Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israeli Navy Rams Aid Boat

EPT, Greece
Dec. 30, 2008

Cruiser "Dignity" carrying international activists and aid for Gaza was rammed by an Israeli naval ship off the Gaza Strip. Activists from the "Free Gaza" movement claimed that the Israelis demanded the vessel return to Cyprus, although it did not have enough fuel. The captain of the

Israeli ship told Dignity's captain that he had been involved in terrorism. Finally, the aid boat docked Tuesday in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre.

Hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese had gathered to welcome it.

Free Gaza is a U.S.-based organization which has sent regular shuttles of aid to Gaza from Cyprus since August.

"It was like ramming a Mini (car) with a truck," Eleni Theocharous, a Cypriot lawmaker on board the boat, told Reuters.

Cyprus state radio said the Cypriot government would seek explanations from Israel over the incident. The vessel was carrying medical aid donated by Cyprus and there were at least three Cypriots on board, including the parliamentarian. A CNN reporter on board said the boat ran no risk of sinking.

In Greece SYN (Coalition of the Radical Left) stressed in its statement: "We vehemently condemn Israel's new act of war in international waters against Dignity, which carried humanitarian aid to Gaza, a region suffering from a huge humanitarian crisis due to the Israeli bombings. We urge the Greek administration and the EU to step up measures against Israel's raids."


DPA - Egypt arrests 23 opposition Muslim Brotherhood members

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Dec 30, 2008

Cairo - Egyptian security forces on Tuesday arrested 23 members of the banned opposition
Muslim Brotherhood group as they prepared to meet to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, according to a security source.

The source said the 23 were arrested in front of Egypt's Doctors Syndicate, where the meeting to discuss the Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip was due to take place.

Earlier on Tuesday, dozens of security elements were seen surrounding the syndicate, located in downtown Cairo.

The Doctors Syndicate, along with the Bar association and the Press Syndicate, are known to be the centre of protests in the Egyptian capital.

The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's largest opposition group. It achieved an historic victory in the 2005 legislative elections, winning around 20 per cent of the seats in the People's Assembly.

Most of the thousands of Egyptians who have taken to the streets over the past few days to demonstrate against the Israeli attacks on the strip belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the radical Islamic Hamas movement, has left more than 360 dead and 1,700 injured. The air offensive - aimed at curbing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants from the strip - began on Saturday.


AFP - Protesters worldwide keep up pressure over Gaza

PARIS (AFP) — Protesters denouncing Israel's deadly bombardment of the Gaza Strip returned to the streets in demonstrations around the world to keep up the pressure for an end to the violence.

As Israel, under increasing diplomatic pressure, mulled a proposed 48-hour truce and the death toll from its onslaught rose to at least 373 Palestinians, the protesters made their voices heard again.

In France, more than 7,000 protesters marched in a dozen cities across the country to denounce the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip , which continued for the fourth day running Tuesday.

In Paris, around 3,500 people according to police -- 5,000 according to the organisers -- marched towards the French foreign ministry on the Quai D'Orsay by the River Seine, shouting slogans and carrying banners denouncing Israel.

Police said another 700 marched in the western city of Nantes, while demonstrations in at least a dozen cities and towns across the country each attracted hundreds of protesters.

In London, between 200 and 300 demonstrators protested peacefully outside the Israeli embassy, after the two previous days' rallies had descended into violence.

This demonstration was smaller than on Sunday and Monday, when scuffles erupted between police and protestors against Israel's air raids, leading to a total of 17 arrests over the two days.

Iranian demonstrators stormed the British diplomatic compound in Tehran Tuesday evening to protest London's stance towards the Israeli onslaught, state news agency IRNA reported.

"A large group of people and students entered the Gholhak gardens, which are occupied by the British embassy to protest at Britain's policies in supporting the Zionist regime and put up the Palestinian flag there," IRNA said.

A media officer at the British embassy in Tehran confirmed the report.

In Washington, between 2,500 and 5,000 people protested outside the US State Department chanting slogans like "Stop the Killing, Stop the War, Stop the Genocide of Palestinians" and with some carrying banners saying "Stop US Aid to Israel".

In Los Angeles, around 500 protestors and pro-Israel activists faced off peacefully near the Israeli Consulate.

At a separate demonstration attended by around 100 protesters in Westwood, actor Mike Farrell, a star of the hit 1970s television series "MASH", said he was "one of those people horrified by Israel's over-response."

"Not that I'm in favor of Hamas by any means, because firing rockets into Israel is not the way these things get resolved in a productive way," he said.

In Tunis, hundreds of lawyers and trade unionists joined opposition activists to defy a police ban and protest the bombing of Gaza, several sources reported.

As some protesters shouted slogans denouncing the lack of response from Arab countries in general and Egypt in particular, police headed off the demonstration as it headed towards the courthouse, said witnesses.

Tunisia's government has already condemned the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Saudi Arabia's interior ministry denied a report by Shiite news website Rasid.com that hundreds had demonstrated Monday afternoon in heavily Shiite Al Qatif, just west of Dammam, leading to several arrests.

Shiite news website Rasid.com reported that police had fired rubber bullets to break up the demonstrations Monday afternoon, which were attended by hundreds of people. But an interior ministry spokesman told AFP there had been no such demonstration.

Demonstrators in the Yemeni port city of Aden briefly broke into the Egyptian consulate to protest Cairo's response to the Israeli offensive, a security official said.

The protesters, mostly students from the university of Aden, "vandalised furniture before they were removed peacefully from the building," the official said, asking not to be identified.

Egypt has come in for strong criticism from Islamists and their sympathisers around the Muslim world for not fully opening its border with Gaza in the face of Israel's devastating air blitz.

In Algeria, about 100 people staged a protest in the capital Algiers after a call from politicians and editors of writers' and artists' magazines. They observed a minute's silence in memory of the dead.

In Panama City, around 200 people protested outside the Israeli embassy to condemn Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip.

In the Bulgarian capital Sofia, about 200 protesters called on the Bulgarian government to support the peace efforts. Demonstrators carried pro-Palestinian banners and others denouncing Israel.

Earlier Tuesday, about 200 people carrying flowers and candles offered a one-minute prayer in front of the Israeli embassy, with a Buddhist monk ringing a bell for the souls of the victims.

"This is nothing but a bloodbath," organiser Hiroshi Taniyama told demonstrators, who included Arabs living in Japan.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Around 5,000 Egyptians Demonstrate Against Israel in Downtown Cairo

Nearly 5,000 demonstrators took to Abdel Khaleq Tharwat Street in downtown Cairo on monday in protest against Israel's barbaric assault on Gaza.

Most of the demonstrators were affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, although a number of other political currents took part including the Revolutionary Socialists, Nasserists, members of the Karama Party, Labor Party, along with countless numbers of independent activists and unaffiliated citizens.

Slogans were chanted in solidarity with the beseiged people of Gaza, and in support of the Palestinian resistance.
Other slogans demanded that the (pro-Zionist) Egyptian government open up the Rafah crossing point and lift the Egyptian-imposed seige on Gaza.

This massive demonstration stretched forth (on both sides of the street) from the Judges' Club to the Lawyers' Syndicate.

Thousands of Central Security Forces were deployed around the venue.

More demos are planned this week.



Gaza attacks: Israeli strikes spark protests across world

Dec. 29, 2008

Israeli attacks on Gaza have triggered protests in more than a dozen countries around the world.

In one of the largest protests, hundreds of demonstrators briefly scuffled with police outside the Israeli embassy in London.

Several hundred protesters were initially kept behind metal barriers across from the embassy in the up-scale central London district of Kensington, but surged forward across the road towards the front gates.

Protesters also have taken to the streets in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, according to news reports. There also were reports of demonstrations in Caracas, Venezuela.

In London, police on horseback moved in to try to disperse the crowd, and confused scuffles broke out among security forces and protestors, brandishing placards reading "Free Palestine" and "Stop starving the Palestinians".

At one point an Israeli flag was burned in the crowd, while other placards read "Stop the Holocaust in Gaza" and "End the siege on Gaza". Scotland Yard reported no arrests.

A police spokeswoman said there were some 600 demonstrators. Some two hours after the rally started, protestors were still blocking the road Monday evening and shouting in a tense stand-off with police as night fell.

Israeli military jets have pounded Islamist movement Hamas targets in densely-populated Gaza for three days, killing at least 345 people and drawing outrage and calls for restraint from around the world.

In Greece, riot police fired tear gas to repel protesters hurling rocks at the Israeli Embassy in Athens.

More than 3,000 demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans converged on the Israeli Embassy north of the city center in separate demonstrations and rallies organized by Greek left-wing parties and Arab groups.

