“Bread, Education, Freedom”. It was the motto for Greek students from Athens Polytechnic University who took part in a historic uprising in November 1973, that led to the fall of the military junta.
38 years on, today’s students are commemorating the anniversary. The same slogan has been penned again in large red writing on a white banner. Students and others placed flowers on a gate destroyed by a tank to quash the uprising.
“Today that motto remains relevant because ‘bread’ in Greece, meaning salaries, pensions, the income of the Greek people is being crudely reduced; because they’re cancelling collective work agreements which guaranteed a minimum living standard; because today they’re trying to pass new pension laws that will mean the new generation will never get a pension,” said electrical engineering student Thodoris Kotsadis.
The military crushed the protest in 1973. But within months the regime collapsed.
Now, for the first time since the end of military rule a Greek cabinet includes the far right. LAOS party leader George Karatzaferis, a former bodybuilder, has been accused of anti-semitism in the past. But he has given his unconditional support to new prime minister Lucas Papademos.
In 1973 Greece had been under military rule for six years. The students were joined by workers and other young people, barricading themselves in.
After three days the army moved in. On November 17 a tank crashed through the gates. At least 24 civilians were reported killed outside the campus; the exact number may be higher.
A demonstration is taking place today to mark the events.