Government figures and others involved in kidnapings of children for Satanic rituals.
Monday, November 17, 2008
The Polytechnic Uprising on 17 November 1973
Every November, our hearts and minds are there, at the Athens Polytechnic, at the heroic uprising of students, young people and the whole of Greece against the Junta, in November 1973.
The Polytechnic uprising (Politechneio, Πολυτεχνείο in greek) symbolises not only the heroic struggle but also the unity of all democrats.
The November struggles are the highest expression of the seven-year fight against the dictatorship, and one of the most important moments in the fight for freedom of the Greek people and especially Greek youth.
The ideals of freedom, independence, peace, love of life and mankind, remain alive and will stay current and unalterable, no matter how many years pass from that rising.
The Events of the Polytechnic Uprising
Despite the harsh repressive measures of the military Junta during the seven-year dictatorship of 1967-1973 in Greece - the imprisonments, displacements, mass trials in emergency courts-martial, torture, mock executions and murders - popular demonstrations against the regime continued throughout the dictatorship, with young people always playing a leading part.
Popular indignation against the Junta began to be forcefully expressed from early 1973, with the sit-ins at the Law School in Athens in February, the demonstration on 4 November on the occasion of the memorial service for George Papandreou, at which there were arrests, and the demonstration by 3,000 students the next day in support of those arrested. Demonstrations also continued at the universities.
The political upheaval which broke out in Athens lasted from 14 to 17 November 1973. The upheaval began with the sit-in at the Polytechnic by students, peaked with the pan-Athenian mobilisation against the regime, and concluded with military intervention.
The Polytechnic Uprising begins with the general meetings of the students’ unions on the morning of Wednesday 14 November, which result in the rejection of government measures concerning the planning of student elections. On the same afternoon, the students, who have gathered at the Polytechnic in the meantime, decide to occupy the building under the control of a Coordinating Committee. By the evening, the slogans have become clearly political.
The Cretan singer and fighter against the regime Nikos Xylouris enters the Polytechnic to encourage the students. Despite the large police presence, more and more people enter the Polytechnic to stand by the students.
The slogans shouted and painted on banners in the Polytechnic are no longer concerned with education alone but turn against the regime: “Papadopoulos, you fascist, take your washerwoman wife, take Despina and go, the people don’t want you”, “Bread, Education, Freedom”, “People break your chains”, “US Out” and “Down with the Junta”, “FREEDOM”, “Today Fascism dies”, “This’ll be another Thailand” (a reference to the student uprising in Thailand in July 1973, which had contributed to the fall of a forth-year military dictatorship in October of the same year).
The students gathered inside the Polytechnic set up an occupation committee. The doors are shut and the first meeting of the Coordinating Committee takes place at 8:30 that evening. The first manifestos were scattered in Patision Avenue, which is blocked by crowds of people.
Thursday 15 November 1973. The sit-in draws the people of Athens, who start to flock to the Polytechnic. By 9:30 p.m. the sit-in is packed, while the crowds in the surrounding streets shout anti-American and anti-Junta slogans. The crowds remain there all night to express their support of the Polytechnic students.
Friday 16 November. The Polytechnic radio station starts broadcasting the message of the struggle to the whole of Athens, which is watching events with bated breath. “Polytechnic here! Polytechnic here! This is the Radio Station of the free fighting students, the free fighting Greeks. Down with the Junta, down with Papadopoulos, Americans out, down with fascism, the Junta will fall to the people. People of Greece, come out on the streets, come and stand by us, in order to see freedom. The struggle is a universal anti-dictatorial, anti-Junta struggle! Only you can fight in this struggle. Greece is governed by foreign interests! The dictator Papadopoulos is trying to hide behind a mask of democracy with the fake government of Markezinis and the fake elections it is proclaiming.”
At 9 a.m. the first barricades are raised and two mass demonstrations form in Panepistimiou and Stadiou Avenues. At midday a farmers’ committee from Megara, protesting against the expropriation of their land, visits the Coordinating Committee and the radio broadcasts: “The people of Megara promise to stand and fight at the side pf the students and workers... This is a common struggle... It is not just for the town of Megara or the Polytechnic... It is for Greece. For the people of Greece who want to determine their own lives. To walk on the path to progress. The basic requirement is the overthrow of the dictatorship and the restoration of democracy.”