Hundreds of demonstrators also marched through Nordic cities and towns, setting Israeli flags alight and chanting "Israel, murderer."

In Stockholm, organisers said some 1,000 people turned out while police said around 500 had gathered in one of the Swedish capital's main squares before marching to the Israeli embassy.

The demonstrators, mainly Muslim immigrants to Sweden, waved banners and shouted "Close the embassy", "Gaza solidarity" and "Israel, murderer", and set fire to an Israeli flag painted with a swastika.

"Enough blood! We've seen enough," Omar Mustafa, an organiser with the Swedish Islamic Association, said.

"We don't see any reaction from the rest of the world while there is a massacre going on," he added.

Police in Germany said about 2,000 protesters marched peacefully down Berlin's Kurfuerstendamm Boulevard and dispersed after about three hours.

Iranian media reported that thousands took part in anti-Israel demonstrations in Tehran on Monday, which the government declared a day of mourning for the Palestinians in Gaza.

In the Muslim world, demonstrations also were held in Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Libya and Bahrain, the BBC and other news outlets reported.

Protests were also held in Israel, where students at universities in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem demonstrated against the Israeli military operation, ynetnews.com reported.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Koss ommein awwaness kassakees koss om kol sahyouni!

Death to Israel; Down with Apartheid-Zionism!
Long live Gaza's armed resistance


AFP - At least 228 die as Israel hammers Hamas-run Gaza

GAZA CITY (AFP) — Israel hammered Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 228 people in retaliation for rocket fire, in one of the bloodiest days of the decades-long Middle East conflict.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said "Operation Cast Lead" against the Islamist movement, which has also left some 700 wounded, will continue "as long as necessary.

"The battle will be long and difficult, but the time has come to act and to fight," he said.
Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called in Damascus for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel and promised new suicide attacks.

Following mid-morning bombings, in which some 60 warplanes struck more than 50 targets over the span of just a few minutes, Hamas fired several dozen rockets, killing one Israeli.


Israeli air strikes continued sporadically throughout the day and into the night.

"We will not stand down and we will not cave in even if (the Israelis) should eradicate the Gaza Strip or kill thousands of us," Ismail Haniya, who heads the Hamas government, said in a defiant radio address.

Meshaal called for a "military intifada against the enemy" and said "resistance will continue through suicide missions."

Hamas has not carried out a suicide attack in Israel since January 2005.

He said that for there to be any talks with the people of Gaza, "the blockade must be lifted and the crossings (from Israel) opened... notably that in Rafah," which leads to Egypt.

Israel imposed a blockade after Hamas seized power in Gaza last year, but let in dozens of truckloads of humanitarian aid on Friday.

The White House said only Hamas could end the cycle of violence by putting a stop to the rocket fire on Israel.

"These people are nothing but thugs, and so Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas," spokesman Gordon Johndroe said at George W. Bush's Texas ranch, where the president is preparing to spend the new year.

"If Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel, then Israel would not have a need for strikes in Gaza," Johndroe said. "What we've got to see is Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel.

"The United States holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire; we want the ceasefire restored. We're concerned about the humanitarian situation and want all parties concerned to work to make sure the people of Gaza get the humanitarian assistance they need," said Johndroe.

He was referring to a six-month truce mediated by Egypt, which ended on December 19, with Hamas refusing to renew it.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged Israel will do its utmost to avert a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

"The people in Gaza do not deserve to suffer because of the killers and murderers of the terrorist organisation," he said, referring to Hamas.

He insisted that Israel had only hit Hamas targets, including command structures and rocket-manufacturing installations.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate halt to the violence , as did the European Union, Russia, Britain and France, while several Middle Eastern states and the Arab League slammed Israel.

The Arab League will hold an extraordinary summit in Doha on January 2 to discuss the crisis, diplomats in Cairo said.

In Gaza, thick clouds of smoke billowed into the sky. Mangled, bloodied and often charred corpses littered the pavement around Hamas security compounds, and frantic relatives flooded hospitals.

Medics said civilians had been hit, but the majority of the victims appeared to be members of Hamas, branded a terror group by Israel and the West.

Hamas said the strikes destroyed its security structures across Gaza and killed three senior officials -- the Gaza police chief, the police commander for central Gaza and the head of the group's bodyguard unit.

Dr Moawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services, put the toll at 225 dead and 700 injured, 140 of them seriously.

Later, a medical source added three more with witnesses saying that two of them died in the east of Gaza City while they were preparing to fire rockets towards Israel.

The bombing came after days of spiralling violence, with militants firing rockets and Israel vowing a fiery response.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak , who brokered the six-month truce, slammed the "Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip" and blamed "Israel, as an occupying force, for the victims and the wounded."

The bombardment set off angry demonstrations in Israel's Arab towns and in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as protests in countries around the region.

It came less than two months ahead of Israeli elections on February 10.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the head of the governing Kadima party and one of the front-runners for the premier's chair, said that "today there is no other option than a military operation."

Violence in and around Gaza has flared since the truce ended, and it escalated dramatically on Wednesday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Greece: Second shooting provokes new wave of mass anger

Mon, 22 Dec 2008.
Nicos Anastasiades, "Xekinima", CWI - Greece

Mass movement comes to the forefront

Another shooting was reported on Wednesday (17 December) evening, striking a school student in the hand, but luckily not causing major damage. It is not clear yet who fired the shot (it is either a policeman or a fascist). The 16 year-old was a member of his schools’ council and was deeply involved in the movement.The news created a new wave of anger, and the rallies in Athens today were very big, around 20,000. They were combined with a 24 hour teachers’ strike and a 3-hour stoppage of the public sector workers.

Many schools and universities under occupation

According to the official figures, 200 university departments (out of a total of about 400) and 700 schools (out of 3,000) are currently under occupation. There are still every day local and central demonstrations.All this has terrified the right-wing government, which has a majority of only one in parliament.

It has used all its force to stop the mobilizations. The mainstream media are blaming the demonstrators (and the riots) for the sharp drop in sales, which is mainly due to the economic crisis. The Greek police have run out of tear gas, and are now ordering more from Israel.

The ministry of Education has asked the teachers not to have lessons but to "engage students in creative time-spending" (like… excursions, picnics, museum visits, etc) in order to stop them from joining the demos.

The openly fascist organization "Golden Dawn" (masquerading as “angry citizens”) have attacked protesters side by side with the police, using knives. And few days ago, there were revelations of videos showing provocateurs with masks cooperating with police forces.

Mass movement to the forefront, but Trade Union leaders play shameful role

After the first two days of uncontrolled riots, the mass movement has come to the forefront. The only hope of the government is that the Christmas holidays will act as a break to the anger in society. That is why it is important for the movement to have a proposal for the continuation of the struggle immediately after the re-opening of schools and universities.The leaders of the trade union movement have played a shameful role in this situation.

Instead of joining the movement and mobilizing workers in order to defeat and bring down a weak, reactionary government, it did nothing for the preparation of last week's 24hr general strike and is refusing to discuss another one.

What is actually happening is that PASOK (Panhellenic movement – Greek social democracy) and its trade union leaders are terrified with the prospect of the fall of the New Democracy at this stage. It means that they will have to take power in a very unstable situation.

PASOK is not only not campaigning to bring down the government, it is asking school students to go back to their classes!

Political leaders, including those of the Communist Party, attack SYRIZA

Last week the prime minister, Karamanlis, called all the political leaders to meet him and asked them to "condemn the violence and the chaos" in a desperate attempt to boost his profile.

After the meeting, the CP leader, Aleka Papariga, attacked SYRIZA, accusing its leaders of not taking a clear position against the violence of protesters (riots). Actually, all the political parties made an attack on SYRIZA.The reason is that SYRIZA is the only political force which attempted a serious political and social analysis of the riots, at the same time as fully supporting the movement and calling schools students and university students to stay out and continue the fight.

It is also the only force that has raised the demand that "this government must go."

How will the movement develop?

It is not clear yet how the movement will go forward. It is highly possible that there is a calm period during the holidays, but just after that we will see important mobilisations.

The anger in Greek society is so huge, that it is not easy to manipulate youth and workers. Xekinima, the Greek section of the CWI, is participating and playing an important role in many occupations and demonstrations.

We call for a militant programme for mobilisations to be adopted. We also stress the need of mass action, and insist on the crucial importance of the working class to be drawn decisively into the struggle.

We campaign for a 24 hour general strike, as part of a plan to bring down the government. And we insist on the need of the parties of the left (SYRIZA, CP, far left) to have a united front approach, to take the struggle forward and aim at a government of the Left based on a socialist programme, in the interests of the working class, the youth and the poor peasants.


