As the dust settled on Barack Obama’s Greek visit after he had left the country demonstrators young and old marched in Athens on the 43rd anniversary of the student uprising in 1973, carrying a flag soaked in the blood of some of the at least 24 victims killed.
The young generation back then, fought for public and free education. For the same reasons we fight today.
Since 1967 a military dictatorship had run Greece, and a crowd of thousands demonstrated outside the US embassy. In the height of the cold war, the US and West wanted a south-eastern bulwark against Communism, and supported the junta.
Some 17000 gathered in Athens, a far cry from the crowd for the first anniversary.
Yet after all this time it is still bitterly resented by many, especially as Democracy would return to Greece barely six months later.
“I brought my kid here to learn the truth about what happened then and not what others may try to tell him. To see for himself where the students stood and where the army tanks tried to stop them,” said one parent.
“The young generation back then, fought for public and free education. For the same reasons we fight today. We fight for the rights they try to take away from us,” said another demonstrator.
Downtown Athens had 3000 extra police on duty. Another 8000 people took to the streets of Thessaloniki. Folded into the demonstration were protests against the government’s austerity policies. Some 1000 members of the governing Syriza party took part.
“It has become something of a tradition to turn the commemoration of the 1973 student uprising into a protest against the policies of the government of the day. And it is apparent that the protesters are making no exception for the Syriza party of the radical left that has been ruling Greece for nearly two years now,” reports euronews’ Stamatis Giannisis, in Athens.