by Aggelos Skordas
Demonstrators attempting to disrupt foreclosed property auctions clashed with riot police inside Athens’ First Instance Court on Wednesday, the first day of online auctions to sell off homes for outstanding debts, a procedure halted for several months due to strong reactions. Property auctions is a key precondition for the completion of Greece’s third bailout evaluation. Leftist SYRIZA-led coalition government has expressed its determination to fully meet that requirement despite its pre-electoral pledge to halt them.
Protesters tried to blockade the courthouse’s entrance, not allowing notaries from entering, although riot police made extensive use of tear gas in order to blast them away from the building. Some protestors (including a former Mayor) were injured during the clashes while others pelted police with trash cans, sticks, fire extinguishers and other items. Same scenes took place in various local courthouses in Greece. Among the protestors, chanting “not a single home in the hands of a banker”, were Greek Communist Party trade unionists, members of the anti-austerity “I won’t pay” movement and members of leftist, anti-Eurozone Popular Unity (LAE) party.
“Popular Unity condemns in the most categorical way the extreme authoritarianism and the repression of the anti-auctions movement that took place today in the country’s courthouses and especially in Athens First Instance Court. Acting on the orders of Tsipras’ government, [Justice Minister] Kontonis and [Alternate Minister of Citizen Protection] Tipskas, the riot police forces attacked in the most brutally way fighters of the anti-auctions movement, with beating even with tear gas inside the Athens First Instance Court, resulting in the injury of demonstrators and especially of Thanasis Bartzokas, a member of LAE, who was transferred to the hospital. Tsipras-Kontonis-[President of notaries association] Rouskas alliance for the looting of popular property has shown its most brutal face”, a statement issued following the violent incidents in Athens by LAE leader and former SYRIZA minister Panagiotis Lafazanis reads.
It should be noted that Greece’s creditors see auctions as essential for banks’ solvency and a way for them to get a grip on the huge number of bad loans. The government has promised that primary residences worth up to 300,000 euros won’t be included in the procedure.