From Culmine (July 22, 2011):
Theofilos Mavropoulos was arrested two months ago after being wounded during an armed confrontation with two police officers (who also got their share) in northern Athens. He spent several weeks at Red Cross Hospital before being transferred to a prison hospital and then to A Wing at Korydallos Prison. Below is his first full-length open letter.
The rebel is a kamikaze—someone who simply won’t accept the fate the machine has dealt her. That’s how you seek a life worth living. Those who completely reject this society have already faced the risk of death head-on. The struggle against the existent is an armed farewell. War or suicide.
—People Collaborating to Achieve Negation (Toward the Outside)*
On May 18, 2011, a comrade and I accidentally bumped into a mobile police unit in the Pefki neighborhood. They wanted to stop us and we tried to run, but we got fouled up (a police officer pounced on my colleague and immobilized him while he was trying to escape). Thus, wanting to extricate ourselves, I made the choice—the political choice—of armed confrontation. Wanting to flee from democracy’s armed mercenaries, since we couldn’t allow ourselves to surrender without a fight, I myself decided to take that risk, giving my comrade—who was unarmed—a chance to escape. He did so successfully, using the police patrol car itself, but I was unable to because of my wounds.
The reason why my comrade and I didn’t stop for a police ID check was because we had consciously chosen revolutionary clandestinity—the final, obligatory choice of those who refuse to allow the “Law” to imprison them.
Being underground means living on the edge of a knife, making complicated choices, and assuming a high level of risk. “Legality” is therefore of obvious use to a revolutionary entity.
Nevertheless, for revolutionaries who reach the dilemma of “whether to surrender or not,” how easy or difficult it is to “sell your own skin” depends on your previous experience with disobedience. Like the case of the “robbers in black,” who just a few years ago chose freedom underground over arrest and imprisonment, and especially Simos Seisidis, who refused to stop for a random ID check and lost his leg to police gunfire. Examples like theirs, among others, fill all our hearts with pride and strength.
Right now, I define myself as yet another revolutionary anarchist political prisoner in the hands of the State. A State that, in view of the gestating possibility of social unrest, is tightening its hold on its subjects and directly or indirectly abolishing many of its democratic pretexts (doing away with telephone anonymity, requiring that citizenship papers be carried, putting prices on certain peoples’ heads, releasing photos of those in struggle and imprisoning some of them on the basis of completely insubstantial evidence, making it illegal to mask up, etc.)
However, these measures are incapable of intimidating the generalized war of conscience that is underway. A polymorphic war, here and now, continually developing toward the goal of demolishing the existent. A revolutionary war. Without a beginning, middle, or end, but with many fronts. From open public assemblies to fiercely combative marches, from armed guerrilla attacks to the little everyday occurrences that make us evolve on an individual and collective level.
But for the anarchist/antiauthoritarian movement to be effective against the methodical maneuvering of the enemy, is must not be divided. False friendships, personality conflicts, maliciousness, and especially tolerance and acceptance of such behaviors and attitudes have to be replaced by unity and continual rejuvenation within the anarchist/antiauthoritarian milieu. At the moment, of course taking into account attempts at an organized internationalization of subversive action from Latin America to Europe, that urgency is more necessary than ever.
Additionally, the fact that the number of political prisoners has quickly increased as of late leads us to several conclusions. Apart from the matter of our solidarity, which has depth and substance when it is interactive and attacking, we must stress the need for revolutionary forces to always be one step ahead of the enemy. Winning a war doesn’t just require will and certain essential abilities. It also requires strategy. When your adversary is moving her pawns, you should be moving yours as well.
The way each one decides to fight is an individual choice and responsibility. Accordingly, starting from the individual, it’s enough to simply collectivize the common desire to fight Power. Political stability certainly has its part, but it’s also important to attempt to subvert that stability in order to reach something better.
The spread of anarchist/antiauthoritarian ideas plays a key role. Intensifying it quantitatively as well as qualitatively is essential. Also, in war, losses are a statistical certainty. However, potential revolutionaries aren’t solely motivated by their undesirable origins in the lower social strata. The complex of capitalist relationships and perspectives so dominates everyone’s life that the “worst off” can be found within every social and economic class. When human life has become just another product on the shelves of the market and its marketing, what’s the point of talking about cheap or expensive products when anything and everything has its price? Among the impoverished and exploited classes, there will doubtless be sound revolutionaries, but there will also be submissives, plenty of submissives.
All of you watching your children happily enjoying themselves in playgrounds and schoolyards today shouldn’t be surprised when you see them forming revolutionary alliances or taking part in armed attacks on Capital and the State tomorrow.
Thus, with coherence and persistence, as well as inexhaustible fighting spirit, you can achieve many things. Degrees of reconciliation may be different, but the goal remains the same, whether it sprouts up at assemblies in university auditoriums or comes blasting from the barrel of a gun: REVOLUTION FIRST AND FOREVER.