The people gathered outside the Polytechnic singing the traditional Cretan revolutionary song “Pote Tha Kanei Xasteria” (When Will the Sky Be Clear Again).
By the afternoon thousands of demonstrators have gathered, including many workers. At 6 p.m. clashes between police and demonstrators begin, with many injuries. At 7 p.m. a mass march heads for the Polytechnic and the police choose this moment to strike. Police armoured cars appear and the first shots are fired. There are running fights all along Solonos, Kaningos, Vathi, Aristotelous and Alexandras Avenues and Amerikis Square.
At 9:30 the police declare a curfew in the centre of Athens until further notice. At 11 p.m. the radio station and loudspeakers ask people not to leave. The area around the Polytechnic is shrouded in choking teargas.
Saturday 17 November 1973. The first tanks appear shortly after midnight, while more and more dead and injured are taken to the makeshift hospital in the Polytechnic. By 1 a.m. the Polytechnic has been surrounded by tanks. The radio station and loudspeakers call, “Don’t be afraid of the tanks”, “Down with fascism”, “Soldiers, we are your brothers. Don’t become murderers”. At 1:30 the tanks set off with their headlamps on. The students cling to the gates, singing the national anthem and calling to the solders, “We are brothers”.
The army gives the people inside 20 minutes’ notice to get out, while a tank takes up position near the main gate. The Coordinating Committee tries to negotiate the students’ safe exit.
2:50 a.m. Saturday 17 November: The commanding officer waves the tank forward. The gates fall and the tank continues up to the steps of the “Averoff” building. It is followed by men of the security forces and the LOK Special Forces. Shots are fired. Some soldiers help the students escape, but plain-clothes policemen are waiting at the exits. By 3:20 there is no-one left in the Polytechnic...
The 17th of November 1973 was the turning-point of the 1967 dictatorship. Although the students did not actually overthrow the regime, the intense and persistent reaction, the new voice heard from the Polytechnic and the earlier Law School sit-in, shook the Junta to its rotten core.
Athens Polytechnic uprising
Greece had been, since April 21, 1967, under the 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.
The junta, trying to control every aspect of politics, had interfered with student syndicalism since 1967, by banning student elections in universities, forcibly drafting students and imposing non-elected student union leaders in the national student's union, EFEE. These actions eventually created anti-junta sentiments among students, such as Geology student Kostas Georgakis who committed suicide in 1970 in Genoa, Italy as an act of protest against the junta. With that exception, the first massive public action against the junta came from students on February 21, 1973.
On February 21, 1973 law students went on strike and barricaded themselves inside the buildings of the Law School of the university of Athens in the centre of Athens, demanding repeal of the law that imposed forceful drafting of "subversive youths", as 88 of their colleagues had been forcefully drafted. The police were ordered to intervene and many students were reportedly subjected to police brutality. The events at the Law School are often cited as the prelude to the Polytechnic uprising.
The student uprising was also heavily influenced by the youth movements of the sixties, notably the events of May 1968.
According to an official investigation undertaken after the fall of the Junta, no students of Athens Polytechnic were killed during the incident. Total recorded casualties amount to 24 civilians killed outside Athens Polytechnic campus. These include 19-year old Michael Mirogiannis, reportedly shot to death by officer G. Dertilis, high-school student Diomedes Komnenos, and a five-year old boy caught in the crossfire in the suburb of Zografou. The records of the trials held following the collapse of the Junta document the circumstances of the deaths of many civilians during the uprising, and although the number of dead has not been contested by historical research, it remains a subject of political controversy. In addition, hundreds of civilians were left injured during the events.
Ioannides' involvement in inciting unit commanders of the security forces to commit criminal acts during the Athens Polytechnic uprising was noted in the indictment presented to the court by the prosecutor during the Greek junta trials and in his subsequent conviction in the Polytechneion trial where he was found to have been morally responsible for the events.
