sábado, março 17, 2007

ATHENS report, 15 March 2007: Massive demos of the entire Student Community, protests evolved peacefully as Faculty occupations carry on

Dozens of thousands of people took part in the Education demonstrations that took place all around Greece, in Athens [photos: 1, 2, 3, 4], Thessaloniki [photos], Heraclio, Patra, Volos and Syros. Tomorrow, student unions from the Polytechnic faculty will hold a rally outside the Working Unions' Association conference, demanding a call for a general strike.

In Athens, an estimate of 20.000 people took part in today's education march, which wasn't centralised in Athens. It has possibly been the biggest demonstration with people just from Athens.

The efforts for legal and medical support of the demonstrators was also interesting. Lawyers were scattered into all blocks, so as to prevent cops from malbehaving. Before the march, riot police forces and undercovered policemen temporarily detained some students who had been walking towards the march, without any reason or them carrying anything "suspicious". The cops were quite provocative towards the lawyers and the unionists (academics, high school and primary school teachers etc.) who tried to prevent the detainments. Indicatively, at some point in Academias street, riot policemen stopped a student and started looking in his bag and IDing him, when along with a lawyer we asked the squad supervisor for the reason of this treatment. He refused replying, he asked for our IDs, we asked his but he refused showing it, while his men approached us in order to force us move away. After the student was left without being detained or having anything put in his bag, we let the Academics' Union know about the incident.

In the march, apart from the massive student blocks, you could see a lot of workers, I could also see some comrades from the movement of 90-91. Having a discussion with some of known students, it was clear that they didn't want any riots to take place, although they were carrying their anti-gas masks. A lot of them told me about their fellow students who didn't want to join the demonstration as they were afraid of the massive state suppression that had taken place last Thursday. Though, they were confident that they will keep on mobilizing against the Frame Law; a sprayed slogan written on the walls referred to the movement of 1979 which managed to revert the voted law 815. The decision of not having a clash was apparent on most of the students, as much as the mood for a clash was apparent last Thursday.

I believe that this had to do with a conscious decision of the demonstrators not to play for the media, also shown by the lots of anti-media slogans that were shouted during the march, in all block (apart from the one of the Communist Youth); they were also confident that they should allow the Communist Youth to polarise the tensions within the student movement, allowing them to get out of the political dead-end that has been following.

The intervention of the teaching unionists was crucial, during the march, since they didn't aim to segregate individuals (as the Communist party and youth do) but to prevent the riot police from attaching the demonstrators (which had been attempted last Thursday as well). When the march arrived in Syntagma, the block of the Polytechnic Faculty student unions turned towards the flower shops and stood in front of the policemen, as unionists made a chain in front of the riot police (facing the policemen), in front of the entrance of the parliament.

Finally, the polytechnic block didn't try to disobey the red zone and turned to Panepistimiou street towards Propylaea.

The struggle is carrying on during the assemblies of the following week. The battle is still against the Frame Law and the government. Let's not allow the communist youth to transfer it within in the movement.

It is important to ask from the unionists to call for a strike during the next education march in 22nd of March. There has been already a decision for a 24hr strike by the Assossiation of privately contracted public sector employees, while a petition for a strike, amongst the members of Athens Worker's Centre is taking place.

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