Greece questions "urban warfare" police tactics

 
After Greece’s government approved yet another austerity plan on June 29, protests in the capital Athens reached new heights of violence as police cracked down on demonstrators, forcing the city’s police chief to publicly apologise. According to our Observer in Athens, the police’s brutal tactics amounted to urban warfare.
 
Greeks, already unhappy with the country’s deepening debt crisis, had been protesting for days in anticipation of the austerity measures. On June 25, protesters had rallied in Athen’s central Syntagma Square [Constitution Square], where the country’s “Indignant Citizens” (a protest movement inspired by Spain’s non-partisan youth campaign, “Los Indignados”), had camped out. On June 28, thousands of people gathered in Athens to protest against the impending austerity measures, after heeding calls from two major trade unions urging a 48-hour general strike.
 
Shortly after the Greek government approved the austerity plan on June 29 clashes among protesters, rioters and the police quickly escalated. Hundreds of people were hospitalised for respiratory problems after police fired tear gas, and several buildings in downtown Athens were set ablaze by Molotov cocktails hurled by protesters.
 
As Athens began to look more like a battle ground than a European capital city, images of the violence quickly appeared on the web. Some of the videos appeared to depict Greek police in collaboration with rioters, and the Guardian website quoted one political activist who claimed to have footage demonstrating that the two sides were in cahoots. Inundated by complaints of police brutality and excessive force, the Greek government quickly reacted by launching an inquiry into the police’s tactics.
Contributors

“The police have stripped away our right to protest”.

 
Nikos Karamfyllis is a sales manager. He did not participate in the demonstrations on June 29 because of his fears of police brutality, but he closely followed the events on-line.
 
A month ago I went on several of the marches against the austerity packages. Then, there were families, including mothers with prams. But after protesting for several days, the police began to get more and more anxious. I did not go to the protest of the 29th June because I had a feeling that it would turn ugly.
 
Close to the Greek Parliament in the capital Athens on June 29. Video published by uploadmusicandmore on You Tube on June 29.
 
In this film, the police are forming a security cordon around the Parliament. You can see one minute and 35 seconds into the footage, a rioter [the man with his face shrouded] having a discussion with a police officer. They seem very calm and relaxed, as if they know each other. This snippet proved to me that the police and the rioters collaborated to block the peaceful protestors’ march.
 
Outside Syntagma Square metro station on June 29. Video published by PALAVIARIS30 on You Tube on June 29.
 
Doctors tended the injured inside Syntagma metro station. But the police eventually forced their way in after protesters began throwing rocks at them. [Two minutes into the video] they released tear gas in the station, even though many people were taking refuge down there. [Watch a video filmed inside the station here].
 
Mitropoleos Road. Video published by sosguns200  on YouTube on June 29. 
 
Mitropoleos Road is a pedestrian street where many tourists go to relax in the cafes and restaurants. The anti-riot police descended on it like cowboys on motorbikes even though they had no real reason to go there. The demonstration was on the main road at Syntagma Square. They took this route simply to cause havoc.
 
Video published by PALAVIARIS30 on You Tube on June 29.
 
This time the police have just gone too far. What happened on Wednesday is tantamount to urban warfare. The chief of police made a public apology on television last night for how the police handled the incident. But this will not quell the anger of Athenians, who’s right to protest has been stripped away".
 
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Peggy Bruguière. 

Comments

eVYvsHHQZk

Right on—this hepeld me sort things right out.

"Bread, Education, Freedom, the Junta didn't end in 1973"

Dear Jounalists,
another journalist from Athens is now completely deaf after a stun-grenade on 15th of june!
There were so many "incidents" by authority the last years. Hopefully these latest stories will lead to some "pulitzers" that investigate in other cases as well:
-march 2009: the prisoner Katerina Goulioni got murdered by police on a ferry boat, the "investigating" prosecutor warned the other prisoners to keep their mouth shut over the weekend (here the story ends!)
-summer 2009: Iranian(?) refugees in Istanbul claim to have survived an attack by greek coast guard stabbing their boat and killing 36 refugees, the only source was a turkish website in english - "turkishpress"(?) now defunkt
-februar 2010: big scandal about the "antisemitism of the greeks" arsoning a synagoge in Chania/Crete (it was also hosting a cretan museum!). Later on police catches 1 American, 1 Briton and 1 Greek and are looking for another American and Briton. The Greek is a delivery guy for the NATO-base Souda (Chania), the Americans are members of Special Forces and the Brits trainers of special troops! (here the story ends!)
-march 2009 handgrenade against a language school for immigrants (thugs escape with car without plates)
-june 2010 arson against a family-car of some anarchists (thugs escape without plates)
"Bread, Education, Freedom" was one of the main Anti-Junta slogans

"Greek Urban warfare"

What's truly missing from this report is the fact that peaceful demonstrations in Athens are always accompanied by groups of hooded hoodlums and anarchists who have nothing to do with political protest but who come to burn cars, destroy property and fight the police by throwing stones and gasoline bombs at them. Last year these criminals set fire to a bank branch in Athens during an otherwise peaceful demonstrations and killed three employees including a pregnant woman. 33 policemen were injured and taken to hospital in the latest gang violence and all of these hoodlums escaped justice.

The Greek police are helpless against these thugs. In the recent riots these criminal gangs caused 800,000 euros of damage to public and private property. In self defence, some Greek policemen overdid the use of tear gas. The American police, faced by this type of violence and destruction, would have returned lethal fire and completely without legal consequence.

It is incredible that any knowledgeable report would defend these criminal acts which have absolutely nothing to do with political protest and the economic crisis. The real news is that the vast majority who came to protest, and those who come nightly to gather at Syntagma square did do peacefully and without stone and bomb throwing and general destruction and threats to life.

Leonard Peltier for Prez

Beside that there were huge riots on 5th of May 2010 and it's still not clear who murdered the three people and that their colleagues together with bank unions accussed the bank-owner, it's so cheap to come up with a police force of an illegal state that is opressing since 200 years 500 nations. Still an indian goes to jail if he can't speak english to the judge!

unacceptable behaviour.

there was something missing from the report which, for those who have been will know, was equally shocking and dangerous. there came apoint when the police began to force people backwards down the slippery marble steps that descend into syntagma station. it was unbelieveable to watch and i was overwhelmed by a sensation of deja-vu and that i was watching a hilsborough moment, the memories of watching that flooded back and I was certain that horror and death would inevitably follow.
as it was, it did not materialise, but, i would say, by luck rather than any good judgement by the police, yet, once again from al this there emerges evidence to suggest, and this is NOT the first time, that the greek police are on both sides of the battle.
some say that they are the instigators, aggressors and combatants that mask up and then lead the youth element that it always present at such protest. By preying on their youthful nature, inciting the quick tempers and passions that boil over so easily in the immature, undercover police lead them into battle with their well-armed and very well-protected brethren then step back once the violence starts to let the armoured boys deal with it.
it certainly discredits the protests, breaks them up and it would appear gives the police a bit of exercise too.

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