101 Injured, 29 Arrested in Madrid as Anti-Austerity March Turns Violent
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Protesters clashed with police in Madrid as thousands of people trekked across Spain to protest austerity which they claim is destroying their country.
Under the banner "no more cuts!" the protesters called for an end to the government’s "empty promises."
Police arrested at least 29 protesters following the clashes which took place after the march. According to emergency service, 101 people were injured - 67 of them police, El Mundo newspaper reports.
Protesters were seen throwing stones and firecrackers at police. According to witnesses, officers used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
Clashes broke out during a final speech at the demonstration when protesters tried to break through a police barrier. Riot police took charge by beating protesters with batons, AP reported.
“The mass rally was coming to an an end when reportedly a group of younger protesters, who had masks on their faces, started throwing rocks at the police. Police tried to push them away from the parameter that they organized around this area,” RT’s Egor Piskunov reported from the Spanish capital.
They (police) tried to push them (protesters) away from these police fences and then we started seeing firecrackers being thrown at police and reportedly authorities started firing rubber bullets at the protesters. As a result, there are injuries on both sides and several people have been arrested as well.”
“I can confirm that there is very heavy police presence in this whole district. Since it is the center of Madrid, there are lots of luxury hotels in this part of town and security here is very tight,” he added.
Six “columns” of trains, cars and buses, as well as bands of pedestrians have travelled from Extremadura, Andalusia, Valencia, Murcia, Asturias, Galicia and Aragon, among other Spanish regions, to converge on Madrid in mass protest this Saturday. The demonstration itself has been dubbed 22-M, Marches for dignity.
Hundreds of people are evicted from their homes every day in Spain. The General Council of the Judiciary reported that 49,984 forced evictions had been carried out across the country last year, which averages about 185 a day.
The number of evictions reached an all-time high in Spain in 2012 with over 500 a day, according to a report by the BBC. This combined with an unemployment rate of 26 percent, the second highest in Europe after Greece, has left many Spanish citizens with nowhere to turn. This is reflected in the growing number of suicides in the country, with the country’s National Institute of Statistics estimating that at least 8 people take their lives every day in the country.
Pepe Caballero, one of the organizers of the protests said the Spanish government is trying to return Spain to the Franco era.