Members of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) apply social distancing during a rally marking the anniversary of a 1973 student revolt against the then military junta, as the Greek government banned the annual march due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Athens, Greece, November 17, 2020. [Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]
Despite reactions, mainly from the communist KKE, there was no deviation in the government’s plan to protect public health during Tuesday’s anniversary of the 1973 student uprising, as no marches were allowed to take place while opposition parties were seen to comply with the measures deemed necessary.
However, police did detain more than 100 people during several attempted rallies across Athens, while clashes occurred between protesters and riot police around the capital.
“There was no choice but to order the dissolution of this gathering. Imagine 1,500 people marching through the city in the middle of a pandemic,” Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said.
Overall, on a purely political level, the government’s assessment is that it came out on top, as its stance was seen to resonate with the vast majority of the public, which was in favor of sticking to safety protocols, in contrast with SYRIZA, MeRA25 and KKE, in particular, which went against the tide at their own political expense.
In a statement, ruling New Democracy said that “SYRIZA, KKE and MeRA25 had the opportunity these days to show that their first duty is to protect public health, but instead, for partisan reasons, they decided that this was a good opportunity to take a stand against the government.”
Meanwhile, the KKE-affiliated PAME union deplored what it described as an “orgy of violence” by police to disperse and detain those that marched to commemorate the anniversary. The claim was dismissed by ND, accusing PAME of spreading falsehoods, and referred to a photo uploaded by the union showing a police officer kicking a protester in the head.
ND said that the photo was taken in May 2019 in Belgium during the “yellow vests” demos.