Athens: National Day Parades Behind Iron Bars (Mar 24-25/12)

Posted by in Politics, Society

Athenians are stunned to see such draconian security measures during National Day parades. A large area in front of the Greek Parliament has been secured with railings in order to keep away potential troublemakers. The VIP tribune where the political and military leadership of the country take place has been guarded day and night. Today’s school students parade is considered to be the crash test for tomorrow’s military parade to mark the 191th anniversary of Greece’s Independence Day from the Ottoman empire in 1821.

Three metro stations (Syntagma, Evangelismos, Acropolis) have been closed as early as 8 o’clock in the morning. 

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4,000 policemen have already taken place in the area near the Parliament/Syntagma Square. Apparently there is one policeman on each square meter.  3,000 more policemen have been places in the broader area. Special squads will follow the event from building roofs.

 Helicopters won’t be able to take off and surveillance due to the high costs – austerity has hit Greece, as everybody knows…

Video: “Policemen Parade” with archive footage; “Red marking” shows the area where no citizens are allowed.

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Citizens are banned from the area and will be able to watch the parade at a distance of at least 500 meters away.

Video:

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Greek media reported that there is also a plan to help politicians escape in case things get out of control.

Opposite the VIP tribune only accredited journalists will be allowed to stand. Never before, journalist had to be accredited to follow a parade. Unconfirmed information speak of 230 journalists ( Greek, British, French, Portuguese, Chinese etc) to have received a free pass.

The Pan-Hellenic Federation of Policemen (POASY) issued a statement condemning the unprecedented security measures. The social problems and the anger of a whole nation cannot be faced with supression measures” POASY said.

This is the first time in Greece that parades take place “behind closed doors”, so to say.  The parades to commemorate the Greek independence struggle will apparently take place for the Greek politicians only! A discussion has broke out in Greece about whether there should be parades or not. Deputy PM Thodoros Pangalos told state broadcaster NET TV this morning that “it is not necessary to have parades.”

I think the problem are not the parades as such, but the presence of the austerity- and IMF-politicians that turns them into into a ‘red cloth’ in the eyes of angry, frustrated and recession-hit Greek citizens.

Last year, the October-28th parade was cancelled in Thessaloniki after heavy protests forced the President to leave.

more pictures: Zougla.gr, NewsIt.gr

PS While there has been all this ‘panic creation’, not even one state or private television broadcasts live from the school parade that started half an hour ago.

The whole issue “draconian security vs potential riots” reminds me of the song imagine there is war and nobody shows up.

More reading on Parades measures and parades turn into protests HERE