Greek riot police have forcibly evicted dozens of journalists from the former state TV headquarters (ERT), bringing to an end a five month occupation that started after the TV station had been taken off air, and the journalists sacked. The closure had been part of a programme of public sector job cuts to meet their austerity targets. Many of the workers had stayed behind and kept the station running with an illegal news feed via the internet.
Scuffles broke out between the journalists, their supporters, and the police. The streets around the building were cordoned off, and several rounds of tear gas were used to disperse those protesting. Four people were arrested on charges of ‘resisting the authorities’.
A spokesperson for the radio workers union said that:
“I was on air when riot police stormed into the studio and ordered me to shut the microphones and leave. I’ve never seen anything like this before; it’s barbaric and indicative of the kind of democracy we have in this country.”
A former ERT employee who had been evicted stated that:
“This is how fascism works, slyly and in darkness. I feel like they have violated my home, violated my life, my democracy. They have destroyed everything.”
The government condemned the illegal ‘occupation’ and said that the dawn raid carried out by the police was necessary to uphold the law and to restore legality. Government inspectors are now going through the studio with a fine tooth comb to check whether the facilities and equipment have been damaged so that they can lay further charges on the occupiers. The studios will be handed over to the new state TV station, which will no doubt put a much more positive spin on the government and their austerity measures.
A series of rallies in support of the occupiers are being planned for the coming days.