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2010–2011 Greek protests

2010–2011 Greek protests

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The 2010–2011 Greek protests are an ongoing series of demonstrations and general strikes taking place across Greece. The protests, which began on 5 May 2010, were sparked by plans to cut public spending and raise taxes as austerity measures in exchange for a bail-out, aimed at solving the 2010–2011 Greek debt crisis. Three people were killed on the 5 May protests, one of the largest in Greece since 1973
Athens Polytechnic uprising
The Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973 was a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967-1974. The uprising began on November 14, 1973, escalated to an open anti-junta, anti-US and anti-imperialist revolt and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November...

. Protest activity has escalated since then, leading to widespread social unrest and anti-government sentiment.

On , anti-austerity protestors organized by the Direct Democracy Now!
Direct Democracy Now!
Direct Democracy Now! , also known as True Democracy Now! is a Greek citizen grassroot organization made up of ordinary citizens currently actively involved in the 2011 Greek protests...

 movement, known as the Indignant Citizens Movement , started demonstrating in major cities across Greece. This second wave of demonstrations proved different from the years before in that they are not partisan and began through peaceful means. Some of the protests later turned violent, particularly in the capital city of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. Sparked by the 2011 Spanish Protests
2011 Spanish protests
The 2011 Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement and the Indignants movement, are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks and Real Democracy NOW among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations...

, these demonstrations were organized entirely using social networking sites, which earned it the nickname "May of Facebook". The demonstrations and square sit-ins were officially ended when municipal police removed demonstrators from Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

's White Tower
White Tower
-Geography and history:* White Tower of Thessaloniki, a monument and museum in Greece* White Tower of Tehran, Iran* White Tower of Tsarskoye Selo, landscape architecture element in Tsarskoye Selo, Russia...

 square on 7 August 2011.

On 29 June 2011, violent clashes occurred between the riot police and protesters as the Greek parliament voted to accept the EU's austerity requirements. Accusations of police brutality
Police brutality
Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer....

 were reported by international media such as the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, CNN iReport and the New York Times as well as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

. The Athens Prosecutor accepted pleas for an investigation in the case of excessive use of tear gas, as well as the alleged use of other expired and carcinogenic chemical substances, and the investigation is currently under way.

Background of the 2010 protests


In the early-mid 2000s, Greece's economy was strong and the government took advantage by running a large deficit. As the world economy cooled in the late 2000s, Greece was hit especially hard because its main industries—shipping and tourism
Tourism in Greece
Greece attracts more than 17.5 million tourists each year, contributing 15% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Greece has been an attraction for international visitors since antiquity for its rich and long history, Mediterranean coastline and beaches...

—were especially sensitive to changes in the business cycle. As a result, the country's debt began to pile up rapidly. In early 2010, as concerns about Greece's national debt grew, policy makers suggested that emergency bailouts might be necessary.

On 5 March 2010, the Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
The Hellenic Parliament , also the Parliament of the Hellenes, is the Parliament of Greece, located in the Parliament House , overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece....

 passed the cost-cutting Economy Protection Bill. On 23 April, the Greek government requested that a bailout package offered by the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 be activated. The funds were expected to be available quickly, but it was unclear if they would be activated before a crucial 19 May debt rollover. On 27 April, Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's is a United States-based financial services company. It is a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds. It is well known for its stock-market indices, the US-based S&P 500, the Australian S&P/ASX 200, the Canadian...

 cut the country's main debt rating to BB+ (considered "junk" status), increasing concern that a default
Default (finance)
In finance, default occurs when a debtor has not met his or her legal obligations according to the debt contract, e.g. has not made a scheduled payment, or has violated a loan covenant of the debt contract. A default is the failure to pay back a loan. Default may occur if the debtor is either...

 might occur.

Austerity measures


On 1 May, Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a fourth round of austerity measures by the Greek government, which have been described as "unprecedented". These include more public sector pay cuts, pension reductions, new taxes on company profits, an increase on luxury and sin tax
Sin tax
A sin tax is a kind of sumptuary tax: a tax specifically levied on certain generally socially proscribed goods and services. These goods are usually alcohol and tobacco, but also include candies, soft drinks, fat foods and coffee, while services range from prostitution to...

es, and an increase of the value added tax
Value added tax
A value added tax or value-added tax is a form of consumption tax. From the perspective of the buyer, it is a tax on the purchase price. From that of the seller, it is a tax only on the "value added" to a product, material or service, from an accounting point of view, by this stage of its...

, among others. The proposed changes, which aim to save through 2012, represent the biggest government overhaul in a generation. The cuts are in line with the EU-International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 loan proposals which demand that Greece liberalise its economy and helped Greece reach a loan agreement, announced on 2 May, for an immediate in loans (with a 5% interest for the major part, provided by the EU), with additional funds available in the future. The total value of the loans was expected to be in the range. Papandreou submitted the bill to Parliament on 4 May.

The Hellenic Parliament was expected to vote on the proposed austerity measures on 6 May. New Democracy
New Democracy (Greece)
New Democracy is the main centre-right political party and one of the two major parties in Greece. It was founded in 1974 by Konstantinos Karamanlis and formed the first cabinet of the Third Hellenic Republic...

, the conservative minority party, vowed to vote against the bill, but the bill was expected to pass due to the Panhellenic Socialist Movement
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

's large 160-seat advantage in Parliament. The government has pleaded with demoralized staff not to retire, fearing that a surge in benefits requests could further drain the public treasury.

In separate votes on 29 June and 30 June, Parliament approved the austerity measures.

Relationship to the 2008 Greek riots


The 2008 Greek riots started on 6 December 2008, when Alexandros Grigoropoulos , a 15-year-old student, was killed by two policemen in Exarcheia
Exarcheia
Exarcheia, alternatively spelled as Exarchia, Exarheia and Exarhia , is the name of a neighborhood in downtown Athens, Greece close to the historical building of the National Technical University of Athens. The Exarcheia region is famous as a stomping ground for Greek anarchists...

 district of central Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. While the unrest was triggered by the shooting incident, commentators described the reactions as expressing deeper causes as well, especially a widespread feeling of frustration in the younger generation about specific economic problems of the country (partly as a result of the global economic crisis), a rising unemployment rate among the young generation and a perception of general inefficiency and corruption in Greek state institutions. Related sporadic protests have continued into 2011.

Before 5 May 2010


On May Day there were protest marches in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, by many unions, left-wing, anarchist and communist party supporters. Violent clashes broke out when riot police were sent out to contain the protestors.

On 4 May, members of the Communist Party of Greece
Communist Party of Greece
Founded in 1918, the Communist Party of Greece , better known by its acronym, ΚΚΕ , is the oldest party on the Greek political scene.- Foundation :...

 broke into the Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is the best known acropolis in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification...

 and hung banners urging the "Peoples of Europe [to] Rise Up".

