Abolish the special detention-annihilation conditions of the political prisoners
HUNGER STRIKE SINCE SATURDAY 18/9
Since Saturday, September 18th, the political prisoners of the 6th wing of Koridallos Men’s Prison sentenced for the November 17th case have been on a hunger strike. The strike is scalable, with a prisoner added every week while the others continue.
They demand the abolition of the inhuman special conditions of their detention-annihilation, which are being practiced especially and only for them, violating the current Reformatory Code, the Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights.
The political prisoners are detained in absolute isolation from the rest of the prisoners. They are not allowed to contact them in any way or to visit the prison’s library or workshops. Their time out of the cell is spent in a small yard surrounded by walls as high as 9-10 metres, while the ceiling is covered by a dense metal grid that prevents every visibility. In early September, this tin-made dam opened (the walls being reduced at the half) and for the first time in the last two years the prisoners were able to see a piece of sky. Yet very soon, the gaps were covered with a double layer of dense metal grid and the tin-made dam was transformed into an iron cage suitable perhaps for animals, but not for humans.
This special regime, as a prison within a prison, is inhuman and revengeful. It subjects the political prisoners to sensory isolation, aiming at causing them physical and psychological damage. According to all International Conventions, these conditions constitute a torture.
Besides being inhuman, these special conditions are moreover illegal. They are directly opposite to the Constitution, the European Convention for Human Rights and the Reformatory Code, that prohibits the application of such measures even for those punished for criminal offences committed inside the prison.
We call for every democratic individual to rouse against this continuous crime and to demand that it stops right here, right now.
We call all groups, political and social, parties, organizations, scientific forums and unions to speak out and demand the immediate abolition of the special detention conditions.
SILENCE IS COMPLICITY
We express our solidarity to the political prisoners on hunger strike.
SOLIDARITY MOVEMENTS TO THE POLITICAL PRISONERS
• The special cells of Koridallos were hastily constructed during the summer of 2002, when the arrests of the alleged members of the 17th November group began. They are actually retrofits of old guardhouses, in a way that they can create a prison within a prison. Two groups of cells were constructed, destined for the territories of the Men’s and Women’s prisons equally. They are basement or semibasement cells that string out along a narrow corridor. The prisoners’ time outside them is spent in small yards that are surrounded by towering tin-made walls as high as 9,5-10 metres. At the top of this tin-made dam, dense metal grid was put, allowing some light to pass through, but preventing any view of the sky. This tin-made dam is an oven during the summer and an icebox during the winter.
• When first transferred there, the political prisoners were enforced to absolute isolation. 21 hours in the cell and only two short breaks in the tin-made dam, alone. After various protests, the prisoners were allowed to join in groups of two or three persons during the two short breaks, while A. Giotopoulos and A. Sotiropoulou were kept in isolation. Later on, A. Giotopoulos was given permission to join the others but A. Sotiropoulou wasn’t, and therefore had to go through a long and harsh hunger strike, so that she would be allowed to see the other female prisoners during her breaks.
• The regime of “white cells-grey graves” was at its beginning justified by appealing to the “interrogation needs”. However, the special judge of appeal, coroner L. Zervobeakos, illustrated that he had never asked for anything like that. It consequently became clear that these were special conditions for the annihilation of the political prisoners, even though the prisoners weren’t recognized as such. On the contrary, it was promulgated that these people are prisoners of “the common criminal law”.
• Absolute isolation was abolished just before the beginning of their trial and the political prisoners underwent the prison schedule (opening and locking of the cells, breaks in group). Yet the regime of their joint isolation from the rest of the prisoners, the denied access at the rest of the prison spaces (library, workshops) and the breaks inside the tin-made dam are maintained.
• After constant protests, memos and deeds by the prisoners themselves, their advocates and the solidarity movement, the Attorney General A. Papaligouras visited Koridallos on August 6th, having previously demanded that the prisoners are locked in their cells, so that they wouldn’t meet with him. He also let the advocates believe that there were going to be some changes at the special detention conditions.
• On September 3rd, working groups began to rip the upper part of the tin walls of the dam-yard, reducing their height to 4,5-5 metres. When the ripping was over, they began to place a rudimentary insulation of φελιζολ and hardboard at the interior of the tin box. The special conditions were not abolished, but an elementary improvement of the break conditions had taken place. For the first time in the last two years, the political prisoners got to see a piece of sky. They got to focus their eye on some part of the horizon. They got aware of the weather. They smelled the ground of the surrounding place.
• Immediately, though, they were informed that this was to be temporary. That when the rudimentary insulation process would end, the working groups would return in order to cover the opening with a double metal grid. On September 17th the workers did come back, raised scaffolds and went on to locate the grid. The prisoners reacted, prevented the workers and refused to get inside their cells. They made clear to the warden and the relevant attorney that they would protest by every means they have. They will not accept to lose this minimum improvement. The guards forced them into their cells.
• On the following day and while the prisoners were kept inside their cells, the working groups returned and in the late afternoon the tin-made dam had been transformed into a cage worse than those used to keep wild animals in zoos. The contact with the sky disappeared once again. The only difference was the allowance of a little bit more light and air, the reduction of heat or cold.
• On that same day (Saturday, September 18th), the prisoners decided to move on a scalable hunger strike, with D. Koufontinas to go first and one prisoner added every new week while the others continue.