across the city, which saw chaotic scenes for hours. Barricades were erected across Patision Avenue, which leads to the Polytechnic School; waves of demonstrators arriving at Syntagma square, outside Parliament, fiercely fought with the police. An – eventually unsuccessful – attempt by demonstrators to occupy the building of GSEE (the country’s mainstream trade union) saw people fighting off the notorious Delta motorcycle police and two of their bikes were set ablaze.”

Earlier in the day:

At 16:00 (GMT+2) protesters in Athens were clashing with riot police in front of the Polytechnic, while barricades have been erected all along Patision st. and the sourounding Exarcheia. Thousand of people refuse to leave the streets and the squares of the city -after the more than 100,000 strong march, they  are regroupinhg all around the centre and clash with the police for most of the day. The atmosphere smells of tear gas while rubbish bins are in flames everywhere downtown.

Earlier the ministry of finance was attacked by the strikers while big clashes took place in front of the parliament in Syntagma square where the police lines were scattered under a rain of molotov cocktails at  about 13:30 (GMT+2). Police threw gas bombs on the main body of the demo, but the march continued with loud chanting, police attacked the demontsrators in front of the Athens University and Sina st.

A few thousands of strikers attempted to occupy the HQ of the national trade unions (GSEE). GSEE executives are controlled by the governing PASOK party and in practice support  the governmental measures while they have refused to represent the workers in any effective way. Strong police forces protected GSEE offices by the strikers, after clashes, the strikers returned towards Omonoia from 3rd Septmeber st.

Earlier the former minister Hastzidakis was seen near the parliament and was beatten up by strikers…

Back to the streets… and more news will follow”

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/12/15/450-report-from-general-strike-demonstration-athens-16-12-2010/



Clashes in Athens Commemorating November 17th Polytechnic uprising
11/18/2010, 10:27 PM
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Excerpt from Occupied London:

“It will take us a little while to comprehend today’s events in Athens – and surely, this is not the best moment to do so, writing these lines after a full twelve hours in the streets. But still, some first thoughts are of order. What happened today was important. First, today’s demonstration had a very peculiar feel to it. The largest Polytechnic uprising commemorative demonstration in more than a decade (30,000 according to the police, around double in real numbers). A very tense feeling in the air. Even before the demo set off, clashes with the youth branch of PASOK – the social-democrat party in power – who had the nerve to try join the demonstration. The police on the sides of the march, with their hands on the trigger of the tear-gas guns the entire time. People waiting for something to happen on both ends: our end, and on that of the police.

And something did happen. The most intense and populous demonstration Athens has seen since May 5th. The police charging ahead whenever they could, whenever they would isolate people off the main block of the demonstration. People fighting back, during the demo and then, late in the night, in Exarcheia. But that peculiar feeling hasn’t faded: we are still waiting something will happen… Tonight was the last day of a long summer. Tomorrow is the first day of a strange winter – hopefully, a beautiful winter.”

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/11/18/420-the-imf-is-not-an-image-on-your-tv-screen-a-brief-report-from-tonights-demonstration-in-athens/



Long battles erupt in Athens protest march
03/06/2010, 2:01 PM
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From Libcom:

“Long battles erupted today at the Athens protest march against the measures. The GSEE union boss was heavily beaten by protesters while battles with the cops developed for 3 hours all across the centre of the city after riot police attacked anti-Nazi resistance symbol Manolis Glezos

The demo called by ADEDY, the public sector umbrella union, and GSEE, the private sector umbrella union, started gathering at 12:30 in Syntagma square, after another 10,000 strong demo by Communist Party umbrella union, PAME had ended its own demo and marched to Omonoia square. Soon around 10,000 people gathered in Syntagma, a large number considering there is only a 4 hour stoppage and not a strike today.

All was quiet until the GSEE union boss Mr Panagopoulos took the microphone to address the protest. Before managing to utter more than five words, the hated union boss was attacked by all kinds of protestors who first heckled him and threw bottles of water and yogurt on his face and then attacked him physically like a giant swarm. With bruises, cuts and his clothes torn, the PASOK lackey struggled his way towards police lines, as the people attacked again and again. Finally he managed to hide behind the Presidential Guard and up the steps of the Parliament where the hated austerity measures were being voted. The crowd below encouraged him to go where he belongs, to the lair of thieves, murderers and liars.

