Grievances Over the Train Disaster Spark Fresh Protests
As outrage over the nation’s deadliest rail accident rises, thousands of protesters organized new demonstrations in Greece on Sunday, increasing pressure on the government to address the disaster.
We won’t forget, we won’t forgive,” and “We will become the voice of all the dead” were written on banners carried by demonstrators who thronged Syntagma Square in Athens in front of the parliament.
On February 28, a passenger train and a freight train collided head-on in central Greece, killing 57 persons, many of them students.
Four railway officials have been charged, but the public’s ire has been directed at the network’s long-standing mismanagement, and the nation has been shaken by a series of occasionally violent mass protests.
According to police, on Sunday, 12,000 protesters assembled in front of the parliament while 5,000 took to the streets of Thessaloniki.
AFP was spoken to by Markella, a 65-year-old Athens protester who only supplied her first name. “It was wrath and rage that brought me here,” she said.
We’re growing desperate, said 26-year-old demonstrator Alexandros. All you can do is join the protest because you have no idea what to say or do.
The demonstrations were held in response to requests for protests made by a variety of organizations, including political parties and labor unions.
– Creaking railway network –
According to a police statement, “an isolated incident happened when a small number of persons hurled marbles, stones and other things at the police forces on Karaiskaki Plaza, causing minor damage”.
There were ten arrests in total, two detentions, and no reported injuries.
The largest demonstrations against the catastrophe to far took place on Wednesday, when tens of thousands marched around the country and conflicts broke out as workers organized strikes.
On Thursday, workers in the public and private sectors are anticipated to strike once more.
Several demonstrators have called for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is up for reelection in a few months, to resign.
He has faced criticism for first attributing the disaster to “human error” and blaming the stationmaster who was in charge at the time of the incident for reportedly accidently routing the trains onto the same section of track.
But, the creaky, understaffed train network has been the subject of long-running warnings from railway unions.
One of the four railroad officials accused is the stationmaster.
After the incident, Greece’s transport minister resigned, and Mitsotakis has repeatedly apologized to the public and promised an open investigation in an effort to appease their ire.
Nationwide elections are rumored to be postponed from April, when they were generally anticipated, and may instead occur in late May.