Tuesday August 09, 2022

Thousands protest in Athens on anti-junta revolt anniversary

November 18, 2021

Athens: Thousands of protesters marched to the American embassy in Athens on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the 1973 student revolt against a US-backed junta, an annual event that often sparks violence.

Police estimated that at least 6,000 people marched to the embassy to protest against Washington’s support for the Greek military dictatorship during the Cold War. Thousands of police were deployed in the capital, supported by drones, a helicopter and water cannon as violence regularly breaks out during the annual protest.

"Let us welcome this great anniversary... without extreme behaviour," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a statement. The American embassy is ringed with riot police and police vans, with embassy staff sent home early, while central Athens subway stations were closed on security grounds.

"Large demonstrations of 10,000 to 20,000 participants are expected to take place... on Wednesday to commemorate the anniversary of the 1973 protests against the then-ruling junta," the embassy said. "US government personnel have been advised to avoid the downtown areas of Athens and Thessaloniki in the late afternoon and to stay behind police lines until the Greek authorities announce the conclusion of the event," it added.

Last year, the government tried to ban the protests as the anniversary fell in the middle of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, before vaccines became available. But hundreds defied the ban, and police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse the demonstration in Athens. There has been additional tension in past months as a result of a new law that bans demonstrators from streets partially open to traffic.