Train crash in Greece: Tens of thousands of people once again express anger

More than two weeks after a train crash that killed 57 people, more than 40,000 Greeks took to the streets again on Thursday to vent their anger, as the country found itself largely paralyzed by a general strike.

After a large rally of 40,000 people in Athens on 8 March, more than 25,000 people found themselves in several demonstrations in the center of the capital, according to police.

In Thessaloniki, the large university city in the north from which many of the victims originated, some 8,500 people also found themselves in the middle of the day.

Philosophy student Zoe Constantinido said, “We will not stop taking to the streets until those responsible for this tragedy are punished.” “They don’t care about our lives,” she says as distrust of the Conservative government continues unabated.

Protesters responded to a call from public sector trade unions, but for the first time since the clashes on 8 March, in the private sector, with the risk of new violence.

“Things have to change in this country,” said Stravoula Ghatzileftheriou, a private sector worker in Athens. “We cannot mourn so many deaths in the recent accident of Mati, (deadly fire in 2018), forest fire” in the summer of 2021.

“We hope things will change with the elections” which should be held by July, she added.

After several smaller demonstrations in the days following the train accident, on 8 March approximately 65,000 people protested, some of whom demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens deserted due to a strike on March 16, 2023 (AFP – Angelos Zortzinis)

Greece was also largely paralyzed on Thursday, especially with transport. All boats connecting the mainland to the islands are docked 24 hours a day and most aircraft are on tarmac.

According to the Transport Minister, rail traffic should resume gradually from March 22.

Many schools are also closed, while students, at the forefront of this unprecedented wave of protests since years of financial crisis, were also in large numbers in the marches.

– fed up –

Beyond the train disaster that shook the country, Greeks are crying foul over the deterioration of public services in a country whitewashed by years of crisis and austerity plans imposed by its creditors.

Because if the Tempe rail accident in the center of the country was attributed to an error by the station master, it was also caused by the dilapidated state of the rail network and huge delays in modernizing it, especially signalling. First Elements of Inquiry.

Those accused of Greek negligence are demanding accountability from their leaders.

Affected in the aftermath of the disaster, the prime minister sought to respond to the outrage of a population that has largely lost faith in institutions since the 2008–2018 crisis.

He promised “complete transparency” in the ongoing investigation and apologized repeatedly to the families of the victims.

– “Assassin” –

This movement of anger is particularly strong among young people and students, while many of the victims were in higher education.

“The tears (…) have become anger, the new generation does not forgive you,” read one of the banners in central Athens.

Protesters hold placards that read “Call me when you arrive”, a message from a mother to her child that has become a slogan for the protest.

Many young people feel they have been victimized by the harsh austerity measures of the crisis years.

Liberal daily Kathimerini refers to this “bankruptcy and pandemic generation” in its latest editorial.

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