5 May 2010 strike and demonstrations


In response to the proposed spending cuts and tax increases, a nation-wide strike was called for 5 May. Starting at midnight, airplane, train, and ferry traffic in and out of the country ceased. Schools, some hospitals, and many private businesses were closed. The demonstrations are seen by some as the most widespread since the end of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974.

An estimated 100,000 people marched through Athens, with some estimates stretching to 500,000. As protests gained momentum, a large group tried to storm the parliament building in Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square , is located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant the people after a popular and military uprising, on September 3, 1843....

 in Athens, where they scuffled with police, causing some of the Evzones
Evzones
The Evzones, or Evzoni, is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Proedriki Froura , an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier , the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential...

 (ceremonial guards) to flee from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier refers to a grave in which the unidentifiable remains of a soldier are interred. Such tombs can be found in many nations and are usually high-profile national monuments. Throughout history, many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified...

. The protesters accused members of parliament of being "thieves". Riot police were able to push the crowds back with tear gas, flash bombs and smoke bombs. Nearby buildings, including a finance ministry building, were set on fire. Prime Minister George Papandreou responded "Nobody has the right to violence and particularly violence that leads to murder. Violence breeds violence."
Protesters set fire to a Marfin Bank
Marfin Investment Group
Marfin Investment Group is a Greek investment company created in 1998 as Marfin Α.Ε.Π.Ε.Υ.. It has acquired several companies and has changed name several times since. In 2001 it acquired Piraeus Prime Bank and was renamed Marfin Bank...

 branch on Stadiou Street
Stadiou Street
Stadiou Street is Athens' major street linking the Omonoia and Syntagma Squares. It runs diagonally and is one-way from northwest to southeast...

 with Molotov cocktails; witnesses said that protestors marching past the bank ignored the employees' cries for help, while others chanted anti-capitalist slogans. Most of the bank's employees managed to escape the burning building, but two employees who jumped from the second-story balcony were injured and two women and a man were found dead after the fire was extinguished. It was reported that fire crews had difficulty reaching the scene because of demonstrations moving through the area. The victims died of asphyxiation from toxic fumes when they were unable to escape from a roof exit that was blocked. They had gone to work despite the general strike over fears of losing their jobs. They have been identified as Paraskevi Zoulia, 35, Angeliki Papathanasopoulou, 32 (who was four months pregnant) and Epaminondas Tsakalis, 36. Papandreou called the incident a "murderous act". Michalis Chrysohoidis
Michalis Chrysohoidis
Michalis Chrisochoidis is a Greek politician, member of the Hellenic Parliament for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement and the current Minister for Development, Competitiveness and Shipping.- Life :...

, the Minister for the Protection of the Citizen, declared that "today is a black day for democracy ... undemocratic forces have [latched on to] a peaceful demonstration of workers and now petrol bombs have killed three of our citizens and put an immediate danger to the lives of others." He also stated that "the killers will be caught and punished accordingly". Police started a widespread search, with the help of closed-circuit television footage in order to detect and arrest the suspects. The police blamed "hooded youth" for the incident, while one protestor who spoke to BBC blamed police brutality for the escalation of violence which was started when protestors threw Molotov cocktails at police; the police responded with pepper spray and tear gas. In response to the incident, the Greek Federation of Bank Employees' Unions blamed bank management for inadequate safety measures in the building and called for strike action.

Elsewhere in Athens, some demonstrators threw rocks, bottles, and pieces of marble at the police. Numerous trash bins were lit on fire. Some broke windows, threw petrol bombs, and committed other acts of vandalism. Other protesters set up barricades and burned cars. Across Athens, at least 12 people were injured, and more than 70 people were detained for questioning.

In Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, 37 people were arrested as a result of the protests.

Aftermath of the 5 May protest


On 5 and 6 May 2010, the Hellenic Parliament passed the proposed austerity measures, claiming they show the Greek government's commitment to tackling its budget deficit, amongst continued protests.

Also on 5 May, the German parliament began debating the bailout package, as Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

 urged rapid passage. Merkel remarked that "Quite simply, Europe's future is at stake." The plan requires Germany to provide the largest share, , of the bailout funds. The plan must be approved by 15 eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

 countries in total.

Analysts said the protests could mark the beginning of protracted social unrest. If that occurs, the country could be pushed into deep recession. Economists have warned that it could be ten years before the Greek economy recovers, even if it does not worsen first.

There has been advocacy for a political coalition
Political coalition
A political coalition or political alliance is an agreement for cooperation between different political parties on common political agenda, often for purposes of contesting an election to mutually benefit by collectively clearing election thresholds or otherwise benefiting from characteristics of...

 from within the Greek political elite, and by the Greek journalist Alexis Papahelas
Alexis Papahelas
Alexis Papahelas is a Greek investigative journalist and the current editor in chief of Kathimerini newspaper. He is the creator and principal presenter of the weekly news program in Skai TV called "Oi Neoi Fakeloi" , which is a continuation of his show in Mega Channel called "Oi Fakeloi "...

 who said that Papandreou should 'get rid of some of the novices he has in his government, make an overture to the opposition and go full-steam ahead.'

One columnist at The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 suggests in an editorial that the protests speak of a deeper issue in Greek politics: she asks, 'What the advocates of this scenario [coalition government] do not seem to grasp is that the political class is out of touch with the population,' and 'How can we expect to see solutions and progress by the very same people who are inextricably, causally linked to the problem?'

Background of the 2011 protests


The memorandum signed between Greece and the IMF became largely unpopular in Greece, with some polls showing that 62% of the people asked believe it was a bad decision. This memorandum came into action October 7, 2011. Amid accusations that the government has not achieved its goals according to the IMF memorandum, some countries in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 have stated that they will not be lending Greece any more money if the IMF does not do so, including the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. Some European officials went so far as to say that Greece should start selling away its assets to other European nations in order to receive loans, and the Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 Minister of Finance said that the Greek parliament would not like this proposal and characterized the opinion of the Greek parliament as "a sensibility" that no one can consider at this time. Meanwhile, unemployment exceeded 15%, while a big percentage of full-time workers were only awarded the minimum wage of 592 Euros, or even less. Rumours in regards to Greece's exclusion from the Eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

 also added to the mounting frustration, but these were categorically rejected by the Greek government, the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

, the Bank of Greece
Bank of Greece
The Bank of Greece is the nationalcentral bank of Greece, located in Athens on Panepistimiou Street, with several branches across the country. Founded in 1927...

 and IMF-director nominee, and French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde
Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde is a French lawyer and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund since July 5, 2011...

. On 29 June 2011, amid violent protests, the second austerity package was passed with 155 votes in favor in the 300-seat parliament. The next day, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 reported an independent UN expert's warning that the austerity measures could result in violations of the Greek people's human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, such as "rights to food, water, adequate housing and work under fair and equitable conditions". Meanwhile, other international media have questioned the necessity of a second austerity package, when the first one brought in no results.

