The month-old civilian government of Greece faced its first test when students occupied the technical university at the centre of Athens on Wednesday (November 14th).
The month-old civilian government of Greece faced its first test when students occupied the technical university at the centre of Athens on Wednesday (November 14th). About 5,000 students were barricaded inside the university, surrounded by strong police forces. University authorities asked the government not to intervene while they negotiated with the students.
There were smaller sympathy demonstrations in other parts of the country, and about 1,000 students marched through Athens' main streets chanting anti-government slogans. Police cordoned off the streets leading to Constitution Square -- where the government offices are located -- and dispersed the students without incident.
The occupation of the university grew out of a meeting authorised by the polytechnic's dean, to discuss student participation in drawing up a programme to run the university.
On Friday (November 16th) about 100 journalists were allowed to enter the university for a press conference by student leaders. A committee said their problems could not be solved without a change in the political situation in the country. They called on the Greek people to rally in the cause of overthrowing the "tyrannical regime" in Greece. Students took turns at the university gates shouting anti-government slogans.
Later on Friday, police clashed with students as they attempted to clear about 10,000 students and supporters from around the university Students fleeing from the scene said their colleagues in the polytechnic were armed with rifles and molotov cocktails.
Suses, trolleys, cars, wood, and stones were used to build barricades outside the university. Police moved in with armoured care and fired warning shots. Traffic was barred from the centre of Athens. Late reports said two students had been killed, and 12 students and 14 policemen seriously injured. There were repeated calls for ambulances.
The clashes came on the eve of a press conference by Premier Markenzinis, during which he was expected to announce a series of measures to implement his pledge to lead the country back to democratic rule through parliamentary elections in 1974.