Greece strikes: 'The atmosphere is toxic'

Demonstrator shouts slogans outside the parliament in central Athens
Image caption Protesters shout slogans outside the parliament in central Athens

Greek police have fired tear gas at protesters as MPs negotiate on the government's future and prepare to debate new austerity measures required for the EU and IMF bail-out.

Demonstrators around Syntagma Square in Athens have thrown yoghurt and stones at police.

Residents in Athens describe the situation on the ground and explain how the changes could affect them.

George Mavrogiannis, Athens

I just returned back from Syntagma Square and it is like a war there. Our own government is attacking us.

Greece is killing its children. In this revolt there are all types of people from all age ranges and the police keep throwing tear gas which is unacceptable.

I have lost my voice because of the yelling and tear gas. The police are trying to break the protesters and take control of the square but the protesters are not letting them.

They throw anything at the policemen from rocks to pieces of wood.

People have lit fires on the streets near the square using trash cans and papers. You can't cross the area without wearing a wet headscarf.

The atmosphere is really toxic and suffocating.

Up until now the police have arrested 19 protesters and the arrests continue.

There is a fire in Filellinon Street and people cannot pass through.

More and more policemen are coming to the square with bikes and protesters keep throwing things and yelling at them.

We shall not stop until this government listens to our concerns.

Corina, student, Athens

I have been to the protests before on previous days but I am too scared to go there now. I have some friends at the protest who are telling me that the situation is bad.

Groups of masked extremists are embedded in the peaceful protest. The police are striking back with chemicals and some people are hurt.

We are a country at war. Protesters are fighting not only for their dignity but for their right to protest.

Protesters are trying to tear down the metal walls that have been placed around the government building despite the chemicals.

It is crucial that the police stop reacting with massive chemicals such as tear gas because most of the people gathered in Syntagma Square are not armed and not dangerous.

There are too many people gathered there and are in danger of being overcome by the fumes. Rather than having a meaningful protest we could end up mourning victims. It is surreal how a country with so much to give gets torn to pieces by itself and others.

I am a student and my university is about to close because of a lack of funding. Many other universities are in the same position. Some of my friends will not be able to sit their exams.

I don't know what I will do. I would like to study abroad but I don't have the money. I just want my country to recover. We don't have a future here. This country is suffocating its people.

Theodore Kaskanis, Athens

I took part in the strikes because I am really worried about and also deeply ashamed of my country and my countrymen.

I lived in the UK for three years from 2002 to 2005. When I returned I couldn't believe the state of the country. Greece since 1981 has a history of rampant spending but this time everything was spiralling out of control.

I would need books just to describe the sheer corruption and stupidity of the political elite and also of my compatriots.

Only a very small percentage of hard working employees in the private sector carry the economy on their shoulders.

And now after 30 years, it is time for a reality check. I agree that we need austerity measures but it should be the government and not ordinary people who bear the brunt of the economic pain that is to follow.

The government is responsible for our fiscal mess. The have performed abysmally and it is evident they have no plan to help the country move forward.

But some of the blame must also be laid at the door of the EU. How can the EU make demands of us when it lacks a coherent economic and political strategy?

Yve Shepherd-Thorn, Athens

I live in the centre of Athens and the mood here is quite grim.

The protesters are currently on the move. The police are waiting for them just outside the centre.

I have seen the longest line of police waiting for the protesters exiting the square. I don't intend to go anywhere near there.

Even walking nearby you can smell the smoke and feel the stinging of the tear gas in the eyes and back of the throat.

People are getting annoyed because they want to exercise their right to demonstrate but the police have cordoned off the area around parliament and this has antagonised the protesters even more.

Where I live, behind the British Embassy, they have a 24-hour guard. So whenever they have anything like this, the security is heightened. You never know which way things are going to turn.

I have been living in Athens for three years and you get used to this.

I feel a bit sorry for the tourists who are wandering around looking a bit hard done by because a lot of the public places have been closed because of the strike. I hope the worst of it is over.

I have decided to return to the UK because of the ongoing situation here in Greece. I am a pre-school tutor and it is getting harder to find work here.

Most Greeks give their kids extra lessons in subjects like English but right now people are holding back on the extra lessons.

I am currently looking for work in the UK.

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