My fingerprints were found at the apartment in Kallithea and the apartment in Nea Ionia in Volos. I can’t take historical and political responsibility for belonging to the Fire Cells Conspiracy revolutionary organization because we never created that organization’s political discourse together. I also had certain disagreements with that discourse. Therefore, I am very clearly stating that I was never a member of the Fire Cells Conspiracy revolutionary organization.
But in no instance did those disagreements obstruct the path we walked together. I and my comrades in the Fire Cells Conspiracy evolved side-by-side, learning from one another and then—now stronger—taking action from a revolutionary perspective for the cause of freedom.
For those reasons, I proudly declare that I was PRESENT at the apartments in Kallithea and Volos, and I was also present in the lives of the members of the Fire Cells Conspiracy.
Recognizing their revolutionary activity, I stand in solidarity with all the imprisoned members of the organization, and I send them my comradely greetings.
May the pamphlet The Sun Still Rises be the prelude to a new, more relentless, more destructive, and more unyielding cycle of attacks. Comrades, whatever the cost, we will keep our heads high.
HONOR TO ANARCHIST LAMBROS FOUNTAS, MEMBER OF REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE
SOLIDARITY WITH ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS
NO ONE WILL BE FREE UNTIL THE LAST PRISON IS DESTROYED
—Theofilos Mavropoulos; July 18, 2011; A Wing; Korydallos Prison
*Translators’ Note: This quote comes from a pamphlet published by four of our Thessaloniki comrades (Sokratis Tzifkas, Dimitris Dimitsiadis, Haralambos Stylianidis, and Dimitris Fessas) during their brief period underground (October 2010–January 2011) before being arrested for the arson of several Public Power Corporation (DEI) vehicles.
It would be impossible to keep track of every sabotage that has taken place during the past few weeks in Greece, and we are therefore limiting ourselves to details about attacks that have been claimed.
In the early hours of February 20, a Piraeus Bank in the Athens neighborhood of Votanikos was attacked with hammers and then set on fire. The action was dedicated to those being charged with membership in the Fire Cells Conspiracy, but the accompanying communiqué was unsigned.
In the early hours of February 21, a gazaki (camping gas canisters plus a flammable liquid, like gasoline) exploded at the Treasury Office in the Thessaloniki neighborhood of Touba. The action was claimed by the International Revolutionary Front: Arson Attack Cell and dedicated to “those being charged with membership in the Fire Cells Conspiracy, social bandit Rami Syrianos, and all dignified prisoners in struggle.”
On March 1, a Zografos driving school was torched in the Athens neighborhood of Kaisariani. The accompanying communiqué—simply signed “Action”—explained that Zografos was attacked because of its collaboration with the pigs, as evidenced by its participation in the Police Day celebrations at the Hellenic Police Academy’s Officers’ School last October. Like many other communiqués connected to actions commemorating the one-year anniversary of the death of Revolutionary Struggle member Lambros Fountas (shot and killed by the pigs on March 11, 2010), it ended with the slogan “Honor forever to Lambros Fountas.”
A group called Shadows for the Instigation of Nighttime Sabotage claimed responsibility for a series of arsons that took place in Athens on March 2. A Eurobank EFG branch in Kaisariani, the Treasury Office in Holargos, and the local New Democracy party headquarters in Tavros were all set on fire. These actions were dedicated to anarchist prisoner Christos Politis and the five others being charged in the same case (all six comrades were arrested on December 4, 2010), anarchist prisoner Aris Seirinidis, and the hunger-striking Chilean comrades being charged in the “Bombings Case.”
In the early hours of March 6, the Lambros Fountas Guerrilla Formation set fire to an Emporiki Bank branch located right in the middle of the bourgeois Athens neighborhood of Kolonaki. The action was dedicated to the “captive Guerrillas of the Fire Cells Conspiracy, Revolutionary Struggle, and November 17,” as well as the Chilean comrades on hunger strike.
That same morning, a KION construction site was torched. KION is one of the companies that constructs prisons and courthouses in Greece. The unsigned communiqué dedicated the arson to Aris Seirinidis and “all dignified prisoners of the war on the regime.”
In the early hours of March 14, the local PASOK party headquarters in the Thessaloniki neighborhood of Sikea was set on fire. The accompanying communiqué was signed by the International Revolutionary Front: Incendiary Plans for Nighttime Disorder. It mentioned the Chilean comrades caught up in the “Bombings Case,” the imprisoned Fire Cells Conspiracy members as well as the other prisoners being charged with membership in the group, and the five imprisoned Thessaloniki anarchists (Yiannis Skouloudis, Dimitris Fessas, Dimitris Dimitsiadis, Haralambos Stylianidis, and Sokratis Tzifkas) being charged with the arson of Public Power Corporation (DEI) vehicles.