When Greece signed the Memorandum with the European Union and the IMF in 2010, the matter of the constitutional legality of the memorandum came under criticism in Greece, both by the people and some of the country's most prominent university professors of law. The Athens Association of Lawyers, as well as a number of labour unions, had brought the question of the legality of the memorandum to the Council of State
Council of State (Greece)
In Greece, the Council of State is the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece.-Organization:...

 of the Greek government, but the Council judged the contract to be constitutional in late June 2011.

Apart from the economic crisis, there is also a developing political crisis in the country. The European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 asked the major parties in Greece to come to an agreement in regards to the new set of austerity measures, but twice the major parties failed to come to an agreement. On a poll published on 29 May 2011, the two major parties (the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

 and the main opposition of New Democracy
New Democracy (Greece)
New Democracy is the main centre-right political party and one of the two major parties in Greece. It was founded in 1974 by Konstantinos Karamanlis and formed the first cabinet of the Third Hellenic Republic...

) gather slightly under 40% of the total number of votes, with the ruling party having 19%, while the opposition comes first with 19.5%. On another poll published the same day, the ruling party came first with 20.7% while the opposition came second with 20.4%. According to the polls, neither of the two parties could form a government, even if they combined forces. The lack of co-ordination within the government (with conflicting government officials stating opposite 'government positions') also fueled the protests. When Maria Damanaki
Maria Damanaki
Maria Damanaki is a Greek politician, former president of the Synaspismos party of the radical left and currently a state member of the Hellenic Parliament within the Panhellenic Socialist Movement ....

, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, stated that "our withdrawal from the Eurozone is on the table, we have to speak frankly" on 25 May, Greek banks lost liquidity equal to 1.5 billion euro from withdrawals in two days.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Giorgos Papakonstantinou
Giorgos Papakonstantinou
Giorgos Papakonstantinou , born October 30, 1961 in Athens, Greece, is a Greek economist and politician and the current Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change of Greece, formerly Minister for Finance. He is a member of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement.-Education and career:He...

, vehemently denied that exiting the Eurozone is being considered. On 1 June, the leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally
Popular Orthodox Rally
The Popular Orthodox Rally or The People's Orthodox Rally , often abbreviated to ΛΑ.Ο.Σ as a pun on the Greek word for people, is a Greek party. According to its political program LA.O.S...

 party, Georgios Karatzaferis
Georgios Karatzaferis
Georgios Karatzaferis is a Greek politician, a member of the Hellenic Parliament and the president of the Popular Orthodox Rally. Previously, Karatzaferis was a member of parliament of the liberal-conservative New Democracy party, from which he was expelled in 2000...

, announced that his party is considering resigning from parliament, thus causing the dissolution of the Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
The Hellenic Parliament , also the Parliament of the Hellenes, is the Parliament of Greece, located in the Parliament House , overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece....

 and national elections. He also commented that "I see a Prime Minister that is unable to react, an opposition that is unwilling to play the game and a Left that is in its own little world".

February 2011


On 23 February 2011, there was a recurrence of violent protests and strikes, involving up to 100,000 people as German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

 called for a renewal of the loan programme to Greece that had been conditioned on fiscal tightening. The measures adopted by Greece were considered harsh by the protesters.

May


As of 25 May 2011, there is a peaceful demonstration in Athens and other major cities, protesting the new austerity measures proposed by the government, in the same spirit as the 2011 Spanish protests
2011 Spanish protests
The 2011 Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement and the Indignants movement, are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks and Real Democracy NOW among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations...

. The demonstrations span across most major Greek cities, including Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, Larissa
Larissa
Larissa is the capital and biggest city of the Thessaly region of Greece and capital of the Larissa regional unit. It is a principal agricultural centre and a national transportation hub, linked by road and rail with the port of Volos, the city of Thessaloniki and Athens...

, Patras
Patras
Patras , ) is Greece's third largest urban area and the regional capital of West Greece, located in northern Peloponnese, 215 kilometers west of Athens...

, Volos
Volos
Volos is a coastal port city in Thessaly situated midway on the Greek mainland, about 326 km north of Athens and 215 km south of Thessaloniki...

, Rethymno
Rethymno
Rethymno is a city of approximately 40,000 people in Greece, the capital of Rethymno peripheral unit in the island of Crete. It was built in antiquity , even though was never a competitive Minoan centre...

, Tripoli and Kalamata
Kalamata
Kalamata is the second-largest city of the Peloponnese in southern Greece. The capital and chief port of the Messenia prefecture, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf...

, some of Greece's largest cities. The demonstration in Athens is coordinated by the Facebook page "Αγανακτισμένοι Στο Σύνταγμα" (Indignants at Syntagma
Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square , is located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant the people after a popular and military uprising, on September 3, 1843....

). Currently, it is reported that over 90,000 people have registered at the page, and thousands (reportedly over 30,000) have gathered outside the Greek Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
The Hellenic Parliament , also the Parliament of the Hellenes, is the Parliament of Greece, located in the Parliament House , overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece....

 in Syntagma square. The demonstration in Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, is co-ordinated by the Facebook page "Αγανακτισμένοι στον Λευκό Πύργο" (Indignants at the White Tower
White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki , is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece and a symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia...

), and over 35,000 people have said they would 'attend' the protest. Some of the most popular slogans at the 25 May protest were:
  • Error 404, Democracy was not found.
  • I vote, You vote, He votes, She votes, We vote, You vote, They steal.
  • Greece your turn has come, you have to stop burying your children.
  • Oust! (Greek interjection of a negative nature, meaning "leave")
  • The maid resisted. What do we do? (Reference to an alleged sex scandal
    Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case
    New York v. Strauss-Kahn was a criminal case relating to allegations of sexual assault and attempted rape made by a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, against Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the Sofitel New York Hotel on May 14, 2011. The charges were dismissed at the request of the prosecution which pointed...

     involving former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn
    Dominique Strauss-Kahn
    Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn , often referred to in the media, and by himself, as DSK, is a French economist, lawyer, politician, and member of the French Socialist Party...

    )


This series of demonstrations differed from almost all other demonstrations in Greece's metapolitefsi
Metapolitefsi
The Metapolitefsi was a period in Greek history after the fall of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 that includes the transitional period from the fall of the dictatorship to the Greek legislative elections of 1974 and the democratic period immediately after these elections.The long...

 era (1975–present) in that it was a protest organized without involving any political or trade union affiliations. Demonstrators who expressed affiliation to any political party during the demonstrations were condemned by the majority of the demonstrators, as the organizers claimed that there is no room for political affiliations and violence in these demonstrations. The focus of the protesters was mostly against the government and the current driving forces of Greek politics
Politics of Greece
The Politics of Greece takes place in a large parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Greece is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Hellenic Parliament...

