Violence breaks out at Athens protest over pension reforms

ATHENS, Greece -- Sporadic clashes broke out in central Athens Thursday as tens of thousands marched to the Greek Parliament during a general strike called to protest planned pension reforms that are part of the country's third international bailout.

See Full Article

Dozens of hooded anarchists threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Police said a journalist was attacked by rioters and taken to hospital but was not in serious condition.

Overall, police said about 40,000 people took part in two separate, consecutive demonstrations through central Athens. Smaller protests were held in other major cities.

Unions are angry at pension reforms that are part of Greece's third international bailout. The left-led government is trying to overhaul the country's ailing pension system by increasing social security contributions to avoid pension cuts, but critics say the reforms will lead many to lose two-thirds of their income.

Opposition to the reform has been vociferous, uniting a disparate group of professions, including farmers, artists, taxi drivers, lawyers, doctors, engineers and seamen among others.

Thursday's general strike is the most significant the coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced since he initially came to power a little more than a year ago. As an opposition party, Tsipras' radical left Syriza party had led opposition to pension reforms, but he was forced to ditch his earlier stance when faced with the stark choice of signing up to a third bailout or the country having to leave the euro currency.

Syriza's difficulties with the pension reform plan were evident in the party's statement that it was backing Thursday's strike.

Athens pensioner Yannis Kouvalakis said Tsipras' government "fooled" Greeks by promising to reverse austerity cuts.

"Because they are from the left, what happened? Was the situation saved? Things got worse. They'd said they'd give some money to pensioners or the unemployed, increase the minimum wage to 750 euros (per month)," he said. "They cut five euros from my pension ... What can they give? Forget it."

The strike comes as the government negotiates with Greece's international debt inspectors, who returned to Athens this week to review progress on the country's bailout obligations. The central Athens hotel where the inspectors were staying was heavily guarded by police.

Ferries between Greece's islands and the mainland remained tied up in port as part of the strike, while only limited public transport was operating in Athens for a few hours in the day and taxis also stayed off the streets. More than a dozen domestic flights were cancelled, while farmers maintained their blockades of highways that have forced motorists into lengthy detours.

State-run hospitals were functioning on emergency staff, while state schools, many shops and gas stations were shut.

Now: Tear gas & cocktail bombs in Syntagma in middle of large demonstration during today's general strike #Greecepic.twitter.com/OmPdFkGqXF

— Daphne Tolis (@daphnetoli) February 4, 2016


Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'Screaming, howling wind' from cyclone leaves thousands of Aussies without power

    World News CBC News
    Howling winds, heavy rain and huge seas pounded Australia's northeast on Tuesday, damaging homes, wrecking jetties and cutting power to thousands of people as Tropical Cyclone Debbie tore through Queensland state's far north. Wind gusts stronger than 260 km per hour were recorded at tourist resorts along the world-famous Great Barrier Reef as the powerful storm, at Category 4 just one rung below the most dangerous wind speed level, began to make landfall. Source
  • Malaysian authorities still in possession of Kim Jong-nam's body

    World News CBC News
    The body of Kim Jong-nam, who was murdered in Malaysia last month, is still in Kuala Lumpur, health minister Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said on Tuesday, amid reports the remains of the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will soon leave the country. Source
  • Red Bull heir enjoys jet-set life 4 years after hit-and-run

    World News Toronto Sun
    BANGKOK — The Ferrari driver who allegedly slammed into a motorcycle cop, dragged him along the road and then sped away from the mangled body took just hours to find, as investigators followed a drip, drip, drip trail of brake fluid up a street, down an alley, and into the gated estate of one of Thailand’s richest families. Source
  • Trump takes aim at Obama's efforts to curb climate change

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - Moving forward with a campaign pledge to unravel former President Barack Obama's sweeping plan to curb global warming, U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday that will suspend, rescind or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production in the form of fossil fuels. Source
  • Talk about horsepower; Fugitive horse, mule run loose on California highway

    World News Toronto Sun
    WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — That mustang in the rearview mirror turned out to be a real horse running on a Northern California highway — followed by a mule. Commuters east of San Francisco on Monday were stunned to see a white horse and a brown mule running across Interstate 680. Source
  • Albertans would be consulted before any pot rules set, Notley says

    Canada News CBC News
    Albertans will be consulted by the province before rules around where marijuana can be bought, sold and used roll out pending legalization next July, Premier Rachel Notley said Monday. "We're aware of all the issues, we haven't landed yet on the key decision factors because we need to consult with Albertans and we have to know exactly what the federal legislation looks like before we can figure out what our path looks like after that," she said. Source
  • Coalition isn't protecting Mosul civilians, Amnesty alleges

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD - A recent spike in civilian casualties in Mosul suggests the U.S.-led coalition is not taking adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths as it battles the Islamic State militant group alongside Iraqi ground forces, Amnesty International said Tuesday. Source
  • Woman attempted to impregnate captive Mexican surrogate with syringes

    World News Toronto Sun
    A Florida woman pleaded guilty to forced labour charges after she admitted to smuggling a Mexican woman across the border, holding her captive while attempting to impregnate her with syringes. Esthela Clark, 47, of Jacksonville, told a courtroom that she paid about $3,000 to have a woman smuggled across the border from Mexico to be a pregnancy surrogate. Source
  • French tourists retrace N.S. soldier's path to Vimy Ridge

    Canada News CTV News
    Most French tourists walk the cobble stone streets around Cape Breton’s Fortress of Louisbourg to retrace the footsteps of their ancestors who fought the British over what would become Canada. But one group has crossed the Atlantic to relive the journey of a young Nova Scotia coal miner who gave his life on one of the most famous battlefields of the First World War. Source
  • White U.S. Army veteran charged with act of terrorism in killing of black man

    World News CBC News
    A white racist accused of fatally stabbing a 66-year-old stranger on a Manhattan street because he was black says he'd intended it as "a practice run" in a mission to deter interracial relationships. James Harris Jackson, 28, spoke with a reporter for the Daily News at New York City's Rikers Island jail complex. Source