International Solidarity with the Greek Prison Resisters Now!
There have been rolling strikes and protests throughout Greek prisons in reaction to the SYRIZA Party led coalition government’s plans to bring into force increased repressive legal measures into the prison law codes.
In May, prisoners from A, B and C wings of Korydallos Prison, Greece’s main prison located in Piraeus, announced the formation of the Coordinating Struggle Committee to express the opinions of prisoners from Korydallos and other prisons who have decided to join the protests, to issue regular updates regarding prisoner protests and to communicate with people outside the prisons who stand in solidarity with the ongoing struggle of the prisoners. This statement was translated into English and can be read on the Enough Is Enough blog here.
Over two months ago protests began in Korydallos. These protests have now spread to other wings of Korydallos, including the women’s prison at Korydallos. Prisoners are protesting by refusing to return to their cells for afternoon lockup and roll call. In this way prisoners show their resolve, unity and solidarity with one another. The protests are peaceful, but like a tsunami contain their power under the surface not visible until the wave hits the shore.
In a radio interview conducted earlier this month, imprisoned anarchist comrade and member of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, Christos Tsakalos, speaking as a representative of the Coordinating Struggle Committee, and not as an anarchist or as a member of CCF, stated that imprisoned men and women in prisons across Greece were due to join in the non-cooperation protests on the 20th November 2017. Christos also stated that the prisoners would not allow these repressive measures to pass without resistance and or repercussions. The interview with Christos has been translated into English and can be read on the Enough Is Enough blog here.
Here is s summary of the Greek government’s proposed changes to the Prison Law codes:
Reintroduction of repressive super maximum regimes called ‘Type C’ for “those convicted of organizing escapes and other offences committed within detention facilities and under the applicable criminal and terrorist law will be detained in specific designated areas”…these prisoners will be totally isolated from other prisoners with highly restricted movement within the Type C regime.
All prisoners with sentences of 15 years and over will automatically lose their right to day leaves from the prison and will be in danger of being in a closed prison even until the end of their sentence.
Ability to house prisoners in police stations for “transportation” reasons and to do it with full isolation from other prisoners. Also very worrying is the provision that provides the option to keep someone in isolation at GADA (Police Headquarters) and detention there by order of the minister if it is someone who is in prison under 187A, IE they are a member of an armed revolutionary organization, throughout their trial. Trials can take years and police stations are not designed for long term housing of prisoners
Additional changes includes “exceptional cases where measures may entail restrictions on the normal living conditions of prisoners determined on a case by case basis by prosecutor’s (or Minister’s) decision”. Such arbitrary power over prisoners’ living conditions has been until now unprecedented.
Prisoners will have to request and be granted permission from the prosecutor’s office in order to be allowed to phone their friends and relatives, this also opens the door for the prosecutor to refuse communications between prisoners and their relatives.
Currently mothers have the right to have their children with them in prison up to the age of 3, but in the new law proposals it will no longer be a right, instead a judge will decide whether to grant such permission or not. Under the new law proposals children will only be allowed to live with their imprisoned mothers if there is no possibility of them staying with relatives.
Currently mothers with sentences under 10 years can seek early release together with their children when they reach the age of 3, but this legal possibility will be annulled with the proposed legislation, meaning that once children reach the age of 3 they will be sent to government institutions whilst the mother has to continue her prison term.
Guards will be allowed to use violence against prisoners for refusing to obey orders even if the refusals are not themselves violent, including peaceful protests. Furthermore, the new law allows for the use of various weapons against prisoners for refusal to obey orders. When violence is permitted to beused by guards and in what form is left to the arbitrary discretion of the guards.
Imprisoned members of the urban guerrilla organization Revolutionary Struggle, the comrades Pola Roupa and Nikos Maziotis, began hunger strikes on November 11thdemanding the following:
To withdraw the provision in Article 11 para, 6 pt. E and para. 4 in the same article regarding the detention in police stations.
Do not bring back the Type C prison regime.
Immediately release Nikos Maziotis from the isolation in which he is held by a decision of the ministry since July 2017.
Introduce adjustment to the correctional code for the easing of visitor hours based on the frequency of visits a prisoner has. For example, a prisoner who has one hour per month visit or cannot at all extend the time of the meeting.
There should be a special meeting room for parents to meet with their children (there is no such place in the Korydallos Mens’ prison) and when the frequency of meetings are rare, the meeting time should increase accordingly.
An English language translation of the statement the comrades released declaring the commencement of their hunger strike is available here.
Please note that communication is a little difficult due to language barriers, and our imprisonment conditions here in Bulgaria so please forgive us if there are any information inaccuracies.
Solidarity, courage and strength to the prison resisters behind the Greek prison walls. You are examples to us all, both inside and outside!
Many of you have been in prison for many years now, rekindle the embers that burnt so brightly in your fight against the capitalist state, only with resistance will we defend ourselves or else we will lose our very souls through passivity and trust in the political parties.
Comrade Jock Palfreeman, writing on behalf of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association, Sofia Prison, November 21.