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Tear Gas and Flames in Athens

Contributed by on June 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Greece (Photo Courtesy AP)

The leading Unions in Greece have staged a 48-hour strike to protest once again against the 78 billion-euro cost-cutting program by the government.

What started out as peaceful demonstrations turned ugly with violent riots breaking out with the Police being bombarded with bottles and stones at, witnesses said.

With the exception of the metro, public transport was standing still in the capital of Athens.   Since the morning, the buses and trams sat in Athens depots.   Port workers blocked the ferry to Piraeus.   Employees of ministries, State companies and many banks also went on strike. The air traffic controllers temporarily laid down their tools. Doctors treated only emergency cases in hospitals.

The subway riders, though, had decided not to participate in the strike and instead to get as many passengers into a mass demonstration in the city. The demonstrators marched to Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament, which was sealed off by thousands of policemen. There, the protesters united with the so outraged (“Aganaktisméni”), who have camped for three weeks on the court.
Peaceful demonstrators fleeing from rioters

Rioters set fire to trash cans and umbrellas of cafes.   Three Foot high flames raged.   Police used tear gas, among other things on a group of young demonstrators, as they set fire to garbage bins and smashed window panes, a police representative said. Accordingly, the demonstrators pelted the officials at the central Syntagma Square in front of Parliament with various objects. A man was said to have been violated.

The early afternoon was capped with protests against the planned privatization of the most important group in Athens, the Greek electricity power supply.

Thousands of peaceful demonstrators fled from the square outside the parliament. 5000 riot police were in use in downtown Athens.

In two separate demonstrations, about 20,000 union members marched in the capital to Parliament.   In Salonika, in Northern Greece, the second largest city in the country, 7,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate against the ongoing savings.
“There is no Plan B to avert bankruptcy ‘

A new austerity package is on Wednesday going up for vote in the House of Representatives.   Everything is hinging on the assumption of a payment of a further line of credit from the IMF and EU of over 12 billion Euros.   Without prompt disbursement of money Greece is bankrupt.

The Brussels EU Commission is warning against an impending disaster. “The only way to avert an immediate bankruptcy is for Parliament to accept the new economic program” said EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn. Greece has reached a critical point, according to Rehn. “It is about the future of the country and the financial stability of Europe.” He added: “Let me say it clearly. There is no Plan B to the (state) to avert bankruptcy ‘

Rehn assured that the future will be to promote growth in Greece is more prominent. Once again, the Commission called on the parties in the crisis-ridden country on to pull together.

Also on the sidelines of the EU summit late last week, the conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras had refused to abandon his opposition to the austerity of the government of Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou.

The Socialist government under Papandreou wants to save more than 78 billion euros by 2015. The measure is also a prerequisite for a new assistance package of up to 120 billion Euros, which will be decided next weekend by EU finance ministers.

The outcome of the vote is uncertain. The Socialists have 155 seats in the 300-member parliament. Two deputies of the Socialists had already announced they do not to want to agree.
Public life continues

Despite the strike and the riots, public life ran on, supermarkets and hotels, restaurants and cafes were open.

The strike by the two largest trade union federations of private (GSEE) and the government sector (ADEDY) were called. For them, with so many workers affected by the measures announced and the cuts and the planned privatization of state enterprises, the felt they needed to organize and voice their opposition.

Many people wanted to stay for two days before Parliament, and demonstrate – among them the Internet organized movement of “outraged citizens” who abused for more than a month before the Parliament, the politicians of the country every night as thieves. The “outraged citizens” also plan on Wednesday to vote in parallel on all access roads to the parliament building block.

More than 10,000 demonstrators spent the morning demonstrating loudly and demanded the parliament  not to approve the austerity program. This first wave of demonstrations were reportedly television and consisted mainly of members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its trade union federation PAME.

Prime Minister Papandreou on Monday night had again urgently called on the Parliament to approve the tough austerity program. “I call on you to hear what you say your soul and your patriotic conscience,” said Papandreou.

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