, as well as the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

. As a response to the Spanish slogan "Be quiet, the Greeks are sleeping" (which was allegedly heard at the 2011 Spanish protests
2011 Spanish protests
The 2011 Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement and the Indignants movement, are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks and Real Democracy NOW among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations...

), a big banner was raised in front of the Spanish embassy in Athens reading "¡Estamos despiertos! ¿Que hora es? ¡Ya es hora de que se vayan!" (We've woken up! What time is it? Its time they left!). There was also a strong sense of disapproval for the Prime Minister of Greece
Prime Minister of Greece
The Prime Minister of Greece , officially the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic , is the head of government of the Hellenic Republic and the leader of the Greek cabinet. The current interim Prime Minister is Lucas Papademos, a former Vice President of the European Central Bank, following...

, George Papandreou
George Papandreou
Georgios A. Papandreou , commonly anglicised to George and shortened to Γιώργος in Greek, is a Greek politician who served as Prime Minister of Greece following his party's victory in the 2009 legislative election...

, and the vice-president of the government, Theodoros Pangalos
Theodoros Pangalos
Theodoros Pangalos is a Greek politician and leading member of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. He currently serves as the Vice-President of the Greek government, responsible for the coordination of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense and the new Economic & Social Policy...

.

The demonstrations continued nation-wide for a second day on 26 May. Despite the heavy rainfall in central Athens, thousands of people, reportedly over 14,000, gathered in front of the Greek parliament for a second day in a row. The media reported that about half of the people gathered at Syntagma Square in Athens were youth, whereas the other half were over 40, including families and children. In line with the Spanish quote of "Be quiet, the Greeks are sleeping" which triggered the Greek protests, two new banners appeared, one in French (Silence! Les Français dorment! Ils revent de '68, Silence! The French are sleeping! They are dreaming the (May) '68) and one in Italian (Zitti che svegliamo gli Italiani... Be quiet, you will wake up the Italians...). An information center and a "book of ideas" have also been set up at Syntagma Square. Additionally, a number of people were banging pots and caceroles. In Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, Greece's second city and second-largest center of demonstrations, the protesters hang a big banner from the city's main landmark, the White Tower
White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki , is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece and a symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia...

, saying "for sale" as a protest against the government's massive denationalization schedule, which they perceived as "selling away our country's assets". Although the demonstrations in Thessaloniki were visibly smaller on 26 May, with around 2,500 people participating, presumably because there was a major football game between the city's two major teams and the markets were open until late that evening, some people have set up encampments. In Thessaloniki's protests there is much more of a sense of direct democracy, as citizens are free to take the floor and speak, voice their concerns and opinions and contribute ideas about what should be done next, while they receive the full attention and respect of the other demonstrators.

Demonstrations continued for a third consecutive day on 27 May. Thousands of people gathered in front of the Greek parliament, despite the heavy downpour again, and this time they were joined by the "I'm Not Paying" movement. As a means of protesting, people wearing white masks formed a human shield around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is within Syntagma Square. The demonstrations continued to be peaceful, and when one protester shouted a slogan against the police, he was heavily condemned by the other demonstrators. On 27 May, the proceedings of the first people's assembly
Popular assembly
A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

 on Syntagma Square were published by the Real Democracy Now! movement. Among them:
  • Any wrong-doing politician should either be sent home or to jail.
  • When we, the people, start discussions without fear, fear grasps them, inside the parliament building.
  • This is not just the politician's fault. Its all our faults, with our selfish attitudes.
  • Demonstrations should take place every evening at 6 pm and an assembly
    Popular assembly
    A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

     at 9 pm.
  • Their democracy guarantees neither Justice nor Equality.
  • The taxation system is not the same for the rich and the poor. Equal rights for everyone.


On 28 May, demonstrations continued with at least 7,000 people gathered in front of the Greek parliament. A number of new flags appeared that day, including those of Tunisia, Argentina, Armenia and Hungary. At least 20 people have set up tents in the square. Major demonstrations also took place in Thessaloniki, Patras and Heraklion. Additionally, in Thessaloniki a cycling race was also organized as part of the demonstration. All across the country the movement is getting more organized, media report, with teams of doctors, translators, food suppliers and the like being set up by the protesters, especially at Syntagma Square, which has turned into the main protest center in the country.

29 May was set as a day of peaceful pan-European demonstrations. It is estimated that the demonstration in Athens alone attracted more than 100,000 demonstrators in front of the Greek parliament, while others put the estimates down to 80,000. Demonstrations included people of all ages and financial backgrounds, and the oldest person at the demonstration in front of the Parliament was a 102-year-old grandmother looking after her granddaughter, who also spoke at the people's assembly
Popular assembly
A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

 in support of the demonstrations. An estimated 10,000 people gathered in front of the White Tower of Thessaloniki
White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki , is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece and a symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia...

 in Greece's second city, and demonstrations were also held in many other Greek cities. Some of the most popular slogans that were heard on 29 May were "the worst form of violence is poverty" and "a magical night, like in Argentina, lets see who gets in the helicopter first!", a reference to Argentine President
President of Argentina
The President of the Argentine Nation , usually known as the President of Argentina, is the head of state of Argentina. Under the national Constitution, the President is also the chief executive of the federal government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.Through Argentine history, the...

 Fernando de la Rúa
Fernando de la Rúa
Fernando de la Rúa is an Argentine politician. He was president of the country from December 10, 1999 to December 21, 2001 for the Alliance for Work, Justice and Education ....

's resignation and escape from the presidential mansion using a helicopter in 2001. Some of the demands that the Real Democracy Now! movement has formulated during the assemblies
Popular assembly
A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

 at syntagma Square include:
  • Adoption of a new constitution, written by the people and not the members of parliament
  • Refusal to pay debt which members of the movement consider to be odious
    Odious debt
    In international law, odious debt is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred...

  • Cancellation of the memorandum signed between Greece and the International Monetary Fund
    International Monetary Fund
    The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

  • Harder taxation on the rich.


30 May saw continued demonstrations in Athens and other cities around Greece, although visibly smaller than the demonstrations of 29 May. More than 4,000 people demonstrated in front of the Greek parliament on 30 May, with some sources claiming that over 10,000 people were present. The demonstrators also set up a set of gallows in front of the parliament, demanding that those responsible for the crisis be sent to justice. Over 30 tents have been set up in front of the White Tower of Thessaloniki
White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki , is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece and a symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia...

 in Greece's second-largest city, where a direct democracy style people's assembly
Popular assembly
A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

 takes place every evening.

31 May marked seven days since the start of the protests, and the University of Athens hosted an anti-government protest with the aid of famous Greek composer and anti-dictatorship fighter Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis Theodorakis is one of the most renowned Greek songwriters and composers. Internationally, he is probably best known for his songs and for his scores for the films Zorba the Greek , Z , and Serpico .Politically, he identified with the left until the late 1980s; in 1989, he ran as an...

