Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis - Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη  
 
 
 
 
 
 
A citizen's rights should include
the right to know one's history.

Philippos Iliou

 
 
 
 
Military Junta
 
 
 
 

Military Dictatorship (1967-1974), Fall of the Military Junta and Abolition of the Monarchy

The interval of the years 1963-1967 was brought to an end by the military coup on 21st April 1967. In the early hours of 21st April thousands of people were arrested and herded into the Faliro racecourse in Athens. There, on the first night, Panayotis Elis (a former inmate of the Ai-Stratis internment camp) was executed and a number of people were brutally maltreated. One of those was Ilias Iliou, who was savagely beaten: although getting on in years by this time, he paid dearly for having denounced in Parliament the conspiracy led by Georgios Papadopoulos on the pretext of suppressing alleged Communist sabotage in the Evros prefecture.

Yiaros

A few days later the captives were taken in naval landing craft to the island of Yiaros, where the prison camp - closed since 1960 - was reopened. No fewer than 6,118 prisoners were shipped over on 28th April, and eventually the total number reached 7,500. Of those, a thousand were in the prison building and the remainder in tents. In an attempt to quieten the international outcry and clothe their regime in a semblance of democracy, the Colonels closed the camp in the summer of 1973 and released the internees. From February 1974 (shortly after G. Papadopoulos was ousted by D. Ioannidis) until the fall of the junta, Yiaros was used again for the detention of 44 political prisoners.

Leros

The junta established two detention camps on Leros: one at Partheni and one at Lakki, to relieve the overcrowding of the Yiaros prison camp.

At Partheni the prison guards were accommodated in the old Italian barracks and the prisoners in the old armoury. This consisted of three buildings totally unsuitable for human habitation, as there were no proper windows but only small fanlights, which were very high up in the walls and so oriented as to admit no sunlight. Conditions were similar at Lakki, a few kilometres from the port. Here about 1,200 political prisoners were held in four-storey barrack buildings left over from the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Uncle Andreas Portrait of Andreas Sambanis, exiled in Leros. Mixed technique, by Y. Farsakidis.
Donated by Y. Farsakidis.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Tzaneteas, who taught himself painting while in exile on Ai-Stratis, was jointly responsible with Kyriakos Tsakiris and Antonis Karayannis for the frescoes in Ayia Matrona (or Kioura) Church at Partheni, Leros, in 1970.
Property of Apostolis Kouros.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Postcards sent by Athanasios Megalos from his exile on Leros
Donated by the Ath. Megalos family

Other places of exile and civilian activity against the military junta

Besides Yiaros and Leros, other islands such as Samothraki and Kythira, or remote mountain villages such as Zatouna in Arcadia, were used as places of exile for small groups or individuals.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Alekos Panagoulis during his trial for the attempt against the Dictator Georgios Papadopoulos.
Photo: Megalokonomou Photographic Archive.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Amalia Fleming during her trial for her involvement in the anti-junta movement.
Photo: Megalokonomou Photographic Archive.

25th July 1974

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

The very day after the fall of the military junta, the last of the political exiles in twentieth-century Greece were brought back to Lavrio in small ships.
Photo: Megalokonomou Photographic Archive.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Konstantinos Karamanlis signs the 1975 Constitution of Greece.
Photo: Megalokonomou Photographic Archive.

THE 1975 CONSTITUTION

The Final Provision:
Article 120
"Respect for the Constitution and the laws consonant therewith, and devotion to the country and to democracy, are a fundamental duty of all Greeks.
"Usurpation, in any way whatsoever, of popular sovereignty and of powers deriving therefrom shall be prosecuted upon restoration of the lawful authority.
"Observance of the Constitution is entrusted to the patriotism of the Greeks, who shall have the right and the duty to employ all possible means of resistance against anyone who attempts to overthrow the Constitution by force."

This chapter in the history of the suppression of political ideas and opinions was closed symbolically by Law 1285 of 20th September 1982 "On recognition of the National Resistance of the Greek People against the occupation forces, 1941-1944", supplemented by another law designating 25th November - the anniversary of the blowing-up of the Gorgopotamos railway viaduct by ELAS and EDES (the main Communist and non-Communist wartime resistance groups) as National Resistance Day. A number of other legislative acts passed between 1981 and 1985 were aimed at the rehabilitation (especially the moral rehabilitation) of citizens who had been prosecuted and blacklisted under the emergency laws in force during the Civil War. One such was Law 1543/1985 'On the pension rights of National Resistance fighters, the rehabilitation of resistance fighters who were prosecuted for their social views and the pension rights of fighters against the dictatorship'.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

On 18th September 1982, he proposed the motion for the passage of Law 1285/1982 'On recognition of the National Resistance of the Greek people against the occupation forces, 1941-1944'.
Megalokonomos Brothers Photographic Archives.