On Friday, Michalis Chrisochoidis, the country’s Minister of Citizen Protection, announced that the annual rally commemorating the Polytechnic Uprising on November 17, 1973 would not occur this year.
The yearly demonstration marks the day that Greece’s right-wing military Junta sent a tank to crash through the gates of the Polytechnic University in Athens, where a large group of students had been occupying the campus to resist the dictatorship, killing 24 people.
As the Junta was supported by the US and the CIA, demonstrators traditionally start the rally outside of the Athens Polytechnic University and march to the US Embassy every year on November 17.
The demonstration will not take place this year, however, due to the pandemic and the current state of lockdown in the country, Chrisochoidis declared firmly in a statement on Friday.
In response to those who were outraged by the cancellation of the demonstration, Chrisochoidis said, “There are no exceptions; no one has more rights than any other citizen who had to miss out on Easter or March 25 (Greek Independence Day)” due to the country’s first lockdown in the Spring.
“Now is not the time for conflict while cases are multiplying. Now is not the time for putting on shows for petty political gain, putting human lives at risk,” Chrisochoidis maintained. While the annual demonstration is attended by many Greek citizens, it is seen as a largely leftist event.
“We ask for solidarity, responsibility, consideration for your fellow man, and protection for those around you. Let’s all live this year, so that we can celebrate next year,” Chrisochoidis concluded on Friday.
There will be an increased police presence on the streets of Athens and across the country to ensure that no one attempts to gather or demonstrate on Tuesday in defiance of the cancellation.
Later on Friday, Greek riot police entered the Polytechnic University campus in the center of Athens to break up a gathering of nearly 70 anarchists who had entered the school grounds on Thursday evening.
The group of radical anarchists had occupied the building and raised a banner stating: “Life and health don’t exist without freedom.” All 68 were arrested when riot police evacuated the school.