Big protests took place yesterday in many Greek cities, organized by the major trade unions, GESEE and ADEDY. The demonstrations were fuelled by anger against the austerity measures and the policies of privatizations imposed by the EU-backed regime.
Crowds peacefully gathered outside the parliament, in Syntagma square, while riot police forces, totally unprovoked waged attack against the protesters. Around 13.40 clashes between anti-riot squads and protesters occurred close to Hotel Grande Bretagne but also at the lower side of the square, on Philellinon street. Molotovs and other objects were thrown against the police which responded with more tear gas. The crowd attempted to re-take the square, despite the hazardous chemicals that caused breathing difficulties, resulting to one death; a 67-year-old long-term unemployed man affiliated to PAME trade union, lost his life due to heart failure after being admitted into Evangelismos hospital at 14.00. However, it is not confirmed that his death is connected to breathing tear gas.
Slogans like «cops-pigs-murderers» were constantly chanted by demonstrators, especially when anti-riot squadrons attempted to cut off Vasileos Georgiou street, aiming to obstruct groups of protesters to reach their comrades in front of the parliament. The police, also, fired tear gas and stun grenades, trying to disperse the crowd. Many resisted the repression, others with pacifism, others with anger and use of counter-violence, while, a few minutes later, hundreds of protesters were pushed away towards the upper side of Syntagma square.
At 14.15 one severely injured woman was lying on Panepistimiou street near Propylaea for a long time; the ambulance was delayed despite repeated emergency calls. At least two other strikers were severely injured. A large number of protesters suffered injuries, many of them hurt on the head by baton charges. In several cases, police forces hindered their transportation by ambulances.
Earlier it was reported that an MP of the junior coalition government party Democratic Left (DIMAR) was booed by protesters and ran off to hide into an arcade of Karageorgi Servias street.
In the city of Trikala, after the strike demo, public school teachers and supporters went to the prefectural department, specifically to protest against the local chief of secondary education, who intends to agree upon school mergers in the area and further cuts in the education sector.
In Patras: More than 10,000 people from base unions, etc. hit the streets. After a call-out by the assembly of anarchists against wage slavery (‘O ergaleioforos’), the anarchist bloc was attended by 400 comrades, whose central banner read ‘Zero tolerance to State, bosses, fascists – Social and class counterattack’. The Stalinists of PAME were nearly 13,000 in their respective parade.
In Preveza a lively demo of at least 300 strikers ended at around midday. A new group, the Libertarian Circles of Preveza, had some 30 comrades in its bloc. The march was constantly followed by police motorcycle units, patrol cars, and plainclothes cops.
In Serres nearly 3,000 strikers marched in the town, while in Xanthi more than 5,000 people took to the streets, and almost all commercial stores were shut for the day.
The total of demonstrators were detained by police in Athens, during the general strike, reached 103, while seven detentions were later turned into arrests. Among the arrestees, one protester had his nose broken because he was assaulted by riot squads earlier in the demo, so he was in urgent need of medical care. They were held in temporary custody at the police headquarters (five of them on felony charges, two on misdemeanors).
A gathering was called for Friday, October 19th, at 12.30 (GMT+2) in Evelpidon courts (building 16), in factual solidarity with the seven arrestees who will appear before public prosecutor tomorrow.