11 January: Three detainees present their view on prisoners’ abstention from meals and hunger strikes during November 2010
The recent abstention of prison food and the hunger strike of thousands of prisoners who are stacked like animals in Greek prisons today, highlighted as much as possible the problems and our claims – since many years – for decent living and freedom.
One of the key issues that imprisoned people are constantly facing, is how to claim some of the freedom they are left with, calling for reduction of predatory criminal penalties, reduced maximum detention time, reduced maximum life sentence, issue of suspensions and exit licenses where permitted by law, possibility of dismissal when 2/7 and 2/5 of sentences have been served (for minor and major imprisonment, respectively), abolishment of vindictive special conditions of detention and of the fascist terrorist law (underground prison cells, life isolation of political prisoners), abolishment of the disciplinary system that functions as a key obstacle to recovery of freedom, abolishment of juvenile prisons, improvement of detention conditions with respect – as much as possible within inhuman walls – to dignity, health, hygiene, sports, work, while we denounce physical and psychological tortures against us.
All this, of course, could be summarized in one basic requirement of ours, the application of the Greek constitution and laws related to the alleged ‘reformation’ of prisoners in Greece; therefore our main claim is merely a compromise. Our own absolute claim, and every one’s in the human world, is the freedom to define our lives for ourselves, away from deprivation, despair, poverty, addictions, illnesses, lies, injustice and the ceaseless chase of survival and life. However, at present, we bury these within us… We claimed merely the above from the ministry of ‘Justice’, without any longer delay. The initial mendacious allegations by the ministry of ‘Justice’ that our claims are not feasible is equally a utopia, since everything is possible when it comes to legislations, amendments and replacements, power and prisons, as long as there is political will; especially since we ask you in power to apply the existing law whose creation is ruled by you, while its implementation is left to the discretion of your interests! On the other hand, in fact this ministry seems to take back its words announcing publicly such progress in punitive legislation that will exceed our expectations and claims. Which of the above is true? Do we have a lot of imagination, or are you storytellers anyway?
Of course, the ministry seized the opportunity – given by a few fools – to talk about extrinsic incitement of the prisoners’ struggle, which was presented as unreal and fixed. The struggle was indeed real, as prisoners abstained from meals and went on hunger strike (in the first case, abstention meant almost starvation because most participants could not afford to buy food), anxiously waiting the above fair and feasible claims to be met.
But some detainees are held personally responsible: some did whatever came in their heads, spread false news about the struggle, made false agreements provoking chaos and misunderstandings… Persons-bodies of their vanity, in the absence of other fellow detainees, appropriated 14 claims, distributed them on their own and used papers of a political affinity without its knowledge – as we have been informed – in order to set up a fake leadership and to satisfy their desperate ego. The alleged elected Steering Committee (of the Struggle) of Prisoners was the icing on the cake!
In the end, nothing was achieved as we wanted, and detainees were not properly informed; organizing and coordinating led us in passive participation while we never seized to seek the content of the struggle which still concerns us all. Statements of the above mentioned elected committee on the alleged victory of the prisoners, which derived from the recent mobilization, offend us and tend to create illusions and conceal the reality, thus helping once more the ministry to be well advertised for free and serving petty considerations! If you think this mobilization was victorious, then you don’t know what means adamant claim, when demands crucial for our lives are concerned.
All these aren’t mentioned as a tragic toll, but highlight that nothing came out of what all the imprisoned deserve. The prisoners’ mobilization was suspended for January – as we had decided – but the imposed course of events is ahead of us. However, the prisoners’ strength and passion for freedom will soon overtake every ego, and will occur as it can be: a struggle massive, collective and, forever, without guardians or leaderships. Prisoners have the ability to organize, struggle and resist. For this the solidarity of all who express it honestly, is our weapon and we need it!
THE PASSION FOR FREEDOM IS MIGHTIER THAN ALL PRISON CELLS!
Dan Carabulea, Elias Karadouman, Spyros Stratoulis — Greek prison inmates