Greek Government uses unconcealed violence to crash protesters in Chalkidiki

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October 22, 2012 by pavlospapathanasiou

Scenes of unspeakable violence took place in the northern Greek region of Chalkidiki yesterday; Hundreds of protesters from Chalkidiki, Thessaloniki and other Northern Greece regions gathered in the famous Skouries forest to protest against the government plans to confer thousand of hectares of virgin forests to a private company who plans to deploy gold mines. Locals and other people who oppose these plans warn: “if allowed this will result in an irreversible economic, ecological and cultural destruction of the site with forests and waters full of toxic waste, a sea polluted by heavy metals, air with hazardous dust and acid rain while it will drain huge water reserves.” (1) The particular region is of exceptional natural beauty and moreover has a special significance for the Greeks, since it is the homeland of the world known Antiquity philosopher Aristotle (2). Except their protests and lawsuits against those promoting the plans, the opponents have launched a special online petition collecting signatures.(3)

Yesterday’s protest was forbidden by the Greek Police, however locals and other citizens from Northern Greece declared their determination to march in Skouries forest since their demonstration was consisted of peaceful people, hence the ban was regarded illegal. However the Police ignored the appeal and the presence of hundreds protesters among them little children and elderly people from nearby villages. Dangerous tear gas were used against protesters who were trying to escape through the forest road, while many citizens were beaten hard like a young woman who was beaten with a baton in her knees and managed to walk away only with the help of other protesters who carried her on their arms.(4a) Another couple complained that during their attempt to escape with their car from the forest ,a Police special forces member broke the vehicle window and threw a tear gas inside it (4b) More than 20 people were arrested and transferred to the regional capital Polygyros Police Departement without being allowed to talk to a lawyer. SYRIZA-EKM member of Parliament Katerina Igglezi who rushed in the Police Department asked to enter the building and see those arrested. A furious policeman with no uniform beat her up in the face; this scene of unspeakable violence was recorded in a video by another woman who was standing close (4c)

In the post Memorandum era (2010- ) the Greek police has become famous around the world for the excessive use of violence which reaches the limits of brutality. So far all three Ministers of Public Order and Civic Protection did not codemn this tactics, while the current one Nikos Dendias, not only refuses all denouncements of Police violence but he also reached the point to sue international reporters who accuse him for similar tactics (5). Last week a 65 year old protester died in Athens only a few meters from the Parliament due to the excessive use of tear gas. People in Greece are hoping more and more that at last the International Community and NGO’s like Amnesty International will manage somehow to put an end to this brutal tactics, but will they really be heard?

Pavlos Papathanasiou


(1) (the official antimines campaign site-in Greek)

(2) (profile of Chalkidiki region through the Greek National Tourism Organisation)

(3) (the online petition against the gold mines in the Homeland of Aristotle)

(4 a,b,c) (live coverage of yesterday’s protest in Skouries and the police brutalities [in Greek]- also all photographs used in the current post are from news portal)

(5) (the death of a 65 year old protester in Athens)


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