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Heavy Police Presence Marks Greek Uprising Anniversary March (Photos)

November 17, 2021

ATHENS – Thousands of people marched through Athens Wednesday to mark the anniversary of a bloody anti-dictatorship uprising in 1973.

Events marking the November 17, 1973 student uprising that led to the downfall of a military junta government in Greece saw the rebels lauded for taking a stand but Members of Parliament blocked by protesters from laying a wreath in their honor.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulo said as she was allowed to place a wreath at the Athens Polytechnic that, “We honor the victims, the students and all the fighters who stood up against violence and anomy. Their sacrifices, just like their love for freedom and democracy, continue to inspire us.”

Riot police stand guard by the protestors during a rally next os the parliament at Syntagma square in Athens, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

She said that it was important for today’s young to be supported and their “expectations for a better future,” noting the sacrifice and courage of those who took on the Colonels that were backed by the United States, many killed in the protest.

“The young men and women of today, who after the economic crisis are also having to deal with the pandemic, are required to make their way in a world full of challenges and uncertainties,” she said, reported Kathimerini.

“It is our duty to stand by them and to support their expectations for a better future, in the context of an open society that includes all,” she added.

That came after an earlier morning protest in which the lawmakers were barred from the site that’s become a shrine, the state broadcaster ERT reporting that a delegation was led by Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Haralambos Athanasiou and New Democracy MP Haris Theoharis.

University students hold a blood-stained Greek flag from the deadly 1973 student uprising during a rally in Athens, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

“When we were fighting this fight, these kids were unborn or still in their cribs,” Athanasiou said in comments to the press, referring to the group of youths who blocked the delegation from entering the campus. “This is a sacred day, so we have to forgive them,” he added.

More than 5,000 police officers were being deployed in Athens ahead of a rally to mark the anniversary of a bloody anti-dictatorship uprising.The annual march to the US Embassy has often in previous years been marred by violence. It was due to go ahead despite restrictions related to the pandemic.

The large student-led demonstrations in 1973 at the Athens Polytechnic in the center of the capital were held a year before a military dictatorship, in power since 1967, collapsed. Police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators at the time but the death toll still remains unknown.

University students shout slogans during a rally in Athens, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

In a tweet , Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the uprising reinforced the country’s “daily commitment to a secure democracy.”

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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