Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said on Friday that the customary events and marches commemorating the November 17, 1973, Athens Polytechnic student uprising against the military dictatorship, will not be taking place this year.
“We did not celebrate March 25th or October 28th, we did not celebrate Easter, we did not celebrate any of the things that unite us in 2020. The same will be the case with the Polytechnic [anniversary],” the minister said as he came out of a meeting at the prime minister’s office at the Maximos Mansion, referring to three major national holidays that were not marked as usual this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that skipping the usual wreath-laying ceremony at the university’s historic building in downtown Exarchia and the customary march to the US Embassy – events that are often marred by violence – should be seen as an opportunity “for a broad discussion, with respect to the memory of the Polytechnic dead, to give the event the meaning it should have.”
The junta’s brutal crackdown against the student uprising resulted in 24 civilian deaths outside the university campus.
Chrysochoidis went on to add that the police will be out in force throughout the three-week lockdown that begins on Saturday, to ensure that restrictions are being respected.
“The virus is the enemy and large gathering are its main weapon,” he said, urging the public – and young people in particular – to refrain from getting together in large numbers on public squares and in private homes.