Renewed Street Riots in Greece

Sofia News Agency
21 December 2008, Sunday

Renewed clashes between youth protesters and police forces broke out late Saturday night around the National Technical University of Athens, also known as the Athens Polytechnic.

The riot happened after a meeting organized by the students, who have occupied the school, on the spot where the 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was killed by a police bullet on December 6.

After the vigil, the youngsters started hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at the police forces, and set trash bins on fire.The riot police, who are constantly present in the quarter with a long history of anarchist activity, responded with tear gas, and the students escaped to the campus of the Polytechnic, where police forces are not allowed to enter without the special permission of the university President's Office.

According to the Greece Antenna TV, the Greek anarchists have been joined by like-minded people from all over Europe who have recently arrived to Greece in order to take part in the protests.

Later Saturday night the anarchists set two cars on fire in the Kolonaki Quarter in downtown Athens, and managed to start a fire in the building of the Teresias company, which keeps the credit data of the Greek Ministry of Finance and Greek banks. The offices of the company were destroyed together with data about credit debtors.

Earlier on Saturday, the Athens police detained three anarchists who tried to set on fire the Christmas tree before the Greek Parliament. Greece's second largest city Thesaloniki also saw violent protests Saturday night as protesting anarchists managed briefly to take over four radio stations and the building of the central movie theater Olimpion.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

AP - Greek youths break into state TV center, take over

December 16

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Protesters forced their way into Greece's state NET television news studio Tuesday and interrupted a news broadcast featuring the prime minister so they could urge viewers to join mass anti-government demonstrations.

For more than a minute, about 10 youths blocked a broadcast showing a speech by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Instead, they displayed banners reading: "Stop watching, get out onto the streets," and "Free everyone who has been arrested." No one was hurt, and no arrests were reported.

NET chairman Christos Panagopoulos claimed the protesters violently forced their way into the studio. "This goes beyond any limit," he said.

It was the latest twist in 11 days of riots and protests after a policeman shot and killed a 15-year-old boy on Dec. 6. The violent protests have evolved from being just aimed at Greek police to being highly critical of Karamanlis' conservative government.

Karamanlis has rejected mounting demands to resign and call new elections.

Earlier Tuesday, masked youths attacked riot police headquarters in Athens and protesters clashed with police in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Police said 30 youths threw petrol bombs and stones at the riot police building, causing extensive damage to seven cars and a police bus parked outside.

Students blocked streets in Athens and dozens of teenagers gathered outside the capital's main court complex and a maximum security prison — where some threw stones at police.

Protesters have called for riot officers to be pulled off the streets, for police to be disarmed and for the government to revise its economic, social and education policies.

The protests have brought higher education in Greece to a standstill. Lessons have stopped at more than 100 secondary schools that are under occupation by students, according to the Education Ministry. Scores of university buildings across Greece are also occupied.

After the shooting death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, furious youths smashed and burnt hundreds of shops in Athens' main shopping area, and attacked riot police who responded with massive tear gas.

Dozens of people have been injured in the rioting, while more than 300 people have been arrested. The policeman accused of killing the teenager has been charged with murder and is being held pending trial.

In the northern port of Thessaloniki, riot police fired tear gas Tuesday to disperse 300 youths throwing fruit and stones outside the city's main court complex. The disturbance followed a court decision that found eight police officers guilty of abusing a student following riots two years ago.

The policemen received suspended sentences ranging from three years and three months for grievous bodily harm to 15 months for being an accessory to the abuse.

In a symbolic gesture meant to revive riot-shocked Athens, city authorities will light a large Christmas tree Tuesday on central Syntagma Square — which has been at the center of many of the protests. The tree replaces one burnt during last week's riots.

Overnight, arsonists attacked three Athens banks with petrol bombs, causing extensive damage.
There were no injuries or arrests. Every year, small anarchist groups carry out dozens of firebombings in Greece against government property, banks and diplomatic vehicles.

Online Games - Assault George W. Bush with Your Own Shoes!

This is so great! Links to on-line games where you get to practice slinging your own shoes at George W. Bush.

Bush Shoe Attack Flash Games:


Monday, December 15, 2008

Many hail journalist who threw shoes at Bush

Dec. 15, 2008
CTV.ca News Staff

In Iraq, Mundthar al-Zeidi is a certified hero and all he had to do was throw his shoes.

On Sunday, the Arab journalist launched both his shoes at U.S. President George Bush during a press conference in Baghdad.

The first shoe nearly pinged Bush in the head but he managed to duck just in time. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tried to block the second shoe as it flew directly over Bush's head.

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog," al-Zeidi yelled in Arabic as he tossed his shoes at Bush. "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

Khaled Mouammar, National President of Canadian Arab Federation, said throwing a shoe at someone is the "most degrading" insult you could give in the Arab world.

Mouammar compared it to the pie in the face then-prime minister Jean Chretien received back in 2000.

"If you're under occupation you resist in any way you can," Mouammar told CTV.ca from Toronto.

"I'm sure he wasn't allowed to bring in anything else but his shoes so that's the only thing he could use against Bush."

On Monday, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in protest, demanding that the reporter be released from custody.

In Baghdad's Sadr City, protesters burned U.S. flags and called for al-Zeidi to be released. In Najaf, a Shiite holy city, an American patrol was pelted with shoes by protesters.

"He was actually representing the feelings of the true Iraqi people," Mouammar said.
He said it was a fitting way to mark Bush's legacy in Iraq.

"This is his farewell sendoff, given by an Arab, which was the most fitting way to do it -- an Arab who was a victim from his policies."

Al-Zeidi, reportedly in his late 20s, worked for Al-Baghdadia, a TV station. In 2007, he was kidnapped by Shiite militias and released three days later.

Meanwhile, in Iraq and across the Middle East, al-Zeidi is being hailed as a hero.

Newspapers printed the images on the front-page Monday and one text message circulating throughout Saudi Arabia joked that "Iraq considers Sunday as the international day for shoes."

Even in Canada, some Arabs celebrated after watching the video.

Mouammar said he had a party of about 40 people at his house Sunday when a friend received a phone call from Egypt about the Bush incident.

"We gathered around the computer and we repeatedly watched that thing and we were so proud and happy all of us," Mouammar said.

"He had excellent aim actually. From that distance, in both instances, he would have hit him if he hadn't ducked on the first one and if he wasn't protected by the prime minister on the second one."

*With files from The Associated Press


Egypt court convicts 22 for food riots

The Associated Press
December 15, 2008

CAIRO, Egypt: An Egyptian emergency court convicted 22 people for participating in deadly food riots in April, handing out sentences ranging from three to five years, the presiding judge said.

The remaining 27 defendants in the high profile case held in the northern provincial capital of Tanta 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Cairo, were acquitted, Judge Alsayyed Abdel-Maaboud told The Associated Press.

Defendants screamed at the judge calling him unjust when the verdicts were read out, with some fainting, according to witnesses inside the court.

Thousands of residents of the gritty industrial town of Mahalla al-Kobra rioted in April for two days over the hardships caused by high food prices, destroying posters of the president and clashing with security troops.

The demonstrations were quashed by tear gas and shotgun-wielding security forces who killed three people and arrested dozens of others.

The 22 defendants were convicted on charges of looting, assaulting police officers and the possession of dangerous materials, including firearms.

Among the convicted, was a 58-year-old woman on charges of carrying a molotov cocktail. She received three years in prison.

Sentences from the Emergency Supreme State Security Court cannot be appealed and are only subject to pardon by the president himself.

Outside the courtroom dozens of family members and supporters of the defendants chanted anti-government slogans, condemning President Hosni Mubarak and his family.

"Oh dear son, where have you gone, State Security has come between us," they chanted, according to witnesses. A number of family members fainted when they heard the news of the verdicts.

Before reading the verdicts, Judge Abdel-Maaboud gave a lengthy statement blaming "international forces" and other entities outside Mahalla for instigating the riots.

He said price rises were a global phenomenon and not the fault of the Egyptian government and he praised the restraint of security forces in quelling the demonstrations.

Mahalla is home to the largest textile factory in the Middle East and has been the scene of numerous labor strikes by the highly organized workers over low wages and high prices.

Following the riots, Mubarak blamed Egyptians' suffering on the increase in food prices in across the world. The World Bank estimates that by the summer, food prices had increased 83 percent in the past three years.

Inflation in Egypt reached 14.4 percent in March, making life difficult for the 20 percent of the country's 76.5 million people who live below the poverty line of about $2 per day. During the spring, eleven people died in clashes while standing in line to buy subsidized bread, according to police.
Associated Press Writer Omar Sinan contributed to this report.


