Some 3,000 Greeks rallied in front of the parliament in Athens on Wednesday in an effort to support Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as Greece’s international creditors insist on further austerity measures.
“I’m here to support the government against the lenders. We don’t want a VAT rise in electricity and water bills,” said Katerlis Ippokratis a 53-year-old accountant and added that the “The lenders want to steal the Greek people’s wealth.”
The demonstration that appeared to be organised via social media mainly comprised of supporters of the ruling left-wing Syriza party.
The protest followed as the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pushed for further austerity measures including cuts on pensions and increases to value added tax.
On Wednesday, Greece’s Central Bank also warned that the country will encounter a possible “painful” exit from the eurozone and even from the EU looming towards a default if it cannot reach a bailout deal with international creditors.
Protesters held various colourful banners including a sign bearing a map of the EU and a part of the mask of Darth Vader, the fictional arch-villain from the Star Wars films, while chanting slogans like “Democracy cannot be blackmailed” and “Our lives don’t belong to the lenders.”
According to Al-Jazeera, Greece’s interior minister Nikos Voutsis, who also participated in the rally, reiterated that the government was committed to end austerity.
“We are pleased because the people are sending their own message to our partner creditors, that the proposals they have submitted are not generous and will further lead the country to a dead end,” said Voutsis.
Greece has been heavily indebted to the EU and the IMF by almost 240 billion euros since the eurozone economic crisis seriously hit the country’s economy from 2009 till today.
Athens has been negotiating with its creditors, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB), over the past four months to release around 7.2 billion euros in aid.