Students from London Metropolitan University protested yesterday in favour of full amnesty for international students and against the marketisation of higher education, the encroachment of for-profit private providers, against threatened job cuts and also demanded the immediate scraping of management’s shared-service (outsourcing and privatisation by the backdoor) initiative.
Despite that last week, the High Court judgement has decided to give an amnesty to existing international students in order complete their studies at London Met, there is still a fear that their future is jeopardised, as five hundred are currently affected by the ban on the university recruiting from outside the European Union. Hence, the protesters aimed to increase pressure on the Government in order to remove international students completely from emigration targets and no longer forcing universities to operate as outposts of the immigration service.
Huge protests occurred yesterday in Athens, flooding the streets of the city with rage and anger. Around 100.000 marched against austerity cuts, and their deprivation of democratic rights, by the EU-backed regime.
At 10:30pm people started converging at the Archeological Museum. Meanwhile, in Gardenia Square of Zografou district in Athens around 50 strikers gathered in order to proceed to the central gathering point at the Museum. The police denied their access and without reason attacked them and detained more than 25 people.
Around 1pm the main march started, towards Patision Ave and Zografou, Dafni and Pagrati districts. A lot of demonstrators were marching behind the banner of the municipality workers’ union. A triple police cordon secured the entrances of luxurious hotels in Syntagma and the Parliament building. Along Patision and Akadimias streets there was huge police presence. A water cannon appeared for the first time, parked next to the parliament in Syntagma.
At 1:30pm the first tension in front of the metal fence in the House of Parliament appeared, as protesters tried to bring down the metal fences. Police responded with large amounts of tear gas bombs which were thrown amid demonstrators in Syntagama. The crowds attempted to disperse the armed forces, using Molotov cocktails and stones.
At around 3pm mass use of chemicals by the police on Ermou street was reported, while in Athens’ central park several trees caught fire due to the excessive amount of tear gas used by the police, which resulted to ignition.
Mass police offensive on Amalias street while the march continues, and all streets of central Athens were occupied by strikers. Brutal police beatings and arrests took place, a few minutes later, in front of the parliament as the police was pushing against demonstrators away from the parliament.
Meanwhile, the neighbourhood assemblies called for a new gathering at the University Refectory in order to march anew towards the police headquarters in solidarity to the twenty demonstrators who had been detained. Later on, the popular assemblies’ blocks were chased down to Omonoia square by DELTA motorcycle security forces who, also, invaded the entrance of the subway metro station and threw stun grenades inside.
At around 4pm clashes between the police forces and angry protesters took place in the Exarcheia district, which lasted for approximately 30 minutes. The crowds were dispersed and for about 2 hours Athens’ main streets were almost occupied by huge police forces.
Thousands marched yesterday in Spain near the parliament building, demanding the resignation of Mariano Rajoy’s government as well as the rewrite of constitution. The police have fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters. Spanish media reported that at least 32 people were detained and more than a dozen injured. The protesters dispersed after MPs left the building. A demonstrator, Montse Puigdavall spoke at BBC:
I’m here because of all the social cuts and rights that we have lost, that took a lot of hard work to achieve – we are here because we’re determined not to lose them
What you are seeing out here right now is the Spanish — and by extension the European — citizenry reacting against austerity. Austerity right now is at a level where it’s affecting people’s daily lives. It’s affecting whether or not people can get medical attention. It’s affecting whether or not people can advance socially through education and social progress.
What you’re seeing now is a country where an entire generation is being relegated to a class of emigrants. People that have been invested in with public money, to be educated, are now going to move out and generate wealth in other countries. That’s not a project for a country. Meanwhile, child poverty in Spain has increased exponentially.
I think the first thing the government can do is call for a referendum on paying back the debt, and on the constitutional amendment that they made. It’s no mistake that these people are gathered here today to talk about the constitution of Spain; a constitution that has been around since the transition from the Francoist government, and it was always said that it couldn’t be touched, that it was the basis for what Spain is today.
But they did change it without a referendum or even consulting the citizenry or submitting it to public debate, to pay back an illegitimate debt taken on by the private sector.
A bar owner in Madrid protects the protestors in his store
On Saturday 15 September, the people in Portugal took the streets again to protest against the Troika and the austerity measures imposed by the Government. Between 700 thousands and a million, in over 40 cities in Portugal and abroad, they took part in what is probably the biggest protest that has ever happened in the country since the Revolution in 1974. Massive numbers, demanding the immediate suspension of the austerity measures, asking the PM to resign and the Troika to leave the country, under the banner Que se Lixe a Troika! Queremos as Nossas Vidas! (Screw troika! We want our lives!)
After more than one year under the Troika management, people have seen their life conditions drastically worsen and access to basic human rights (such as health, food, education) is now a problem for many. The week right before the protest, the PM has admitted that the economic situation has gotten worst and that new austerity measures were needed. In a confusing televised announcement, he described a series of new cuts to salaries and pensions and a tax raise for wage workers in order to allow a tax cut for the entrepreneurs (an idea that the IMF representatives considered ‘creative’ ). As in Greece, Ireland, Spain and Italy, the not-so-hidden agenda is to reduce salaries, benefits and the welfare state as much as possible, so that foreign companies, especially from the north of Europe, could find economically convenient to outsource in the country.
As a reaction people flooded the streets of Portugal, outraged and in anger, but completely peaceful. The biggest rally was in Lisbon, with over 500 thousand protestors, passing in front of the building which housed the IMF delegation and ending in Praça de Españha, near the residence of the spanish ambassador, a place symbolically chosen to link the struggles in Spain and Portugal. At the end of the rally, the organizers read a text from 15M Economia/Sol and called for another protest on Friday 21 September (the day in which the President is supposed to meet with the Government representatives to discuss the economic situation) to call for the resignation of the PM
The same night a few thousand activists continued the protest in the square in front of the Parliament.
The above video shows a street vendor’s report of an attack by a small group of street thugs and members of the Greek far-right party Golden Dawn (GD) in Rafina (district of Athens). The far-right gangs destroyed the merchandise of the vendors, only because they are immigrants.
In the second video one can see the vendors complaining that the Greek police is reluctant to take action against the attackers. Similar anti-immigrant thuggery recently took place in many other areas of Athens, and also in the city of Messolonghi, where MPs of the ultra-nationalist and openly xenophobic GD, ruthlessly assaulted migrants.
Greek authorities have been accused by many Human Rights organisations and activists for collaborating with neo-nazis, or offering poor treatment to refugees. Amnesty International has urged Greece to stop Treating Asylum Seekers as Criminals, as violence against foreigners often comes from police officers.
In September 2010, the UN refugee agency, called the asylum situation in Greece a “humanitarian crisis” and urged the Greek authorities to speed up the asylum system reforms. Since then, the situation only worsened and it seems that anti-immigrant violence in the country is totally out of control. Attacks against immigrants is a daily phenomenon. Just a month ago, an Iraqi immigrant was stabbed to death on Anaxagora Street (Athens). A young man called Andreas Asimakopoulos, in his Facebook account, declared that he participated in this murderous attack. Since then, he remains un-arrested!
MPs and supporters of Golden Dawn appear responsible for using methods of vigilantism in order to «restore public order» and «clear up the country from the invaders» (as this is the main party slogan). They have, also, many times, used violence against leftists, anarchists and other political opponents.