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Friday, 28 October 2011

Protests on the Greek National day (#oxi)

The 28 October parade in Syntagma 28 October is celebrated on Greece as "ohi day" ("no day") in reference to 28 October 1940, when Greek dictator Metaxas rejected the ultimatum by Benito Mussolini to allow the armies of fascist Italy to invade Greece. The celebrations are normally marked by a large military parade in Thessaloniki and schoolchildren parades throughout the country. 

Today 28 October 2011, the parades throughout Greece were marked by protests by various groups of citizens who chose to express a new "no" in the context of the economic, social and political crisis Greece is currently undergoing. A man was hurling abuse at the parliament as early as 9:30am this morning. The police presence was extremely heavy from early in the day, even though the crowd gathered in Syntagma was very small and composed for the most part by parents who wanted to see their children parade. It was before 10am when the police pushed down the fences on Vasileos Georgiou and Othonos streets to keep the audience away from Amalias avenue where the parade would be passing. A group of angry parents went off to collect their children, saying "we won't let our children participate in a parade with the riot police as the only audience." Once the officials arrived, including the minister of education Anna Diamantopoulou, and the parade was under way, anti-government chants, slogans, boos and catcalls became louder and louder. The parade was extremely brief, and several witnesses reported scuffles and even tear gas being sprayed at the crowd on the corner of Vas. Georgiou street and Panepistimiou avenue. 

Several groups in the square had banners and distributed flyers saying "no" with different slogans underneath. These include Spitha as well as a spontaneous Facebook group called "leme ohi" ( 

The end of the parade/protest was marred by a group of extreme-right nationalists who assaulted immigrant workers and passers-by who tried to protect them. At least one "ohi" activist and 4 immigrants were taken to hospital for medical care, with further reports of more people wounded later in other areas of downtown Athens.

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