Hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police across central Athens on Wednesday, smashing cars and hurling gasoline bombs. It’s the latest protest against the government’s latest austerity measures.
A General Strike …
Protests escalated with thousand of protestors hitting the street as the Greek parliament approved a bill slashing the salaries of staff working in the country’s public utilities, known as Deko’s, and implemented measures to weaken their collective bargaining power. The items are conditions of the €110bn EU/IMF bailout intended to help Greece out of its debt crisis.
About 20,000 protesters became violent, throwing Molotov cocktails at police. Police deployed teargas canisters in return at protesters who threw petrol bombs at two luxury hotels in the central Syntagma square outside parliament in Athens.
About 200 leftist protesters pursued former transport minister Kostis Hatzidakis shouting: “Thieves! Shame on you!” as they threw stones and beat him with sticks. He was seen bleeding and holding his head. He escaped into a building near Parliament. He had been stalked and attacked as he left the Parliament building.
Syntagma Square is bordered by Vassileos Georgiou A’ Street to the north, Othonos Street to the south, Filellinon Street to the west and Amalias Avenue to the east. The eastern side of the square is higher than the western, and dominated by a set of marble steps leading to Amalias Avenue; beneath these lies the Syntagma metro station. The stairs emerge below between a pair of outdoor cafes, and are a popular city-centre gathering place. Syntagma also includes two green areas to the north and south, planted with shade trees, while in the center of the square a large water fountain
Syntagma Square is a frequent site of political demonstrations. The Greek Parliament is immediately across Amalias Avenue to the east, and surrounded by the extensive National Gardens, which are open to the public.
The protests Wednesday coincided with a general strike as civil servants and private sector workers went on Greece’s seventh general strike of the year.
Flights were grounded, schools were closed, and local journalists didn’t report the news on television or radio.
Greece is in debt over €300bn. Government debt as a percentage of GDP is at 126.8%, which is well above the 78.7% eurozone average.