GREECE ERUPTS – against austerity cuts

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Enormous numbers of workers demonstrating in Athens on Sunday against the austerity cuts
Enormous numbers of workers demonstrating in Athens on Sunday against the austerity cuts

Hundreds of thousands of workers, youth and self-employed people staged a colossal rally last Sunday night in Athens outside the Vouli (Greek parliament) against the EC-IMF bailout imposed on Greece.

Workers demanded the overthrow of the coalition government of banker Lucas Papademos. The rally was called by the GSEE (Greek TUC).

At around 5pm dozens of squads of riot police attacked the rally with noise and smoke bombs and tear gas canisters to clear the square in front of the Vouli.

Pitched battles followed throughout the Athens city centre for the next six hours; youth threw fruit and stones at the police and set up barricades with rubbish bins.

Banks and department stores were attacked and some 20 buildings in the heart of Athens caught fire.

During the battles about 30,000 people remained in front of the Vouli while tens of thousands sought cover in side streets and in the nearby National Gardens.

At about 10pm the riot police attacked the demonstrators outside the Vouli and pushed them away. But thousands remained in the streets all night resisting the police clean-up.

In this violent and dictatorial way the Papademos government forced the bailout Bill through the Vouli; but it was a pyrrhic victory which has shaken the regime and created a huge crisis for the two political parties still supporting the non-elected Papademos government.

Of the 278 parliamentary deputies present in the vote, 199 voted for the bailout Bill, 74 against, and five abstained. 22 deputies of the PASOK social-democrats and 21 deputies of the conservative New Democracy party voted against the Bill or abstained. All of them were immediately expelled by their leaders after the results of the vote were announced in the Vouli.

Mass rallies of unprecedented militancy took place in all the Greek cities where sustained clashes between demonstrators and riot police occurred.

In the city of Corfu large crowds smashed up the offices of the two local parliamentary deputies who voted for the bailout Bill.

Hundreds of people were hospitalised and arrested after the riot police attacks.

Inside the Vouli the deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Evagelos Venizelos declared that democracy means law and order.

The EC-IMF-imposed regime of Papademos will now intensify its class war against the working class and youth in trying to implement the bailout Bill.

It is a regime that has to become more and more violent and dictatorial so as to survive.

As was made clear on Sunday night, now the working class and the youth are moving on to insurrection.

At the rally they demanded that the GSEE calls an ‘indefinite strike’ and a struggle to ‘kick out Papademos and the troika’.

There is no doubt that this week more demonstrations and rallies will be held.

• Eurozone finance ministers will convene in Brussels tomorrow in an extraordinary meeting that was set after they declined in a special session on February 9th to ratify the 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) package.