Aftermath of the uprising
Taxiarkhos Dimitrios Ioannides, a disgruntled Junta hardliner, used the uprising as a pretext to re-establish public order, and staged a counter-coup that overthrew George Papadopoulos and Spiros Markezinis on November 25 the same year. Military law was reinstated, and the new Junta appointed General Phaedon Gizikis as President, and economist Adamantios Androutsopoulos as Prime Minister, although Ioannides remained the behind-the-scenes strongman.
Ioannides' abortive coup attempt on July 15, 1974 against Archbishop Makarios III, then President of Cyprus, was met by an invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. These events caused the military regime to implode and ushered in the era of metapolitefsi. Constantine Karamanlis was invited from self-exile in France, and was appointed Prime Minister of Greece alongside President Phaedon Gizikis. Parliamentary democracy was thus restored, and the Greek legislative elections of 1974 were the first free elections held in a decade.
17 November, the date of the event, later became the name of a Greek terrorist group, in reference to the uprising.
November 17th is currently a school holiday in Greece. Schools and universities stay closed during the day. The central location for the commemoration is the campus of the Polytechneio. The campus is closed on the 15th (the day the students first occupied the campus on 1973). Students and politicians lay wreaths on a monument within the Polytechneio on which the names of Polytechneio students killed during the Greek Resistance in the 1940s are inscribed. The commemoration day ends with a demonstration that begins from the campus of the Polytechneio and ends at the United States embassy.
The student uprising is hailed by many as a valiant act of resistance against the military dictatorship, and therefore as a symbol of resistance to tyranny. Others believe that the uprising was used as a pretext by Taxiarkhos Dimitrios Ioannides to put an abrupt end to the process of ostensible liberalization of the regime undertaken by Spiros Markezinis.
"Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution,"
said the President of the United States
excerpted from the book
by William Blum
"It's the best damn Government since Pericles," the American two-star General declared. (The news report did not mention whether he was chewing on a big fat cigar.)
The government, about which the good General was so ebullient, was that of the Colonels' junta which came to power in a military coup in April 1967, followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, torture, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a "communist takeover". Corrupting and subversive influences in Greek life were to be removed. Among these were miniskirts, long hair, and foreign newspapers; church attendance for the young would be compulsory.
So brutal and so swift was the repression, that by September, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands were before the European Commission of Human Rights to accuse Greece of violating most of the Commission's conventions. Before the year was over Amnesty International had sent representatives to Greece to investigate the situation. From this came a report which asserted that "Torture as a deliberate practice is carried out by both Security Police and the Military Police."
The coup had taken place two days before the campaign for national elections was to begin, elections which appeared certain to bring the veteran liberal leader George Papandreou back as prime minister. Papandreou had been elected in February 1964 with the only outright majority in the history of modern Greek elections. The successful machinations to unseat him had begun immediately, a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek Military, and the American military and CIA stationed in Greece.
Philip Deane (the pen name of Gerassimos Gigantes) is a Greek, a former UN official, who worked during this period both for King Constantine and as an envoy to Washington for the Papandreou government. He has written an intimate account of the subtleties and the grossness of this conspiracy to undermine the government and enhance the position of the military plotters, and of the raw power exercised by the CIA in his country. ... Greece was looked upon much as a piece of property to be developed according to Washington's needs. A story related by Deane illustrates how this attitude was little changed, and thus the precariousness of Papandreou's position: During one of the perennial disputes between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, which was now spilling over onto NATO, President Johnson summoned the Greek ambassador to tell him of Washington's "solution". The ambassador protested that it would be unacceptable to the Greek parliament and contrary to the Greek constitution. "Then listen to me, Mr. Ambassador," said the President of the United States, "fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good.... We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about Democracy, Parliament and Constitutions, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not last very long."
In July 1965, George Papandreou was finally maneuvered out of office by royal prerogative. The king had a coalition of breakaway Center Union Deputies (Papandreou's party) and rightists waiting in the wings to form a new government. It was later revealed by a State Department official that the CIA Chief-of-Station in Athens, John Maury, had "worked in behalf of the palace in 1965. He helped King Constantine buy Center Union Deputies so that the George Papandreou Government was toppled. For nearly two years thereafter, various short-lived cabinets ruled until it was no longer possible to avoid holding the elections prescribed by the constitution.
