NEWS

As SYRIZA slides back into support of violent protests, authorities say won’t shrink from purging universities

ARISTOTELIA PELONI, STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Education, Politics, Crime

In the wake of the vehement political exchanges that followed clashes between police and far-left protesters at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) on Monday, the conservative government has underlined its determination to crack down on lawlessness, accusing SYRIZA of reverting to its radical days of openly defending anti-government violence.

Government sources do not rule out an escalation of tensions in the countdown to the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising against Greece’s junta on Sunday.

University rectors have also expressed concern about upheaval. The senate of the National Technical University of Athens said it feared repercussions following the police’s intervention at the AUEB.

Nevertheless, government spokesman Stelios Petsas made clear that authorities would enforce their plan to curb lawlessness.

“Universities belong to students, neighborhoods to residents and assets to their owners,” Petsas said when asked Tuesday whether he feared violent protests on Sunday when police traditionally clash with self-styled anarchists who vandalize cars and stores.

“The government is determined to be done with the safe houses of self-styled anarchists, with Molotov cocktails, with drug dealers, and with contraband trade on campuses,” Petsas said, adding that students should feel “safe and free in their universities from the fascistic imposition of opinions by small minorities.”

Noting that the government has disbanded the guerrilla group Revolutionary Self-Defense, confiscated an anarchist cache at the AUEB and raided squats in the past week, Petsas hit out at former SYRIZA ministers who joined a students’ demonstration on Monday. He condemned SYRIZA for tolerating the asylum law, abolished in August, that permitted anarchists to use campuses as safe houses.

SYRIZA’s Alexis Haritsis slammed the government’s crackdown as “irresponsible and dangerous,” saying it was trying to “divert public debate from its unprecedented inadequacy in tackling the refugee crisis by using violence and suppression.”
 

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