TENS of thousands of students, youth and workers demonstrated last Thursday in Athens, and in all Greek cities and towns, on the 38th Anniversary of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic Uprising which led to the overthrow of the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967-74.
Greek workers and youth are today facing another junta, the coalition government of banker Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, imposed directly by the leaders of the European Commission (EC) and the IMF.
This is a coalition government that includes as ministers parliamentary deputies of the racist LAOS party who have publicly supported the military dictatorship.
Conscious of this fact, the Polytechnic students’ head banner at the Athens demonstration of over 40,000 read: ‘The Junta was not finished off in 1973’.
This was a demonstration of profound double political importance: on the one hand it was a continuation of the colossal strike marches of last month that overthrew the Papandreou government, and on the other it recognised the nature of the present EC-IMF-imposed Papademos junta and called for its overthrow.
The Greek ‘deep state’, now an openly stated tool of the EC-IMF, organised a huge mobilisation of riot police and forces from other security agencies. The building of the Athens Polytechnic was sealed off by riot police and police buses while literally thousands of ready-to-attack riot police were stationed in the streets along the route of the march from the centre of Athens to the US Embassy.
The riot police had also sealed off the Vouli building (Greek parliament) and violently obstructed the association of those who were tortured by the military dictatorship, now in their late 60s and 70s, from passing through.
Seeing this, youths started throwing fruit and bottles, as well as a few petrol bombs, against the riot police who immediately attacked with huge quantities of toxic tear gas and truncheon charges.
But the riot police withdrew from the route to the US Embassy as the huge students’ and workers’ march made its way there with its banner and slogans against the EC-IMF Agreement and government as well as slogans in support of the Intifada and the struggle of the Palestinian people to establish their own state.
The demonstration was in two parts, as the Greek Communist Party decided to march separately, far behind the main students’ and workers’ march.
A large riot police force was stationed by the UK Embassy; demonstrators shouted slogans against British imperialism as the marched passed by.
Members of the Trotskyist Revolutionary Marxist League marched with their banner calling for the smashing of the coalition junta of Papademos and of capitalism, and for a workers’ and small farmers’ government.
When the march reached the darkened US Embassy, defended by dozens of police buses and two lines of hundreds of riot police, a huge cry went up: ‘down with US imperialism’, ‘The US Embassy is a nest of terrorism,’ and addressed to the police: ‘You mad dogs guard your bosses!’.
At the end of the march, youth and the so-called ‘anti-state power’ groups started throwing fruit, stones and petrol bombs against the riot police who once again viciously attacked with smoke and noise bombs and hundreds of tear gas grenades.
For about an hour the area outside and close to the US Embassy became a battle ground between youths and riot police who chased demonstrators, hitting them with their truncheons inside cafes, shops and metro stations. There were over 100 arrests made and one youth was seriously injured as he tried to avoid arrest and fell from a wall.
The predetermined plan for savage riot police violence was made clear from reports of the mass demonstrations in the major Greek cities of Thessaloniki, Volos and Patras.
Despite the fact that the Papademos coalition government received a confidence vote last Wednesday in the Vouli, the Athens Stock Exchange lost over five per cent in the week, excluding Friday.