Al Jazeera.net - Egypt convicts food rioters

Monday, December 15, 2008

Twenty-two people have been convicted in connection with food riots which erupted in the Egyptian town of Mahalla el-Kubra in April.

Some protesters were jailed for up to five years on charges of looting, assaulting police officers and possession of firearms at the hearing in a special court in Egypt on Monday.

The verdicts came after rising food prices drove thousands of Egyptians onto the streets in protest last April, setting off some of the worst violence in the country since the 1970s.

Half of the sentences were made in absentia, as 11 protesters have eluded arrest. Another 27 defendants were acquitted.

Around 300 relatives and friends demonstrated outside the courtroom in the city Tanta, demanding the defendants be let free.

Al Jazeera's Amr El Kahky, reporting from outside the courtroom, said the verdicts came as a shock.

"There is absolute anger and disbelief from the defendants and their families, along with the lawyers as well," he said.

"When the judge started to read out the reasons behind the verdicts, [lawyers thought] he was reading a political communique to acquit them of any wrongdoing, such as plotting and masterminding the riots".

Hundreds arrested

The protesters were found guilty of criminal, and not political acts, he said.

Protesters tore down a giant poster of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, during the riots and shouted anti-government slogans.

Police arrested more than 300 people, although most were later released without charge.

The government also sent ministers to Mahalla, promising higher salaries for public-sector industries.

Much of the unrest has since diminished. The government's statistics agency says food prices have fallen in recent months.

*Source: Al Jazeera and agencies


AFP - Thousands descend on Athens police HQ

Dec. 15

ATHENS (AFP) — Riot squads ringed Athens police headquarters Monday as Greek protesters targeted state institutions, while the right-wing government faced new headaches with the re-emergence of a land swap scandal.

Protests marked court appearances for six militants among 86 arrested during weekend violence following the police shooting of a teenager earlier this month.

As the country marked its tenth day of demonstrations, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis went to Cyprus for a funeral.

More rallies were planned for the night, but for the first time demonstrators admitted a fear of their days-long mobilisation "deflating."

More than 1,000 youths descended on the capital's police base to lead coordinated action disrupting traffic, public buildings and state radio broadcasts across the country.

But the only clashes involving firebombing and tear gas -- the cocktail of choice for Athens radicals -- came outside the prison where two officers await trial over the December 6 killing of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos.

With one Sunday poll showing majority public support for a "popular uprising" against Karamanlis' administration, protests were also mounted in Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina and on the island of Lesbos.

"Solidarity with state hostages," read a banner outside the high court as university and school students sought to step up their presence on the streets in a bid to keep their movement in the news.

Despite discrepancies between state and student figures for schools occupied, ranging from 100 to as many as 400, the country's education system was far from functioning as it should on Monday -- with just a handful of teaching days left before Christmas.

In a sign of enduring anger, banks were also targeted in the central town of Volos overnight -- as a sprawling mound of candles, football scarves, cigarettes and other mementoes rose at an impromptu shrine at the spot where Grigoropoulos fell.

Meanwhile, findings from the first of five parliamentary inquiries into shady deals with an influential Orthodox monastery were released. The probe by Karamanlis' majority glossed over faults in government conduct which went back 10 years to the previous socialist administration.

Results from separate investigations by opposition groupings and subject-specific parliamentary committees were to emerge later Monday.

The influential Vatopedi Monastery in northern Greece is under investigation over a series of property swaps of valuable state land that lost Greek taxpayers millions of euros (dollars).

Two members of Karamanlis' inner political circle have already quit the government over the affair, former merchant shipping minister Georgios Voulgarakis' wife having been implicated in the transaction.

But the head of the Orthodox monastery was seen to have acted in contempt of the parliamentary commission looking into the scandal.

Despite the troubles at home, Karamanlis went ahead with a planned visit to Cyprus for the funeral of former Cypriot president Tassos Papadopoulos, who died of cancer Friday.

The premier has rejected calls to quit, although opposition socialist leader George Papandreou on Sunday demanded fresh elections.

He told a meeting of his PASOK party that Karamanlis' government "ignores the calls of society, is incapable of steadily driving the country towards change and is afraid of the people... Its political time is finished."


Sunday, December 14, 2008

AP - Greece calm after 8 days of riots by angry youths


ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Athens was calm Sunday after eight days of the worst riots Greece has seen in decades, sparked by the police killing of a teenager.

Traffic returned to normal in the center of town and open-topped double-decker buses carried tourists around the city's main sights. The cafes in the Thissio area under the Acropolis were busy, and couples took their children for Sunday walks.

But Greek youths who have protested daily since the boy's death have vowed to remain on the streets until their concerns are addressed. Protesters are angry not just at police but at a government already on the defensive over a series of financial scandals, and over economic issues.

"We are not in this for the short term," said Petros Constantinou, an organizer with the Socialist Workers Party. "We want the protests to continue after Christmas and New Year, until this government of murderers goes."

Analyst Theodore Couloumbis, however, said he expected the disturbances to "peter out" over the next few days.

"We are going to have periodic flare-ups," said Couloumbis, a professor emeritus of international relations at the University of Athens. "It will take a generation or two to straighten things out in Greece."

A newspaper poll published Sunday showed the governing conservatives' popularity at 20.6 percent, 5.6 percent below the main opposition Socialists. However, 55 percent of respondents said neither party seemed competent to handle the situation.

"Political parties initially made things worse because they acted as if it was business as usual ... trying to score political points," Couloumbis said.

The Focus poll of 1,000 people for Real News gave a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Violence has wracked Greece since the death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos Dec. 6. It spread from Athens to more than a dozen other cities. At least 70 people have been injured, hundreds of stores have been looted, and more than 200 people have been arrested.

Late Saturday and early Sunday, youths in Athens attacked a police station, stores and banks, and fought with police as candlelit vigils were held to mark a week since the shooting.

Another vigil was planned for Sunday evening at the site of the shooting but heavy rain made a large gathering unlikely. A separate protest is scheduled for western Athens.

In the northern port of Thessaloniki, a few dozen people held a peaceful protest at noon.

Overnight, suspected anarchist arsonists attacked two Communist party offices with homemade gas-canister bombs and molotov cocktails, causing minor damage but no injuries.

While most protesters have been peaceful, the tone of the demonstrations has been set by a violent fringe. And more young people have been willing to join those fringe elements than in the past.

Couloumbis said the violence appeared to have been caused by "an abysmally insignificant group of destructive elements," whom students joined "for the fun of it."

In a poll released Sunday, 62 percent of respondents said the riots following the shooting were inexcusable, compared to 35 percent who believed the violence was justified. The poll of 1,000 people gave no margin of error.

According to another poll, Greeks see more in the violence than a simple reaction to the shooting. Asked whether the riots were a social uprising, 60 percent said yes. Some 64 percent considered police unprepared for the violence.

The poll of 520 people published in the Kathimerini newspaper gave a 4.5 percent margin of error.

Demonstrations in support of the protests in Greece have been held in several European cities. In Berlin, a peaceful gathering on Sunday at Mauerpark drew about 50 people.

"We're not in favor of violence. We just want to show our support," said Yannis, 27, a Greek man who declined to give his last name. "We're not expecting any violence in Berlin because the circumstances in Greece are very different from those in Germany."

*Associated Press Writers Demetris Nellas and Menelaos Hadjicostis in Athens and Patrick Mcgroarty in Berlin contributed to this story


In Athens, the university of anarchy

International Herald Tribune
December 14, 2008

By Rachel Donadio

ATHENS: Early Saturday morning inside the gates of Athens Polytechnic University, a dozen groggy young people in hooded sweatshirts slumped on folding chairs around a smoky fire.

Others trickled in, holding cups of coffee. Small gypsy children scampered around with wheelbarrows, collecting empty beer bottles. One lit a cigarette.

But the young people and their friends were not simply recovering from a long night of drinking or studying. They were regrouping for revolution.

Many of the violent protests that have rocked Athens in recent days, after the police shot and killed a 15-year-old boy on Dec. 6, have taken place in and around the university, driven by a group of anarchists that has long occupied the buildings here. Garbage fires burn in its courtyard. On the streets outside, youths throwing gasoline bombs and rocks have clashed with riot police officers armed with tear gas.

The National Technical University of Athens, as it is officially called, is one of Greece's leading schools, training engineers, architects and scientists since 1836. It moved its main campus outside the city center in the 1980s, leaving its neoclassical downtown buildings largely to the whims of protest groups.

The university administration seems to view the squatters as uninvited house guests who overstayed their welcome so long ago that they have become fixtures. They hold regular demonstrations and often destroy university property.
But these protests have been different.

"In former times, a couple of years ago, there were only students protesting," said Constantinos Moutzouris, the university's rector. "This time there are all kinds of groups. This is difficult to control."

