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Several protesters were injured and hospitalized on Wednesday at a demonstration outside a notary’s office on Themistokleous Street in the Exarchia district of Athens. The protesters had gathered there in an attempt to enter the office in order to prevent an electronic auction of foreclosed homes to take place.
According to eyewitness reports, at least five demonstrators, one photographer, and several journalists were injured in clashes with riot police, who physically attacked protesters instead of using tear gas to disperse them. At least five protesters were arrested, and it has been reported that these five individuals are now facing charges and remain held at central police headquarters in Athens. The headquarters became the site of a follow-up demonstration Wednesday evening, once news of the arrests became known.
Witnesses at the scene also reported that riot police officers lifted a woman who had managed to get past the area cordoned off by police, throwing her to the ground. Witness reports also claimed that a police vehicle drove aggressively towards a journalist at the scene, narrowly missing him.
In turn, protesters at the scene attacked riot police officers with eggs.
The five detained protesters are slated to appear in court tomorrow afternoon, with further protests planned to be held outside the Evelpidon courthouse at 12 noon Thursday.
The current “radical leftist” SYRIZA-led government, in conjunction with notaries’ associations throughout Greece, has begun implementing the practice of electronic home auctions of properties which have been seized due to outstanding debts, often for amounts as low as €1000. Such auctions take place in notaries’ offices via an electronic platform that was recently developed, and were one of the many hundreds of measures the current government agreed to enforce at the behest of the “troika” (European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) in order to unlock “bailout” funds (in actuality loans) promised to Greece.
Video from today’s protest:
Such electronic home auctions, taking place on private property (notaries’ offices) instead of public courthouses, have allowed the government and the banks to sidestep a robust and well-organized protest movement that had developed and which was active in courthouses across the country, against the seizure and auction of debtors’ homes. This movement had been successful in preventing the auctions of many such properties from taking place.
SYRIZA, prior to its initial election in January 2015, had campaigned on an “anti-austerity” platform which included pledges to put an end to the seizure and auctions of debtors’ homes and properties. Similarly, SYRIZA had also pledged to abolish the violent, out-of-control riot police (MAT).
Reneging on its promises though, as it has done with most of its other campaign pledges, SYRIZA has allowed home foreclosures and auctions to continue, while the riot police continue to operate unchecked and have not hesitated to crack protesters’ heads open, whether the issue is auctions, cuts to pensions, or the privatization of public assets.