Tens of Thousands in Athens Commemorate Revolt Against US-Backed Military Dictatorship

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Tens of Thousands in Athens Commemorate Revolt Against US-Backed Military Dictatorship

Rally is largest such demonstration in recent years to mark the 1973 student uprising

"Some 40 years later, the message from the polytechnic is still alive,"said protester Dimitris Papoulias. (Photo: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)

"Some 40 years later, the message from the polytechnic is still alive,"said protester Dimitris Papoulias.(Photo: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)

Over 40,000 people marched to the American embassy in Athens, Greece on Monday to mark the 1973 student-led revolt against the country's former military dictatorship and to protest the U.S. role in backing the junta. 

The largest such anniversary commemoration in recent years, the procession was met with nearly 7,000 police, including many in riot gear, who reportedly fired teargas at the crowd.

Dozens of students at Athens Polytechnic University were killed on November 17, 1973, when the army brutally suppressed a protest against the dictatorship, which lasted from 1967 to 1974. The revolt played a role in weakening the regime, which was backed by the U.S. government as a Cold War geopolitical maneuver.

The annual demonstrations, which commence with the laying of wreathes at the Polytechnic campus, have expanded to include protests against austerity and poverty gripping the country. On Monday, protesters chanted "EU, IMF out!" and waved red flags, Reuters reports.

"Some 40 years later, the message from the polytechnic is still alive, because then there was a junta, and today we are imprisoned by the euro, the European Union, the IMF and all these unpopular measures that have degraded the middle class and the youth," said protester Dimitris Papoulias, according to Democracy Now. "They have made us poor."

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