Syntagma Square: Greek protesters seize the finance ministry
The popular revolt in Greece against the draconian EU-IMF imposed austerity measures has taken a dramatic turn today as protesters associated with the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) occupied* the finance ministry at Syntagma square [#173], the scene of negotiations for Greece’s second ‘bailout’ package.
Officials were unable to enter the building and had to work from elsewhere. The protesters also unfurled an enormous five-story high banner calling on Greeks to “organize and fight for an overthrow — General Strike”. [#8]
Peaceful protesters have taken to Syntagma square for 10 days in a row now. It must be noted that most of those protests have been anti-ideological and many of the ‘indignants’ would not subscribe to the Communist ideology of the PAME.
The occupation of the finance ministry comes right as the Greek government agreed on a set of even more severe budget cuts and tax rises, as well as the largest privatization program in Greek history. Anger is rising in the country as the population increasingly feels that their country is being sold over their backs in order to pay off illegitimate debts to reckless bankers in the European North.
So, if PAME can regard a reputation for non-violence as an asset...
NOTE * The Reuters story that Roar cites to is more measured. They write:
It was not clear how far the PAME activists had penetrated the building but access was blocked.
UPDATE More detail on the Greek protests from Reuters. Originally sparked by unions and other organizations, they seem to have moved into the social media phase. Only about 30,000, though. Interestingly, in Greece, we're not seeing the self-organization of the occupiers that we saw in Tahrir Square and in Spain. I'm betting that is a key to making everything go viral; the square becomes a national school.
UPDATE Better detail from the Irish Times who (unsurprisingly) have a reporter on the ground in Athens. Choice quotes:
Greek protests have turned nasty and fatal in the past, but the riot police and troops who were guarding parliament last night had their shields at ease.
“The message down here on the street is off with them all, with all of the 300 MPs, we want none of them,” said Manos Kappas (38), an electrical engineer who is campaigning for a referendum on the bailout and constitutional reforms.
Talk of intrusive external supervision over tax collection and privatisation was going down very badly indeed, he said.
“Would you trust a stranger to walk into your own house and manage your own household? We do have some really smart people. We have Greeks working in universities all over the world. We don’t lack the manpower. We just lack people with the resolve and the good intent.”
Vasoko Pidi, an accountant in her 20s, saw something of her own work in the stance of the country’s sponsors. “They are just accountants,” she said. “They want to take their money back but this can’t be happening in the account of the Greek people. The Greek people mustn’t pay for the damage done by the government.”
Albert Angel, an anaesthetist in his 50s, was distributing leaflets declaring hospital staff won’t charge outpatients a €5 fee today. “We’ll block it. Everybody walks in free in every state hospital tomorrow. If we’re strong enough it’s going to be day-in day-out. Meanwhile we’ll start tomorrow,” he said.
Many of the protesters were elderly, giving some of their younger counterparts pause for thought. “When you see people in their 70s and 80s, 75-year-old people and they are yelling, what do you expect for tomorrow? I am 21. You can’t expect anything,” said Apoltolis Andreou, an economics student. “If they told our parents 20 years ago that we were going to be like this . . . they would be crazy.”
Notice the addition of elders, here, to the youth. That, too, is important. "All walks of life."