The anniversary on Thursday of the deadly crackdown on a student uprising in 1973 by the military junta at the time was marred by clashes between rioters and police in the Exarchia area of Athens.
According to reports, some 300 self-styled anarchists in hoods pelted riot police units with petrol bombs in and around the Athens Polytechnic, the site where, 43 years ago, army tanks crashed through the gates to put down a student revolt, reportedly leaving dozens of dead behind.
One group of rioters, describing themselves as anarchists, occupied one of the Polytechnic’s buildings and set up road blocks with broken chairs on surrounding streets.
Police, who fired tear gas against the rioters, said they arrested at least two people.
An Athens prosecutor had earlier given the police the green light to enter the premises of the Polytechnic if the force deemed there was sufficient cause to do so.
Before the outbreak of the clashes, the anniversary was marked by some 16,000 people who took part in a peaceful march through Athens, chanting slogans against rising unemployment, pension and wage cuts, and the leftist-led government, which went back on its pre-election promises to scrap austerity.
The march ended, as is customary, at the tightly guarded US Embassy.
The US was blamed for offering its support to the dictatorship, which lasted from 1967 to 1974, shortly after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
In recent years the march has served as a platform for demonstrators to vent anger over the imposition of harsh fiscal measures as part of the country’s successive bailouts.
Speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras marked the anniversary saying that ruling SYRIZA has held on to the “thread of the student uprising in 1973 and is building a new Greece.”
“No one imagined that the junta regime would fall and make way for democracy. Since then Greece has embarked on the longest democratic period in its modern history.”
But his comments were slammed by opposition parties who accused Tsipras of turning his back on the plight of people suffering under harsh austerity.