Shouting anti-American slogans and carrying banners protesting nuclear weapons and NATO, some 200,000 Greeks marched peacefully past the U.S. Embassy tonight to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the bloody 1973 student uprising against the then ruling military junta.
Chanting, "The people don't want you -- take your embassy and go," "Americans -- murderers of nations" and "NATO-CIA-betrayal," the crowd estimated by police at 200,000 marched for three hours through bitter cold past the shuttered embassy.
Represented among the marchers were students, professionals, trade unions, women's groups, municipalities and political parties. The most noticeable was Panhellenic Socialist Movement of Premier Andreas Papandreou, which won national elections Oct. 18 on an anti-NATO, anti-U.S. platform.
The 1973 uprising, in which 36 students and others were killed by troops, marked the high point of internal resistance against the colonels who ruled from 1967 to 1974, and who are held here to have enjoyed at least the tacit support of Washington.
Since the return to democracy here, the uprising's anniversary has provided an annual barometer of leftist and particularly anti-American sentiment. Today's march represented a self-imposed test of authority for the new Socialist administration.
It broke the past five years' practice in allowing the marchers to proceed beyond the regular limits in the city center, and to follow a route past the U.S. Embassy to a suburb.
Yesterday, Papandreou laid a wreath at the memorial to those slain in the uprising, the first premier to do so. The anniversary was also declared a school holiday.
U.S. Embassy officials were not available to comment on the march, which was carried out under a discreet police presence all along the two-mile route. Particularly marked was the absence of riot squads, present in strength in previous years.
Police said the crowd was peaceful and disciplined, with civilian marshals keeping out some 200 described by police as "extremists" who tried to join in.
Last year a young Greek woman worker and a Cypriot student were killed in clashes with riot police.