, while the dean of the University was also a key speaker at the event. Once the protest at the university was over, the 10,000 protesters joined forces with the demonstrators already in front of the parliament. The total number of demonstrators was between 25,000 and 50,000 and the demonstrators had surrounded the Greek parliament, making it impossible for MPs and workers inside the building to come out, while 8 MPs were able to escape through the adjacent National Gardens. Later riot police created a passage in order to enable MPs to exit the parliament, but the 1,000 protesters gathered at the side entrance of the parliament condemned all the members of parliament that exited the building.

June


Demonstrations continued on 1 June. At Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

, protesters surrounded a restaurant where Greek and foreign members of parliament were having a dinner, shouting slogans against them while a few were throwing rocks and other objects at the politicians. Finally, the officials were forced to escape using a boat, as the restaurant was near the harbor. In Athens, more than 15,000 people gathered in front of the parliament to protest for an eighth day in a row. This time they were also joined by the Society for the Protection of Citizens by the Arbitration of Banks, and also a group of motorcyclists who also showed their support for the protests. Earlier that evening the riot police had closed up the streets leading up to the embassy of Egypt. In order to avoid being blockaded inside the parliament like on 31 May, the members of parliament left early on 1 June. Among thousands of protesters in Syntagma square, 32 Greek scientists addressed a letter to the members of parliament calling them to announce the whole truth of the situation
5 June was set as a second day of pan-European demonstrations and marked the 12th continuous day of demonstrations. It is estimated that well over 200,000 gathered at Athens' Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square , is located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant the people after a popular and military uprising, on September 3, 1843....

 that evening to protest against the government. Some sources put the number of people in front of the parliament to over 300,000 while the organizers claim that over 500,000 people took part in the demonstration, making it the largest demonstration in Athens since the 1980s. At the people's assembly
Popular assembly
A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

 a direct connection with Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

's Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. This is the centre of the radial network of Spanish roads. The square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year...

 was made via Skype
Skype
Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chat over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system...

. Some tension occurred on 5 June, as protesters were prevented from heading towards Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square , is located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant the people after a popular and military uprising, on September 3, 1843....

 by riot police, which had put together large metallic barriers to close off streets. Police also brought a water cannon
Water cannon
A water cannon is a device that shoots a high-pressure stream of water. Typically, a water cannon can deliver a large volume of water, often over dozens of metres / hundreds of feet. They are used in firefighting and riot control. Most water cannon fall under the category of a fire...

 to the protests. Demonstrations also took place in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, Patras
Patras
Patras , ) is Greece's third largest urban area and the regional capital of West Greece, located in northern Peloponnese, 215 kilometers west of Athens...

 and Heraklion
Heraklion
Heraklion, or Heraclion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete, Greece. It is the 4th largest city in Greece....

, as well as many other Greek cities. Some of the most popular slogans of that day included:
  • Bread-Education-Freedom – the dictatorship didnt fall in '73!
  • We do not owe, we will not sell away, we will not pay.
  • Minister of culture, minister of censorship

Demonstrations continued throughout June, both at Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square , is located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant the people after a popular and military uprising, on September 3, 1843....

 and other squares in cities across the country. On 28 June 2011, Greek unions, including those whose members dominate the country's health, transportation, education, and government jobs began a 48-hour strike, in protest of the deteriorating economic situation and suggestions on the part of the government of new austerity measures. The walkout led to the freezing of a number of public services. Journalists and a number of artists also stopped working in solidarity with the protest. That day demonstrations turned violent as protestors clashed with police in front of the Greek parliament and other areas of central Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. Violence continued during the night and on 29 June, the day when a new package of deeply unpopular austerity measures was passed. The police attempted to evacuate Syntagma Square of protesters, as well as other key protest points in Athens, by driving through the crowds on motorbikes and throwing stun grenades while making extensive use of tear gas. Media also mention that the police used unnecessary violence against protesters. Officials from the Athens Metro
Athens Metro
The Athens Metro is an underground rapid transit system serving Athens, the capital city of Greece. It was constructed and owned by Attiko Metro S.A. and operated until 2011 by Attiko Metro Etaireia Leitourgias S.A....

 also said that the police had fired tear gas inside the Syntagma Square metro station. Police also stormed Monastiraki
Monastiraki
Monastiraki is a flea market neighborhood in the old town of Athens, Greece, and is one of the principal shopping districts in Athens. The area is home to clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, and specialty stores, and is a major tourist attraction in Athens and Attica for bargain shopping...

, as well as the streets around the Acropolis
Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is the best known acropolis in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification...

, randomly hitting people eating at taverns and making extensive use of chemicals and stun grenades. Doctors at the infirmary set up at Othonos Square said the police had attacked them using stones and pieces of marble. Earlier, two members of the Teacher's Association were attacked by police and were injured, one of them on the head. Police also tried to deny access to the square to an ambulance attempting to transport heavily injured civilians to a hospital. A total of about 270 people were injured on 28 June alone, and over 500 visited the Syntagma Square metro station infirmary on 29 June. The Ministry of Health reported that 99 people were sent to hospitals on 29 June. Following almost two days of violence in the streets in front of the Greek parliament, the Greek TV channel Alter
Alter Channel
Alter Channel better known as Alter, is a private TV network in Greece. It launched in 1994 and is owned by Eleftheri Tileorasi S.A, which is headed by Andreas Kouris. Programming mainly consists of news & current affairs shows and entertainment programmes...

 aired a video apparently showing members of the riot police cooperating with hooded youth. The Minister for Citizen Protection, Christos Papoutsis
Christos Papoutsis
Christos Papoutsis is a Greek socialist politician, serving as the Minister for Citizen Protection as of September 7, 2010. Prior to his current office he has served as Minister of Mercantile Marine and European Commissioner responsible for Energy, EURATOM Supply Agency, SMEs, Tourism and...

, ordered an immediate investigation in the claims according to which the police was aiding the hooded youth which vandalized Syntagma Square and the surrounding areas and later allowed them to move behind the police lines. The damage caused to Athens' historic city center is estimated to be over 500,000 euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

, as shop fronts were vandalized by hooded youth. Three of Greece's most famous hotels located on Syntagma Square were forced to evacuate their guests and personnel in view of the uncontrollable situation, something that the media say has not happened since the events of December 1944, which started the Greek Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

.

Meanwhile in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 a crowd of people had blocked a number of important political and religious figures from exiting the grounds of the Papafeio Orphanage, including Minister of Health Andreas Loverdos
Andreas Loverdos
Andreas Loverdos is a Greek politician and the current Minister for Health and Social Solidarity.-Early life:Andeas Loverdos was born on 15 May 1956, in Patras, Greece. He graduated from the Law School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1978...

 and the metropolitan bishop of Thessaloniki, Anthimus. The crowds demanded that the Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

 help Greece in this time of crisis and accused the clergy of receiving oversized salaries. When protesters asked the metropolitan bishop how much his religious attire costs, he replied "not much, it's fake". They were forced to exit the grounds through the back door with the aid of the police, using police cars and taxis, while Anthimus left on foot.

