20,000 STUDENTS AND WORKERS MARCH IN ATHENS! – on the 36th anniversary of the Polytechnic students uprising

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Students and conscript soldiers at the front of the demonstration
Students and conscript soldiers at the front of the demonstration

Over 20,000 students, youth and workers took part in a militant anti-imperialist demonstration in Athens on Tuesday to commemorate the 36th anniversary of the Polytechnic students’ uprising in November 1973 against the military dictatorship which ruled Greece since 1967.

They marched to the fort-like building of the USA Embassy which was guarded by a triple row of armed riot police wearing gas-masks standing in front of dozens of police buses surrounding the compound.

At the front of the demonstration was a huge street-wide banner of the Polytechnic students boldly declaring: ‘Forward to our generation’s uprisings!’ Underneath it read ‘Hands-off the academic asylum’ and ‘No to private education.’

Then a banner proclaiming ‘Not a single soldier for Afghanistan!’ and behind conscript soldiers of the Greek army and navy shouting slogans against imperialist wars, against US imperialism, for the victory of the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples.

After the end of the march and close to the Greek police HQs, riot police arrested a student for throwing fruit; this caused a clash between demonstrators and police who launched a vicious attack with tear-gas and smoke bombs.

There were three hundred students and youth arrested. Police say that a ‘small number’ have been charged.

Earlier countless rows of students arm-in-arm in a show of strength and determination demonstrated singing one of the most popular verses of the evening: ‘Forward people on the road to last December’s Uprising – this is the way to honour the Polytechnic Uprising!’

Other often repeated slogans were ‘we are the only opposition – the opposition is in the streets not in parliament,’ and ‘Greek and immigrant workers unite – the bosses must pay for the crisis!’

There were contingents from all Athens and Piraeus universities and a large contingent of secondary school students.

Also present were large delegations from unemployed teachers and from the primary and secondary school teachers’ trade unions.

As the march passed by the offices of the European Union in Athens the crowd sang ‘The European Union is not the home of peoples – it is the imperialists’ slaughterhouse!’ and ‘solidarity to all peoples’ struggles for freedom – war to the wars of imperialists!’

When the march reached the USA Embassy compound, a huge cry arose from thousands: ‘The Polytechnic Uprising lives on – US imperialism out!’ and, ‘Americans you are the killers of peoples – get out of here along with your embassy!’

• Statement by the Revolutionary Marxist League, Greek Section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

• Long live the Polytechnic Uprising! NATO, USA out!

• No to sackings no to unemployment! Permanent jobs for all!

• No to the destruction of pensions! No dialogue with the government!

The reactionary social-democratic government of Prime Minister Papandreou has unleashed a terrorist attack on workers and youth.

The government aim to destroy pensions, to sack tens of thousands of young workers on short-contracts and ‘training’ schemes as well as part-time teachers, impose ‘flexible’ working conditions and a 500 Euro monthly wage and destroy and privatise health and education through huge cuts.

The government also intent to impose more taxes on workers’ wages and on basic daily goods while the banks are allowed to squeeze the working class.

The world economic crisis – the biggest in the history of capitalism – has bankrupt the Greek capitalist economy. The Papandreou government’s counter-revolutionary programme, worked out by the European Union, aims to avoid the worst: the collapse of the capitalist system and revolution.

In this critical period workers have responded magnificently to the class attack of the Papandreou government who has ‘forgotten’ his pre-election promises.

The mass militant uncompromising mobilisations of short-contract and of ‘training’ schemes workers are the sharp end of the wedge of the Greek working class.

In spite of the capitulating leaderships of both GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (public workers trade unions federation), who go along with the reactionary policies of the government, the short-contract workers follow the road of the November 1973 Polytechnic Uprising, the road of last December’s Uprising, for the defence of the right of permanent jobs for all!

The historic struggle of the short-contract and training workers, of the unemployed teachers and of the port workers, must be supported by all with strikes, occupations, demonstrations and by forming a United Front of all public sector workers.

Not a single workers’ section, not a single worker must be left to fight by him/herself against the reactionary front of government-bankers-trade union bureaucrats.

The struggle in the trade unions must be a struggle for a new uncompromising leadership, for the organisation of an Indefinite General Strike against sackings, against the destruction of pensions, for the defense of workers’ and youth’s rights.

Only the overthrow of capitalism can end the crisis and imperialist wars!

To this end the most vital political task of workers and youth is the building of a revolutionary Marxist party and of a new trade union leadership in Greece.

For Councils of Action in every area – in the cities and in the regions.

For the establishment of a socialist planned economy with the nationalisation of banks and industry without compensation and under workers’ control and management.

• For the overthrow of the Papandreou government!

• Down with Capitalism!

• For a workers-small farmers government!

Athens, 15 November 2009.