Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Riot police keep close eye on families gathered for Greece's independence day parade

Monday saw independence day marked across Greece. Traditionally, communities large and small celebrate the start of the country's breakaway from the Ottoman Empire in 1821 by holding parades in the centre of towns and villages. This year was no different though the level of policing meant that Athens and other major cities resembled Pyongyang rather than Paris on Bastille Day.

Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city was no exception with the president and other VIPs (who also included a convicted criminal) safely ensconced in the middle of a 1 km no-go zone surrounded by thousands of riot police. The aim of the authorities was to ensure that there would be no repetition of the events of 2011 when a spontaneous protest closed down the annual No day military parade in the city and angry citizens forced president Karolos Papoulias to flee the area. The incident sent shock waves through Greece's deeply unpopular political class revealing as it did the depth of ordinary people's anger towards their rulers.Just weeks later the government resigned.

The present government with its hard line on matters of law and order was taking no chances that such scenes would be repeated and so made sure no protest would be able to get anywhere near the VIP stands. In Athens the central Syntagma Square was emptied of citizens and a wall of buses kept back people from government politicians.

As Greece struggles through yet another year of economic contraction and the government promises yet more austerity cuts the gap between rulers and ruled becomes more and more apparent on such occasions.

1 comment:

ariadne said...

For the last 40 years I attended the parade from the same spot near my house!But not this year unfortunately!I felt unwanted in my own neighbourhood!Or is it "wanted"?AriadnefromGreece!