In the early hours of March 15, the Chaos Warriors torched two Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) vans parked in the city of Gerakas, just north of Athens. The arson was a display of solidarity with the five comrades arrested the previous day and charged with membership in the Fire Cells Conspiracy.
During the afternoon of March 18, a gazaki exploded on the doorstep of Health Minister Andreas Loverdos’ office in downtown Athens. In the accompanying communiqué signed by Revolutionary Liberatory Action, the arson was dedicated to Aris Seirinidis, Christos Politis, and the six prisoners being charged with membership in Revolutionary Struggle (three of whom deny the charges). The communiqué also made reference to Loverdos’ vile career as Labor and then Health Minister, the recently ended hunger strike by 300 illegal immigrants in Athens and Thessaloniki, and the revolts sweeping through the Arab world.
Additionally, there have been a number of solidarity protests in front of prisons. On March 13, 100 comrades demonstrated in front of Grevena Prison (photos), where Christos Politis has been locked up since his December 4, 2010 arrest during an Antiterrorist Unit operation. And on March 19, there was a demonstration in Ioannina in support of Rami Syrianos, who is imprisoned there (photos).
Apart from the above, there have been several anarchist “invasions” of Athens metro stations, during which ticket validation machines were destroyed (last month, the price of a trip on public transportation rose from 1 to 1.40 euros). There have also been a number of semi-organized stone and Molotov attacks on riot police in Exarcheia, as well as a few clashes with Nazis. In addition, the Keratea residents’ struggle against the construction of a local garbage dump continues in full swing, with support from a large portion of the anarchist milieu. Finally, several luxury cars have been torched in immediate response to the arrests of certain comrades, and there have been numerous protests and demonstrations in solidarity with anarchist prisoners Aris Seirinidis and Simos Seisidis, whose trials are both currently underway.
On December 23, Yiannis Dimitrakis’ final appeal hearing came to an end. The result was a reduction of his 35-year prison sentence (for the role he played in a 2006 bank robbery) to 12 years and 6 months. Greek law requires him to serve three-fifths of the sentence, and since he has already been locked up for almost five years, he has seven years and six months to go. He can be reached at:
T.K. 35010 Domokos
The following is a translation of the first part of Dimitrakis’ own autobiographical account, recently published in the premier issue of Storming the Bastille: Voices from the Inside, which brings together a number of texts and letters written by prisoners in struggle.
I always keep in mind that image of myself, passing by the prison, unconsciously looking up at the high walls and the barbed wire on top. Which prison was it? Whenever I went with some friends by motorcycle to the Nikaia neighborhood, we rode down Grigoriou Lambraki Street, and the stone walls of Korydallos Prison mesmerized me. I don’t know why. Was it because there were times I found myself on the nearby streets—breathing room, but never too close, since all the approaches were completely blocked by the police—simply because of one of the marches in solidarity with comrade prisoners? Or was it perhaps because that enormous, imposing building, so diligently concealing everything going on inside its heart—an entirely unknown world with its own laws and rules, full of heroic stories and human torment—merely piqued my curiosity?
Now that I think about it, I remember another time when I was in front of a prison. It must have been in the spring of 2003, when we were demonstrating outside the Larissa “penitentiary” institution. Yet another dungeon located in the suburbs of that city, next to a school. There, prisoners have the unfortunate privilege of being able to test the Thessaly countryside’s paranoid climate on their own skin. In the summer, you stew in your own juices, with temperatures around 43ºC. And in the winter, you search frantically for a little heat beneath a mountain of blankets in order to escape the cold, which sometimes dips below -10ºC. Pure madness. I learned this first-hand from prisoners who did time there, and Vangelis Pallis confirmed it to me in the summer of 2008, when we were talking to each other every day.
The demonstration was held in the city’s main square, which was surrounded by cafés. I had the impression that the locals were staring at us in bewilderment, as if they were seeing something completely foreign or extraterrestrial. We had come to Larissa because rumors were spreading about the construction of a new prison wing—a solitary confinement wing—intended for the people implicated in the case of the November 17 Revolutionary Organization. This meant that they would be transferred from the special wing at Korydallos, which would cause many problems for them, their families, and their lawyers, given the distance from Athens. It’s not easy to cover 700 kilometers round-trip for an hour-and-a-half visit. I immediately noticed the combative-looking black bloc gathering in the square. Then, the march moved toward the prison. When the demonstration began, it naturally continued to draw stares from the locals. As expected, two or three buses full of riot police—plus rows of green uniforms containing something resembling human beings—were waiting for us at our destination, thus preventing us from getting any closer to the prison.
Our slogans and cries were joined by some loud whistling, and from the other side hands reached out as far as they could between the cell bars to greet us by waving shirts and sheets. Because of the distance, we couldn’t see their faces, so each one of us imagined someone desperately trying to give back what they were receiving. Was it solidarity, or just the simple presence of human beings? Who knows.
