People across Greece marked the 49th anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic uprising of 1973 by organizing massive anti-imperialist demonstrations on Thursday, November 17. Tens of thousands of people, including members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), All Workers Militant Front (PAME), Students’ Struggle Front (MAS), and Hellenic Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE), among others, marched in Athens and other cities. The marchers paid tribute to the fallen victims of the police repression of those who rose up against the US-backed right-wing military junta ruling Greece at the time. In Athens, demonstrators marched to the American embassy, chanting anti-imperialist slogans and raising banners against US imperialism and NATO expansionism.
The Athens Polytechnic uprising began on November 14, 1973 as a student strike which escalated into a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the ruling Greek military junta (1967-74). The open anti-junta revolt ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events, starting with a tank crashing through the gates of Athens Polytechnic. Around 40 students were killed by the security forces. Diomidis Komninos (1956–1973), a high school student, was the first casualty of the uprising. He was shot opposite the main gate of the Polytechnic. The uprising marked the beginning of the end of the Greek military junta rule and is hailed as a symbol of resistance to tyranny.
KKE General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Tuesday, “The events and marches 49 years later show that the messages of the Polytechnic uprising– such as ‘out with the US and NATO, the bases of death’… against poverty and unemployment, for public and free education and health, against state repression, fascism, eavesdropping and surveillance that is, the very dictatorship of capital – they are still relevant, timeless and alive to this day.”
The Students’ Struggle Front asserted in a statement that “the heroic legacy of the Polytechnic Uprising ‘arms’ our fight against the state repression that accompanies the anti-grassroots policy [and] the anti-educational laws passed by governments.”
KNE stated that “At the Polytechnic, the people spoke. Imperialism is not invincible!”
Meanwhile, the conservative New Democracy (ND)-led government in Greece has started the deployment of the University Institutions Protection Teams (OPPI), aka ‘University Police’, in major universities in the country and has increased the surveillance of academic spaces. This has triggered widespread protests among student and youth groups who have slammed the militarization of campuses as an attempt to thwart radical mobilizations against the anti-people policies of the government.