Conversations with those inside the university revealed a mix of students, older anarchists and immigrants protesting everything from police brutality to globalization to American imperialism.
Some are simply thrillseekers along for the ride.

Administrators say that evicting the anarchists now, especially after the protests of the past week, would entail a police operation they are unwilling to undertake for fear of instigating further violence or destruction.

Under an asylum law instituted after the police crushed a student rebellion at the polytechnic university against the military junta in 1973, the Greek police are not allowed on university property unless invited by administrators.

Yet unlike when the police killed protesters at Kent State University in Ohio in 1970, a tragic episode in a dramatic time, emotion over the Athens shooting has intensified, not faded, over time.

In Greece, the police are seen as both overly aggressive and disconcertingly passive. Although a police bullet killed the teenager, sparking the latest violence, the government then told the police not to use force to tamp down the protests, to avoid further mayhem. The cost of the ensuing riots, in which businesses and cars were torched, is estimated at $1.3 billion nationwide.

Outside the university gates Saturday morning, merchants were sweeping up the broken glass from their vandalized shops. The hulks of burned-out cars sat like carcasses in the streets.

Asked what the shops had to do with the death of the student, one black-clad young woman said, in perfect American English, that they represented "the corporate machine." The protesters do not have a traditional hierarchy, she said, but held "collective meetings" in the university auditorium.

Like rave parties, the protests are called through text-message chains or on Web sites like indymedia.org.

Protesters have said they will continue to demonstrate until the police charged with killing the teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, are tried and jailed.

In an inner courtyard, someone has spray-painted "Don't Blame Us, The Rocks Ricocheted." A lawyer for the policeman who killed the teenager has said that the bullet was deformed, so that it was probably not a direct hit.

The Greek authorities have insisted that the violence has been driven by a radical handful, whom they refer to as "the known unknown."

That term is "nonsense," said Dimitris Liberopoulous, 44, a freelance book editor and anarchist sympathizer who discussed the protest movement over coffee in Exarchia, the neighborhood surrounding the university. "It's a game of semiotics," he said.

He said the authorities did not know who the protesters were, nor understand their frustration at class division, the poor economy, a broken education system and a corrupt government.

"We are thousands of people," Liberopoulous said. "We live in a parallel society with parallel values and parallel ideas."

That the authorities have not identified and arrested the ringleaders seems more a question of political will.

Greece has witnessed low-level political violence for decades. Starting in the mid-'70s, the terrorist group November 17 killed at least 23 people until the Greek authorities largely dismantled it before the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Last year, another group fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy here, causing damage but no injuries.

It is unclear whether the self-styled anarchists have ties with terrorist groups. But security experts fear that terrorist groups might see the new unrest as fertile ground for attacks.

They also worry that the anarchists themselves might up the ante.

More protests are expected this week, though Athens was largely calm Sunday.
"There's a proverb," Liberopoulous said. "That a civil war never ends.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Greek Uprising Enters its Seventh Day

AP - Rioters in Greece attack police station, banks


ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Rioting youths in the Greek capital attacked a police station, stores and banks and fought running battles with police late Saturday, authorities said, as violent protests against a police killing continued for the seventh straight day.

The clashes broke out as candlelit vigils were being held to mark a week since the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, which triggered the riots that are threatening the stability of the government.

Youths — some on foot, others riding motorcycles — attacked a police station with petrol bombs in central Athens as well as at least three banks, several stores and a government building, police said.

Several hundred protesters set up burning barricades and attacked police with rocks and flares. Riot police fired tear gas and chased the youths through parts of the city. The protesters chanted "murderers out" and used laser pointers to target police for attack.

Violence has wracked Greece every day since the death of teenager Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The riots in cities throughout the country has left at least 70 people injured. Hundreds of stores have been smashed and looted, and more than 200 people have been arrested.

While most of the protesters have been peaceful, the tone of the demonstrations has been set by a violent fringe. And more young people have been willing to join those fringe elements than in the past.

Hundreds of school children holding candles gathered peacefully Saturday outside parliament and at the site where teenager was shot.

Outside parliament, they left candles spelling out the name "Alex" in front of a line of riot policemen.

The young protesters promised to remain on the streets until their concerns — including opposition to increasingly unpopular government and worry over economic issues — are addressed.

"Speaking as an anarchist, we want to create those social conditions that will generate more uprisings and to get more people out in the streets to demand their rights," said 32-year-old protester Paris Kyriakides.

"In the end, the violence that we use is minimal in comparison to the violence of the system uses, like the banks," Kyriakides said.

Earlier Saturday, a crowd of about 1,000 people attended a peaceful sit-down demonstration in Athens and another 1,000 demonstrated in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

One 16-year-old student at the Athens demonstration, who gave only her first name, Veatriki, said young people her age felt their voices were being heard immediately when they smashed a shop window or a car.

She also said young people want to see the policemen involved in the shooting punished and the police disarmed.

The two officers involved in the boy's shooting have been arrested. One was charged with murder and the other as an accomplice. The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain unclear.

Giorgos Kyrtsos, publisher of the City Press and Free Sunday newspapers, said the violent demonstrations revealed widespread public discontent.

"We are entering a long period of economic crisis," Kyrtsos said. "But there is also a deepening social crisis, combined with a weakened state. We are truly at a crossroads."

Kyrtsos, a conservative, was highly critical of the government's handling of the protests.

"This is the only government I remember that has managed to alienate both the rebellious youth and the law-and-order crowd," he said. "It has nothing to offer to anybody."

Christmas shoppers cautiously returned to central Athens earlier Saturday, but many stores had boarded up their windows instead of replacing the glass, for fear of further violence.

Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis greeted shoppers with the city's brass band.

"People came up to me and were telling me that it was the first time they had smiled in days," the mayor said.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Greece: ‘the masked ones’ plot revolution as riot police begin to run out of teargas

The Times
December 13, 2008

James Hider in Athens
On the metal gate of the Polytechnic campus hangs a trophy snatched during the running street battles across Athens: a plastic leg protector belonging to a riot policeman. Alongside it is a black banner that reads: “15-year-old dead. Cops pigs murderers.”

Black-clad, self-appointed guards prevent passers-by taking photos. The streets are barricaded with charred cars and the stinging smell of teargas lingers in the air, making pedestrians weep and sneeze.

If anarchy had its own Baghdad-style fortified green zone, it might look like this. Inside the campus – off-limits to police under laws dating back to the fall of the junta in 1974 – fresh-faced students, anarchists, workers and unionists huddle in discussion around camp fires fuelled by looted goods from gutted chain stores.

“We are struggling for something better,” said GK, 20, a skinny electrician. “We have decided to storm only big businesses, chain stores and banks and not small businesses, because they are everyday workers.”

The “masked ones”, as they are known, hold informal assemblies each day, where everyone has a chance to discuss where this “revolution” is headed. They even debate whether it is a revolution.

“It is a social riot,” said another gate guard, “and it’s still going on. We don’t know yet where it will lead.”

At the occupied law faculty in the city centre, middle-class students argue that the arson attacks, which have destroyed hundreds of banks and shops, are hurting their cause. At the more hardcore Polytechnic there is still an appetite for destruction.

“Sometimes the kids get angry and we can’t control them,” said a 29-year-old beekeeper calling himself Crazy Goat.

He was on guard duty at the gates while others inside took turns sleeping and stocking up on supplies. These included a mass of fire extinguishers, which the rioters have learnt help to counter the effects of teargas.

The week of mass demonstrations and nightly clashes with police was triggered by the shooting of a 15-year-old boy in nearby Exarchia, a bohemian area of student bars and cafés. “No one knows exactly how it started. Students started sending SMS messages on their mobiles to come here,” said Crazy Goat.

The shooting has, however, tapped into a deeper sense of alienation, disillusionment with a Government viewed as corrupt and distant, as well as frustration at the dilution of Greece’s scrappy, politicised character in the consumerism of the eurozone. In the alley where Alexandros Grigoropoulos died, a shrine of flowers, candles and written tributes has sprung up, tended by residents.

“In Greece, everyone is shocked by the killing of the boy,” said Vassili Ilyakopoulis, 55, a local artist. “It was a catalyst. Greece has a long tradition of social struggle, now the older generation are trying to get by and have forgotten the old ways. “t’s a new generation’s first baptism of political fighting, it’s their own great moment.”

From their campus sanctuaries, the students and protesters plot how to keep their movement alive once the fury is over and the momentum flags. They plan radio stations, marches, hit-and-run attacks on police stations and courthouses across the city.

Members of the Communist Party organise shopping rosters and clean-up squads for the graffiti-covered student canteen. Their great fear is that people will go home for the Christmas festivities, drink too much and forget about their revolution.

