Greece marks anniversary of anti-junta uprising

Athens (AFP) –


At least 11,000 Greeks took to the streets of Athens on Saturday to mark the 45th anniversary of a 1973 student revolt against a US-backed junta, police said.

The march was held amid tight security with more than 5,000 officers deployed and drones and a police helicopter hovering over the central Syntagma Square, which has often become a battleground in previous demonstrations.

Some marchers held banners with slogans denouncing fascism, imperialism, NATO and US foreign wars as well as austerity.

At least 24 people were killed in the 1973 military crackdown on the student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic. The event is generally considered to have broken the junta's grip on power and helped the restoration of democracy.

In recent years demonstrators have used the anniversary to voice opposition to the harsh austerity measures imposed on Greece by its international creditors after the global financial crisis.

On Friday, youths gathered outside the Athens Polytechnic booed a group of leftist government officials and prevented them from paying their respects at the memorial to the victims of the uprising.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras the country's first radical leftist leader, who was born the year the junta fell, hailed the commemoration.

He called for "new fights" against fascism, the far right and "neo-liberal absolutism".

The anti-junta demonstration is a treasured anniversary to many Greeks.

The bloodstained Greek flag that flew over the Polytechnic that night is traditionally carried at the head of the demonstration in the capital.