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The Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973 depicted a massive demonstration of the rejection of Greek military Junta between 1967 and 1974. This uprising started on 14th November 1973. It escalated to become a revolt against junta. By 17th November morning, there was bloodshed all over following events that started with crashing a tank through the Polytechnic’s gate.
From the beginning of 1967, Junta wanted to take control over all aspects of the politics. This interfered with syndicalism of the students because it banned them from conducting elections in the university. The Junta also drafted leftist students forcefully and enforced non-elected syndicate leaders for the students in a national syndicate for the students.
These actions led to a fierce anti-junta feeling or sentiments among students. The sentiment was manifested for the first time in a suicide protest that was held in 1970 in Genoa, Italy by Kostas Georgakis’ geology students.
On 21st February 1973, thousands of law students protested in the Panepistimious Street during a strike and eventually they barricaded themselves in a Law School building in Athens from where they demanded that the law that was meant to impose drafting of the subversive youths be cancelled. This they demanded because 88 of them had already been drafted forcefully.
What followed this demand was an order that required police in the Law School building where they brutally assaulted the students. This event is considered the prelude of the Polytechnic uprising.
On 14th November 1973, the Polytechnic campus was filled with thousands of students who were protesting peacefully against military dictatorship. On the same day, students at the Athens’ National Technical University also called Athens Polytechnic went on strike protesting against the regime. The military regime did not respond so students went ahead to barricade themselves in the building and then built radio station. They used the radio station that was built using laboratory materials to broadcast the struggle against dictatorship.
Maria Demanaki who was a leftist and later a politician was among the main speakers. These students were later joined by youngsters and workers inside the polytechnic. However, tension grew as time went by as thousands of workers and individuals joined the students forming a large crowd of protesters.
On Friday 16th November, people did not know where teargas canisters were thrown from but the fumes terrified the crowd. Terrified crowds run in different directions. A Dutch journalist filmed the event of this day that shows a tank as it bring down a steel gate on which protesters were clinging. In the documentary, voices are also heard of radio transmissions pleading with the soldiers to stop fighting their protesting brothers.
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