Thousands marched through central Athens again yesterday, lobbing rocks and paint bombs at police.

“Let’s burn this brothel down,” shouted one youth outside the Parliament building. Police responded by firing teargas.

The fact that the violence has continued for so long is due, in part, to the radical left-wing ideologies that the youth here discuss so earnestly among themselves.

But it is also because there is such widespread disgust with the centre-right Government, as well as with the Opposition, who have, in their eyes, shamelessly tried to exploit the situation and topple the shaky administration.A workman barricading a row of shopfronts with metal sheets near the centre of the rioting said he supported the rioters’ cause.

“We should start to change things in Greece,” said Aris Adam, 55. “There’s too much corruption, money coming into the country and being siphoned off. What happened to all the money from the Olympics?”

A social worker in her fifties, passing the Polytechnic, was less sympathetic.

“Anarchists want us to go to the jungle,” she said, negotiating streets lined with burnt cars, staved-in cash machines and smashed traffic lights. “I don’t like the anarchists – how can they live without a state?”

As fresh clashes broke out, police started to run out of teargas after battling rioters day and night for a whole week.

Sources said police riot squads had fired a total of 4,600 teargas canisters as rioters torched hundreds of banks and shops and occupied campuses.

Police have since appealed to Israel and Germany to send them emergency supplies. The protesters, for their part, have claimed that police have been using stocks of teargas dating from the 1980s that contain corroded chemicals and which have caused some demonstrators to collapse or seek medical attention.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Protestors spray paint Greek consulate in Istanbul

Hurriyet Daily News
Dec. 11, 2008

ISTANBUL - A dozen Turkish demonstrators sprayed red paint on the Greek consulate late Wednesday to protest the police shooting of a teenager in Athens that has unleashed nationwide violence in Greece.

The protesters, who identified themselves as Istanbul-area anarchists, lobbed balloons and bottles of paint at the building. They also broke the consul's car windows before fleeing. No arrests were made.


AP - Greek-inspired protests spread across Europe

Dec. 11, 2008

MADRID, Spain (AP) — The unrest that has gripped Greece is spilling over into the rest of Europe, raising concerns the clashes could be a trigger for opponents of globalization, disaffected youth and others outraged by the continent's economic turmoil and soaring unemployment.

Protesters in Spain, Denmark and Italy smashed shop windows, pelted police with bottles and attacked banks this week, while in France, cars were set ablaze Thursday outside the Greek consulate in Bordeaux, where protesters scrawled graffiti warning about a looming "insurrection."

At least some of the protests were organized over the Internet, showing how quickly the message of discontent can be spread, particularly among tech-savvy youth. One Web site Greek protesters used to update each other on the locations of clashes asserted there have been sympathy protests in nearly 20 countries.

More demonstrations were set for Friday in Italy, France and Germany.

Still, the clashes have been isolated so far, and nothing like the scope of the chaos in Greece, which was triggered by the police killing of a teenager on Saturday and has ballooned into nightly scenes of burning street barricades, looted stores and overturned cars.

Nevertheless, authorities in Europe worry conditions are ripe for the contagion to spread.

As Europe plunges into recession, unemployment is rising, particularly among the young. Even before the crisis, European youths complained about difficulty finding well-paid jobs — even with a college degree — and many said they felt left out as the continent grew in prosperity.

In Greece, demonstrators handed out fliers Thursday listing their demands, which include the reversal of public spending cuts that have brought more layoffs, and said they were hopeful their movement would spread.

"We're encouraging nonviolent action here and abroad," said Konstantinos Sakkas, a 23-year-old protester at the Athens Polytechnic, where many of the demonstrators are based. "What these are abroad are spontaneous expressions of solidarity with what's going on here."

Across the continent, Internet sites and blogs have popped up to spread the call to protest.
Several Greek Web sites offered protesters real-time information on clash sites, where demonstrations were heading and how riot police were deployed around the city. Protest marches were arranged and announced on the sites and via text message on cell phones.

In Spain, an anti-globalization Web site, Nodo50.org, greeted visitors with the headline "State Assassin, Police Executioners" and told them of hastily called rallies Wednesday in Barcelona and Madrid.

"We stand in solidarity" with the Greek protesters, the site said.

Elsewhere in Europe, reports about the clashes in Greece were quickly picked up online by citizen journalists, some of whom posted details of confrontations on Twitter. At the Independent Media Center, photos and video of the demonstrations were uploaded and plans were listed for "upcoming solidarity actions" in London, Edinburgh and Berlin.

One writer on the site london.indymedia.org exhorted people to follow the Greek example and "reclaim the streets. Burn the banks that robbed you ... It is a great opportunity to expand the revolution in all europe."

"What's happening in Greece tends to prove that the extreme left exists, contrary to doubts of some over these past few weeks," French Interior Ministry spokesman Gerard Gachet told The Associated Press.

But, he added, the coming days and weeks would determine whether "there's a danger of contagion of the Greek situation into France."

In cities across Europe, protests flared in solidarity with the demonstrations in Greece.

One rally outside the Greek Embassy in Rome turned violent on Wednesday, damaging police vehicles, overturning a car and setting a trash can on fire. In Denmark, protesters pelted riot police with bottles and paint in downtown Copenhagen; 63 people were detained and later released.

And in Spain, angry youths attacked banks, shops and a police station in Madrid and Barcelona late Wednesday. Some of the protesters chanted "police killers" and other slogans. Eleven people — including a Greek girl — were arrested at the two rallies, which drew a total of about 200 protesters.

Daniel Lostao, president of the state-financed Youth Council, an umbrella organization of Spanish youth groups, said young people in Spain face daunting challenges — soaring unemployment, low salaries and difficulty in leaving the family nest because of expensive housing. Still, he said he doubted the protests in Spain would grow.

"We do not have the feeling that this is going to spread," Lostao said. "Let's hope I am not wrong."

In France, protesters set fire to two cars and a garbage can filled with flammable material outside the Greek consulate in Bordeaux Thursday and scrawled graffiti threatening more unrest, Greek Consul Michel Corfias said.

Graffiti reading "solidarity with the fires in Greece," was scrawled on the consulate and the word "insurrection" was painted on the doors of neighboring houses.

"The events in Greece are a trigger" for French youth angry by their own lack of economic opportunity, Corfias said.

*Associated Press reporters Matt Moore in Berlin, Daniel Woolls in Madrid, Ariel David in Rome, John Leicester and Jamey Keaten in Paris, and Elena Becatoros in Athens, Greece, contributed to this report.


Greek police stations attacked as rioting enters day 6

Thursday, December 11, 2008
CBC News

Police stations in Athens were attacked by high school students wielding stones and firebombs Thursday as the city entered its sixth day of riots sparked by the death of a teenager shot by police on the weekend.

The unrest also spread to several other European cities as youths damaged police vehicles and threw bottles at officers.

An estimated Greek police 20 stations came under siege Thursday morning, as protesters also tossed over cars and barricaded streets. At least one man was injured — one of at least 70 people wounded since demonstrations began on Saturday.

"An elderly bystander was taken to hospital after he was hit by a rock," an unnamed police official told Reuters.

Central Athens was reportedly calmer than in previous days thanks to the end of Wednesday's 24-hour general strike. But clashes between police and students lasted through the night, culminating with the attacks on the police stations.

At least 500 people descended on the central police station in the northern city of Thessaloniki, according to Reuters. Groups of people were reportedly gathering in the western port of Patras and Ioannina.

A student rally is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, with more protests planned on Friday and Monday.

"The government has shown it cannot handle this. If police start imposing the law everyone will say the military junta is back," electrician Yannis Kalaitzakis told Reuters.

"The government is stuck between a rock and a hard place."

Greek authorities have charged police officer Epaminondas Korkoneas, 37, with murder in the shooting of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, in the volatile central Athens district of Exarchia on Saturday night. A second officer, his partner, has been charged as an accomplice.

Police apologize

The shooting has inflamed what had already been rampant discontent over the conservative government's economic policies. More than 100 people have been arrested, including four on Thursday, during some of the worst protests Greece has seen in decades.

The police association has apologized to the teenager's family but the death has spurred six days of rioting throughout Greece.

On Wednesday, Athens's main courthouse came under attack when hundreds of protesters threw rocks and firebombs as the two accused police officers testified at a pre-trial hearing inside. Korkoneas and his partner were sent to jail pending trial by a prosecutor.

Observers have said the growing hostility among Greek youth is being fed by public discontent over low wages, frequent public corruption scandals and a strong historic distrust of government that is rooted in past political upheavals.

Greece's opposition socialist party, which is currently leading in the polls, has called for an election, lambasting the government for failing to settle the riots.

