Twenty Years Ago Today: 17 November

November_17Yes, I know, it's not November the 17th. It's the 24th of January. But 17 November (or 17N) is something else entirely, although the revolutionary organisation was formed in memory of that date, the final day of a student uprising against the military government of Greece in 1973. They were marxists, or at least they claimed to be. They struck targets of the Greek government and allied powers, beginning with the CIA station chief in Athens. Curiously, they were unable to convince anyone that they'd actually committed the murder until they went out and killed their next target. And then people started taking them seriously, from 1975 until the group was disrupted in 2002 and most of them were sent to prison.

On this day in 1994, they committed one of their many murders - the assassination of the banker Michael Vranopoulos, former governor of the National Bank of Greece. He'd handled the sale of AGET-Hercules, the cement company that had furnished postwar Greece with most of the concrete from which it was built, and not everyone was happy with the bargain basement price paid for a state asset that should have belonged to the people.

But all this is safely in the past, and Greece has entirely different worries: the economic crisis just for a start, still impoverishing people across the nation while neofascists like the Golden Dawn take advantage and polarise the population.

Except that four days ago, on the 20th of January, 2014, a member of 17N, Christodoulos Xiros, absconded from the prison where he'd been since 2002, and immediately released a video manifesto in which he promised to continue 17N's terrorist campaign. Does this mean that the Revolutionary Organisation of the 17th of November is back? We'll find out soon enough.

We may think the past is safely buried under the weight of the present. But it's always there under the surface, waiting to break free...