The march left us all feeling good. There were plenty of people, and it had “impact,” enthusiasm, and tension. However, what remains etched in my memory of that day is an image I don’t know how many others could have seen. As we were covering the last stretch before the prison—passing the last few houses in the city, our slogans echoing in the air—my gaze fell on a silhouette on the balcony of an old two-story home. Taking a closer look, I was astonished to see a little old man—about 80 years old, and clearly moved—saluting our march with tears in his eyes. Had we perhaps reminded him of something? What kinds of memories had we coaxed from the depths of his mind to make him compare them with what he was seeing at that moment? I don’t know, and it really didn’t matter. What mattered was the event itself and the flood of emotions it unleashed, on all sides. It’s extraordinary to realize that what you do in the present can cause someone you meet by chance in the future to shed at least a few nostalgic tears for their past. You and your comrades are creating and changing the present, yet you also experience it alone, as a separate and unique being within the group.
In the end, regardless of why that image of prison stuck in my mind, “curiosity killed the cat.” And what a cat! Armed to the teeth and ready for anything, or at least that’s what I thought. To tell the truth, as a “promising” young anarchist in the twilight of 1997 and the years to come, I immersed myself in the shock wave of social ferment without giving it too much thought, convinced that they would never catch me. I was just like that cat! Oh, what a mistake! Although, looking back at my record, the cold light of hindsight can confirm that “I was around for a minute,” like they say on the streets. It wasn’t a very long time, but I did hold on for more than eight years, like a fakir walking on hot coals until my skin finally caught fire. I was treading those hot coals in a certain way, and I decided to transform my stride into preparatory work, which in my opinion was necessary to pave the way for the arrival of the eagerly awaited future revolution.
But it didn’t take long for “the worst” to finally catch up with me, which was also partially the result of some bad luck that hung me out to dry at one of the most critical moments of my life—when I had to face three rabid pig bullets that seemed to be engraved with my name, destined to accompany me on a one-way trip. However, like a real cat with nine lives, for some unknown reason I remained on the dock without setting foot on that infamous black-clad boatman’s ferry. Instead, I found myself in the exact place I was so curious about, so curious to see what went on inside. Like I said, it was a place I never expected to enter when I was a promising young anarchist.
A new chapter in my life opened, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to close anytime soon. They nailed me for a “felony,” according to what their penal code says. A bank robbery worth 110 million euros, expertly framing me for six other similarly mysterious cases and a stack of other crimes that the police jackals will easily be able to charge me with—serving their holy office with the flawless sense of professionalism and decency they’ve always been known for—plus three arrest warrants for my friends and comrades. For Marios, Grigoris, and Simos, who were called my accomplices and in time came to be known as the “master thieves,” the “iron links” that would help “dismantle the armed guerrilla groups.” Who knows what else has been written in the different putrid and “distinguished” newspapers, or said by the “unquestionably noble and ethical” TV reporters—stooges of police propaganda, all of them. The result? In October 2009, the newly-formed parliamentary terrorist organization PASOK put a price of 600,000 euros on the heads of all three, thus making their lives even more difficult, as they were already on the run from the law and hidden from the scrutiny of the prosecutorial organs, refusing to recognize the arrest warrants.
And had the worst stopped there, the difficulties may have certainly continued, but perhaps one would have been able to swallow that bitter pill. But that’s not how things played out, and the devil stuck his foot in again. This time it had nothing to do with me. Rather, it was about Simos. And he didn’t just “stick his foot in.” They actually cut it off entirely. An armed robbery at the Praktiker hardware megastore on Pireos Street in the Gazi neighborhood. Screams, shots, injuries, commotion. The police arrive at the scene of the crime and hear an eyewitness say that “one of the criminals was tall.” A butterfly flaps its wings in Vietnam and a hurricane slams into the Athens neighborhood of Keramikos. Not once but twice, because apart from Simos being found by chance and then seriously wounded and arrested, another friend and comrade, Aris, is caught in the same area and subsequently locked upon totally fabricated and ridiculous charges. The prosecuting authorities bury their findings in the district attorney’s report and delay their disclosure until just before Aris is released thanks to a lack of evidence regarding the charges he was arrested on. And as if robbing him of his liberty at the last minute wasn’t enough, they also deprive him of his father. He was a father to Aris, a comrade to us, and his heart couldn’t bear such injustice, indignation, and rage. He has left us forever. If I’m making an effort to narrate everything that’s happened recently, from the day this wretched 2010 dawned through all the horribly unsettling developments within the anarchist milieu, it’s only because of the names involved. At the very least, it’s a cautionary remembrance, so we don’t forget a single comrade. It’s so we don’t forget Lambros, stripped of his life by yet another police bullet in the alleyways of Dafni while he was expropriating a car for use in the general context of class war. It’s so we don’t forget Haris, Panayiotis, Konstantina, Ilias, Giorgos, Polykarpos, Vangelis, Christos, Alfredo, Pola, Nikos, Vangelis, Costas, Christoforos, and Sarantos.