What concerned the opponents of George Papandreou most about him was his son Andreas Papandreou, who had been head of the economics department at the University of California at Berkeley and a minister in his father's cabinet, was destined for a leading role m the new government. But he was by no means the wide-eyed radical. In the United States Andreas had been an active supporter of such quintessential moderate liberals as Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey. His economic views, wrote Washington Post columnist Marquis Childs, were "those of the American New Deal".
But Andreas Papandreou did not disguise his wish to take Greece out of the cold war. He publicly questioned the wisdom of the country remaining in NATO, or at least remaining in It as a satellite of the United States. He leaned toward opening relations with the Soviet Union and other Communist countries on Greece's border. He argued that the swollen American military and intelligence teams in Greece compromised the nation's freedom of action. And he viewed the Greek Army as a threat to democracy, wishing to purge it if its most dictatorial- and royalist-minded senior officers.
Andreas Papandreou's bark was worse than his bite, as his later presidency was to amply demonstrate. (He did not, for example, pull Greece out of NATO or US bases out of Greece.) But in Lyndon Johnson's Washington, if you were not totally and unquestionably with us, you were agin' us. Johnson felt that Andreas, who had become a naturalized US citizen, had "betrayed America". Said LBJ:
"We gave the son of a bitch American citizenship, didn't we? He was an American, with all the rights and privileges. And he had sworn allegiance to the flag. And then he gave up his American citizenship. He went back to just being a Greek. You can't trust a man who breaks his oath of allegiance to the flag of these United States.
What, then, are we to make of the fact that Andreas Papandreou was later reported to have worked with the CIA in the early 1960s? (He criticized publication of the report, but did not deny the charge.) If true, it would not have been incompatible with being a liberal, particularly at that time. It was incompatible, as he subsequently learned, only with his commitment to a Greece independent from US foreign policy.
As for the elder Papandreou, his anti-communist credentials were impeccable, dating back to his role as a British-installed prime minister during the civil war against the left in 1944-45. But he, too, showed stirrings of independence from the Western superpower. He refused to buckle under Johnson's pressure to compromise with Turkey over Cyprus. He l accepted an invitation to visit Moscow, and when his government said that it would accept Soviet aid in preparation for a possible war with Turkey, the US Embassy demanded an explanation. Moreover, in an attempt to heal the old wounds of the civil war, Papandreou began to reintroduce certain civil liberties and to readmit into Greece some of those who had fought against the government in the civil war period.
When Andreas Papandreou assumed his ministerial duties in 1964 he was shocked to discover what was becoming a fact of life for every techno-industrial state in the world: an intelligence service gone wild, a shadow government with powers beyond the control of the nation's nominal leaders. This, thought Papandreou, unaccounted for many of the obstacles the government was encountering in trying to carry out its policies.
A CIA report dated 23 January 1967 had specifically named the Papadopoulos group as one plotting a coup, and was apparently one of the reports discussed at the February meeting.
Of the cabal of five officers which took power in April, four, reportedly, were intimately connected to the American military or to the CIA in Greece. The fifth man had been brought in because of the armored units he commanded. George Papadopoulos emerged as the defacto leader, taking the title prime minister later in the year.
The catchword amongst old hands at the US military mission in Greece was that Papadopoulos was " the first CIA agent to become Premier of a European country".
It was torture ... which most indelibly marked the seven-year Greek nightmare [under Papadopoulos]. James Becket, an American attorney sent to Greece by Amnesty International, wrote In December 1969 that "a conservative estimate would place at not less than two thousand" the number of people tortured. It was an odious task for Becket to talk to some of the victims:
"People had been mercilessly tortured simply for being in possession of a leaflet criticizing the regime. Brutality and cruelty on one side, frustration and helplessness on the other. They were being tortured and there was nothing to be done. It was like listening to a friend who has cancer. What comfort, what wise reflection can someone who is comfortable give. Torture might last a short time, but the person will never be the same."
