Vi­o­lence blights anti-aus­ter­ity rally

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As MPs de­bated a new aus­ter­ity pack­age in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, thou­sands protested the new mea­sures in ral­lies in cen­tral Athens that were marred by iso­lated out­breaks of vi­o­lence.

Mean­while most trans­port and pub­lic ser­vices ground to a halt as work­ers launched a 48-hour gen­eral strike, the first two-day walk­out since the restora­tion of democ­racy in 1974. The Athens metro was the only form of pub­lic trans­port op­er­at­ing, and it will con­tinue to run to­day to al­low demon­stra­tors to travel to the cen­ter.

Flights will be dis­rupted again to­day as air-traf­fic con­trollers stage more stop­pages and protest­ing dock work­ers have threat­ened to block the port of Pi­raeus again af­ter stop­ping trav­el­ers from board­ing fer­ries yes­ter­day.

The demon­stra­tions – some or­gan- ized by la­bor unions, oth­ers by the self­pro­claimed “In­dig­nant” pro­test­ers – were planned to pre­cede two crit­i­cal votes in Par­lia­ment – one to­day on the new aus­ter­ity pack­age, dubbed the midterm eco­nomic pro­gram, and the sec­ond to­mor­row on the im­ple­men­ta­tion bill for this pro­gram.

The ral­lies started peace­fully but were marred in the early af­ter­noon when groups of hooded youths started hurl­ing stones and fire­bombs at riot po­lice of­fi­cers who were out in force. Po­lice re­sponded by fir­ing tear gas to dis­perse the crowds.

A po­lice spokes­woman said 23 peo­ple were de­tained, with five of them later ar­rested, and 21 po­lice of­fi­cers were hurt but none se­ri­ously. The Na­tional First Aid Cen­ter (EKAB) said six pro­test­ers were in­jured while lo­cal me­dia re­ports put the num­ber much higher.

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