NEWS

PM blames SYRIZA for ‘I won’t pay’ protests

Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday accused the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) of actively encouraging the ?I won?t pay? movement, which has seen protestors refusing to pay for public transport or road tolls.

?I am saddened when I see a parliamentary party encouraging people to break the law,? said Papandreou in Parliament. ?I don?t blame the citizens, I blame SYRIZA, as well as New Democracy, which has turned a blind eye to this lawlessness.?

A growing number of people have joined the protest movement in recent weeks, following steep hikes in toll charges and the cost of public transport. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said it was people?s right to protest unjust decisions.

?The view that peaceful social disobedience is lawlessness is an undemocratic view that shows a disregard for history,? Tsipras said. ?Social disobedience in the face of an abuse of power is a democratic right.?

Tsipras went on to accuse the government of acting in favor of ?vested interests? because it feared a backlash from the media organizations owned by certain businessmen. The SYRIZA leader said that it was unacceptable for the government to allow politicians who allegedly accepted bribes from Siemens to escape without punishment but to threaten to jail citizens for refusing to pay tolls or to stamp their bus ticket.

The INKA consumer group said on Friday that it would join other organizations to appeal a bill submitted to Parliament this week that seeks to impose stiffer fines and even prison sentences on fare dodgers and motorists who refuse to pay tolls. Protestors are said to be organizing a demonstration in front of Parliament on March 1.