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Politics

Nov. 17 March Looms, Athens University Occupiers Arrested, Let Go

November 15, 2020

ATHENS – After the New Democracy government said it would get tough on violence on university grounds, some 91 people arrested for occupying two Athens University campuses were let go after being charged.

This time, however, the detainees were in a building at the historic Polytechnic building,  now the National Technical University of Athens, and the Zografou campus ahead of the Nov. anniversary marking the 1973 student uprising against the junta.

The government said there will be a sanctioned march this year but some rivals to the ruling New Democracy said they will do so anyway even though it could be a superspreader for a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic during a second lockdown.

Those arrested were charged with illegally occupying the premises in violation of the state decision to cancel all November 17 anniversary events. They were also fined 300 euros ($355.06) for violating COVID-19 restrictions.

Riot police units remained stationed around the Polytechnic building at the weekend, said Kathimerini, as the stage was being set for a likely showdown on the anniversary.

Communist Party (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas, whose party has been politically irrelevant for decades – he rarely speaks – did this time, however, saying his people would not be kept from demonstrating.

"This is what they will do this year in these special conditions. All the measures will be strictly observed with the use of face masks and antiseptics, keeping the necessary distances and of course we urge people belonging to vulnerable groups or those who are ill to stay at home,” he said.

He didn't say how he expected large crowds gathering in violation of COVID-19 measures during a lockdown could be kept apart the minimum of 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) from each other, especially if there are hundreds or thousands there.

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