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(en) Athens, The anarchist bloc and the riots on March 21 anti-war demo

From "anar anar" <all_anar@hotmail.com>
Date Sat, 22 Mar 2003 18:09:51 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

The anarchist/anti-authoritarian bloc and the riots on the way and around
the US embassy at 21 March antiwar demo.
The meeting place for the anarchist bloc was at the end of Stadiou str.,
Syntagma square. Comrades started gathering around 11.30a.m. while thousands
of pupils were already in the square, forming small blocs and shouting
The Greek Social Forum speakers, using a PA system, were asking the people
to form human chains, against the anarchist bloc, and called pupils to move
forward. But neither anyone made these chains, nor any pupil seemed to share
the agony of the demo-organizers to keep it pacifist. On the contrary, they
were not at all hostile to anarchist presence and were very positive to take
anarchist flyers and other counter-information material that was distributed
at the square.

The demo started at about 1.00 pm and it is said that 200.000 people took
part. Anarchists, antiauthoritarians, autonoms and youth who gathered behind
a banner saying WAR TO THE WAR OF THE BOSSES were 800-1000 persons. The main
slogans one could hear were: SOLIDARITY IS THE PEOPLES' WEAPON-WAR TO THE

When the bloc passed in front of the renovated luxury "Megali Bretania"
hotel, eggs and red paint was thrown at the entrance. Some stones were also
thrown against the Parliament and the cops guarding it, as well as against
some cameras.

In front of the French embassy the police guards' house and surveillance
cameras got smashed. Red paint was thrown at the European Union building,
while everyone on the bloc remained at the spot shouting slogans. A symbolic
attack was also made against the Italian embassy, where stones and molotov
cocktails managed to "fly" over the high fence. The Portuguese embassy got
some stones too... After, there was another symbolic strike against the
Ministry of Internal Affairs, with molotov cocktails and stones at the
entrance. A little bit later, before the British embassy, riot police squads
who were watching from distance till then due to the masses of the demo,
approached the bloc from both the sides of the street.

A part of the anarchist bloc formed a human chain on the side to manage to
pass safe in front of the British embassy and, followed by many riot police,
moved forward walking aside blocs of pupils, leftist organizations and
masses of people who had come to the demo spontaneously, without belonging
in any specific political bloc. The rest of comrades followed the same way
and almost everyone re-united close to the War Museum, while the demo was
continuously passing and riot police was sporadically receiving stones. In
front of 'Evagelismos' hospital, a group of demonstrators attacked the riot
cops with molotov cocktails and other objects. In the beginning police
panicked in the flames but after recovering from the surprise they started
chasing people, charging with tear gas and other chemicals. Somewhere around
Hilton hotel, the bloc split in small groups, marching towards the US
embassy among the rest of the demo.

The US embassy was the main target for the biggest part of the
demonstrators. During all the hours that the demo was taking place, people,
especially the pupils, who were passing in front of the building and the
cops and police vans guarding it, were throwing bitter oranges, eggs, red
paint and stones at them. The vans and the cops had paints and eggs all
over! Some time, among the other stuff thrown against them, they got 4-5
molotovs from a really close distance... After that they started a general
attack, with a rain of tear gas and chemicals that forced people to retreat
and many of them to leave from small streets to protect from the gas. There,
some conflicts occurred between anarchists and political parties' members,
but the chemicals were so strong that made everyone retreat. A little
symbolism: the gas near the embassy was so suffocating that a pigeon flying
above fell dead, next to a comrade...

On the parallel street to the embassy a NOVA bank was set on fire. Many of
those who went down to avoid the tear gas started returning in front of the
Music Hall, on the same avenue with the embassy, one bloc away. In the
street between the Hall and the embassy there were massive clashes of
demonstrators against cops, where hundreds of pupils participated. Many
people, enraged because of the war, the riot police for keeping the embassy
safe and because of the suffocating teargas, started a counter-attack, using
everything they could find: wooden sticks, bottles, stones taken from the
pavements, bitter oranges from the trees, molotov cocktails... All over the
street, fires were set in barricades to offer some protection from the gas.
Many slogans, with principal COPS, PIGS, ASSASSINS!

Gradually retreating under the gas and the riot police pressure, the people
participating in the riots reached 'Eleftherias' Park. Only the presence of
a riot police squad who was there caused a spontaneous attack by 200 pupils
mainly and others. After many objects thrown against them, the cops started
running back and were saved from a general retreat only when other squads
came from inside the park to support them. New and continuous clashes
followed, with groups of demonstrators throwing stones from all directions
to the police. Under the clouds of tear gas and the arrival of more squads
from the side of the embassy, the demonstrators taking part in the clashes
started moving backwards, to Hilton hotel, resisting as much as they could
the police charging against them. Others split in side streets, lighting

A retreating group of about 100 people reached the War Museum and set fire
to some military airplanes exposed in the yard of the Museum, and afterwards
attacked the building that houses the State Radio-Television (ERT). But as
this group had been isolated from the body of the demo, it became easy
target for the riot police who charged them, chasing them in the streets of
Kolonaki neighborhood.

In the meanwhile other blocs, the back ones of the main body of the
demonstration were still going towards the embassy and there, objects were
continuously thrown against the building and the police-guards.
The police arrested about 40 persons who, according to witnesses, were
abused. Among the arrested there are Iraqis and Kurds who stayed in front of
the US embassy after the demo had finished, and there they were attacked and
hit by police without any reason...







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