NEWS

Heavy police presence marks Polytechnic uprising anniversary march

heavy-police-presence-marks-polytechnic-uprising-anniversary-march

Thousands of people marched through Athens Wednesday to mark the anniversary of a bloody anti-dictatorship uprising in 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.

In 1973, student-led pro-democracy protests at the Athens Polytechnic, a university in the center of the capital, were crushed by police and troops sent by the military regime. Officers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators and bystanders near the Polytechnic, and an army tank smashed in the gates of the complex behind which many students were gathered.

At least 20 are thought to have been killed, though the precise death toll of the November 1973 events remains unknown.

But the uprising was followed by a putsch within the military junta ruling Greece since 1967, which brought even more hardline officers into power.

Democracy was restored only in July 1974, after the dictatorship collapsed in the face of a Turkish invasion of Cyprus – provoked by the junta’s own machinations aiming to unite the island with Greece.

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.

In a tweet Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the uprising reinforced the country’s “daily commitment to a secure democracy.” [AP]