ATHENS — The Citizen Protection ministry responded to Communist Party of Greece (KKE) accusations of police violence against people who participated in rallies for the Polytechnic anniversary on Tuesday, on the day commemorating the Polytechnic student uprising against the junta in 1973.
Referring to an order than banned more than four people from public gatherings between November 15 and 18, the ministry said in a statement "the uprising of the Polytechnic is one of the strongest symbols of our post-junta democracy. In today's dramatic pandemic conditions, the government requested that the commemorations be held without a rally, by laying of wreaths."
Both main opposition SYRIZA and KKE it said had laid wreaths at the former premises of the junta's military police, at Eleftherias park, "observing the health protocols and violating the ban."
In addition, it said, KKE had nearly 200 people gather before the Megaro Mousikis (Athens Concert Hall) metro station, for the purpose of marching to the American embassy nearby. "The police did not allow this. The individuals arrived by using misleading SMSs," the ministry said, referring to the text-messaging permits to leave the house. "The police explained to the organizers that the rally was illegal and requested it break up. It was assured this would happen shortly, that's why police did not intervene."
Later, in the center of Athens, the ministry continued, "KKE collected, entirely unprovoked, nearly 1,500 people at Propylea and tried to hold a march. The police repeatedly asked that they leave," which the participants refused to do. A prosecutor was informed, it said.
"The police – without any so-called orgy of police violence – applied the law in effect for all citizens, using measures and ways of dispersing the crowds with rising escalation, ending with the necessity of using chemicals."
"The incidents have been recorded and will be turned over to the public," it noted, adding that "the rally participants dispersed and reconvened. People were led to police stations [for questioning] and the legal processes are being followed. This day is not a game to overturn the ban. The coronavirus gives us no such leeway, except to those who are irresponsible."