Greece: dictatorship-era anti-protest law triggers large demonstrations

Thousands of people protested in Greece yesterday in response to the new law giving the police new powers to regulate protests. The protests in Athens and Thessaloniki turned violent, with police, as per tradition, using teargas to contain it. The protesters responded with molotov cocktails. In Athens, the cops detained 15 people, of which 9 were subsequently arrested.

The bill, based on dictatorship-era law from 1971, makes provisions for the creation of a special “Violence Prevention Directorate”, requiring that protests must apply for a license from the police to go forward. The police will also be able to use force in order to restrict any outdoor gathering whenever they consider it necessary. People participating in a banned gathering will face up to two years imprisonment.

Additionally, the new law defines the role of the protest organizer who now should follow the guidance from the police and provide assistance for the maintenance of order during a gathering. The organisers were also obliged to inform protest participants that they may not “carry objects that can be used for violence”, and require the intervention of the authorities to remove persons carrying such objects.  The organizer will be liable for financial compensation for the property damage occurring during a protest, or other economical losses caused by it. 

The new law was brought forward by the right-wing government of the New Democracy party and was voted through the Greek parliament yesterday by a 187-101 majority. It effectively penalises protests: especially the ones organised spontaneously in reaction to current events, such as the recent BLM solidarity actions. It will also create a massive obstacle in the struggle for refugee people rights in Greece. Rallies may also be banned and disbanded if they are opposed to another rally that was registered with the police, creating issues for actions such as countering fascist gatherings.

Two dates were excluded from the new law: 1st May and 17th November: the anniversary of the 1973 military assault at the Athens Polytechnic uprising: an event which eventually lead to the fall of the military dictatorship in the country.

There are more protests planned in Greece today and in the upcoming days.

(zb)


Featured image: Anarchist Federation Greece at yesterday’s protest in Athens. Source: Greek Anarchist Federation (Αναρχική Ομοσπονδία)

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