For now, setting aside the tragically sad appraisal of 2010 and returning to the dark days of my past—to the beginning of a life caged by iron bars—I initiate a “search” of my biological hard drive and find myself at the end of January 2006.
I can still recall that sunny morning in Athens General Hospital, when the pigs notified me that I had to get ready for my transfer to Agios Pavlos Prison Hospital. I remember it well because it had finally stopped snowing. All of Greece was covered in snow that year, prompting chaos and confusion in the urban areas, bringing nearly everything to a standstill, dismantling—although only for a few days—the well-organized infrastructure of the great cities, and halting transportation as well as planned and routine construction and other work throughout the public and private sectors.
We had been waiting for this very snowfall—or at least some spell of bad weather, which according to the news had to arrive—to help us achieve our unholy objective. The goal was to rob the National Bank at the corner of Hippocrates and Solonos. It’s a spot right in the middle of Athens, and we optimistically anticipated a big haul—although clearly accompanied by enormous, almost prohibitive risk. It’s not like we would have postponed the day of our escapade if the storm hadn’t helped us out. We weren’t a bunch of kids. We had already decided on the date: Monday, January 16. It was a rather nasty day to attempt pulling off such a feat, because at the beginning of the week everyone is at their post and ready to do their duty, especially the pigs. Nevertheless, some madness pushed us to the edge of the abyss.
In the end, the storm played a dirty trick on us, and the sun—triumphant, and proud of its victory in the dead of winter—rose to the heights that Monday morning, effortlessly shining its warm rays on the citizens of Attica. On the one hand, this brought everyone out to do their jobs and errands, which worked in favor of our sacrilege since downtown resembled a viscous human river in which you could only get around with difficulty. On the other hand, like the others in the car, I was decked out in a sweater, a winter coat, and the martial tools of expropriation. Flushed and sweaty, I took off my scarf, cursed our bad luck, and watched all the smiling foot patrols march through central Athens under the warm sun.
Pensive and nervous upon seeing the first bad signs, we reached the rendezvous point, from which we had to set off toward our final destination. We met the others there. All of us definitely had the same strange feeling. We were like a little black hole of conspiracy, far away from everything going on around us, alien to the general atmosphere of pure joy radiating from those who had come downtown just because the day was bathed in sunlight. At that moment and in the moments to come, our own universe was light years away from the one everyone else belonged to. In a just few minutes, our universe was going crash into theirs—violently, of course—making our presence visible and disrupting our different yet parallel lives, which rarely crossed. Our lives and theirs. One world’s instant intrusion into another, setting off an uncontrollable chain of events. One more slap in the face of normality, one more slap in the face of the flat, rectilinear, coordinated sequence of things. Something like a multiple-car accident on the highway, when a lapse by some hurried, distracted driver drags the fate of everyone else on the road along with him, disrupting and blocking the flow of traffic all over the place.
The people waiting for us at the rendezvous point had some unpleasant news. As they were coming to meet us, they passed a police checkpoint that was close enough to the site of our action to pose a serious threat to the whole endeavor, making it almost impossible to pull off. The immediate reactions—ranging from “Fuck it, let’s do it and whatever happens happens” to “Let’s put it off and try again some other time”—balanced out, so we decided that some of us would go over to see if the pigs were still there, and we would then take action accordingly. Finally, the pigs were gone, although “gone” is somewhat relative if you’re talking about central Athens, even more so given the location of the bank. One has about as much in common with the other as a frozen supermarket pizza has with a pizza made at a good pizzeria. But like I said, something was pushing us to the edge of the abyss, and since the pigs were “gone,” we decided to go ahead. Of course, what happened next must have had something to do with Murphy’s Law, which says that “if a piece of toast with jam falls on the floor, nine out of ten times it will fall jam-side down.” The fact that everything fell apart is just like the anecdote about the toast—it’s those infernal, incalculable factors that can ruin everything, especially the unpredictability of human nature and behavior. A whirlwind of people and things that, after stopping its maddening twists and turns, overwhelms the cityscape; a stupid bank guard—with a totally mistaken and twisted perception of the extent of his duty—wounded because of his equally stupid and excessive determination to stop the escape of four bank robbers; a car that wouldn’t start; a bag full of weapons and money; three people frenetically scattering into the featureless crowd; and finally me, wounded and in the hands of my pursuers.
The sun that didn’t care about what was going on hundreds of millions of kilometers away, the sun that warmed a winter day in January, was the same sun that appeared again that morning in the hospital, stirring up that parade of memories.
