Greek police clears central Athens square from "indignant" campers

10:10, July 31, 2011      

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Greek police cleared a square in central Athens on Saturday from some two dozen "indignant" peaceful protesters, who had camped in tents close to the parliament building for over two months protesting austerity measures.

The protesters initially set up the camp at Syntagma square in late May when tens of thousands people started protesting peacefully on a daily basis for weeks against the government's austerity policies, following similar protests in Spain.

But, over the past month, amidst the peak of the summer holiday season, the number of "indignants" was reduced to a few dozens campers.

Athens Mayor Yorgos Kaminis repeatedly made pleas for the end of the protest, denouncing the "degrading of the environment" and voicing determination to return the public area, clean and splendid, to all Athenians and foreign visitors to enjoy.

Eight persons, including four Greeks, two French nationals, one German and one Romanian, were arrested on Saturday for violation of laws on environmental pollution, as city employees on trucks removed the tents and banners with anti-government slogans from Syntagma.

The square and surrounding hotels, office buildings and stores have been repeatedly damaged over the past year and a half during anti-austerity rallies which sometimes ended in violent clashes between anti-riot police and groups of anarchists.

Taxi drivers, who are on a strike since July 18 over the deregulation of the profession, staged a demonstration at Syntagma last week, while labor unions warn of a new round of protests ending up in front of the square in August over a new wave of cutbacks on incomes the government introduces, while stepping ups efforts to address an acute debt crisis.

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