An opinion poll published Wednesday showed 68 per cent of Greeks disapproved of the government's handling of the crisis.

"We demand accountability, that this government resigns, and that this farce comes to an end," said 28-year-old Spyros Potamias, an architecture student who joined an occupation at Athens Polytechnic. "This is about our future."

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who has said the government will provide financial support to businesses that have been damaged during the rioting, was in Brussels for an EU summit on Thursday.

He has appealed to the public for calm — a call echoed by the country's influential Orthodox Church.

"This tragedy cannot be resolved by burning and destroying the property of people who themselves have problems," said Church leader Archbishop Ieronymos.

European violence

Violence spread to other parts of Europe Thursday and late Wednesday.

In Denmark, protesters threw bottles and paint at police in downtown Copenhagen. Dozens of people were detained and later released.

Angry youths in Spain attacked banks, shops and a police station in separate demonstrations in Madrid and Barcelona late Wednesday that each drew about 200 people.

Protesters in France set fire to two cars and a garbage can outside the Greek consulate in Bordeaux early Thursday.

"For the moment, we can't go farther with our conclusions and say that there's a danger of contagion of the Greek situation into France. All of that is being watched," French Interior Ministry spokesman Gerard Gachet told The Associated Press.

At least some of the protests appear to have been organized over the internet, showing how quickly a message can be spread, particularly among tech-savvy youth. One website that Greek protesters have been using to update each other claims there have been sympathy protests in nearly 20 countries.

*With files from the Associated Press


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

AFP - Police officer charged as Greece falls deeper into turmoil

Dec. 10, 2008

ATHENS (AFP) — A fifth day of clashes between youths and police, plus a general strike, plunged Greece deeper into turmoil Wednesday as two policemen were charged over the killing of a teenager that sparked the unrest.

Despite a vow by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to restore order, demonstrators battled security forces outside the Greek parliament as the nationwide work stoppage halted flights in and out of Greece and closed banks, schools and some hospital services.

About a hundred police in riot gear defended the legislature against thousands of demonstrators angered at the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos.

Turning their sights on Karamanlis's right-wing government, the protesters chanted: "Sack Karamanlis."

The controversy heightened with initial ballistics results indicating Grigoropoulos was killed by a bullet ricochet , legal sources said.

Protesters hurled petrol bombs as Alexis Kouyias, a lawyer for the police officers involved in the fatal shooting, was preparing to talk to reporters. Police said the youths responsible were friends of the dead boy.

Epaminondas Korkoneas, 37, was charged with voluntary homicide and "illegal use" of his service weapon. He was ordered to remain in custody by an Athens magistrate.

His partner, Vassilios Saraliotis, 31, was charged with being an accomplice and will also remain in custody. The pair have been held since Sunday.

According to the charge sheet, Korkoneas is alleged to have killed Grigoropoulos on Saturday during a clash with around 30 youths in the central Athens district of Exarchia.

Under questioning by a magistrate, the source said Korkoneas indicated he had acted out of self defence when the group began throwing firebombs and other objects while shouting that they "were going to kill them."

According to forensic experts and independent experts acting for the Grigoropoulos family, the bullet "is a bit deformed, which showed the bullet touched a hard surface" before entering the boy's chest.

Elsewhere in the capital, demonstrators hurled fire bombs, pavement slabs, tangerines, water bottles and other missiles in the latest fighting, which continued at key flashpoints after nightfall.

A youth claimed to have been struck by a police officer and was taken to hospital along with a woman also hurt during clashes outside the Greek parliament, according to national health officials.

Around the parliament, riot police fired back tear gas as youths taunted them as "assassins."
Similar troubles were reported in the northern city of Salonika where more than 80 shops and 14 banks were damaged, with ongoing occupation of university flashpoints.

Outside Greece, about a dozen Turkish left-wing protestors daubed red paint over the front of the consulate in Istanbul, while the Greek embassies in Moscow and Rome were also targets for firebombers.

Anger at the police has been compounded by growing public frustration with the Karamanlis government over its economic policies and a string of recent scandals.

Airlines cancelled dozens of flights, while Greece's two biggest unions called for "the democratisation of the police and an end to violent and arbitrary acts by state organs."

"This death was the catalyst for many grievances," said 18-year-old farming student George Tzouvelekis, one of the protesters.

"Look how the banks are being attacked, because they have refused to lower interest rates amid the economic crisis... Everybody is fed up."

The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said 435 businesses had been hit, with 37 completely gutted.

Items looted included cellphones, computer software and equipment, clothes, shoes, electronics, jewels and watches, they said.

George Papalexis, the owner of a gem store, said his business had sustained losses of 80,000 euros (105,000 dollars) after a group smashed through a reinforced window and made off with jewellery.

"Personally I expect the government should resign," he said. "Very soon we'll see a change of government. It's a disgrace to see a city left to burn."

In a televised address, Karamanlis pledged up to 10,000 euros to stricken businesses, plus a tax freeze and government-guaranteed loans to rebuild burnt property.

"The government is determined to consolidate the feeling of public safety and to help businesses get back on their feet," he said.

Despite the turmoil, Karamanlis's office said he would attend a European Union summit in Brussels that starts Thursday.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Greek Police Fight Protesters a 4th Day as General Strike Looms

By Maria Petrakis

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Greek police used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing protesters outside the country’s parliament on the fourth day of unrest after the killing of a youth by security forces. Demonstrations may resume tomorrow when unions hold a general strike.

Police surrounded the parliament building in the center of Athens, pushing back against thousands of teachers and students who were trying to break a cordon, Antenna TV showed. Helmet-clad officers responded with tear gas when protesters threw stones.

As calm returned to the city center, Skai TV showed scenes of police chasing protesters throwing rocks in the streets of Nea Smyrni, a residential southern suburb of the capital, after the funeral of the 15-year-old boy shot dead by police on Dec. 6. Disturbances were also reported in Thessaloniki, the second- biggest city, the port of Patras and the island of Samos.

The country’s biggest labor groups, GSEE, which represents about 2 million workers, and civil-service union ADEDY, with 500,000 members, rebuffed a call by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis to cancel planned rallies in Athens tomorrow to prevent more clashes. Pledges by Karamanlis’s government, which is fighting declining voter popularity, to show no leniency to those responsible for the boy’s death have failed to stem the violence.

Police in Athens fired tear gas and dragged away protesters late yesterday as demonstrators rampaged through the capital, torching stores, banks and hotel lobbies in the worst violence in decades. The fighting erupted in the wake of marches organized by the opposition Syriza movement and the Communist Party of Greece.

Buildings Attacked

Students set fire yesterday to a Christmas tree in Syntagma Square in front of parliament and looted duty-free stores in neighboring streets. The lobby of the Athens Plaza Hotel, located on the square, was torched as were branches of Bank Millennium SA and Olympic Airways SA. Rioters burned down a post office located hundreds of meters from Athens’ ancient Parthenon temple. The letters “R.I.P.” were spray-painted on the wall of the Grande Bretagne Hotel.

“No one has the right to use this tragic event as an alibi for acts of raw violence,” Karamanlis, 52, told reporters in Athens today after meeting with President Karolos Papoulias. He reiterated that there would be “no clemency” for the perpetrators. “In these critical times, the political world is obliged unanimously and unequivocally to condemn these expressions of catastrophe and to isolate them.”

Papoulias called for calm as the youth, Alexis Grigoropoulos, was laid to rest. Grigoropoulos was killed after a group of about 30 teenagers hurling projectiles attacked a patrol car in the Exarhia district of Athens, according to the Interior Ministry.


Two policemen parked the car and went to arrest the group on foot, the police said. When they were attacked again, one officer fired three shots, hitting the boy.

“The state will do what it can to prevent a repeat of this tragedy,” Karamanlis said. “Those responsible will receive the punishment they deserve.”

The officer who fired the shots was charged with murder and illegal use of a weapon while his colleague will be charged with being an accomplice to the killing, state-controlled Athens News Agency reported.

About 1,000 youths rampaged through central Athens, burning and attacking banks, stores and cars, shortly after the shooting. The riots spread to other cities, including Thessaloniki and the island of Crete.

Teenager’s Funeral

Rioting continued into the early hours today and police said 87 people were arrested in Athens for attacking officers, vandalism and looting. A total of 176 people were detained while 12 police were injured, police said. Mega TV reported that the figure arrested for all of Greece reached 157.

The fire service responded to more than 200 blazes in central Athens yesterday, about half of them in buildings and the remainder in cars and garbage bins used as barricades, the Associated Press said.

High schools were shut today as are many public services, to mark the teenager’s funeral.
Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the interior and public order minister, tendered his resignation after the shooting, though it wasn’t accepted.