I was waiting to see what would happen. I knew they were applying pressure to get me out of the intensive care unit as soon as possible, and I found out they were in a rush to bring me to the prison hospital and be done with me. My stitches—little pieces of metal in the shape of a Π (Greek “P”), like those things that fasten upholstery to the frame of a couch—were still in, running from my chest to my groin. Generally speaking, I still needed a bit of work, but no matter how strongly I objected to them moving me from the hospital, the pigs already had orders from above. “And if the boss says so, what can I do?” With a lot of pain and effort, I began to gather my things, even though my wounds didn’t allow me to stand upright. Those details didn’t matter to the boss. Evidently, this was also included in the price I now began to pay for my decisions.
Nevertheless, the final touches to my hasty expulsion from the hospital were yet to come. Before the police masterminds could even begin to calculate how many radios, weapons, boots, etc., they would need in order to coordinate the “secure transfer” operation, just at that moment, my mom showed up, arriving very early for the regular visit with her spoiled son.
My mom, Mrs. Eleni, separated from her son by just 17 years. In the 90s, whenever someone from the water or power company came by and we opened our door together, they would always ask: “Is your mother home?” Mrs. Eleni, who almost had a nervous breakdown when she heard the news that I was mixed up in a bank robbery and wounded during the shootout. Although she must have gotten over it, because the pigs at Police Headquarters were ultimately unable to get a single statement from her in the interrogation room due to the fact that she began to wail desperately: “I want to see my son!” Even the pigs were at a loss in the face of my mom’s reaction. What could they do? She was a mother fighting for her son. Beat her up? Send her to the dungeon so they wouldn’t have to listen to her? It would have been like that or worse 60 years ago during the dark civil war period of 1946, or even 35 years ago during the years of the arrogant Junta scum. However, it was now 2006, and we had already been through 30 years of the parliamentary oligarchy’s fake democracy, in which fascist and blatantly authoritarian arrangements were concealed behind other forms of violence—more flexible and perhaps more efficient. In any case, my mom’s wailing brought her—like it or not—to the hospital I was in, and her reaction was a given. That crazy woman wasn’t going to let them forget her!
Feeling that one of her little ones was being threatened or in danger, a woman with strong maternal instincts became a real hyena, a ferocious beast (especially when compared to her day-to-day attitude toward institutions, authority, and codes of conduct). Seemingly unprepared for everything that was going on that morning, she was actually so combative—like any true mother—that she opposed anything that could have endangered my physical and psychological integrity.
As you can easily imagine, the matter of my abduction/transfer to the prison hospital was now up in the air for a while until “the responsible power”—in other words, my mom—could see the doctors who were taking care of me. Like she said, they were the only ones who should decide if I was to be discharged. And that’s how things went. A throng of white coats—flustered and clearly surprised—appeared in the distance with my mother leading the way, heading for the stretcher that was already prepared for departure.
“Who ordered the patient’s transfer?” one of the doctors asked the pigs.
“We have orders from above, sir. It’s not our decision.”
“Perhaps I could speak to your superior?”
“Just a moment, I have to get authorization.”
And while the responsible people in charge were literally fuming, my stretcher was brought back to my room so that—in keeping with the outcome of the battle between the doctors and the pigs—they could take one last look at me. They said they were going to remove the remaining stitches and prescribe some medications that I should keep taking. They also explained that the most difficult and important part of my recovery was over, and now the only thing left was to recover my strength by resting and eating a lot. Incidentally, that was something of a half-truth, or more accurately a lie wrapped up in “not quite ready” packaging. I was able to listen in on the fight between the doctors, my mom, and the pigs, with the doctors insisting that I still wasn’t ready to be transferred, and the pigs monotonously repeating that they were “simply following orders.” “Following orders” obviously won, as expected.
But this wasn’t the first time the scales tipped in favor of the pigs and their fucking orders. Something similar happened before over the issue of guarding me in the intensive care unit, when the medical team managed to resist the pressure of the security forces—who wanted to invade my room—for two days, their basic argument being that such an invasion would pose a danger not just to me but to the other patients as well. Still, it would have been naive to believe that basic human values could prevail over the new “repression and security” dogma.
It was the same when the head of the ICU—shaken and beside himself—came to tell me he couldn’t keep me under his personal supervision anymore, even though my condition required it, because he was being severely pressured by the persecuting authorities, who wanted him to sign off on my release from the 24-hour intensive care unit and approve my transfer to the ophthalmology wing. Why there and not surgery? “Security reasons” again, of course. The pigs were demanding that an entire operating room be cleared and the other patients thrown out, just so they could keep a closer eye on me. They really believed that’s how it had to be, even though it would have been impossible for the hospital. So instead, they brought me to a specially “prepared” room in the ophthalmology wing, which I was told was where Dimitris Koufodinas had his “accommodations” during the hunger strike he carried out to make them remove the security netting that covered the yard of the prison wing he was locked up in. The room was certainly prepared, since there was nothing in it. They had removed or bolted down anything they thought a prisoner could use for an eventual suicide attempt or vigilante attack, and the balcony door was barred, naturally. The rigid logic of heightened stupidity.
