Greek authorities today publicly burned about 16 million secret files compiled by intelligence services for four decades on the political beliefs of private citizens.
The ceremony, ordered by the conservative-Communist coalition government, was hailed as a symbolic move to end bitter divisions among Greek political parties. The decision to burn the files marked the 40th anniversary of peace in the country's 1946-1949 civil war between right-wing forces and Communist guerrillas.
"My record as a leftist haunted me all my life," George Falireas, a civil war veteran, told Reuters. "It was impossible to find a job, to make friends. My ideology has sent me to jail a number of times. The misery has now ended. After 40 years of political discrimination I feel free," he said.
Right-wing forces with U.S. backing won the civil war in which more than 300,000 people died. The Greek Communist Party (KKE) was banned from 1947 to 1974 and was legalized after the fall of an extreme-right military dictatorship.