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VICTORY- Powell Cancels Athens Visit Amid Protests!

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  • Fred Fuentes
    1) Powell Visit Sparks Athens Protest 2) Powell Cancels Athens Visit Amid Protests =========================================== 1)
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2004
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      1) Powell Visit Sparks Athens Protest

      2) Powell Cancels Athens Visit Amid Protests



      Associated Press
      August 27, 2004

      Powell Visit Sparks Violent Athens Protest

      ATHENS - Police used tear gas Friday night to disperse
      more than 2,000 demonstrators [according to other
      sources it was "more than 2000" - something like 10
      times more! - FF ] who lit fires, smashed
      windows and beat up journalists while marching through
      downtown Athens to protest the weekend visit of
      Secretary of State Colin Powell.

      The demonstrators, who scuffled with police in front
      of the Parliament, fought running battles with riot
      squads trying to prevent them from reaching the U.S.
      Embassy. The embassy is not near any Olympic venues,
      but it is near the hotel being used by the
      International Olympic Committee and located on a major
      Olympic traffic lane.

      The protesters shouted slogans against the U.S.-led
      occupation of Iraq.

      Powell was expected to arrive Saturday to meet Premier
      Costas Caramanlis and attend the closing ceremony of
      the Athens Olympics on Sunday night.

      Earlier, hundreds of riot police with shields
      prevented the protesters from heading toward the
      embassy, and the two sides faced off in front of the
      Greek Parliament building.

      The protesters marched in front of Athens University,
      beating drums, spraying graffiti on the walls and
      unfurling banners criticizing President Bush.

      "Powell is the man who peddled Bush's lies on Iraq,"
      said protest organizer, Yiannis Sifahakis. "He is a
      murderer and we don't want him here."

      Some of the demonstrators shouted slogans in English,
      taking advantage of the international TV crews
      covering the event. They called on passers-by to join
      them on a march to the U.S. Embassy.

      Among those who joined in before the violence broke
      out was Andrea Murray, 22, who graduated from Duke
      University in North Carolina. She said she was looking
      for Athens' National Museum and instead found the

      "I found this and I thought, like wow! I am
      participating because I am American and I want Greeks
      to know that not all Americans are drones or idiots,"
      Murray said.

      A spectacular, moonlit Acropolis served as a backdrop
      to more than 500 riot police who were positioned in
      the central Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament
      building and elsewhere in central Athens.

      One Olympics volunteer in the trademark Athens 2004
      polo shirt and shorts held up a sign that read: "Any
      volunteers against U.S. policy?"

      Another demonstration by 200 people in Thessaloniki, a
      northern port and Greece's second-largest city,
      dispersed peacefully after protesters marched by the
      U.S. consulate to complain about Powell's visit.

      Greece's top law enforcement official said the
      demonstrators had a right to protest but asked them
      not to cause any trouble.

      "We organized games in an environment of security and
      discretion. Everyone recognizes this," Public Order
      Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said. "I want to believe
      that the events that have been planned will respect
      what with great effort all Greeks have accomplished."

      Some Greeks worried that Powell's visit could destroy
      the festive atmosphere that has been present in
      Syntagma Square and the rest of the capital in recent

      "I hope it won't spoil the party because the city is
      buzzing and everyone's pro-Olympics," said Marissa
      Daras, 26, a human resources specialist, as she walked
      through the square.

      The right to demonstrate is cherished by Greeks,
      following harsh restrictions imposed during a 1967-74
      military dictatorship. Protest groups have said they
      would oppose any police attempt to prevent them from
      marching on the U.S. Embassy.

      Greece's small but influential Communist Party also
      said it was organizing a protest march on Saturday
      from central Athens to the embassy.


      Associated Press
      August 28, 2004

      Powell Cancels Athens Visit Amid Protests

      ATHENS - Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday
      canceled a weekend visit to attend the closing
      ceremony of the Olympics, just hours after
      demonstrators marched through central Athens.

      Powell couldn't attend because of "urgent
      responsibilities," the foreign ministry said.

      In a letter, Powell thanked Foreign Minister Petros
      Moliviatis "for the especially successful and secure
      organization of the games."

      In Washington, State Department spokesman Kurtis
      Cooper said the anti-American protests in Athens
      played no role in Powell's decision.

      "The secretary considered a number of factors. The
      press of business in Washington made him decide he
      could not visit at this time," Cooper said.

      "What's going on in Iraq and Sudan require the
      secretary's close attention," he said.

      The Greek foreign ministry said Powell would visit
      Athens in October.

      Many Greeks had wondered why Powell planned to visit
      this weekend, knowing his presence would likely
      provoke protests. Until Powell announced his visit,
      there had been none of the anti-American
      demonstrations that were feared in the run-up to the

      On Friday, riot police used tear gas to disperse
      hundreds of demonstrators who took part in a protest
      against the Powell visit. About 1,500 people who took
      part in the march were prevented from reaching the
      U.S. Embassy to protest Powell's trip.

      "It is an enormous victory of the anti-war movement
      that managed to cancel the visit of the arch-killer
      Powell," protest organizer Yiannis Sifahakis told The
      Associated Press.

      Just hours before Powell was to arrive, Greece's
      Communist Party displayed a large banner at the site
      of the ancient Acropolis to protest his trip.

      "Powell killer go home. Don't forget that civilians
      are being slaughtered in Najaf and a wall is being
      built in Palestine," read the banner, which was raised
      on one of the sides of the Acropolis Hill.

      It was removed after Powell's visit was canceled.

      Communist Party member Aristotelis Gontikas said
      Powell's cancelation was a victory for those opposed
      to American policies and was not targeted at

      "I believe that the reaction of the Greek people still
      counts. It is not by chance that Greeks measure in
      polls as the most anti-American," Gontikas told the AP
      at the Acropolis.

      The party said a protest rally that was to begin in
      front of the old campus of Athens University and end
      at the U.S. Embassy would still be held.

      "The protest will now be transformed into a festival,"
      Gontikas said.

      Greeks harbor anti-American feelings primarily over
      U.S. support of the 1967-74 military junta, which
      persecuted its leftist opponents. Many Greeks also
      believe Washington ignores the concerns of smaller and
      weaker countries.

      In 1999, during a visit by then-President Clinton,
      battles between protesters and police turned downtown
      Athens into a riot zone.
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