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Athens smoulders after austerity protests

Posted on 12/09/2019 | in 苏州美睫美甲 | by

“It’s culture that has gone up in smoke,” filmmaker Nikos Kavoukidis lamented as he shot footage of the crowd gathered at the ruins of the Attikon cinema.

南宁桑拿

“What do we have left? Television and football?”

Officials say 45 buildings were wholly or partly destroyed by fire as violence erupted during demonstrations while parliament voted Sunday for tough new austerity measures aimed at averting national bankruptcy.

The minister in charge of police later said security forces and fire crews had waged a “superhuman” effort to contain violence.

“(The police) made superhuman efforts, as did the fire department, despite the fact that they were attacked and impeded from reaching fire outbreaks,” Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis told reporters.

Overall, 170 businesses around the city centre sustained damage, including banks, bookstores, jewellery shops, home appliance stores and supermarkets, the Athens chamber of commerce said.

The government, neck-deep in debt, said it would find a way to help out.

“Ways will be examined to support citizens whose property was destroyed,” said government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis.

The Attikon was housed in a neo-classical building dating back to the late 19th century. The cinema was famed for its sumptuous decor, plush red seats and the sweeping curves of its main auditorium.

Until Sunday, the film on show was “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” starring Gary Oldman.

Around 150 people held a candlelit vigil outside the gutted building on Monday evening in a silent protest campaign organised on Facebook.

“I am ashamed, it’s hooliganism,” lamented one of Sunday’s demonstrators, a 55-year-old security guard who gave her name only as Melpo, standing outside the ruined building earlier in the day.

The Attikon building was home to several other businesses, including a store whose owner fretted for the future of his four employees in a country where unemployment is more than 20 percent.

About 80,000 people took to the streets on Sunday to protest austerity measures, according to police estimates, while media reports said the number was almost double that.

Rioters attacked “emblematic buildings, about 10 neo-classical edifices,” dating from the beginning of the 20th century, the deputy mayor in charge of maintenance Andreas Varelas said.

Another group tried to storm the Athens city hall but were arrested.

A few metres (yards) from the Attikon, a memorial site celebrating Greek resistance to the Nazis during World War II suffered broken windows and had been daubed in red graffiti stating: “Uprising.”

Condemnation for the violence came quickly.

“Violence and destruction have no place in a democracy,” Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said late Sunday, while calling on Athenians for calm.

European Union economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn on Monday slammed the violence as unacceptable.

“These individuals do not represent the vast majority of Greek citizens who are genuinely concerned for the future of their country,” Rehn said in a statement.

Greece’s new budget cuts were demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund as the price of a second 130-billion-euro ($172 billion) debt rescue to avert imminent bankruptcy and keep Greece in the eurozone.

The new cuts include reductions in the country’s minimum wage and further layoffs in the public sector.

Athenians on their way to work were shocked at the extent of the damage.

“It’s a reminder of December 2008,” deputy mayor Varelas said, in reference to nearly a month of urban violence in Athens sparked after a youth was killed by a policeman.

The health ministry said 54 civilians had been hurt, while police said 68 members of the force had suffered injuries.

Some 67 people were arrested and police say there was an organised plan by some to cause casualties.

“Through their actions, they showed that they sought human casualties,” Greek police chief Nikos Papagiannopoulos told a news conference.

Athens police chief Ioannis Lioungas added that 15 people had to be rescued from a burning bank, reviving memories of three people — one of them a pregnant woman — who died inside another firebombed bank branch in 2010.

Municipal workers were on Monday clearing up the debris of marble ripped up from the pavements and hurled by rioters. Rubbish bins smoked and everywhere near the centre, from the tourist area of Monastiraki to the chic streets of the Kolonaki quarter, the ground was littered with shattered glass.

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