Thousands of people marched through Athens Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising against the military dictatorship on November 17,1973.
More than 5,000 police were deployed to keep order, as violence involving anarchist demonstrators has often marred the annual march to the US Embassy in previous years. The event went ahead despite restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“48 Novembers later, collective memory remains alive” was one of the slogans student unions chanted during the march, which included party and public bodies representatives, and people of all ages.
Demonstrators reached the US Embassy in the early evening, led by the Association of Imprisoned-Exiled Resistance Members 1967-1974 at the head of the rally.
As of November 1973, it had been six and a half years since Greece had been placed under strict, far-right military rule. Opponents of the junta which took over in the April 21, 1967 coup had been tortured, jailed, exiled, or put under surveillance ever since that time.
Mostly left-wing demonstrators have marched to the US Embassy every year since 1974 because Washington was seen as supportive of the far-right military regime.
“Events for the anniversary of November 17, 1973 throughout the country, with a focus on Athens, ended peacefully and in absolute calmness,” said Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos in a statement after rallies in Athens and elsewhere in the country wrapped up.
“I want to thank all the citizens, the participants in the march, and of course the forces of the Hellenic Police, whose professionalism contributed in maintaining order,” concluded the minister.
Polytechnic was the culmination of the resistance against the junta
In a tweet Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the uprising reinforced the country’s “daily commitment to a secure democracy.”
Earlier, the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou laid a wreath at the Athens Polytechnic.
“The Polytechnic uprising in November 1973 was the culmination of the resistance against the military dictatorship. We honor the victims, the students, and all the fighters who stood up against violence and lawlessness. Their sacrifices, as well as their love for freedom and democracy, still inspire us,” she said.
“Today, the young people who after the economic crisis are now also experiencing that of the pandemic are called upon to live in a complex world full of challenges and uncertainties. We have a duty to stand by them and to support their expectations for a better future, in the context of an open society that includes us all,” Sakellaropoulou underlined in her statement.