On tenterhooks for march

Organizers of the annual protest march commemorating the bloody student uprising against the junta on November 17, 1973, are expecting a much higher turnout this week than in previous years, largely due to the economic crisis, which has prompted police to draft an extensive security plan in an attempt to prevent violence. Events to mark the crushing of the student revolt at the Athens Polytechnic, now the National Technical University of Athens, began yesterday and there was already a strong student presence within the institution’s grounds. Organizers are anticipating a big turnout for the traditional rally, to be held tomorrow and which ends with a march on the US Embassy, as many people are expected to use the march as an opportunity to voice their opposition to the austerity measures and the presence of the International Monetary Fund. There is concern that small groups intent on causing violence might hijack the proceedings. «The same groups that are taking part in the commemoration and the political parties have to ensure that the events inside the grounds of the Polytechnic and the march on the US Embassy go smoothly,» Nikos Triantafyllou, a member of a group representing exiles during the 1967-74 military junta, told Kathimerini. Triantafyllou said that organizers have asked the police to maintain a discreet presence along the course of the march to avoid provoking any flare-ups with protesters. As was the case last year, some 7,000 officers will be deployed to police the event tomorrow. Police sources told Kathimerini that there was no proof that hardcore groups are planning to cause trouble. Nevertheless, there will be a strong police presence around universities and government buildings, as well as at the US Embassy. Police chiefs have also drawn up plans for officers to be on duty through the night in central Athens to ensure that trouble does not erupt after the march, which is due to take place tomorrow afternoon.