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Greek prisons: Hunger strike statement by the Network of Imprisoned Fighters (issued 2/3/2015)

A total of nine participants in DAK are currently on hunger strike: the imprisoned anarchists Antonis Stamboulos, Tasos Theofilou, Giorgos Karagianidis, Fivos Harisis, Argyris Ntalios (since March 2nd), Grigoris Sarafoudis (since March 9th), Dimitris Politis, Andreas-Dimitris Bourzoukos (since March 16th), and Yannis Michailidis (since March 23rd).

Below is their joint statement issued 2/3/2015.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF INITIATION OF HUNGER STRIKE
BY THE NETWORK OF IMPRISONED FIGHTERS (DAK)

We begin by stating that which we should never forget. Everything is won through struggle. If it is possible in prison today to have books, tv, free phone contact, permits, sentence suspensions, if the guards don’t beat us it is because of the bloody revolts and hunger strikes of prisoners before us.

Today is our turn to fight and to win. The time has come for the long prison sentences so profusely passed to be reduced, for permits and suspensions to be compulsorily granted at the time when the law provides for them, for the life sentence to be reduced to 12 years mandatory serving and 4 years labour, for the possibility of suspension to be given after serving 2/5 of the sentence in the rest of the cases, for pre-trial detention to be reduced to 12 months, for prisoners to have access to the internet, for unobstructed prison visits, for conjugal visits to be guaranteed.

An end to prisons of sensory isolation, like those in Malandrino, Trikala, Grevena, Domokos, Chania, Nigrita, Drama, where prisoners have no contact to the external environment, where they even see the sky only through a metal grid. The existing ones must be transformed so that they stop focusing on the prevention of uprisings and escapes placing living conditions on the bottom of the priority list.

Concentration camps for migrants must be shut down. These are all demands that all prisoners must fight for and win. On the occasion of the struggle we are embarking on now, we want to bring these demands forward and we ask all prisoners in all prisons to take these into account in the struggles that are to come.

Prison and repression in general comprise the basic foundations of the capitalist system. In the currently prevailing neoliberal model of capitalist management, repression takes on a central role in state policy, its expression condensed in the dogma of Law and Order. The abandonment of the previous Keynesian welfare state has led more and more people into impoverishment both within the western metropolis as well as in the capitalist periphery. Since a large part of the population cannot be absorbed into the process of production and consumption, its management can only be achieved through repression.

This efficient repressive management has imposed a state of exception setting a particular framework for illegal acts. Acts which are not treated according to their penal significance, but rather according to the risk they pose for the smooth running of the regime.

Cracking down on the internal enemy comes under this state of exception (with the application of the “anti-terrorist” law for those accused of armed struggle, of the “anti-hoodie” law for those arrested in demonstrations), as well as cracking down on the so-called “organised crime” or in other words the “black” capitalist market, and on migrants who are now imprisoned not for offending but simply for existing. On hooligans persecuted on special sports laws, on women stigmatised as a potential plague to society (the case of HIV-positive women imprisoned in the spring of 2012) and the list goes on. Anything that could potentially disturb the efficient function of the system is dealt with by some special legislation.

In Greece this legal process began in early 2000 and has been evolving ever since. In 2001 the Greek state in line with the so-called “war on terror”, which on a global level also advanced the war against the internal enemy, passed article 187 concerning criminal organisations. In 2004 it passed article 187A concerning terrorist organisations.

At the same time, the first maximum security prisons were set up in Malandrino, where the most undisciplined prisoners were transferred experiencing a special correctional treatment entailing sensory isolation, confinement in depopulated wards and difficulties in getting any permits or sentence suspensions.

In 2002 the prisoners of the 17 November (17N) case were incarcerated in the underground ward of Koridallos women’s prison, in conditions of sensory and physical isolation. The operation of Malandrino prison as well as the underground ward of Koridallos for penal and political prisoners respectively was the first application of special incarceration conditions in Greece in the post-dictatorship era.

With the articles 187 and 187A the legal framework is expanded to fit more acts and the severity of punishment is increased. The application of these legislations provides for special judges and prosecutors, special court rooms, absence of jury, greater sentences for each crime and finally, the persecution of the intent to commit a similar crime. This is a blatantly vindictive legislation which aims at the extermination of prisoners.

A particular case here is the case of severely wounded rebel Savvas Xiros, who for 13 years now has been facing a slow death in prison.

The latest application of the state of exception is the operation of type C prisons. Sentences served in these prisons are greatly lengthened through the enhancement of the legal framework that determines their operation. And this is on top of the physical and sensory isolation that comes with the confinement in type C prisons.

A particular characteristic of this state of exception is that its application began as a pilot scheme and was subsequently broadened. As, for example, with the application of article 187, which originally concerned only a dozen prisoners and now around 30% of all prisoners are indicted on this article.

Another example is the applicability of type C prisons, where, aside from those originally defined as type C prisoners (those indicted on article 187 and 187A), any prisoner deemed undisciplined and dangerous may be transferred there.

The state of exception is reflected in the forensics field as well as the legislative one. DNA analysis has established a new type of police-judicial approach which presents its findings as undeniable truths.

Genetic material is by its nature an extremely unreliable piece of evidence as to the conclusions that can be drawn by its analysis. The ease by which it can be transferred from person to person or to objects, as well as the mixture of DNA from more than one person in any sample, leave as many open possibilities as the outcomes one may want to derive by using this as evidence.

Even though this is well known as much to the scientists as to the repressive mechanisms that use this evidence, collection, elaboration and recording of genetic material is the new repressive penal weapon, owing its strength to its dubiousness.

The insufficiency of this particular method is obvious from the stark absence of biologist police officers in court who could support their findings as opposed to the number of arresting officers, interrogators, pyrotechnists and other such witnesses.

It is clear how the repressive practice prioritises DNA analysis, by the extent to which it is increasingly used as evidence in court. People have been prosecuted on various crimes based solely on a mixture of genetic material found near the scene. Despite the fact that, internationally, the scientific method deems the analysis of mixtures unreliable, there have been numerous convictions based only on mixture findings.

Besides, the insistence of the cops on violently extracting DNA, which is not only allowed but enforced, turning the whole procedure into a form of torture, is yet another indication of how important it is for the state to create biological data bases.

For all the above reasons we believe it is politically imperative for a boundary to be set in the way genetic material is evaluated.

There is no doubt that the state uses every means permitted by the prevailing social interrelations for the maintenance of its class hegemony. It would be dumb, therefore, to expect from those who are damaged by the revolutionary struggle not to take measures.
What we can demand from the bosses and the state, through the cost we shall make them bare, is to retreat by abolishing:
• Article 187
• Article 187A
• The “anti-hoodie” law
• The legislation that determines the operation of type C prisons.

And for restricting the use and processing of genetic material, we specifically demand:
• The abolition of the court order that enforces the violent extraction of DNA from persons.
• The access and evaluation of the genetic sample by an expert biologist chosen by the accused, if they so wish.
• The abolition of use of samples that contain a mixture of genetic material from more than two persons.

We also demand:
• The immediate release of Savvas Xiros, so that he can receive appropriate medical care.

We have no confidence in the promises of any government and we never forget that everything is won through struggle. For this reason we begin a hunger strike on the 2nd of March until the vindication of our demands.

Network of Imprisoned Fighters (DAK)

English translation (slightly edited here) via kraygesapotakelia

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