Thousands Join Polytechnic Uprising Commemoration March at US Embassy

Thousands of protesters marched on Friday to the US Embassy in Athens to mark the anniversary of the 1973 crackdown on a student uprising against the military dictatorship ruling Greece between 1967 and 1974.

Shouting anti-American slogans, protesters from various leftist groups called for the removal of US bases from Greece and blamed US imperialism for the junta.

A group of university students carrying the Greek flag led the march in which students, political parties and anti-dictatorship unions are traditionally participating.

Protesters started their march on the corner of Ippokratous and Akadimias streets in downtown Athens, and walked towards the Polytechnic school, where they unfurled the flag chanting “Brothers, you’re alive, you’re leading the way!”

They then marched outside the Parliament where they held a one-minute silence in memory of the victims of Wednesday’s flash floods in western Attica.

When they reached the embassy, the group representing PASOK’s youth wing, sang the Greek national anthem, then folded the flag and left. The street outside the embassy building on Vasilisis Sofias remained closed all throughout the march. 

More than 5,000 officers were on duty for the demonstration, which commemorates those who died in the crackdown on the uprising against the 1967-74 junta. According to early estimates, 4,000 to 5,000 demonstrators participated in this year’s march.

The annual march is often used as a means of expressing displeasure with various government, European, and American policies, and often turns violent.

The demonstration began at the gates of the Polytechnic school, where the military junta had sent a tank to crush the entrance gate as it cracked down on rebellious students holed up inside.

It is traditionally headed by protesters carrying the blood-stained Greek flag found at the polytechnic that night.

Before this year’s anniversary, some anarchist groups occupied the Polytechnic school building and distributed flyers urging nearby residents to attack police by dropping flower pots from their balconies.