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November 7, 2012
November 7, 2012

Greece: 153 “Yes”, thousands of “No”

Author: Yannis Christodoulou Translator: Anna Papoutsi
Category: Protest
This article is also available in: elesfr
Greece: 153 “Yes”, thousands of “No”

Photo by Ross Domoney

Early in the evening of Monday 5th of November, the Ministry of Finance finally submitted the much-anticipated bill. One single article, 216 pages! In an unprecedented move that totally undermined the democratic processes, the MPs were called to study, discuss and vote on it in less than 48 hours’ time.

In this extortionate timetable that trivialised the parliamentary processes for a bill that would be the tombstone of Greek society, people and the trade unions answered with a 48-hour strike and a call for circling the parliament.

The first day began very early with town hall occupations. As expected, due to the strike of public transport, the crowd that gathered did not reach the massive mobilisation of last month. For this reason, early on there was pressure for public transport to run for some hours the next day in order to serve the protestors.

The opposition party made their presence felt early in the day in an unprecedented and effective move: SYRIZA MPs, “patrolling” in key-places in the centre of Athens intervened and revealed secret police, disguised as… protestors. SYRIZA leader was present at the demonstration and repeated once more the request for election: “The three-party consortium of austerity, in order to stay in power, puts society as collateral to the lenders. They ridicule Democracy and the Constitution […]. We will not let them to destroy what is left. We demand election. Election is needed now in order to stop the disaster. In order for the people to speak. In order to save the people from a new tyranny.”

The demonstration begun and was concluded earlier than usual and the protestors were dispersed soon and –for the first time in months– without any riots. An intense sense of getting it over with during the mobilisation resembled the day before February the 12th, when the 2nd Memorandum was voted for – and we all remember what happened then.

The second day of the mobilisation, 7th on November, was definitively different. And it resembled indeed the 12th of February! The public transport run as of 3 o’clock and people were heading to Syntagma square from Monastiraki, the closest open station. The square was packed and people were yelling and applauding. In an unexpected move, the SYRIZA MPs exited the Parliament holding a banner: “You are destroying the country; leave now”, a move that was embraced with enthusiasm and emotion.

It was not long before clashes erupted between protestors and police who seized the opportunity to try out Ajax, the newly obtained water cannon –a rather grotesque spectacle since everyone was already wet from the rain.

Following the clashes on the lower part of the square, the riot police pushed in a criminal way the protestors upwards crowding them in Othonos street, next to the Parliament. Tear gases, beatings and running, people trying not to get treaded. A woman did not avoid it and was transported in critical condition to the make-shift hospital that was set up in Hotel Amalia.

In the end, the torrential rain managed what the riot police couldn’t, that is to break up the massive demonstration. Streets became rivers of water and people and we all waded home to watch on TV or listen on the radio the 153 “yes” that sealed our future.

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Greece: 153 “Yes”, thousands of “No” by Yannis Christodoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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