ATHENS – Undeterred by arrests and threats of instant prosecutions, protesters against home foreclosures being pushed by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who vowed “Not one home in the hands of banks” tangled again with riot police who tried to keep them out of a notary’s office.
It happened in the wealthy enclave of Kolonaki in the country’s capital with demonstrators tossing eggs and coffee at the police, who fired back with tear gas in another violent incident that has upset some SYRIZA dissidents, but not enough to get them to oppose the foreclosures they campaigned against before taking office.
The protest was organized by the “I Won’t Pay” anti-austerity movement and the far-left Popular Unity party, an offshoot of SYRIZA rebels who broke away from Tsipras and the party after he disposed of its principles to surrender to international creditors who he said he would oppose before agreeing to more brutal measures he said he would reject.
Five people were injured during a similar protest in central Athens earlier and arrests were made at a demonstration at a courthouse where notaries had been operating in the face of vehement opposition before the government on Feb. 28 let banks begin electronic confiscations to speed the home seizures Tsipras campaigned against.
Left-wing activists have stepped up protests in recent weeks against online auctions as the government remains under pressure from bailout lenders to speed up the process and ease the strain on banks stemming from a huge backlog of bad loans.
Anti-foreclosure protesters broke into a Bank of Greece meeting Feb. 21 to denounce the loss of people’s homes.
The protesters – about 25 individuals believed to be members of the “I Won’t Pay” movement – were carrying banners with slogans opposing the auction of properties by people who can’t pay because of big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings by successive governments.
Members of a group opposed to property foreclosures staged a march in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, denounced the e-auctions that began on orders of the country’s creditors.
The presence and participation of notaries in the auction process is mandatory in Greece. Notaries in the country are law school graduates who specialize in drawing up contracts and keeping the original copies in their own personal registry. It wasn’t detailed how their role would interact with online foreclosures.