A second tense week of strikes and protest marches in Greece seeing hospital doctors, public transport and lorry drivers on strike, solidarity demonstrations with K. Kouneva erupt in riots, and a return of the spectre of urban guerrilla warfare.
As K. Kouneva is slowly recovering from the assassination attempt against her with sulphuric acid in December by corporate thugs, solidarity towards her and the cleaners subcontracted by OIKOMET and other companies to the civil service and state-owned enterprises is on the rise.
Protest marches took to the streets of major Greek cities on Thursday 19/2. In Salonica protesters marched in bitter cold and pelted riot police (MAT) with garbage. Later the same night, riots broke out when a large masked crowd gathered to celebrate the beginning of the Carnival erected barricades and attacked using rocks and other projectiles the riot police, who responded with extended use of tear gas and flash-blast grenades.
In Athens, thousands protested in solidarity with the cleaners in a march to the Parliament. During the protest several banks were smashed and burned down leading to extended clashes with police behind erected barricades. Earlier this week protesters in solidarity with Kouneva attacked and smashed the offices of OIKOMET in Piraeus.
At the same time hospital doctors started a second round of 48h strike on Thursday 19/2 demanding to serve only their legal shifts. The same day bus and trolley drivers in Athens staged a 09.00-17.00 stoppage, a particularly disruptive labour action for the particular day which signals the beginning of the Carnival. In addition, on 19/2 the cross-country lorry drivers have declared an unlimited strike blocking all custom control at the country’s harbours and land borders.
The tense situation across the country has been underlined by the continuation of armed violence by Marxist-Leninist urban guerrilla groups: on Monday guerrillas opened fire against cars of producers of the Alter TV channel in the TV station’s HQs (no one was wounded), while early on Tuesday a car packed with 60Kg of ANFO was found outside Citybanks HQs in Kifisia, north Athens. The car-bomb which was deactivated by the police would have blown up the entire block.
Public opinion on the new circle of urban guerrilla that opened last December remains mixed, especially since a convicted member of the November 17 urban guerrilla group, Mr Tzorzatos, declared the attacks look like the work of the Greek Intelligence Service (EYP) which has likely infiltrated inexperienced armed Marxist-Leninist groups. Tzortzatos, a controversial figure, gave extended technical details to substantiate his argument.
Meanwhile, the park of Kyprou and Patision in downtown Athens, over which riots broke out at the end of January leading to the smashing of two police stations, is still under occupation by local protesters.
At the same time, in Alimos, south Athens, the occupation of the paper producing “Faros” factory by its workers is in its second week, with widespread support.