Remembering the Greek military coup 50 years on

By Sonia Gable

Diana Shelley writes:

On the evening of 28 April 1967 a removal van pulled up outside the Greek Embassy in London’s Upper Brook Street. Two women carrying daffodils knocked; the door opened. From the back of the van 50 demonstrators jumped out and ran inside.

We were mainly supporters of the Committee of 100, the non-violent direct action peace organisation, or London School of Economics students. We spread through the building, careful not to damage anything.

Protesters enter the Greek Embassy
Protesters enter the Greek Embassy

Forty minutes later the police arrived. A speaker, broadcasting news of the occupation from a window, ended with the words: “The police are now breaking into this room. We will have to stop broadcasting. Save democracy in Greece!”

We were carried into police vans without resisting. One vanload escaped when they saw the door was unlocked and no officer in the back. Forty-two were charged with ‘affray’ and ‘threatening behaviour’, and Terry Chandler with assaulting a policeman.

A month later more serious charges were substituted: riotous assembly and forcible entry, the latter dropped at committal proceedings along with all charges against one defendant who had been outside the embassy.

At the Old Bailey we were faced with a plea bargain and, after much argument, agreed we would all plead guilty to unlawful assembly – like riot but without the violence – so ‘conspiracy to trespass’ and Terry’s alleged assault would be dropped. Without any evidence, Justice Widgery picked out ‘ringleaders’ by their previous convictions: Terry got 15 months, Michael Randle 12, and Del Foley six, 12 of us were fined and the rest conditionally discharged.

The occupation demonstrated opposition to the Coup on the very day the Labour Government recognised the Colonels’ regime. In Greece political prisoners and others heard about and took heart from this act of international solidarity.

Members of the Greek military junta of 1967
Members of the Greek military junta of 1967

The Greece Solidarity Campaign (GSC) invites you to an

EVENING TO MARK THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE MILITARY COUP IN GREECE AND TO CELEBRATE ITS OVERTHROW IN 1974

Friday 28 April: 6pm to 8.45pm

Diskus Suite, UNITE the Union, 128 Theobalds Road, Holborn, London WC1X 8TN (Nearest tube: Holborn)

With support from Anti-fascist Action for Greece (AAfG).

The programme will include:

  • finger food / mezedes and displays in the lobby
  • welcome by Gail Cartmail, acting General Secretary UNITE the Union
  • Councillor Isidoros Diakides, GSC Co-Chair
  • a speaker from Anti-Fascist Action for Greece
  • a period of silence for those killed or tortured by the Junta
  • two Theodorakis songs sung by Iris Mavraki
  • Marina Prentoulis, Syriza and University of East Anglia
  • one of the Committee of 100 describing their occupation of the Greek Embassy in 1967
  • Katy Clarke, patron of GSC
  • Steve Jefferys (LSE student occupier of the embassy) on Le Pen, Greece and the threat of fascism in Europe
  • closing message by Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary and GSC President

Chair: Paul Mackney, GSC co-Chair

Never Again to Fascism in Europe!

Note: between 4pm and 6pm there will be a separate but related event: a reunion for the LSE students and Committee of 100 activists remembering their occupation of the Greek Embassy in London in opposition to the Greek Colonels dictatorship in 1967.

“Even if Greece were one day to be completely destroyed,
There will still remain an olive tree, a grape vine and a boat.
These will be enough to rebuild it from scratch.”

– Greek Nobel poet laureate Odyseas Elytis

Aλληλεγγύη και φιλία – solidarity and friendship

Greek Solidarity Campaign supporters on the international section of the Stand Up To Racism march in London on 18 March 2017
Greek Solidarity Campaign supporters on the international section of the Stand Up To Racism march in London on 18 March 2017

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