Wasn’t it the dogma of security and intimidation that, in the blink of an eye, wiped away the last traces of the room’s dignity and humanity? Wasn’t it pure sadism and vengeance that pushed those subhumans to watch my mother while she cleaned the shit off my bedridden body, without looking away for a single moment? Wasn’t it their harsh behavior the whole time I was in their suffocating “embrace” that led to my being withdrawn, edgy, and exhausted when the interrogator and prosecutor came by to take my statement? Or was it perhaps a sign of compassion when head torturer and prosecutor Diotis, not just ignoring but jeopardizing the disastrous condition I was in at the time—intentionally or not—visited me for my statement while I had a tube stuck down my throat and was visibly incapable of uttering a complete sentence?
These are obviously rhetorical questions, and I ask them not to moan about the trampling of democratic rights, but to reveal the context in which the conflict between two counteracting forces—two completely different worlds—is developing. On one side we have those who dream of a totally subjugated and enslaved society that serves the oligarchic desires of a few insatiable idlers. And on the other side we have those who are fighting for real equality, justice, and freedom; those who are creating a new reality far away from terms like profit, competitiveness, exploitation, and hierarchy.
While the wheels of my stretcher rushed over the little bumps in the hospital floor, each time transferring a sharp pain to my freshly operated-on back, the ruffian herd—in between a shouted stream of orders, and to their great relief—brought me toward my final departure from Athens General Hospital. When the first few rays of warm sunlight struck me in the courtyard—where an ambulance and its packed escort cars were already waiting to securely transfer me to Agios Pavlos Prison Hospital—it felt truly liberating, and seemed to make up for my three weeks of cohabitation with uniformed guard dogs. Those few seconds I spent outside before they put me in the ambulance were my last opportunity to breathe fresh air and see the sun without bars and barbed wire between us. With the sun as my comrade, I bid a final farewell to freedom, and entered the longest winter of my life.
End of installment.
September 10, 2010
Ilias Nikolau is free
Comrade Ilias Nikolau, after submitting a petition for release during his October 21 hearing at the court of appeals, has been freed on 15,000 euros bail. Nikolau was arrested on January 13, 2009 and charged with planting an incendiary device at the Evosmos police station in Thessaloniki. On December 4, 2009, he was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Keep in mind that Nikolau and three other comrades are scheduled for yet another trial. In November 2007, Vangelis Botzatzis was arrested in Thessaloniki and charged with a number of arsons. Arrest warrants were also issued for three of Botzatzis’ comrades—Nikolau, Costas Halazas, and Dimitra Sirianou—and all three went into hiding. Botzatzis was released on probation in October 2008, while his three comrades—after spending almost a year underground—showed up at a police station on November 14, 2008 (in the middle of weeks of massive protest in Greek prisons), accompanied by hundreds of people showing solidarity. The next day, all three were released pending trial on 2000 euros bail each, but Nikolau fell into the enemy’s hands for the Evosmos arson two months later.
Another comrade in prison
In the early morning of October 13, a van belonging to the Public Power Corporation (DEI) was torched in downtown Thessaloniki using an incendiary device made out of camping gas canisters, gasoline, and a fuse. The vehicle was completely incinerated, but 19-year-old comrade Yiannis Skouloudis was arrested “in flagrante delicto” (“caught red-handed”). That very morning, the same police-media operation we’ve seen so many times began: Pigs raided the homes of comrades and family members, seizing computers, flash drives, and anarchist literature, while reporters celebrated the authorities’ “resounding success.” But the prosecutors and judges didn’t stop there. According to them, “there must be an organization,” so four arrest warrants were issued the next day. Four comrades, ranging in age from 19 to 22, went into hiding. On Friday, October 15, people assembled in solidarity in front of the courthouse where Skouloudis was being arraigned. Minor clashes broke out between comrades and police inside and outside the courthouse, with injuries on both sides (including to Skouloudis’ mother). The courthouse and a nearby police van had windows broken. On Monday, October 18, Skouloudis appeared before a judge and took responsibility for the DEI van arson, but he refused to testify about anything else. The next morning, he was transferred to the Avlona Special Detention Center for Minors, where Panayiotis Masouras is currently locked up on charges stemming from the Fire Cells Conspiracy case.
