Pressure to end sit-in at Athens University grows

Pressure mounted for a solution to be found to end a sit-in at the administrative headquarters of Athens University as the occupation entered its 16th day Tuesday.

Following a call by Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to personally intervene in the affair, government sources indicated that failing to tackle it could fuel a broader crisis across the higher education sector which could prove to be unmanageable.

Sit-in participants uploaded a video on the Internet on Tuesday showing the interior of the building to be apparently intact after the rector’s office sent a letter to Tsipras claiming that people were taking drugs on the university premises and suggesting that the building may have been vandalized.

Police said that 15 people were arrested Tuesday in connection with the occupation at the university. Of the detainees, 10 were Greek nationals, two Algerian, two Afghan and one a Polish national wanted on a European arrest warrant for drug smuggling, a police statement said.

As debate continued about how the government should intervene to end the sit-in, former Premier and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras called for the police to intervene. The university’s former rector Theodoros Fortsakis, now an ND MP, said less confrontational tactics could work. “If we shut off the lights, water and wi-fi… those kids would gradually start to come out,” he said. “If they don’t have water to drink, electricity or wi-fi so that they can have contact with the outside world and cell phones then, in two or three days, they’ll be forced to come out,” he said.

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