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AFP
January 22, 2021

Greek govt vows to use less tear gas

World

AFP
January 22, 2021

ATHENS: Greeceā€™s conservative government on Thursday pledged to limit its use of tear gas, vowing that in future it would only be used as a "last resort".

Police routinely use tear gas indiscriminately as a deterrent, even at demonstrations where violence is limited to a few dozen people. "The police will change this year," Minister for Citizen Protection Michalis Chrisochoidis told reporters, speaking on a day when police had used tear gas to hold back protesters at a student demonstration. According to the plan, protesters are now to be warned via loudspeaker to disperse before the police use force in the form of water cannon, tear gas or flash grenades.

Protests in Greece are poorly regulated by organisers to keep out troublemakers and usually result in skirmishes between riot police and hooded youths hurling stones and firebombs. On Thursday, tear gas was used in Thessaloniki to beat back students who were trying to muscle through a riot police cordon, during a protest against plans to create a special police force to patrol universities.

A similar pledge to limit the use of the deterrents had been made by a previous conservative government in 2012 but was never carried out. In another move that has already raised eyebrows, the minister also said on Thursday that reporters would have "designated areas" to cover protests.