Despite the violent protests and use of tear gas by police to evacuate Syntagma Square the previous evening, peaceful protests continued on 30 June with thousands of people gathered in front of the Greek parliament. Demonstrations also took place in Greece's second city, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

.

July


Protests across the country continued in July, marking 5 weeks and 2 days of protest on 1 July. Despite the fact that the austerity measures had been passed, a large crowd, but smaller than on previous days, gathered in front of the Greek parliament to protest peacefully on 2 July.

August


The sit-in at Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

's White Tower
White Tower
-Geography and history:* White Tower of Thessaloniki, a monument and museum in Greece* White Tower of Tehran, Iran* White Tower of Tsarskoye Selo, landscape architecture element in Tsarskoye Selo, Russia...

 Square held throughout July and early August, until the municipal police evacuated the square of all protesters that had camped inside on 7 August 2011. The police said that the protesters were in violation of various archaeological and environmental provisions, while also making 7 arrests.

On 14 August 2011 the indignants at Heraklion
Heraklion
Heraklion, or Heraclion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete, Greece. It is the 4th largest city in Greece....

's Eleftherias Square agreed to leave the square peacefully, following the intervention of a local prosecutor; the prosecutor had warned that unless the demonstrators evacuate the square force would be used like in Athens. Following the evacuation of the square by the indignants, police cleared the square of the kiosk that the demonstrators had set up.

Political reactions


In an interview for the Greek newspaper Ethnos on 29 May 2011, the vice-president of the Greek government, Theodoros Pangalos
Theodoros Pangalos
Theodoros Pangalos is a Greek politician and leading member of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. He currently serves as the Vice-President of the Greek government, responsible for the coordination of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense and the new Economic & Social Policy...

, against whom various slogans had been shouted during the demonstrations, adopted an ironic stance towards the movement. He said that "the formation of a political movement, however much the people who follow the technological trends don't want to hear this, does not depend on how many 'likes' or 'dislikes' it gets on Facebook". He added that "movements without ideology and organization, that is to say movements based on anger, can only lead to either an ineffective release [of tension], which at the end of the day is of no interest to the political world, or pave the way for an undemocratic change of regime by organized minorities". In response, the demonstrations addressed many chants to the vice-president, like "the country is sinking, Theodore, lose some weight!" and other more vulgar ones.

On 29 May, the spokesman of the Greek government, Giorgos Petalotis, spoke out against Pangalos, saying that Pangalos should remember that when he took part in demonstrations against the dictatorship as a member of the Communist Party
Communist Party of Greece
Founded in 1918, the Communist Party of Greece , better known by its acronym, ΚΚΕ , is the oldest party on the Greek political scene.- Foundation :...

 in 1973, "some people considered these demonstrations provocative". He furthermore added that not only does the Indignant Citizens Movement have a clear ideology (even if it is a "technology trend" as Pangalos described it), but that it also "reflects the real needs of the Greek society". He pointed out that "denial [of the system] and no proposals lead nowhere".

On 1 June, the Prime Minister of Greece
Prime Minister of Greece
The Prime Minister of Greece , officially the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic , is the head of government of the Hellenic Republic and the leader of the Greek cabinet. The current interim Prime Minister is Lucas Papademos, a former Vice President of the European Central Bank, following...

, George Papandreou
George Papandreou
Georgios A. Papandreou , commonly anglicised to George and shortened to Γιώργος in Greek, is a Greek politician who served as Prime Minister of Greece following his party's victory in the 2009 legislative election...

, commented in regards to the Indignant Citizens Movement saying that "today protesters in Greece and the world are demonstrating against matters of national governance which are more weak than they used to be and, despite their inner weaknesses, are trapped by the global powers and the changes of a global system".

Following the blockade of the Parliament by angry citizens on 31 May, which prevented the MPs inside from exiting the building, and also after the angry reactions against the MPs when they were allowed to exit (such as the throwing of empty water bottles, fruit and other objects), the deputy Minister of Education said "I understand that the Indignant Citizens Movement is not a threat to democracy, but violence is, and I condemn it". She added that "in a democracy, violence should be prevented and not tolerated" and that "the majority of the MPs in parliament are young; they should receive the same treatment as old MPs". The deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs commented that "I can accept tougher questioning and criticism, but not the leveling of our political system. Democracy can give [a] solution. The flattening of our democracy can only lead to a slippery road. The majority of the Greek people can be angry, but not under these circumstances".
European Parliament MP
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

 Theodoros Skylakakis, who is aligned with the newly-founded Democratic Alliance
Democratic Alliance (Greece)
The Democratic Alliance is a centrist-liberal political party in Greece. It was founded on 21 November 2010 by Dora Bakoyannis, a few months after she was expelled from the centre-right party New Democracy for voting in support of an European Union-International Monetary Fund backed financial...

 party, said that "these people need to get a sense of political ideology and move to a deeper revelation: from what they don't like, to what they like", implying that a non-political movement will be ineffective and without results. Alexis Tsipras
Alexis Tsipras
Alexis Tsipras is a Greek left wing politician, member of the Hellenic parliament, president of the Synaspismos political party and head of SYRIZA parliamentary group.-Early life and career:Tsipras was born July 28, 1974, in Athens....

, leader of the Synaspismos radical left party and the first party leader to comment on the demonstrations, said that "no one has the right to make the people [silent], or tell them that they have no say in their country's future by means of a referendum". He added that the Left should be supportive of the demonstrations and that "things are turning at a fast pace, and the people are waking up".

The Mayor of Athens said on 30 May that the protest was a "healthy and sound demonstration", but when a motion was put forth at the municipal council to declare the municipality's support for the demonstrations, the mayor said that he felt "it is not appropriate to express our sympathy".

In an interview with a Greek newspaper on 1 June 2011, the Spanish Democracia Real YA!
Democracia real Ya
¡Democracia Real YA! , also known as Plataforma Democracia Real Ya! , is a grassroots citizens' organization that was started in March 2011 in Spain, and that by May 15 sparked the political movement of the 2011 Spanish protests, which gained world wide attention and has been inspired by the...

 movement, which organized the 2011 Spanish Protests
2011 Spanish protests
The 2011 Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement and the Indignants movement, are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks and Real Democracy NOW among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations...

 and sparked the Greek protests, said that its members support the Greek demonstrations and that "this is only the beginning".

