Posted on September 26, 2012 by Gillian
Common Dreams | September 26 2012
‘We Are Bleeding!’ — Hundreds of thousands demonstrate against latest proposed of cuts ~ Common Dreams staff
molotov cocktail explodes beside riot police officers near Syntagma
square during a 24-hour labour strike in Athens September 26, 2012.
Flights and trains were suspended, shops pulled down their shutters and
hospitals worked on emergency staff on Wednesday in Greece’s first big
anti-austerity strike since a coalition government took power in June.
UPDATE: (2:45 PM EST)
The Guardian’s Helena Smith reports:
Hundreds of thousands of anti-austerity
protesters took to the streets of Greece on Wednesday as the country was
paralysed by a general strike in the first mass confrontation with
Athens’s three-month-old coalition government.
In one of the biggest demonstrations in
the capital in recent years, as many as 200,000 marched on the Greek
parliament, according to unions in the public and private sector, which
called the strike to oppose new wage and pension cuts – the price of
further rescue funds from international lenders.
Clashes broke out between riot police and
hooded youths hurling rocks and petrol bombs at the finance ministry.
The protesters, many shouting: “We can take no more. Out with the EU and
IMF,” and said to be part of the crisis-hit country’s vibrant
“anti-establishment” movement, then set light to rubbish cans and bus
stops, sending plumes of acrid smoke above the capital. TV footage
showed demonstrators running for cover in Syntagma Square, seat of the
Greek parliament, as noxious fumes filled the air. More than 100 people
“This is a
warning to the government not to pass the measures,” said Ilias
Iliopoulos at ADEDY, the union of civil servants, insisting that around
350,000 Greeks took part in protest marches
nationwide (police put the number in Athens at around 70,000). “Today
was a huge success as witnessed by all those in the armed forces and
police who also participated because they, too, will be affected by
these cuts. The government must know that if it wants to push us further
into a corner, we will react.”
Echoing a view held by many Greeks,
Penelope Angelou, an unemployed mother, said passing the measures would
be tantamount to a “parliamentary coup”.
“These parties were given our vote back
in June because they promised to re-negotiate the terms of the loan
agreement,” she said, referring to the onerous conditions of the bailout
accord Athens signed with its “troika” of creditors — the EU, ECB and
IMF – earlier this year. “We are all tired,” she said. “This is the
third year of non-stop cuts and tax increases which have made us poor
and divided us as a society. And they have not solved our problem. The
recession is going from bad to worse.”
AP provided this footage from afternoon clashes between angry demonstrators and police:
As a general strike took hold across Greece on Wednesday, tens of
thousands gathered in central Athens and marched on parliament as the
conservative-led coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
receives its first taste of large-scale popular unrest in response to
its push for deeper austerity cuts designed to satisfy EU and IMF
The people, mostly union workers, shouted ”We won’t submit to the troika!” and “EU, IMF Out!”
[See photos from the developing scene here. Live coverage on Greek TV here.]
The troika—which includes the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB),
and the IMF—has demanded still deeper cuts to Greek society for its
release of a new tranche of bailout funding. More than 3,000 armed
security personnel greeted that marchers along their route and violent
clashes have been reported throughout Athens.
The Guardian reports:
Ships will stay docked, shops have pulled
down shutters, and museums and monuments will be closed to visitors
throughout the day. Air traffic controllers are to walk off the job for
three hours and hospitals will operate on emergency staff.
Even tax collectors have said they will join in the action which has
also closed archaeological sites, including the ancient Acropolis.
- Greek police fire teargas at youths in anti-austerity demonstrations (independent.ie)
- Striking Greeks Retake Streets: ‘No to Troika’s Austerity!’ (commondreams.org)
- Tens of thousands of Greeks take to the streets in largest anti-austerity protest in a year (news.nationalpost.com)