MeRA25 marching for democracy in Greece: “Above all we observe the constitution”

Today, MeRA25 MPs marched for the doctors, nurses, teachers and students being abandoned by a “government that does not support them.”

In order to pay tribute to the 1973 student uprising, 7 MeRA25 MPs marched in Athens while wearing masks and maintaining social distance. However, they were stopped before they could reach the US Embassy, where they staged a sit-in. This obstruction of a peaceful march constitutes a constitutional offense.

The Communist party also marched en masse wearing masks and observing distances, but were broken up by the police, with many arrests and a lot of tear gas having been deployed in downtown Athens.

Greek police officers argued that everyone should ‘observe the measures to protect public health’, but it is also important to be able to take action to preserve the health of our democracies.

Yanis’ response to this was indeed that “We call all citizens to respect the measures in place for their safety, but we also call on the government not to polarise the situation by pitching the police against parliamentarians. We need to combine both the protection of public health, and the protection of the Constitution.”

While MeRA25 MPs respected the social distancing rules, the members of the police were stacked behind them with nothing but a face mask for protection. This is outright hypocrisy from the Mitsotakis right-wing government and a cynical sacrifice of the young women and men of the police on the altar of authoritarianism. In this situation, it appears that social distancing is being used as a political weapon to bully demonstrating parliamentarians and citizens rather than protect public health and secure the ailing public healthcare system.

After hours of sitting a few hundred metres from the US Embassy, some of our MPs are still there, while others have left and are now heading to the Police Headquarters to help other protestors who were arrested during the day’s events.

Yanis Varoufakis’ general statement to the press was the following:

“We are here to support the doctors and nurses who are currently being silenced by a government that does not support them. The teachers and students abandoned in schools by a government that has failed to take measures against the pandemic. All those who are locked in their homes today and all they can look forward to after the end of the pandemic, that we hope will come soon, is the auctioning of their house or their shop. The workers and the unemployed, who are currently suffering, at a time when the oligarchy is preparing for a feast. We are here instead of the youth of MeRA25 and our members. We thank them for heeding the call of our Political Secretariat not to attend today’s march in order to observe the health regulations. As you can see, we are only 7 deputies, keeping a safe distance. The march for the Polytechnic Uprising has been recognized in our history as the top moment when Greek women and men have the opportunity to protest against an establishment that undermines Education, Health, Democracy, Freedom and, ultimately, Dignity.”

Across Europe, we have seen the pandemic infringe on citizens’ rights to peaceful protest.

Yanis Varoufakis highlighted the importance of remaining vigilant of the use of COVID-19 measures to restrict citizens’ rights across Europe: “Today this government, hiding behind the pandemic, has prevented our MeRA25 MPs from marching in Athens. This is a clear violation of the Greek constitution & it’s not an accident. Democrats across Europe beware: it’s coming in a place near you.”

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