THOUSANDS of youth and workers participated throughout Greece in the annual Athens Polytechnic Uprising marches and mobilisations last Tuesday, defying a state of siege imposed by the right-wing government banning all public gatherings of more than three persons on the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response, the Greek government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ordered the hated armed riot police to viciously attack the marches with tear-gas, smoke-noise bombs, water cannon and truncheons.
Riot police squads went on the rampage in the capital, Athens, and in the cities of Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina and Rethymno. It is estimated that some 500 people were arrested.
In the centre of Athens, all three separate marches organised by the Greek Communist Party and left-wing parties were attacked by the armed riot police employing three water cannon vehicles. Some 200 people were arrested by police. Most were freed late on Tuesday night.
Since last Friday, hundreds of riot police had taken over the central Athens Polytechnic (Technical University) building, as well as the entire campus on the Athens outskirts. In the attacks dozens of students were arrested.
Last Saturday, the Greek government declared a state of siege through a proclamation by the Head of the Police banning all public gatherings of more than three persons. The Order expired on Wednesday night. Since the beginning of the month, the Greek government has imposed a curfew on all movements except going to work, to visit a doctor, to buy food and to exercise. There is a fine of 300 euros for those deemed by police to have broken the curfew.
Over 6,000 police, from all over Greece, were mobilised in Athens last Tuesday to prevent protest gatherings and marches. Police buses and vans were placed in front of the US Embassy in Athens and several other buildings. Armed riot police were placed literally in every corner of the city centre.
Teachers’ trade union leaders and other delegations were not allowed to place their wreathes at the Athens Polytechnic monument.
But determined students, youth and workers defied the ban and the state of siege and gathered next to the US Embassy, in the city centre, and at the main railway station holding banners declaring that the Athens Polytechnic Uprising of 17 November 1973 lives on in today’s struggles against US imperialism for ‘bread, education and freedom’.
The Greek Communist Party restricted its ‘symbolic’, as they were called, mobilisations to hundreds without issuing a call for mass and widespread protests against the dictatorial measures of the government.
On the eve of the marches, the Greek Communist Party signed a protest declaration along with the bourgeois opposition parties SYRIZA and MERA25, which did not call for demonstrations.
The Greek Minister for Public Order, Mikhalis Khrysokhoides, announced on Tuesday night that he is prepared to ban marches and meetings for 26 November, the day of a 24-hour strike declared by the Athens and Piraeus Trades Councils, and for 6 December when students organise commemoration rallies for 16-year old school student Alexis Grigoropoulos who was shot dead by police in 2008.