Greece protests update

Just a short post for now. I may write a more in-depth one later when I have a chance.

BREAKING NEWS: Greek parliament has passed the austerity measures, bowing to the will of the financial collective but ignoring the wills of the protestors who have been demonstrating for months on end. Violence is continuing on the streets. As the Guardian reports:

  • There have been running battles between riot police and protesters outside the Greek parliament again as its MPs prepared to vote on whether to pass the austerity bill demanded by international lenders. The trouble flared after some protesters surged through metal barricades outside the parliament building. Police once again fired volleys of teargas. Some demonstrators hurled projectiles at officers but many fled the square as teargas filled the air.
  • Greece’s parliament approved the five-year austerity plan with 155 votes in favour and 138 votes against.

    Only one member of prime minister George Papandreou’s socialist party voted against the law and the speaker of parliament announced he had been immediately expelled from the party. One deputy from the conservative opposition cast a vote in favour.

    RT @thesspirit: #Syntagma sqr now (4.26pm) People are NOT leaving #25mgr #greekrevolution #28jgr

    kindersurprise

    I was in Syntagma Sq last night and it was an incredibly volatile situation. Teargas and fire crackers were thrown all over the place. One was even deployed into the middle of a group of people having a calm debate, which was totally uncalled for. There was of course a violent element (seemingly a lot of teenagers from what I could make out) who were just basically running around smashing things up, looting the kiosks and having running battles with the police.

    The police were pretty disgraceful (as usual) throwing rocks at groups of protesters (not ‘anarchists’ people of all ages) and generally lashing out and trying to ‘kettle’ protestors into smaller side streets so they could then throw the tear gas at them. Their ‘orders’ were clear.

    The problem is, this was before the measures are voted for. What happens if they pass? The place looked like a warzone and was so fraught the mood would change in a split second. I really wonder what the way ahead is. It doesn’t seem like there’ll ever be a satisfactory one.

Live updates of Greek protests can be found here.

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Latest images from Greece protests (Part 3)

Riot police scuffle with a demonstrator during a protest outside the parliament in Athens June 29, 2011. (Reuters)

People run away from tear gases during a protest at Syntagama square in Athens June 29, 2011. (Reuters)

Teargas swirls in the air during a protest at Syntagma Square in Athens June 29, 2011. (Reuters)

A wounded protester is being led away from clashes with riot police as protesters tried to prevent deputies from reaching the Greek parliament in central Athens on Wednesday, June 29, 2011. (Thanassis Stavrakis)

Demonstrators embrace after being overcome by tear gases during a protest in front of the parliament in Athens June 29, 2011 (Reuters)

Strikers chant slogans during a protest in central Athens, on Tuesday, June 29, 2010. Public services shut down across Greece Tuesday as workers walked off the job in a new nationwide general strike that disrupted public transport, left hospitals operating on emergency staff and pulled all news broadcasts off the air. (Alkis Konstantinidis)

Latest images from Greece protests (Part 2)

Public Power Corporation employees hold a banner which read in Greek " We Resist," during a protest in Athens, on Monday, June 28, 2010. Hundreds of Public Power employees protested Monday outside the Greek Finance Ministry (Petros Giannakouris)

Riot police take position outside the Greek Parliament prior of a demo in Athens on Tuesday June 28, 2011 (Dimitri Messinis)

A protester shakes the hand of a riot policeman during a demonstration in Athens on Tuesday June 28, 2011. (Petros Giannakouris)

A protester kicks a tear gas canister thrown by riot police during a demo in Athens on Tuesday June 28, 2011. (Petros Giannakouris)

Protesters shout slogans as riot police stand in Athens' Syntagma square, Tuesday, June 28, 2011. (Thanassis Stavrakis)

A television van burns after been set on fire by protesters during a demo in Athens on Tuesday June 28, 2011. The graffiti reads "Mass Media of deception" (Thanassis Stavrakis)

24 hour strikes in Greece over austerity measures.

Protesters gather rally for a fifth day - May 29, 2011 (Kostas Tsironis)

Greece has been hit with a 24-hour anti-austerity strike as the government prepares to push forward latest austerity reforms. The strike has left hospitals struggling with emergency staff and has disrupted public transport, and radio and television programmes have been forced off the air. As seen by the image above, demonstrations have been ongoing for many weeks now.

Scores of demonstrators who have camped in Syntagma Square since 25 May have been joined by dozens of other demonstrators, chanting slogans outside parliament. Such demonstrations have often turned violent in the past, with clashes with the police.

A protestor lays on the ground after clashes erupted during a general strike that halted services and disrupted flights May 11, 2011 in Athens, Greece. Getty

The Socialist government is pushing forward a €28bn (£24bn) austerity programme this month, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European countries who could cut current funding from a rescue loan package worth €110bn (£96bn). The Socialist party have abandoned a pledge not to impose new taxes and have drawn up a four-year privatisation programme worth €50bn in order to meet the austerity its commitments – moves that have only fuelled demonstrations against the cuts by public utility employees, labour unions and other affected groups.

Greece’s programme to sell off €50bn of state-owned assets include plans to sell stakes in some of its most valuable assets, including its two largest ports, a state-owned bank, the country’s gambling monopoly and a water utility. Economists welcomed the announcement, saying that Greece needed to drastically step up its privatisation drive. The party has been delaying such measures, fearing internal opposition and backlash from labour unions.

The protestors in Syntagma Square have stated their aims to block access to the legislative assembly before MPs begin to debate the next level of cuts on Wednesday afternoon. Not all MPs have accepted the austerity measures; one MP defected on Tuesday whilst another said he would vote against the bill.

The austerity measures have, naturally, impacted on the party’s popularity in recent weeks; a recent opinion poll suggested that the opposition conservatives have a four-point lead over the Socialists in terms of public popularity, the first time the party has been in the lead (in surveys) since 2009.

Riot police clash with protesters outside the headquarters of the Bank of Greece during a 24-hour strike in Athens, Wednesday, May 11.. (Thanassis Stavrakis)

A riot policeman blocks a municipal worker as he tries to enter the parliament building during a march against austerity in Athens, May 18. Greeks have staged repeated demonstrations to protest the EU/IMF prescribed belt-tightening. ReutersPolice detain a protester during a 24-hour strike in Athens, Wednesday, May 11. Riot police made heavy use of tear gas and stun grenades to disperse youths throwing stones and petrol bombs during a march attended by 20,000 people. (Thanassis Stavrakis)