Central Athens saw a significant gathering on Friday, with estimates suggesting up to 25,000 individuals participated in a march commemorating the 50th anniversary of a pro-democracy student uprising quelled by the military dictatorship in 1973.
Originating from the Polytechnic campus, the epicenter of the historical uprising, the annual march progressed towards the US Embassy. Resentment toward the United States persists in Greece, as it is widely held responsible for supporting the rightwing dictatorship from 1967 to 1974 during the Cold War.
Among the demonstrators, many displayed Palestinian flags. Preceding the march, a group of students carried a Greek flag stained with symbolic blood, reminiscent of the events at Polytechnic in 1973.
This commemorative event, often accompanied by unrest from far-left supporters, witnessed heightened security measures, with over 5,500 police officers deployed to maintain order.
Recent tensions were exacerbated by the fatal police shooting of a Roma teenager following a high-speed car chase in central Greece.
Outside the US Embassy, a significant police presence aimed to prevent protesters from approaching the building. The Polytechnic uprising, suppressed by the Greek military and security forces using a tank to breach the campus gates, occurred a year before the dictatorship’s collapse. According to research by the National Hellenic Research Foundation, 24 people lost their lives at the hands of government forces during the uprising and subsequent crackdown.
The commemorative march prompted road closures affecting various parts of Athens, including streets around the Polytechnic, Exarchia Square, Omonia Square, Panepistimiou Street, Stadiou Street, Vassileos Georgiou Street, Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, and those surrounding the US Embassy such as Michalakopoulou and Papadiamantopoulou Streets and Alexandras Avenue.
Furthermore, four metro stations—Syntagma, Monastiraki, Megaro Mousikis, and Panepistimio—were temporarily closed at 2 p.m., with train services passing through without stopping. These stations will reopen upon receiving the relevant order from the police.