Becket reported that some torturers had told prisoners that some of their equipment had come as US military aid: a special "thick white double cable" whip was one Item; another was the headscrew, known as an "iron wreath", which was progressively tightened around the head or ears.
The Amnesty delegation described a number of the other torture methods commonly employed. Among these were:
a) Beating the soles of the feet with a stick or pipe. After four months of this, the soles of one prisoner were covered with thick scar tissue. Another was crippled by broken bones.
b) Serious incidents of sexually-oriented torture: shoving or an object into the vagina and twisting and tearing brutally; also done with a tube inserted into the anus; or a tube is inserted into the anus and water driven in under very high pressure.
c) Techniques of gagging: the throat is grasped in such a way that the windpipe is cut off, or a filthy
rag, often soaked in urine, and sometimes excrement, is shoved down the throat.
d) Tearing out the hair from the head and the pubic region.
e) Jumping on the stomach.
f) Pulling out toe nails and finger nails.
The United States ... provided the junta with ample military hardware despite an official congressional embargo, as well as the police equipment required by the Greek authorities to maintain their rigid control.
In an attempt to formally end the embargo, the Nixon administration asked Papadopoulos to make some gesture towards constitutional government which the White House could then point to. The Greek prime minister was to be assured, said a secret White House document, that the administration would take "at face value and accept without reservation" any such gesture.
US Vice-president Spiro Agnew, on a visit to the land of his ancestors, was moved to exalt the "achievements" of the Greek government and its "constant co-operation with US needs and wishes". One of the satisfied needs Agnew may have had in mind was the contribution of $549,000 made by the junta to the 1968 Nixon-Agnew election campaign. Apart from any other consideration, it was suspected that this was money given to the junta by the CIA finding its way back to Washington. A Senate investigation of this question was abruptly canceled at the direct request of Henry Kissinger.
Perhaps nothing better captures the mystique of the bond felt by the Greeks to their American guardians than the story related about Chief Inspector Basil Lambrou, one of Athens well-known torturers:
"Hundreds of prisoners have listened to the little speech given by Inspector Basil Lambrou, who sits behind his desk which displays the red, white, and blue clasped-hand symbol of American aid. He tries to show the prisoner the absolute futility of resistance 'You make yourself ridiculous by thinking you can do anything. The world is divided in two. There are the communists on that side and on this side the free world. The Russians and the Americans, no one else. What are we. Americans. Behind me there is the government, behind the government is NATO, behind NATO is the U.S You can't fight us, we are Americans."
Amnesty International adds that some torturers would tell their victims things like "The Human Rights Commission can't help you now ... The Red Cross can do nothing for you. Tell them all, it will do no good, you are helpless." "The torturers from the start," said Amnesty, "had said that the United States supported them and that was what counted."
In November 1973, a falling-out within the Greek inner circle culminated in the ousting of Papadopoulos and his replacement by Col. Demetrios loannidis, Commander of the Military Police, torturer, graduate of American training in anti-subversive techniques, confidant of the CIA. loannidis named as prime minister a Greek-American, A. Androutsopoulos, who came to Greece after the Second World War as an official employee of the CIA, a fact of which Mr. Androutsopoulos had often boasted.
Eight months later, the loannidis regime overthrew the government of Cyprus. It was a fatal miscalculation. Turkey invaded Cyprus and the reverberations in Athens resulted in the military giving way to a civilian government. The Greek nightmare had come to an end.
Much of the story of American complicity in the 1967 coup and its aftermath may never be known. At the trials held in 1975 of junta members and torturers, many witnesses made reference to the American role. This may have been the reason a separate investigation of this aspect was scheduled to be undertaken by the Greek Court of Appeals. But it appears that no information resulting from this inquiry, if it actually took place, was ever announced. Philip Deane, upon returning to Greece several months after the civilian government took over, was told by leading politicians that "for the sake of preserving good relations with the US, the evidence of US complicity will not be made fully public".
Andreas Papandreou had been arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou related the following:
"I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about lt. Then Margaret asked a critical question What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup."
Polytexneio, 17th November 1973
Homage to the Athens Polytechnic Uprising
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