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Uprising Honoured: Greece Marks 50th Anniversary of Polytechnic Revolt

Protests and demonstrations are being held in many Greek cities in memory of the massive student rebellion of 1973 that toppled the right-wing military regime.

Demonstrations by university and school students, union workers, political parties, and civilians are taking place all over Greece on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the uprising of November 17, 1973, which led to the fall of the military junta, the so-called “regime of the colonels”.

Crowds of people over the previous days left red flowers at the gate of the National Technical University of Athens, NTUA, which a tank invaded in November 1973 to crush the students’ occupation of the building, which led to bloodshed – or at the monument of the head of a youngster sculpted by Memos Makris at the entrance of the NTUA.

Among the party leaders leaving flowers and laying wreaths was the leader of the centre-left PASOK party, Nikos Androulakis.

“We honour those who sacrificed, those who fought, those who had the courage to face the dictatorship,” he said, and added: “Today, we too have a duty to fight for respect for human rights. For a quality democracy. For less inequality.” Some people attacked Androulakis by throwing coffee and water bottles at him, however.

The Athens Polytechnic “uprising” saw university students occupy the building in a revolt against the military junta that had seized power in Greece in 1967. The regime collapsed in 1974, paving the way for the restoration of democracy in the country.

There has long been controversy over the exact death toll in the uprising.

An official investigation conducted after the fall of the junta concluded that there were no fatalities on the university campus. Others maintain around 40 people were killed outside the campus and that many others were injured or tortured.

“As much as some wish to distort the events of 1973 and obscure the messages of the historical uprising, the Polytechnic University has been hovering like a shadow over history for the last 50 years to remind us that nothing is given to the people if they do not claim it themselves,” the left-wing SYRIZA party said in a statement, calling on Greeks to join big commemorative protests.

Police have been put on high alert. Around 5,000 officers have been deployed, along with helicopters, drones, members of the Special Antiterrorist Unit and water cannons. Measures are being taken to protect the NTUA, the US and Israeli embassies, and other potential targets related to the war in Gaza, the news agency AMNA reported.

On Friday, the Syntagma, Monastiraki, Megaro Mousikis, and Panepistimio metro stations were due to close at 2pm, after which trains will pass through without stopping.

According to its findings, 81.8 per cent of people disagree that dictatorship may be preferable to democracy, and over 70 per cent disagree that the military regime had many positive aspects to it. Only 19.7 per cent though it did. Regarding the existence of fatalities in the uprising, 76.0 per cent thought there were fatalities, while 10.7 per cent disagreed.

Concerning the latter, “It is about the denial of an excellently documented historical event,” Eteron said.

Source : Balkan Insight