Greece marks 45th anniversary of student uprising against military junta

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In this April 3, 2018 file photo, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends a cabinet meeting at the parliament in Athens, Greece. (Reuters)

Thousands of Greek citizens marched across the center of Athens on Saturday to mark the 45th anniversary of the uprising that led to the restoration of democracy in the country after the military junta of 1967-1974.

Forty-five years have passed since the Athens Polytechnic uprising of November 1973 that escalated to a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the military junta.

Like every year, the demonstration began at the National Polytechnic University of Athens and was completed outside the U.S. Embassy, with protesters chanting the Greek National Anthem and raising their hands above the flag.

With the slogan “Freedom to the people, death to fascism”, more than 3,000 protesters — families, anti-racist organizations, refugees, student associations, parties, organizations of the Left, unions and collectives — condemned fascism and Nazism.

Earlier, many of them had stopped by the courtyard of the Athens Polytechnic to pay homage to the some 20 people, mainly students, killed by junta forces.

“Forty-five years after the students rose up against the junta, the month of November continues to move and inspire us. It reminds us that nothing is given but also that nothing is impossible,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in his message marking the anniversary.

“It also charges us with the responsibility to keep our ears open to the needs and concerns of the younger generation of this country, which has always been on the front line of the major changes that lead forward,” he noted.

“It is important to remember this day because it is a symbol of the struggles for freedom, democracy,” Jason Karaindros, a Greek artist who lives and works in France, said.

The demonstration ended in minor clashes between anarchists and anti-riot police forces, mainly at the district of Exarchia, central Athens. Hooded protesters set fire to garbage containers and threw molotov cocktails at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenade.

Some 5,000 police officers were reportedly deployed across the city center, while at least 8 people were arrested during the clashes.

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