PIRAEUS, Greece – Striking sailors and other port workers at the Greek port of Piraeus were viciously attacked by hundreds of Special Port Corps police and Navy Special Forces “frogmen” May 29, in an action reminiscent of the assault on longshore workers in Charleston, S.C., over two years ago.

The police kept up the attack all day until late at night. At least 47 workers were hospitalized as a result, some with serious injuries. Even Nikos Gatzis, a member of Parliament from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), was struck, as were several journalists.

The next day, despite the short notice, the trade unions at the port mobilized thousands of demonstrators who marched through the streets of Piraeus to the Ministry of Merchant Marine. Hundreds of trade unions and mass organizations have issued statements denouncing the assault, among them the Senate of the Polytechnic University of Athens.

The May 29 attack took place the day after the court of Piraeus, in an especially speedy decision, labeled the strike “illegal” and “excessive” upon request of the shipowners. The action was based on an exercise by military units several months ago, to train the army to face demonstrations.

Said KKE General Secretary Aleka Paparigha, “I denounce the terrorism the government and the Security Forces organized against the sailors, who are struggling for survival.” Paparigha called on all political parties to take a position, with the ship owners or with the sailors.

“Workers are obliged to resist,” Paparigha said, “because if they don’t, they will face much worse.”

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