‘Indigant’ protest crowd largest yet
Tens of thousands of demonstrators converged in and around Syntagma Square yesterday for a 12th day of protests against the goverment’s ongoing austerity drive.
The crowd in central Athens was one of the largest since the campaign began with the turnout exceeding 50,000 people, according to police who were out in force. Following a dip in numbers at rallies toward the end of last week, yesterday’s crowd spilled out of Syntagma Square and into surrounding streets. It appears that a larger number of Greeks were inspired to join yesterday’s protest as rallies were also taking place in Spain and Portugal, which have similar economic problems. Greece’s self-professed “Indignant Citizens” – modeled on a movement with the same name that was launched in Spain last month – have pledged to continue their protests until the government reacts.
A few government backbenchers have expressed support though most have dismissed the movement as vague and lacking direction.
Critics outside the government have drawn attention to the range of slogans on the banners raised by protesters. Apart from anti-austerity slogans such as “Take back your measures” and “Greece is not for sale,” other messages rail against racism and demand more rights for migrants.
Organizers of the Indignant movement say that their unifying themes are opposition to austerity and their independence from the labor unions that usually organize protest rallies in Greece. On Saturday, members of the Communistbacked labor union PAME organized a demonstration in Athens to protest rising unemployment and ongoing austerity.
A protester holds up a cooking pot and ladle in front of Parliament yesterday during a rally by self-proclaimed ‘Indignant’ citizens. The rally was the 12th in a row in a campaign emulating the Spanish ‘Los Indignados’ initiative that led to city squares being occupied by protesters. In Greece, the largest rallies have been in Athens and Thessaloniki.