Violence mars peaceful protests
Following three weeks of peaceful protests in the capital, Athenians yesterday witnessed the familiar scene of demonstrators clashing with police in Syntagma Square amid a major security operation to stop those who wanted to prevent MPs from entering Parliament.
Some 4,000 police officers lined the central square and the streets around it in an attempt to thwart protesters’ plans to form a human chain around Parliament. The so-called Indignant, who have been peacefully occupying the area in front of the House every evening for the last three weeks, had wanted to prevent MPs from entering Parliament to discuss the medium-term fiscal plan, which introduces new austerity measures.
The protest coincided with a general strike and rallies by the private and public sector unions GSEE and ADEDY, leading to the presence of more than 20,000 people in the city center. It also appeared to give license to more extreme anti-establishment elements, who have been absent from protests for the last few weeks, to join the crowds. This led to scuffles outside of Parliament, where police had erected a mobile fence to obstruct demonstrators, and at other points in the city center, including near the Finance Ministry.
Kathimerini and Skai TV journalist Tasos Telloglou was among 43 people injured during disturbances.
Of those taken to the hospital, 33 were suffering from breathing problems or light injuries. Riot po- lice made extensive use of tear gas in a bid to disperse crowds.
In unprecedented scenes, there were clashes between protesters as well as with police. People aligned with the peaceful Indignant movement attempted to stop both extreme right-and left-wing groups from disrupting the demonstrations. This led to fighting between those taking part in the protest. Some also threw missiles at the police.
Telloglou was punched as he was walking along a street near Syntagma. He was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for bruising and shock.
Last night, thousands of peaceful protesters had returned to Syntagma Square, where a number of musicians were holding a free concert.