Why Greek protestors use petrol bombs, Molotov cocktails


Since Greece’s worst-ever prepare crash killed not less than 57 individuals on Feb. 28, protesters within the nation have organized a number of rallies, marches, walkouts and memorials to honor the lifeless and demand accountability from the federal government. Tens of 1000’s of demonstrators, a lot of whom are college college students and rail staff, have led actions throughout the nation.

While many of the demonstrations have remained peaceable, the general public outcry has been punctuated with clashes between police and protesters. In Patras, Greece’s third-most populous metropolis, police fired tear fuel at crowds on March 8. The similar day, pictures and video from protests confirmed Athenians brandishing what’s develop into a well-recognized image of dissent in that metropolis’s central sq.: the petrol bomb.

There are many causes the petrol bomb, or molotov cocktail, is a favourite amongst rioters. It’s low cost, straightforward to furnish, and sends a loud message. The gadget is well constructed with frequent home goods, sometimes a glass bottle, or different container that shatters on affect, full of a flammable substance and lit fuse, like a soaked rag.

Clashes broke out in Athens and within the northern metropolis of Thessaloniki on Dec. 6, 2022, marking the 14th anniversary of the killing of a youngster by police. (Video: Reuters)

Political protests of all ideological stripes have wielded the makeshift weapon in Greece. The nation has a tumultuous historical past of political violence, a lot of which got here to a head in a 1967 coup that resulted in seven years of navy rule. After a few years of relative calm, the monetary disaster reignited Greek individuals’s penchant for mass protest and the worldwide underdogs’ favourite incendiary gadget.

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“Violence associated with a new wave of political protest spread in the late 2000s and the 2010s,” stated Lamprini Rori, an assistant professor on the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens who focuses on political violence.

“December 2008 was the catalyst for the eruption of riots and the resurgence of political violence triggered by the murder of a 15-year-old student by a police officer,” Rori stated.

The petrol bomb is frequent the world over. Social media movies of Ukrainians making molotov cocktails had been plentiful in the beginning of the warfare. The bottled explosive can be profiled in Che Guevara’s well-known navy handbook “La Guerra de Guerrillas.” And in 2020, throughout unrest in New York following the killing of George Floyd, protesters made headlines and had been in the end charged for utilizing improvised incendiary units to break police property.

Greek police detained not less than 10 individuals on Nov. 9, 2022, throughout a protest outdoors parliament towards hovering inflation. (Video: Reuters)

In Greece, Rori stated, it’s protesters on the far left who’re extra susceptible to utilizing the petrol bomb and equally violent strategies towards police and authorities property.

“It is like a ritual,” Rori stated. “It’s also a matter of know-how. The violent milieu knows how to do it – but it’s also the easiest, compared to other recognized methods such as arson attacks, armed attacks or bombings.”

On Nov. 17, 2018, 1000’s took to the streets in central Athens to mark the anniversary of a pupil rebellion in 1973 that helped topple the navy junta. (Video: TWP)

Rori, together with researchers Vasiliki Georgiadou and Costas Roumanias, performed a examine printed final yr that discovered that in Greece the far left is extra susceptible to political violence than the far proper.

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Their analysis discovered that the far left was extra possible to make use of strategies just like the petrol bomb — a straightforward, moveable, extremely visible weapon excellent for city settings.

However, whereas leftist violence was extra frequent and unpredictable, far-right violence stays extra harmful.

“Far-left perpetrators prefer material targets,” Rori stated. “Far-right perpetrators prefer human ones.”

Migrants at a camp on the Greek island of Chios had been attacked by suspected right-wing extremists on Nov. 18, 2016. (Video: Reuters)

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