Greek Protesters Stage Massive Peaceful Protests over Austerity Measures
    2011-05-26 04:37:19     Xinhua       Web Editor: Chudaye

Thousands of Greek protesters staged a massive peaceful protest in the center of capital Athens and many cities across the country on Wednesday over austerity measures.

Over 15,000 people, according to police estimations -- youths on bikes and families in their majority -- gathered in front of the parliament building in Athens, chanting slogans such as "We woke up. What time is it? It is time those who created the crisis left".

Greek demonstrators replied in this way to a banner raised by Spanish protesters in Madrid in a similar protest a few days ago referring to the "sleeping Greeks".

Wednesday's protests across Greece which attracted over 30,000 people nationwide, according to estimations by local media, were organized for first time in Greece by Facebook activists who are not affiliated with political parties or labor unions which have staged dozens of demonstrations against government economic policies over the past year.

Many of those protests were marred by violent clashes between hooded anarchists and police. Wednesday's mobilization winded up peacefully, with a group of young protesters planning to stay in Syntagma square overnight in a message of solidarity to Spanish demonstrators.

A part of protesters on Wednesday requested a referendum on the painful three-year austerity and reform plan introduced last year to tackle a severe debt crisis which hit Greece in late 2009.

Greek government spokesman George Petalotis rejected though such a referendum on additional austerity measures or an exit from the euro zone, as well as the idea of snap elections, shortly after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou briefed Greek President Karolos Papoulias on the latest developments on Wednesday.

They both asked for a national consensus to overcome a critical period for Greece, as the government faces reactions by opposition parties and labor unions to plans for more measures in the coming months.

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