ATHENS DEMO 17th November 2002

A word of explanation: this march takes place annually to commemorate the uprising and occupation at the Athens Polytechnic in November 1973, which led to the downfall of the Colonels' regime and the restoration of democracy in Greece. Several students were shot during the uprising so the march is partly to honour them. The march follows quite a long route, from the Polytechnic, past the Parliament buildings, to end at the American Embassy. I was privileged to take part in it this year. There were a lot of anti-war banners opposing any bombing of Iraq, and some of the slogans also supported the Palestinians. As we approached the American Embassy there was a long line of coppers in gas masks in front of it. Apparently some tear gas had been fired earlier in scuffles, but this was over by the time I got there and the march ended peacefully though with a lot of anger directed at the American Embassy!

Sue Blackwell

The following report appeared in Kathimerini, English edition, Monday 18th November 2002:

Low-key riots at Nov. 17 march


As the main body of demonstrators in yesterday's Polytechnic march reaches the US Embassy, smoke rises from a fire set by rioters. Most slogans at the march were against US intervention in Iraq, while some voiced sympathy for Yiannis Serifis, a veteran unionist detained pending trial for alleged membership of the November 17 terrorist group.

Outnumbering police forces by just two to one, some 10,000 people took part in yesterday afternoon's annual Athens march commemorating the November 17, 1973 Polytechnic student revolt, which was marred by rioting anarchists and extreme left-wingers.

Police said some 300 youths joined the main body of marchers, who were heading from the Patission St Polytechnic complex to the US Embassy on Vassilissis Sofias Ave, at the Historical Museum on Stadiou St. They threw sticks, stones and flares at police outside Parliament, and targeted riot squad officers at the War Museum and the Hilton Hotel with Molotov cocktails. According to police chief Fotis Nasiakos, officers did not respond for fear of hurting innocent marchers. Rioters set up barricades of chairs seized from local cafes at Mavili Square, near the US Embassy, smashed the entrances to six blocks of flats, broke two car windscreens and burnt down a bus company ticket booth before being chased off by police using tear gas. Twelve suspects were detained, Nasiakos said, while nobody was injured.

In a similar march in Thessaloniki yesterday, a state TV cameraman was injured by rioting youths, several of whom were detained.

The following pictures are from another Greek newspaper, Eleutherotypia:

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It was last updated on 16th November 2004