The government came under a hail of criticism on Friday from opposition parties over the street riots that marred the anniversary on Thursday of the deadly crackdown on a student uprising in 1973 by the military junta.
The vice president of New Democracy, Adonis Georgiadis, blamed the government, and Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas in particular, for not allowing, as he said, the police to do its job. He said that Toskas had ignored a prosecutor’s ruling that gave police the green light to enter the premises of the Athens Polytechnic, where the riots were centered around, if there was sufficient cause to do so.
“This was a political decision,” he told Alpha radio, adding that Toskas did not allow police to get close. He insisted that New Democracy would have backed the government if it had acted on the prosecutor’s ruling.
Georgiadis, whose office in the Exarxhia district has been frequently targeted by anarchists, said that the destruction of public property and the torching of the city center had become a tradition. And he accused left wing politicians of hypocrisy as they had, for decades, claimed that the riots were instigated by the police.
“Now that SYRIZA is in power, no one talks about police instigation,” he added.
Police made a total of 13 arrests were made during Thursday night’s clashes which broke out when groups of self-styled anarchists in hoods pelted riot police units with petrol bombs in and around the Athens Polytechnic, the site where, 43 years ago, army tanks crashed through the gates to put down a student revolt, reportedly leaving dozens of dead behind.
One group of rioters, describing themselves as anarchists, occupied one of the Polytechnic’s buildings and set up road blocks with broken chairs on surrounding streets.