Friday, December 4, 2009

Greek police clash with students

Source: Javno

Greek police clashed with students in central Thursday amid rising tensions ahead of the anniversary of the killing of a teenager by a policeman.

Security forces fired teargas at around 100 students trying to occupy the economics faculty to mark the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos on December 6 last year.

Several dozen students entered the faculty, which had been officially closed because of swine flu cases before withdrawing at the request of the university authorities.

Students held gatherings across Greece to decide on action to mark the teenager's death. Demonstrations have been called in main cities by left-wing groups and trade unions.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister George Papandreou urged Greeks to demonstrate their opposition to violence.

Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by a police officer who claimed he fired into the air whilst under attack by youths. The death sparked weeks of violence across Greece.

[ Note: Clashes with police are also being reported today, Friday. ]

Greece braces for violence on uprising anniversary

From a report by Nicole Itano for GlobalPost :

...Over the past year, there has been a surge in anarchist and anti-authoritarian attacks in Greece, primarily against government and political targets. The escalation in violence was sparked by the killing last December of a 16- year-old boy by police in a neighborhood known as a stronghold of extreme left-wing groups.

The shooting set off weeks of riots and gave new life to extremist groups. Analysts say the riots tapped into simmering youth discontent in Greece — especially over rising unemployment and corruption — and helped win extreme groups new recruits.

"There has been an increase in incidence, there has been an escalation," said Mary Bossis, a professor at the University of Piraeus who studies Greek terrorism. "And it will only get worse."
Greece has a long tradition of far-left political violence and a high public tolerance for such acts, as long as they stay within certain limits.

Large protest marches, including the annual one to the U.S. Embassy on Nov. 17, usually end with clashes between masked "anarchists," armed with clubs and Molotov cocktails, and police. And small, late-night bomb attacks against multinational companies or government offices are frequent.

But another legacy of the events of the Nov. 17 Polytechnic uprising is that the Greek public holds the police and other law enforcement in low regard. And police are barred from entering university or school campuses, which allows extremist groups to use them as bases.

In recent years, since the breakup of 17 November, political violence has been largely symbolic, intended to cause damage rather than hurt or kill. Often, warning calls about bombs, for example, would be made in advance...

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Int'l journalist groups condemn recent attacks against media in Greece

From the Athens News Agency :

(ANA-MPA) -- The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) on Thursday issued a strongly worded condemnation of what the two groups called "an outbreak of violence against media in Greece after a series of bombings targeting the offices and home of union leaders."
The criticism follows two attacks late last month targeting the office of Moschos Voitsidis, the president of the Macedonia-Thrace Daily Newspapers' Journalists Union and the apartment of Panagiotis Nestoridis, the vice-president of EDOEAP, journalists' and press sector employees healthcare and supplementary pension fund -- an entity managed by its members and considered the best fund in the country.
"These actions are shocking and indicate a violent trend in attacks on media in Greece," EFJ President Arne König said. "We demand that there is a full investigation of these attacks and we call on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice."
An IFJ press release posted on the organisation's website stated:

"During this year, journalists and media were victims of violence, to the dismay and outrage of the journalists' Unions and society. In Athens, several attacks against buildings of newspapers and TV stations took place, producing considerable material damages. Last week, journalist Paschos Mandravelis, a well-known newspaper and TV commentator, has also been the target of violence at the Athens University.  
"The EFJ supports Greek journalists who need determination and courage to practice their profession, regardless of violence and intimidation. The EFJ calls on authorities to take all necessary steps to protect journalists and media professionals from similar attacks and to act against impunity."
The EFJ is also considering the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to Greece to collect further information on the specific cases.

GREECE: Alternative network under threat

Criminal action brought against the rector and the two vice-rectors of the Athens Technological University, on the very day of the 36th anniversary of the student uprising against the colonel's military junta which started in the grounds of the institution, has shocked and dismayed the Greek academic community.

The criminal action was brought by the Public Prosecutor's Office against Rector Konstantinos Moutzouris, and Vice-Rectors Giannis Polyzos and Makis Spathis on the grounds of dereliction of duty for allowing Athens Indymedia, an alternative internet network, to operate from the institution's server.

This is the second time pressure has been brought to bear on the Technological University to discontinue operation of the Indymedia. Last summer, the management of the Telecommunications Organisation which provides the institution with some optical fibre lines brought an action against it on the basis that it was contravening the provisions of the agreement between them by allowing Indymedia to operate from its server.

It is thought the initiative to silence the alternative network emanated from the extreme right-wing party in the Greek parliament.

Athens Indymedia was established in November 2001 by activists from the radical left and anti-authority groups. It has operated out of the Technological University's server for many years and played an important role in providing a stream of information during last December's riots in Athens when a 15 year-old boy was shot dead by a police officer.

But it has also publicised the press releases of terrorist groups who had targeted university rectors for their attitude towards terrorism for which it was severely criticised.

The date 17 November is indissolubly connected with the Technological University. The tanks that rolled into the grounds of the institution on that day to crush the student uprising were soundly repulsed by the indomitable spirit of the students who signed with their own blood the end of the military junta and restored democracy in Greece.

The anniversary has been declared a public holiday and is celebrated every year with particular respect to the dead and the wounded, always culminating with a march to the American Embassy, perceived at the time as the patron of the dictators.

In his speech during the ceremony at the university, Moutzouris linked the struggle of 1973 with the current economic situation, the shrinking of social rights and the curtailment of workers' achievements.

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