On 2 June 2011, 16 parliament members of PASOK publicly demanded of George Papandreou
George Papandreou
Georgios A. Papandreou , commonly anglicised to George and shortened to Γιώργος in Greek, is a Greek politician who served as Prime Minister of Greece following his party's victory in the 2009 legislative election...

 that the parliament make a full report of country's current financial situation. This was caused by the forthcoming second memoradum voting, which George Papandreou
George Papandreou
Georgios A. Papandreou , commonly anglicised to George and shortened to Γιώργος in Greek, is a Greek politician who served as Prime Minister of Greece following his party's victory in the 2009 legislative election...

 characterised as "urgent".

In the early hours of 22 June 2011, George Papandreou and his government narrowly survived a vote of confidence in the Greek parliament, with 155 of the 300 seats voting in favor.

On 28 June 2011, amid violent protests in the square outside parliament, the Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
The Hellenic Parliament , also the Parliament of the Hellenes, is the Parliament of Greece, located in the Parliament House , overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece....

 voted in favor of passing a new set of austerity measures with a marginal majority of 155 seats in the 300-seat parliament. The measures themselves had attracted much criticism both from the Greek public and within the country's political scene. Between June and July 2011, PASOK  went from an 156-seat majority to a 154-seat one, while New Democracy also lost one seat.

The allegations of police brutality
Police brutality
Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer....

 by Greek and foreign media as well as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 sparked heated debate in the Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
The Hellenic Parliament , also the Parliament of the Hellenes, is the Parliament of Greece, located in the Parliament House , overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece....

, with all parties in the house asking the government for explanations, including MPs of the ruling PASOK party. The leader of the opposition, Antonis Samaras
Antonis Samaras
Antonis Samaras is a Greek economist and politician who has been leader of New Democracy, Greece's major conservative party and main opposition party, since 2009. A Member of Parliament for Messenia, he was Minister of Finance in 1989, then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1990 and again...

, characterized the situation as almost that of a "parastate", while George Karatzaferis of the Popular Orthodox Rally
Popular Orthodox Rally
The Popular Orthodox Rally or The People's Orthodox Rally , often abbreviated to ΛΑ.Ο.Σ as a pun on the Greek word for people, is a Greek party. According to its political program LA.O.S...

 accused the government of "not being able to control 200 thugs in central Athens". The radical left party SYRIZA accused the government of "abolishing the very principles of democracy" and filed a complaint against the government for "cheering while at the same time outside the building tear gas was being overly used". Members of the parliamentary group of PASOK characterized the actions of the police as "barbaric" Christos Papoutsis
Christos Papoutsis
Christos Papoutsis is a Greek socialist politician, serving as the Minister for Citizen Protection as of September 7, 2010. Prior to his current office he has served as Minister of Mercantile Marine and European Commissioner responsible for Energy, EURATOM Supply Agency, SMEs, Tourism and...

, the Minister for Citizen Protection
Minister for Citizen Protection
The Ministry of Citizen Protection is a government department of Greece responsible for the running of the country's security services, i.e. the Hellenic Police, the Hellenic Fire Service, the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Greek Agrarian Police, the Secretariat for Civil Defense, and the National...

, denied all accusations claiming that "it's the police that operates, not the government". Regarding the video in which police are allegedly helping hooded youth, he said that the people in the video are not police; the Athens Prosecutor accepted the demands for an investigation into the matter. On the matter of the attack on the Sytagma Square metro station
Syntagma station
The Syntagma station of Attiko Metro is located at Syntagma Square in the center of Athens, Greece. It serves as a transfer point to the Blue Line with the Red Line . It also serves as a connection point to the Athens Tram. When the Metro first opened, the station was the terminal station for both...

 using tear gas by police, the minister said that "people with health issues were transported to hospitals and the others left inside were wearing gas masks more expensive than the ones used by police". Giannis Ragousis
Giannis Ragousis
Giannis Ragousis is a Greek economist and politician of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. He is currently the Alternate Minister for National Defence.-Education:...

, Minister for Transport, asked for a disciplinary measure to punish those responsible. The European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 stated that any use of violence is sad and unacceptable.

Additionally, the Greek government has pledged to amend the constitution as a result of the protests. Among the most important aspects of the constitutional reform will be the change of the functions of the Greek political system. The Greek government has said it will open up the discussion on constitutional amendment in September, both to the public and the media. Other media have pointed out that this could not be legal before 2013 because the constitutional amendment of 2008 forbids any other changes to the constitution prior to 2013.

Public perception and media coverage


In a survey published in June 2011 by Public Issue on behalf of the Greek TV channel Skai
Skai TV
Skai TV is a Greek TV station, based in Pireus, Athens. It is part of the Skai Group one of the largest media groups in Greece. It was relaunched in its present form on April 1, 2006 in Athens and gradually managed to spread its coverage nationwide. Besides analog over-the-air transmission, it is...

, 98% of people asked said they were informed about the protests. Additionally, 95% of people asked said they had positive impressions about the movement. When asked about their overall opinion of the movement, 86% replied either positive (76%) or probably positive (10%) while 6% replied negative, with an additional 2% as probably negative. 35% of the people asked said they had participated in at least one protest. When asked about their opinion in regards to the media coverage of the events, 53% replied negative and 39% positive. 51% thought the demonstrations are a "very important" event, while 34% felt it was "quite important", with 12% replying they viewed it as either not very important or not important at all. When asked if they believe that the protests may have been politically orchestrated by a political power within the country, 80% replied no and 16% yes. Finally, 52% believed that the protests will bring results, while 39% believed they will not.

Demonstrations were scheduled to continue for "as long as it takes". These demonstrations were the largest event to be organized over the internet in Greece. It is of note that, with the exception of Skai TV
Skai TV
Skai TV is a Greek TV station, based in Pireus, Athens. It is part of the Skai Group one of the largest media groups in Greece. It was relaunched in its present form on April 1, 2006 in Athens and gradually managed to spread its coverage nationwide. Besides analog over-the-air transmission, it is...

, Star Channel
Star Channel
Star Channel is a Greek television network that broadcasts a mix of foreign and Greek programming. It launched in December 1993 and is owned by Nea Tileorasi A.E.. The main news bulletin is called Star Eidiseis, which is currently hosted by Aimilios Liatsos...

 and Zougla Radio, which provided live coverage of the demonstrations in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, media coverage of these events was relatively poor in the first weeks. It is indicative that major Greek TV channel Mega
Mega Channel
Mega Channel, also known as Mega TV or just Mega, is a major television network in Greece. Teletypos S.A. was founded in 1989 under the name Teletypos Television Programmes S.A...

 was forced to termporarily deactivate its Facebook page as thousands of people left negative and derogatory comments on the page because the channel did not cover the events of 29 May. The demonstrations did catch the attention of the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, and the spokesman of the organization expressed "understanding" for the demonstrators. Additionally, the demonstrations have also been featured in Euronews
EuroNews
Euronews is an international multilingual news television channel.It covers world news from what it claims to be a 'European' perspective.Criticisms are that the perspective is in fact that of the European Commission - a major and growing funder of Euronews....

