The Polytechnic uprising commemoration is cancelled because of COVID-19

The Greek Minister of Civil Protection announced that commemorations for the Polytechnic uprising are cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Michalis Chrysochoidis also highlighted that Independence Day celebrations on March 25 and Oxi Day celebrations on October 28 were also cancelled this year because of the pandemic.

“In 2020 we did not celebrate March 25, October 28, we do not celebrate anything that unites us, the same will happen with the Polytechnic,” the minister said.

“When the country opens, we will all be together to celebrate the big holidays,” Chrysochoidis added in his statement taken outside the Maximos Mansion, the official seat of the Prime Minister of Greece since 1982.

November 17 commemorates the Athens Polytechnic Uprising in 1973, which was a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974.

The uprising actually began on November 14, 1973, and escalated to an open anti-junta revolt and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the institution.

The Polytechnic uprising in November 1973.
The Polytechnic uprising in November 1973.

Since April 21, 1967, Greece had been under a CIA-installed and backed dictatorial rule of the military, a regime which abolished civil rights, dissolved political parties and exiled, imprisoned and tortured politicians and citizens based on their political beliefs.

On November 14, 1973 students began gathering at the Athens Polytechnic to demonstrate against the Junta.

This demonstration, which was coordinated with the student occupation of campuses in Patras and Thessaloniki, turned into a rebellion that gathered strength every day as more and more people joined.

On November 16, students and other demonstrators attempted to march from the Polytechnic to Syntagma square but they were halted by the police.

At 2am on November 17, tanks were ordered to crush the student rebellion.

The Polytechnic uprising in November 1973.
The Polytechnic uprising in November 1973.

A group of students came out to negotiate a surrender asking for half an hour to evacuate the campus but at 3am a tank crashed through the gate of the Polytechnic and police and military stormed the campus.

The Polytechnic uprising in November 1973.
The Polytechnic uprising in November 1973.

As the gate crashed to the ground, students rushed out to escape but were beaten with clubs and arrested. At least 34 demonstrators were killed, though many reports claim that the number is much higher.

November 17 is marked as a holiday in Greece for all educational establishments.