Pitched battles between police and students and anarchist groups are frequent in Greece, particularly in the capital. New Democracy party policies including changes to the state-run education system have fueled tensions.

Education Disputes

Demands from students and teachers range from more public spending on education and higher wages for teachers to opposition to government plans to recognize privately run colleges. University professors have already called a three-day strike.

The Dec. 6 shooting occurred in a neighborhood where police regularly clash with students.
The area is adjacent to the National Technical University of Athens, or Polytechnic, the site of the 1973 student uprising against the military junta that ruled Greece at the time.

The popularity of New Democracy, which has 151 of parliament’s 300 seats, has slid since the government announced new tax measures in September, while the global financial crisis prevents it from providing relief to lower-income groups. Opinion polls since September show the opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement, led by George Papandreou, leading New Democracy for the first time in eight years. Papandreou, 56, is the son of Andreas Papandreou, a former prime minister.

‘Multiple Crises’

“The country doesn’t have a government which can protect the citizen, their rights, their security,” Papandreou said today, after meeting with Karamanlis. “Our society, our citizens are living through multiple crises: economic, social, institutional, of values. The government has lost the confidence of the Greek people.” He called for early elections.

Tomorrow’s strike, called to protest the government’s economic policies, will shut down schools and government offices and disrupt public transport. Air traffic controllers will walk off the job, forcing the cancellation of flights by carriers Aegean Airways SA and Olympic Airways SA. GSEE and ADEDY have called a rally at 10:00 a.m. in Athens.

Karamanlis introduced new taxes on dividends, stock options, self-employed workers and small businesses to boost revenue as slowing growth and higher inflation and interest rates hamper the government’s ability to meet budget targets.

Greek economic growth will slow to 2.7 percent next year, below a previous forecast of 3 percent, according to the government’s final budget plan for 2009, which was submitted to parliament last month. The economy is being buffeted by the global credit crisis and a recession in Germany, the euro zone’s largest economy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens at mpetrakis@bloomberg.net.


Who are the protesters in Greece?

Al Jazeera.net
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The fatal police shooting of a teenager in Athens on Saturday and its violent aftermath are in many ways a spill over of a decades-long conflict that has simmered between police and far-left anarchist groups.

The violence has also laid bare a deeper anger that has been gaining ground in Greece over the government's policies in slashing budget deficits and pushing on with unpopular reforms such as privatisations.

This anger has been exacerbated by a series of financial and political scandals among prominent members of the government of Costas Karamanlis, Greece's prime minister.
Meanwhile, Greece's manufacturing sector shrank at a record pace in November due to a fall in new orders and unemployment has risen sharply.

University and high school students in particular have been at the centre of the protests, angry at the poor standard of their educational system, the introduction of private universities and their lack of prospects in the current economic climate.

Political awakening

Speaking to Al Jazeera, John Psaropoulos, editor in chief of Athens News, a weekly newspaper, identified both political and social reasons for the violence taking place across the country.
Psaropoulos said: "The political reason is that some parties on the left are keen on making political capital out of any kind of mobilisation of this kind.

"We are talking about university students and even younger ages. A lot of kids of high school age have been turning up and taking part and that is very much a organised thing, it is not a spontaneous outpouring.

"But the social cause is more spontaneous, we saw enormous riots involving high school and university students during an attempt by the conservatives at reform two years ago in 2006.

"And that's where that age group acquired a renewed sense of its own power. That period also awakened in them that their quality of education is not the best, their professional prospects on graduating from university are not the best.

"And that age group does have a particular dissaffection with their educational and professional prospects".

Sacred right

Despite the riots in 2006, Karamanlis and his conservative New Democracy party won a second term in national parliamentary elections in September 2007. However, his majority was cut to one seat by the dismissal of a dissident legislator last month.

The prime minister's increasingly unpopular government has already faced a growing number of sometimes violent demonstrations against its economic and educational reforms.

Although not many people support street violence, demonstrations have a special place in Greece as the right to protest is considered sacrosanct by many citizens.

The anarchists who take part in the demonstrations tend to espouse general anti-capitalist and anti-establishment principles, and have a long-running animosity toward the police.

The movement partly has its roots in the fight against Greece's 1967-74 military regime and it is no accident that the current violence is centred around Athens Polytechnic.

In November 17, 1973, the army stormed the polytechnic and killed a number of striking students.

To this day, many Greeks hold the incident as reason enough to restrict the power of the country's security forces.

While violence between the police and anarchists is normally limited, previous fatalities during demonstrations have led to an escalation in violence.

The last fatal police shooting of a youth in 1985 sparked months of nearly daily clashes and the left-wing November 17 group bombed a bus full of riot police in retaliation.

Historical roots

Greek anarchism first surfaced in the last quarter of the 19th century amid economic and social turmoil in the country.

However, despite efforts by some individuals and very small groups, the movement initially remained amorphous.

The ideological mixture of members ranged from beliefs about individual terrorism to ideas involving Christian social mores.

It was only around the beginning of the 20th century that some anarchist groups tried to intervene in working-class struggles.

From the mid-1920s, and until the popular uprising in 1973 against the military regime and the showdown at the polytechnic in Athens, there was no organised anarchist activity barring some individual actions.

The main reason for this was the almost complete domination of the working-class movement by Greece's Communist party, the German occupation during World War Two and the later military regimes which suppressed any such activities.

Mass migrations to the USA, Canada and Australia also added to the anarchists' woes.

In the early 1960s some radical left-wing groups reappeared, only to go underground when a new military regime seized power in 1967.

Following the events of November 1973 and the fall of the country's military regime in 1974, some anarchist groups began to resurface.

They espoused a mixture of ideas dominated by the counter-culture movements of the 1960s.
The majority of those involved were university and high school students, with few real workers.

It is this same group that are now at the centre of the current violence and the future of Karamanlis' government, and the reforms that have angered so many, looks increasingly uncertain.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Flag burned at UK Greek embassy

BBC News
Monday, 8 December 2008

Demonstrators have burned a flag outside the Greek Embassy in London in protest at the police shooting of a 15-year-old youth in Athens.

The group removed the Greek flag from a pole in front of the embassy, setting it on fire before raising a red and black anarchists' flag in its place.

There were scuffles with police, and the protesters hung a banner marking the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

The police shooting has sparked three days of riots in Greece.

Officers blocked off the street after responding to calls from inside the embassy. in the Holland Park area of West London.

Five demonstrators were arrested on public order offenses after resisting police attempts to move them from the steps of the embassy to behind a temporary barricade on the street.

Inspector David Morgan said: "We just want to bring a peaceful end to it. At the end of the day, it's a diplomatic facility."

He added that about 40 people had taken part in the demonstration.

The protesters, shouting in Greek, reportedly said: "Cops are pigs and murderers."
A request from the demonstrators to meet the ambassador was refused, a spokesman for the embassy said.

A similar shooting incident in 1985 led to a lengthy vendetta between youths and police in Greece, with violence continuing for years.

Two police officers have been arrested in connection with the incident. The officer who fired contends it was a ricochet from a warning shot, but witnesses told Greek TV it was a direct hit.

The boy's family has hired an independent pathologist to ensure there is no cover-up.


DPA - Protesters occupy Greek consulate in Berlin

Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa)
Mon, 08 Dec 2008

Berlin - Demonstrators angry at the shooting death of a 15- year-old youth by police in Athens occupied the Greek consulate in Berlin for most of Monday before departing peacefully. About 20 protesters wearing ski masks barged their way into the reception area of the building in west

Berlin during the morning while supporters on the street outside chanted, "It was murder."
One of those outside, a man wearing black who described himself as an anarchist, said, "We are
here to defend our dead comrade in Greece. I want to stir up some trouble."

In the end there was no trouble, and the protesters left after eight hours with no arrests.
The Greek embassy, which is located elsewhere in the city, had asked police not to use force at the consulate, a mission that mainly assists Greeks living in Germany.

Police said the consul, the chief of the office, had insisted on a dialogue with the protesters and had refused to lay an official complaint. Occupiers who answered his phone for him said that the consul had been pleasant and had served them coffee.

Some 120 armed police warily watched the protesters from outside through the day.

The teenager died Saturday in the central Athens district of Exarchia after being hit by a bullet fired by a policeman. Police said groups of anarchist youths had earlier attacked a police car with stones and firebombs.

The incident triggered two nights of riots in the capital and the northern city of Thessaloniki, causing widespread damage and injuries to 40 people.

Berlin sympathizers said they wanted Germans to know about the issue.

During the day, they flung leaflets from a balcony of the Greek consulate to Christmas shoppers on the street. The consulate is located on Wittenberg Platz near a major Berlin department store.