This is a first posting on the developing situation in Athens where the 36th anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising against the colonels' junta has been marked by long and sustained battles with the police during which hundreds of people have been detained. At the time of writing all central Athens is off bounds.
21:30 17 November 2009 At the time of writing all central Athens is off-bounds and cordoned off by thousands of police forces as battles between protesters and police are developing after the end of the 36th anniversary march for the Polytechnic 1973 uprising and massacre.
It was perhaps the most massive protest march commemorating the Polytechnic Uprising in the last 25 years. And despite guarantees from the government the presence of the police in the city of Athens was massive and provocative to the extend that the official organising bodies of the march refused to start their long way via the Parliament to the American Embassy (believed to be behind the 7 year fascist junta) if riot police forces did not withdraw. After 16:00 policemen arrested a young man claimed to be in possession of a molotov cocktail, while during the hours preceding the march a dozen of protesters en route to the Polytechneio were detained for carrying gas masks. Police blockades have sealed off large areas of the Athens centre and are all day conducting mass stop and search operations even in the remotest northern and western suburbs of the city.
The march started moving at 16:30, shortly stopped at Syntagma square to commemorate the police assassination of two protesters in the Polytechnic march of 1980, while with some tension built up uproad, at the junction of the Athens Hilton, at 18:15 when riot cops threw a tear gas in the midst of the march attempting to break away the anarchist block. The tension was quickly diffused. The first block of the march reached the American Embassy at around 18:00, where hundreds of riot policemen stood in line guarding the building. After the traditional long stop, the march started dispersing in large blocks. At that time, the anarchist block numbering between 2,500 and 4,000 people (still the numbers are unverified) decided to return to Exarcheia via Alexandras Avenue where the Athens Police Headquarters Tower and the Supreme Court are lined. Upon reaching the Police HQs, the big anarchist block was cut in two by riot police forces, leading the protesters to counterattack against the cops and the glass-n-iron symbol of repression with rocks and nautical flares. The clashes initially forced the police forces to retreat and continued until outside the Supreme Court, with smaller blocks breaking up in the side-streets.
Soon after 19:00, under unspecified circumstances, a 100 strong block of protesters was surrounded at the junction of Alexandras avenue and Spyrou Trikoupi street by large riot police forces that immobilised them and brutally detained them. There are reports of people seriously wounded, as well as of two journalists (one working for the French press, and one for the radio-station Kokkino) detained or arrested. The bourgeois media claim that the people detained were unrelated to violence against the police.
Meanwhile protesters that had managed to reach Exarcheia square engaged police blocking the way to the Polytechnic in battle with use of rocks and molotov cocktails, forming barricades. The area is surrounded by police forces and off bounds even for state and bourgeois journalists. At the same time Exarcheia locals have gathered in a demo demanding the immediate retreat of the police from their area. According to the locals the policemen are extremely violent and bear no insignia of identification.
Up to this moment the countdown is about 250 detentions which the persecuting authorities will decide if they are arrests within the next 24h, while protesters are gathering outside the Police HQ Tower demanding their release.
At the same time, the State Persecutor has published a law-suit against the rector and the three sub-rectors of the Athens Polytechnic for allowing athens.indymedia to use its server. The law-suit is considered an unprecedented violation of academic freedom.
In Salonica, three different protest marches in commemoration of the 1973 Uprising were marked again by massive participation. After the end of the march protesters attacked riot police forces outside the Aristotelian University building barricades across Egnatia street.
In the city of Irakleion, in Crete, the Polytechnic protest march starting at Freedom Square and soon attacked riot police forces surrounding it. During the clashes 5 people were detained, out of which 1 has been upgraded to an arrest. More than 100 protesters have occupied the city hall as a response to the repression, demanding the immediate release of the comrades and the retreat of the cops from the city centre.
The protest march in the city of Larissa was completed with no clashes, detentions or arrests.