Uprising in Greek prisons (2007)

The following post is part of the ‘Recent Past, Present Day‘ counter-information bulletin

What occasioned the uprising in prisons all over Greece was the fact that the anarchist Yannis Dimitrakis was beaten up in the prison of Malandrino on Monday 23rd April 2007. Detainees initially protested about the incident, but the guards confronted them violently and as a consequence the whole wing revolted. A chain reaction followed promptly and many prisoners joined the uprising in over 6 prisons all over the country. The very next day the prison in Patras was occupied, as well as some wings in the prison of Koridallos (Athens). Abstention from prison meals followed in the cities of Trikala and Larissa, and there was also reaction in the prisons of Nafplio, the island of Corfu, and Komotini (close to the northeastern borders of Greece). The detainees’ demands included banning disciplinary penalties, commuting life sentence to 12 year imprisonment and 25 year imprisonment to 10 years, granting release after serving 3/7 of the sentence and leaves to all prisoners.

On 25 April riot police attacked detainees in the prison of Malandrino, as they had set fires and manufactured improvised defense gear. A few days later ‘order was restored’ after riot police and special police forces intervened, applying the zero tolerance doctrine; police interventions in other prisons followed (Koridallos, Diavata, Ag. Stefanos, Corfu), while the uprising in other prisons came to an end more calmly.

Similar uprisings had naturally taken place before – we are all pretty much aware of the horrible conditions cells are in, the fact that prisoners are packed and beaten up etc. However, some took to the streets claiming not just better imprisonment conditions, but the abolishment of prisons all together.

On 24 April, the Initiative on prisoners’ rights organized a rally outside the lockup of the Omonoia police department (downtown Athens); 100 persons gathered, while the police had cordoned off the building. The night of 25 April, 150 comrades rode motorcycles to the prisons of Diavata in Thessaloniki chanting slogans in solidarity with the prisoners’ revolt, against prisons and incarceration. A day earlier they had organized a rally and on the 26th more than 200 people participated in the demo in the centre of Thessaloniki. Athens was also active, and on 23 April 100 comrades marched outside the house of the president of the republic. There was also a rally outside the prison of Malandrino – over 200 anarchists went there by coach, and after negotiations managed to talk to two prisoners. Actions were also called for in other cities (Patras, Alikarnassos, Volos, Mitilini, Larissa).

The second week of May a 2-day event against prisons took place in Athens. Last but not least, it is worth mentioning that all demos that were organized for specific imprisoned comrades broadened their scope to eventually embrace broader prison-related issues.