On 28 October, all over Greece, the usual yearly parades to commemorate Greece’s refusal to surrender to Mussolini in 1940 — “No” Day — were turned this year into protests of defiance and resistance against the newly imposed austerity measures of the Pasok government and the EU-ECB-IMF Troika.
It is the custom that school students and armed forces parade and show their respects to politicians and religious leaders on the saluting stands. However, the expected patterns of events were turned upside down.
In Thessaloniki, the crowd shouted slogans: “Bread, Education, Freedom: the Greek junta did not end in 1974”; “Now or never: time to revolt”; “Don’t let capitalism kill you”.
The parade in Thessaloniki was cancelled. and all the politicians there, including Greece’s president Karolos Papoulias, were escorted away by police. Protesters occupied the saluting stand, and students and trade unionists paraded holding banners saying: “We don’t owe, we won’t sell, we won’t pay”.
Similar things happened all around Greece. Not only members of the Pasok government were heckled, but also politicians from the right-wing opposition parties, New Democracy and Laos politicians.
In Athens, students turned their heads away from the politicians’ saluting stand as they passed, raised their fists in the air, holding black handkerchiefs, and paid their respects to the protesters instead.
The Athens council band, despite threats from the mayor, paraded with black handkerchiefs around their musical instruments and refused to stand by the politicians.
In two small islands, Syros and Chios, the authorities decided to cancel the parades. The islanders decided that the parades should go ahead under the people’s rules.
Instead of politicians, left-wing national resistance fighters from the Second World War were placed on the saluting stand, alongside representatives of schools that are under occupation, to represent the unification of past, current and future struggles.