November 17th: The Athens Polytechnic uprising

November 17th is one of the Greek National Holidays and is about the student uprising that took place in the Greek Polytechnic University in 1973. That was the day when the massive demonstrations against the Greek Military Dictatorship escalated to an open anti-junta (junta is the name given to the military regime of that period in Greek) 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 Polytechnic.

But how did all of these happen?

The Greek Junta had abolished a lot of civil rights, it dissolved political parties and it exiled and tortured politicians as well as citizens because of their political beliefs, in order to control every aspect of the politics. It had even interfered with student syndicalism since 1967, by imposing their own student leaders in the national student’s union. Thus, the first massive public reaction against the military regime started by the students on February 1973. Law students went on strike and barricaded inside the buildings of the Law School of the University of Athens. On November, students at the Polytechnic went on strike, started protesting against the junta and constructed a radio station constantly broadcasting the following message: “Here is Polytechneion! People of Greece, the Polytechneion is the flag bearer of our struggle and your struggle, our common struggle against the dictatorship and for democracy! “

After those events, Metapolitefsi (which means the change of the political system) took place. and it includes the transitional period from the fall of the dictatorship to the Greek legislative election of 1974 and the democratic period immediately after these elections.

Today, November 17 is considered a holiday in Greece for all educational establishments. Most schools and universities are closed or hold commemorative services, usually the day before. The commemoration day ends traditionally with a demonstration that begins from the campus of the Polytechneio and ends at the United States embassy. Very often, there are protests during the day, so avoid the centre around the area of the Polytechnic.




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