friends of Simon | 21.11.2003 21:42 | Thessaloniki EU
Refusing to leave until given an audience with the ambassador, a delegation was taken into the embassy, where they were met by a diplomat; the delegation demanded the release of the prisoners (whose case today to be reviewed, following the intervention of the Greek justice minister) and that the ambassador relay this demand to the authorities in Greece.
Notwithstanding the embassy official's avowal of discomfort with the way in which the Greek police and judicial system has handled their cases, and despite having viewed all the available video evidence, showing the Greek police attempting to frame the seven during the EU demonstration in which they were arrested, the official refused to be drawn on his personal opinion and stated that his role was solely to relay information 'home'; that the judiciary system in Greece was operating already on the bounderies of what it can do independently and of what the Greek state will allow and that the actions of the hunger strikers were pushing against these bounderies.
While stating that he would relay the concerns put to him to the relevant parties and that the hunger strikers would have a fair trial, and that 'something would be done' the official had to be made aware of the further arrests that had been made and it was iterated to him that time was very much of the essence.
Following the resolution of the morning's action a decision was taken to increase the pressure on the Greek state's representatives in the UK.
Arriving at the tourist board's offices on Conduit Street, London, approximately ten activists took the decision to occupy the offices.
Activists then made their way throughout the building as staff telephoned the police. Several activists remained outside to contact media and to draw attention to the occupation with a large banner and leaflets.
Before long the police arrived, four vans, one containing armed diplomatic police, and one squad car, crowding the small area. Officers were noted in conversation to say,
"Is it the Wombles, guv?"
"No, it's just some students."
It was observable that the police (initially gearing up with riot gear, before the intervention of one of the board's staff, perhaps wanting to deflect adverse publicity) wanted to crack down hard - at one point entering the building with guns - wanted to crack down hard, and the interjection by a board member of staff that "[The demonstrators] c[ould] leave when they have apologized" seemed to frustrate the police further, as they were desperate for the owners to say they wanted the activists to leave so that they could wade in.
After reaching the four demonstrators who remained on the third level, the police began removing them forcefully, one at a time, punching one in the stomach to make him "walk properly," and ensuring that the only black activist was removed last, despite him being second in line.
Last but not least, Ziad Lima, was the only activist to be arrested (despite being no more involved than the previous three), and the only one to be dragged out by the arms legs and head, gasping at his throat and moaning in agony and being grasped by an otherwise uniformed female officer dressed with neither hat nor her serial number.
When asked what her serial number was, she responded with nothing but a cheaky wink, and the request was ignored or obstructed when it was brought to the ttention of other officers, including Chief Inspector Robinson, CW51.
At the time of writing Lima remains in jail in West End Central, on Saville Row, London, on charges of "breach of the peace" despite no harm or imminent threat of harm shown to be occuring.
friends of Simon