, El Pais, El Economista and CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

. Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis Theodorakis is one of the most renowned Greek songwriters and composers. Internationally, he is probably best known for his songs and for his scores for the films Zorba the Greek , Z , and Serpico .Politically, he identified with the left until the late 1980s; in 1989, he ran as an...

, prominent Greek songwriter and political activist, especially during the years of the dictatorship (1967–1974), also expressed his support for the movement in an open letter addressed to the demonstrators. Famous Greek singer Giannis Kotsiras also expressed his open support for the initiative. Some members of the Greek clergy have also expressed their open support for the demonstrations, notably bishops Anthimus of Thessaloniki and Ambrosius of Kalavryta
Kalavryta
Kalavryta is a town and a municipality in the eastcentral part of the peripheral unit of Achaea, Greece. It is the southern terminus of the Kalavryta - Diakopto Road and the eastern terminus of the Patras - Kalavryta Road. It is located approx...

.

August


On 23 August 2011, there was a demonstration by workers in the tourism sector. The Pan-Worker's Front staged a sit-in
Sit-in
A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...

 at some of Athens' most famous hotels on Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square , is located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was forced to grant the people after a popular and military uprising, on September 3, 1843....

, as well as the iconic Electra Palace Hotel in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

's Aristotelous Square
Aristotelous Square
Aristotelous Square is the main city square of Thessaloniki, Greece and is located on Nikis avenue , in the city center. It was designed by French architect Ernest Hébrard in 1918, but most of the square was built in the 1950s...

. Meanwhile the Federation of Tourism Workers held a 24-hour strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 and a demonstration in a central square of Athens. The Federation also said that they would hold another 24-hour strike, but did not define a date for it. The sit-in at various hotels was met with criticism from government officials as well as various labor unions involved in the tourism sector.

September


In early September 2011, as new measures were announced by the Minister for Finance on 6 September, various unions of the country's public sector announced they would go on strike. These include teachers, doctors, taxi drivers, customs officials and tax collectors, as well as waste collector
Waste collector
A waste collector is a person employed by a public or private enterprise to collect and remove refuse and recyclables from residential, commercial, industrial or other collection site for further processing and disposal...

s working for the municipality of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. Additionally, the air traffic controller
Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers are the people who expedite and maintain a safe and orderly flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control system. The position of the air traffic controller is one that requires highly specialized skills...

's union announced that, in the interest of serving the public, air traffic controllers would not go on strike but would refuse to work overtime. Workers at the Athens Urban Transport Organization (which includes the Athens Metro
Athens Metro
The Athens Metro is an underground rapid transit system serving Athens, the capital city of Greece. It was constructed and owned by Attiko Metro S.A. and operated until 2011 by Attiko Metro Etaireia Leitourgias S.A....

) are considering going on strike as well.

October


On October 5, 2011, there was a general strike. During the demonstrations police clashed with youth and made 10 arrests. Police are also investigating claims by journalists that they were assaulted by police officers. The police officer who assaulted the journalist was arrested, but then released on 6 October until conclusive evidence is found.

There were demonstrations in coordination with the Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters which began September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district...

 movement on October 15
15 October 2011 global protests
The 15 October 2011 global protests were part of a series of protests inspired by the Arab Spring, the Spanish "Indignants", the Greek Protests and the Occupy movement. Global demonstrations were held on October 15 in more than 950 cities 82 countries. The date was chosen to coincide with the 5...

. Only 7,000 demonstrators, according to estimates by local media, gathered on Syntagma square in a peaceful demonstration. Further protests and strikes were organized for October 19 and October 20.

The strikes in fact began on 17 October, when the seaman's union walked off the job for 48 hours, shutting down the ferry services between the islands. Customs officials who clear fuel refinery deliveries also held a 24-hour strike that day. The shortage of fuel and goods in the Greek islands due to the strike of ferry and fuel services has already began to manifest itself.

On the second day of the protests, reported to be the largest in decades, a riot ensued and one person died.

On 28 October (a national holiday in Greece), protests occurred nationwide. In Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, where a national military parade is held annually, protesters prevented the parade from officially taking place (the first time this occurred since the parade was first held in 1941) and shouted slogans against Karolos Papoulias
Karolos Papoulias
-Honours:*Knight Grand Cross with Grand Cordon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic *Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav *Knight of the Order of the Elephant- External links :*...

, the President of Greece
President of Greece
The President of the Hellenic Republic , colloquially referred to in English as the President of Greece, is the head of state of Greece. The office of the President of the Republic was established after the Greek republic referendum, 1974 and formally by the Constitution of Greece in 1975. The...

, who was forced to leave. However, the civilian part of the parade along with the conscriptees marched as planned, acclaimed by the crowd. In Athens, during the annual student parade, several schools turned their heads away from the officials present (which included Anna Diamantopoulou
Anna Diamantopoulou
Anna Diamantopoulou , is a Member of Parliament in Greece for the party of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement and the current Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs in Greece...

, the Minister of Education), while of the members of the band of the Municipality of Athens attached black ribbons to their instruments. Additionally, a crowd of people had gathered in front of Hotel Grand Bretagne in central Athens (close to the VIP stand) and shouted slogans against the economic crisis. In Heraklion
Heraklion
Heraklion, or Heraclion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete, Greece. It is the 4th largest city in Greece....

 protesters threw eggs at the officials, while in Patras
Patras
Patras , ) is Greece's third largest urban area and the regional capital of West Greece, located in northern Peloponnese, 215 kilometers west of Athens...

 protesters occupied the street where the scheduled student parade was to take place and shouted slogans agains the officials present (which included the Minister for Defence). Heckling of politicians occurred in many other cities across the country, including Trikala
Trikala
Trikala is a city in northwestern Thessaly, Greece. It is the capital of the Trikala peripheral unit, and is located NW of Athens, NW, of Karditsa, E of Ioannina and Metsovo, S of Grevena, SW of Thessaloniki, and W of Larissa...

, Volos
Volos
Volos is a coastal port city in Thessaly situated midway on the Greek mainland, about 326 km north of Athens and 215 km south of Thessaloniki...

, Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

, Serres
Serres
Serres is a city in Greece, seat of the Serres prefecture.Serres may also refer to:Places:* Serres, Germany, a part of Wiernsheim in Baden-WürttembergIn France:* Serres, Aude in the Aude département...

, Veroia, Tripoli and Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

.

See also

  • 2008 Greek riots
  • Crisis situations and protests in Europe since 2000
    Crisis situations and protests in Europe since 2000
    List of crises situations and major protests in countries of Europe since year 2000.- 2011 :*2011 England riots in August*2011 Kosovo border clashes from July onwards, involving Kosovan Police and KFOR against Kosovan Serb demonstrators*2011 E...

  • December 2001 riots in Argentina
  • 2011 Spanish protests
    2011 Spanish protests
    The 2011 Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement and the Indignants movement, are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks and Real Democracy NOW among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations...


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