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Greece crippled by protests

[ 2011-06-16 10:33]     字号 [] [] []  
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Greek police deployed in strength on Wednesday to prevent thousands of anti-austerity protesters from blockading parliament, where the struggling government will launch a debate on unpopular cutbacks needed to secure international rescue loans.

As a 24-hour general strike got underway, a large part of central Athens was closed to all traffic and pedestrians as police mounted a huge security operation to allow lawmakers access to parliament by car.

Some 5,000 officers, including hundreds of riot and motorcycle police, were on duty, using parked buses and crowd barriers to prevent protesters from encircling the building.

At least 11,000 people gathered peacefully in Syntagma Square outside parliament, according to police, while another union demonstration was expected later on Wednesday.

"Resign, resign", the crowd chanted outside parliament. The protesters included both young and old, and many brought their children, hoisting them onto their shoulders to shield them from the crush.

Such marches have turned violent in the past, and three clerks died when rioters torched their bank during a mass demonstration in Athens last May. But no violence was reported on Wednesday.

A police spokesman said 10 protesters were briefly detained for trying to prevent lawmakers from reaching parliament. About a hundred people booed and heckled as cars carrying Prime Minister George Papandreou and President Karolos Papoulias swept past.

Meanwhile, a general strike by unions crippled public services across the country.

It left state hospitals running on emergency staff, disrupted port traffic and public transport, and forced radio and television news programs off the air. Journalists' unions later called off the strike to cover developments in Athens.

Flights, however, were operating normally after the air traffic controllers' union called off their participation in the strike.


1. How many police officers were on duty?

2. What did the crowd chant outside parliament?

3. How many protesters were detained?


1. 5,000.

2. Resign, resign.

3. 10.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Greece crippled by protests

About the broadcaster:

Greece crippled by protests

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.