What the bourgeois media call the “lynching” of the union supreme boss became a prime subject of infight within the parliament with the government accusing the Radical Left Coalition that the attackers originated from its block (GSEE itself blaming KOE, a Maoist group of the Coalition), a half-truth at best. The Communist Party has refused to condemn the attack, only noting it disagrees with it. This is the first time such a high ranking union boss is attacked at a rally that its union has called, and the act is widely believed to mark a new era in union history in greece. The initial phase of the attack against the union boss can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJW33W9t0bw&feature=player_embedded

Soon after the beating of Panagopoulos, small skirmishes started between protesters and riot police forces in the form of body-to-body battles in front of the Parliament. During one of these incidents, riot cops attacked Manolis Glezos, the heroic anti-nazi resistance fighter who had lowered the nazi flag from the Acropolis during the german occupation. The elderly man was trying to help a man from being arrested at them time and had to be removed from the battle scene in an ambulance as tear gas fired directly on his face caused him serious pneumonic problems and he remains in serious condition in hospital (for a video of the attack see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FX3S3I7Nos&feature=player_embedded).

The attack on Glezos gave the signal for a general attack of thousands of people against the cops, many of who were wounded during the battles which included rocks, sticks but no molotov cocktails. During the clashes 5 people were arrested, 2 of who are accused under the anti-hood law, while the rest with small non-criminal breaches of the law. During the clashes many riot shields and helmets were taken from the cops and burned along with other flaming barricades on the streets. 7 cops are reported by the police as heavily wounded, some with knee-cap and other bone breaks.

Due to extended use of tear gas at around 14:00 the atmosphere in Syntagma square was so unbearable that among chanting “the cops are not the children of the workers, they are the dogs of the bosses”, the demo turned into a protest march with the direction of the Ministry of Labour, half a km south of Omonoia square. At reaching Propylea more clashes with the police took place, while a sole high-ranking cop was isolated and beaten by the crowd. Further down on the way to Omonoia, protesters attacked a riot police squad that was guarding the National Legal Council. The riot police squad was cornered and attacked by means of sticks rocks and flares, before being forced to retreat inside the building after one of its members was captured by protesters and repeatedly trampled by the angered crowd.

The march then continued to Omonoia and from there down Peireaos street where banks, economic targets and expensive cars came under attack, before the march reached the Ministry and the protesters tried to break its central doors. More clashes with the police ensued and the march turned back to front and decided to march once again to the Parliament. On the way, cops came once again under attack by protesters with many riot policemen wounded and retaliating by means of tear gas. After reaching the Parliament, the march refused to desolve and took once again to the street in a bravado of resolve, until it reached Propylea where it came to an end. After the end of the march 6 more people were detained while taking refuge to the Social Security Headquarters, but have been released without any charges against them.

In Salonica, upon reaching the gates of the Ministry of Thrace and Macedonia protesters pulled down the heavy iron fences of the Ministry and moved into its front yard where they were confronted by riot police who made use of tear gas amongst flaming barricades.

Finally, the workers of the National Printing Units have occupied the premises and refuse to print the legislation imposing the austerity measures. Unless the legislation is printed there, it is not legally valid. Meanwhile the occupation of the State General Accountancy by layed-off Olympic Airways workers continues. The workers have also permanently closed off Panepistimiou street (the equivalent of Oxford street in London), at the heigh of the building, with all traffic diverted by side-roads.

A general strike by ADEDY and GSEE has been called for March 11.”

http://libcom.org/news/long-battles-erupt-athens-protest-march-05032010



Clashes in Athens over new Austerity Measures
03/06/2010, 1:12 PM
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This is essentially more fuel to an explosive situation…

According to Forbes:

“ATHENS, Greece — Clashes broke out in central Athens Friday during a protest outside parliament as lawmakers prepared to vote on austerity measures to deal with Greece’s debt crisis.

Protesters chased the ceremonial guard – dressed in 19th century uniform – away from the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb, threw stones and clashed with riot police, who cleared the area with tear gas and baton charges.

No injuries or arrests were immediately reported.

The clashes came as about 5,000 demonstrators gathered to protest the euro4.8 billion ($6.5 billion) package that will hike consumer taxes and slash pay for public sector workers by up to 8 percent.

Just before the attack on the two military guards and their escorting officers, during which demonstrators smashed windows and kicked the guard posts, masked youths attacked the head of Greece’s largest trade union who was addressing the crowd.

GSEE head Yiannis Panagopoulos traded blows with the rioters before being escorted away.”

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2010/03/05/general-eu-greece-financial-crisis_7410053.html

About the insane austerity measures and incredible pictures of riot police guarding the parliament being beaten up and mass strikes throughout Greece.




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