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A "war" with oranges and tear gas during the protest of farmers in Athens

20 December 2013 / 18:12:44  GRReporter
2465 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova
About 1,000 farmers from Crete and other regions around Attica gathered in Athens to protest against the taxation of agricultural lands. The farmers from Crete had arrived at the port of Piraeus early in the morning. At around twelve o’clock, the protesters were already in Syntagma Square, listening to the speeches of their representatives.

About 100 metres away from them, on Stadiou Street, police teams had blocked a truck with which the farmers from Nafplio and Argos had transported two tons of oranges to give them to the citizens. Representatives of the farmers and SYRIZA deputy Michael Kritsotakis urged the policemen to allow the truck to get to Syntagma.

The police firmly refused to allow the truck to move and stop in the main square and the delegation returned to the square. A little later, all participants in the protest gathered around the truck and started carrying the boxes of oranges by hand.

Immediately after that, they set off to the side entrance of the parliament building on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue that was blocked by three police vehicles while riot police forces were guarding the sidewalks on both sides, not letting anyone walk along them. When the farmers arrived, some of them tried to give the policemen oranges, telling them that they were fighting for the properties of their parents. Meanwhile, a delegation involving representatives of the farmers and the SYRIZA deputy had entered the parliament to deliver a protest note.

At first, there was no tension outside but the police repelled a group of farmers when they became more persistent. Then those in the rear decided to use the oranges as a "weapon" and began throwing them at the police and the courtyard of parliament.

The initial plans of the farmers to continue their protest outside the Ministry of Finance did not materialize since, at about 3:00 pm, they were surrounded by policemen who used a small amount of tear gas to disperse them.

During the meeting in parliament, Konstantinos Skiadas, a representative of the Pan-Hellenic Confederation of Associations of Agricultural Cooperatives accused the government of levying on farmers taxes that they are unable to pay instead of supporting the agricultural sector.

It is worth noting that the tax on agricultural land is calculated on the basis of €1 per acre. The change in the price depends on additional factors such as the location of the land, its use, whether the land consists of areas under irrigation or of built-up areas.

At the same time, the municipal employees held a protest outside the Ministry of the Interior. Singing Christmas songs the verses of which they had replaced with slogans against the minister and the government policy, they opposed the programme of voluntary mobility between municipalities, which the government announced a few days ago.

Moreover, they had a moneybox with a picture of former Minister Michalis Liapis who, a few days earlier, had been arrested for a documentary fraud, and ironically "raised money" for him. They threatened to strike during the holidays and the probability of Athens and Thessaloniki being buried by waste at Christmas and New Year is high.

This time the employees enjoy the support of the mayors, including Mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis. He along with mayor of Thessaloniki Yiannis Boutaris said that the employees in both municipalities do not exceed the required number. They accused the Ministry of having made the estimates on the basis of old data and Deputy Minister of Interior Leonidas Grigorakos replied that the arguments of the mayors were related to the upcoming local elections.

Tags: SocietyProtest of farmersTaxationAgricultural landsMunicipal employees
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