[Circular letter from the European Committee of Scientists for Democracy in Greece]
On April 21, 1967, junior military officers launched a bloodless coup against the constitutional monarchy and the civilian
government of Greece to forestall an impending electoral victory by the reform-oriented Center Union Party of Georgios Papandreou.
The Greek Colonels, as the junta came to be known, imposed martial law, suspended constitutional guarantees of civil rights,
established special courts martial, dissolved political parties, and abolished the right to strike. Several thousand people
with a record of leftist political views or activity were sent to camps on Greek islands. The junta fell during a military
confrontation with Turkey over the island of Cyprus in July 1974.
In the wake of the coup and the dismissal of many academics from university positions, scientists debated whether to boycott
scientific meetings in Greece as a sign of protest, and more broadly their political responsibilities for maintaining freedom
of research and civil liberties.
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European Committee of Scientists for Democracy in Greece
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
We have learned with surprise and regret that the 4th Advanced Study Institute of Molecular Biology, planned for July 1967
and cancelled owing to the seizure of power in Greece by the military junta, is to be held on the Island of Spetsai this summer.
The Nato Advanced Study Institute on the Structure and Evolution of the Galaxy, a Symposium on the Radiation-Induced Neoplasms
and nine others Advanced Study Institutes are planned to be held this summer on the Island of Crete and on Lagonissi in Greece.
It is however barely a year since the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs in the colonels' government dismissed
56 professors from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine of the Universities of Salonica and Athens, on charges
of "disloyalty" and "lack of moral authority" brought against them by the special police services. They were
not given any means of defending themselves. Ministerial decisions regarding dismissals of certain numbers of professors
have also been published recently.
Information provided in a pamphlet on the "cleansing" of the Greek Universities, throws some light on these illegal
measures. With the exception for few cases concerning questions of "moral authority", the large majority of professors
dismissed have been deprived of the possibility of working any longer in their field on account of political opinions unfavourable
to the government.
Many of these men, appreciated far beyond the Greek frontiers for their moral authority and scientific competence, are now
without means of support. Some have been invited officially as associate professors by universities and other scientific
institutions in France, and Germany. But information coming in from reliable sources confirms the fact that passports to
leave Greece are being refused in all cases despite repeated requests on their behalf from various Embassies in Athens and
despite permanent appointments to university posts dating three and four months back.
Under these conditions we believe that one cannot accept to take part in a discussion of scientific problems when political
prisoners (including a large number of intellectuals and students) are being tortured in camps or deported to islands far
less attractive than those of Spetsai and Crete.
The participation of scientists at meetings like the summer schools of Spetsai Lagonissi or Chania, is bound to take a political
meaning since ministers of the military junta have for the past two years marked every international scientific meeting held
in Greece with their official presence and political speeches. They appeal to congress members to speak when back in their
own countries "of the respect of Freedom and Democracy they found in Greece" and maintain that "the national Revolutionary
Government is striving to establish a Moral and Spiritual Civilization". In a word, they try to use every scientific
meeting for their political purposes and propaganda.
It seems obvious to us that the 400 signatories to the appeal not to participate in scientific meetings held in Greece are
actuated by the motives other than respect for freedom and democracy and are not victims of "propaganda" that distorts
the truth about the present Greek regime.
We are convinced that if you agreed to go to the meetings, it was because you were not fully aware of the true situation in
Greece and especially in the universities.
We hope that impartial reconsideration of the situation will lead you to adopt an attitude similar to that of the many American,
Belgian, British, Danish Dutch, French, Swedish and Swiss professors and scientists who are refusing to go to Greece as things
stand at the present time.
EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF SCIENTISTS FOR DEMOCRACY IN GREECE
Prof. H. Clauser - Institut de Biochimie - Orsay
Prof. B. Ephrussi - Centre de Genetique Moleculaire - Gif - sur - Yvette
Prof. R.A. Ferrell - University of Maryland, Physique des Solides - Orsay
Prof. M. Fetizon - Chimie organique - Orsay
M.J.R. Garel - Institut de Biochimie - Orsay
Prof. P.G. de Gennes - Physique des Solides - Orsay
Prof. J.M. Ghuysen - Bacterlogie - Universite de Liege
Prof. F. Gros - Institut de Biologie Moleculaire - Paris
Dr. P. Joliot - Institut de Biologie Physico Chimique - Paris
Prof. A. Kastler - Ecole Normale Superieure - Paris (Prix Nobel)
Prof. E. Lederer - Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles -Gif-sur-Yvette
Dr. V. Luzzati - Centre de Genetique moleculaire - Gif-sur-Yvette
Prof. A. Lwoff - Institut de Recherche sur le cancer - Villejuif (Prix Nobel)
Dr. J. Nunez - Laboratoire de Biochimie Comparee-College de France - Paris
Prof. G. Ourisson - Institut de Chimie - Strasbourg
Prof. J. C. Pecker - Chaire d'Astrophysique - College de France - Paris
Dr. H. de Robichon-Szulmajster - Laboratoire d'Enzymologie - Gif-sur-Yvette