Thousands marched on the streets of Athens toward the US Embassy on Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising and the victims of the deadly 1973 crackdown by the police and the army of a student uprising against the military dictatorship that ruled Greece between April 1967 and July 1974.
Ahead of the protesters, leading the march, was a group of university students who carried the bloodstained Greek flag which was used by the students on that night.
Shouting mainly anti-government and anti-American slogans, the protesters, the majority of whom came from various leftist groups, demanded the removal of American bases from Greece and blamed US imperialism for the infliction of the military junta on the country.
Many were waiving Palestinian flags showing their opposition to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
November 17, 1973: Greece, Polytechnic Resistance in its 50th year.! Thousands of people started marching in Athens.
Junta members raided the Polytechnic University, which had been occupied since November 14, 1973. 34 students were murdered.#Πολυτεχνειο #antireport #Athens pic.twitter.com/4knAevLO4g
— Partizan Yunanistan (@partizanGreece1) November 17, 2023
All surrounding streets from the US Embassy are heavily barricaded and special measures are in place to protect the Israeli Embassy as well as other possible “targets” due to the war in Gaza.
Each year, the Polytechnic anniversary is celebrated with a march toward the US Embassy which many Greeks accuse of supporting the military junta. The march usually ends with clashes between police and anarchist groups.
Greek police deployed more than 5,000 officers around Athens. Helicopters and drones are hovering in the air transmitting images to the police operation center.
Earlier, hundreds of citizens of all ages gathered outside the Athens Polytechnic, in order to leave a flower in memory of the people who resisted and fought for democracy.
Politicians commemorate the Polytechnic Uprising
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic student uprising, by laying a wreath at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the regime’s brutal suppression of the revolt.
In a social media post, Sakellaropoulou stated, “Today, as democracy stands firm and robust, our responsibility is to protect it with the same passion and unwavering determination exhibited by those resilient young people fifty years ago.”
The uprising of the Polytechnic University remains “a beacon that lights the way to a more open and democratic society,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
Mitsotakis noted that “we welcome the 50th anniversary without any party hijackings that insult it, diminishing its stature. And we keep its regenerative spirit active in the new conditions.”
He added that November 1973 continues to inspire through the constant renewal of its demands.
Main opposition leader Stefanos Kasselakis laid a wreath at the memorial on the grounds of the former Special Interrogation Section-Hellenic Military Police (EAT-ESA), at Parko Eleftherias (Freedom Park).
At the historical site, one finds the bust of late military officer Spiros Moustaklis, who was arrested by the military junta for his anti-dictatorial struggle and was left paralyzed as a result of continued torture at EAT-ESA for 47 days.
PASOK-Movement for Change opposition leader Nikos Androulakis laid a wreath at the Polytechnic monument on Thursday.
“The uprising of Athens Polytechnic students on Nov. 17, 1973, was one of the most glorious moments of Greek modern political history. We honor all those who died, struggled, and had the courage to face the military dictatorship,” he said.