The Revolutionary Struggle case
For quite some time, the Revolutionary Struggle case has been the hands of prosecutor Constantinos Baltas, who is also handling the Fire Cells Conspiracy case and seems intent on advancing his career by “fighting terrorism.” In recent weeks, he has called some 45 witnesses to give depositions. Most of the witnesses are related to the case through fingerprints found in the homes of the six defendants (Constantinos “Costas” Gournas, Nikolaos “Nikos” Maziotis, Panayiota “Pola” Roupa, Christoforos Kortesis, Sarantos Nikitopoulos, and Evangelos “Vangelis” Stathopoulos) and anarchist Lambros Fountas, who was killed by police in March. Some of the witnesses have already passed through Baltas’ office (and according to them, the depositions were mostly about the prosecutor attempting to verify their psycho-socio-political profile), while others still have appointments pending. Two comrades have refused to show up entirely, and they published open letters (here and here) explaining their decisions, which thus far haven’t yielded any negative repercussions. However, four people were shocked to learn that they weren’t being called as witnesses but as “members of Revolutionary Struggle.” One is Gournas’ partner Maria Beraha, who is the mother of his 22-month-old twins, while another is well-known anarchist Nikos Malapanis, who is friends with some of the defendants. This obvious attempt to criminalize the milieu of family and friends was met with a collective response on November 1, when some 200 people showed up outside the courthouse to shout slogans in solidarity with the prisoners. Meanwhile, Beraha and Malapanis have asked for extensions and will be deposed on November 11.
The Fire Cells Conspiracy case
On October 27, more or less six months after her arrest, Konstantina “Nina” Karakatsani appeared at the Athens court of appeals. According to Greek law, after a prisoner spends six months in preventive detention, a committee of appellate court judges has to decide whether or not to extend the detention. A small group of comrades and family was there to greet Karakatsani with slogans of solidarity. There was some jostling and scuffling with riot police, who were in charge of pushing people on to the sidewalk. Four people were arrested, two of whom were released the following day (mostly with “nuisance” charges like “insulting an officer” and “resisting authority”). When members of the Anti-Terrorist Squad escorted Karakatsani from the courthouse to the transport van, those who were there could see her smiling, which was the best possible response to our greetings and slogans. Despite the fact that the judges’ decision (whether positive or negative) always takes a few days, and even the lawyers aren’t notified on the same day as the court, a maggot reporter from the most popular news blog in Greece immediately posted a story that “it has been decided to extend Konstantina Karakatsani’s preventive detention for another six months.” In any case, the trial of the case’s three (for now) defendants (Karakatsani, Harilaos “Haris” Hatzimichelakis, and Panayiotis “Takis” Masouras) will most likely take place in January 2011, and not in two weeks as was previously expected.
Tuberculosis epidemic in Kerkyra Prison
A tuberculosis epidemic broke out two weeks ago in Kerkyra Prison, which is located on the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea. Polykarpos Georgiadis is one of the prisoners currently locked up at Kerkyra. Many prisoners have been infected and brought to the hospital. The causes of the epidemic are obvious: The infected inmates weren’t quarantined; the prison administration decided to “recycle” protective surgical masks, thus spreading the infection, instead of throwing them out after a single use; and the lack of hygiene and medical attention, which is symptomatic of all Greek prisons, has reached monstrous proportions at Kerkyra. Kerkyra was built by the English at the beginning of the 19th century, and it is the oldest prison in Greece. It might even be the oldest prison in Europe. It was constructed in the form of a panopticon, and its solitary confinement cells are underground, windowless, narrow, and low-ceilinged, with walls covered in mold from the humidity. After spending time in Kerkyra’s basement punishment cells, more than a few prisoners have “gone crazy” and committed suicide.
Updates to the prisoner list
Ilias Nikolau can be removed from the list published two weeks ago.
The new address for Costas Gournas, who was finally transferred closer to his family in Athens after a successful 23-day hunger strike, is:
Constantinos “Costas” Gournas
Dikastiki Filaki Koridallou-ST pteryga
T.K. 18110 Korydallos
The two comrades charged with the Psachna bank robbery need to be added to the list:
Dikastiki Filaki Koridallou-A pteryga
T.K. 18110 Korydallos
Dikastiki Filaki Koridallou-A pteryga
T.K. 18110 Korydallos
Also, the comrade who took responsibility for torching the DEI van needs to be added:
Eidiko Katastima Kratisis Neon Avlona
Still missing are the addresses of the two comrades charged with the August bank robbery on the island of Rhodes. Also, arrest warrants are currently in effect for 11 people from the anarchist milieu: five for the Fire Cells Conspiracy case; four considered by the authorities to be Yiannis Skouloudis’ accomplices; plus Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis, who are accused of participating in the same bank robbery as Yiannis Dimitrakis and have been at large since 2006 (with a price on their heads).
From A Las Barricadas (October 15, 2010):
All six comrades imprisoned in the Revolutionary Struggle case were recently “invited” to testify in front of the prosecutor, so they were all transferred to Athens. The three who deny the charges (Christoforos Kortesis, Sarantos Nikitopoulos, and Evangelos “Vangelis” Stathopoulos) asked for a postponement of the hearing, while the three who acknowledged their participation in Revolutionary Struggle (Constantinos “Costas” Gournas, Nikolaos “Nikos” Maziotis, and Panayiota “Pola” Roupa) refused to attend.
Maziotis: “I refuse to accept the prosecutor’s subpoena for additional testimony regarding the case involving the revolutionary organization called Revolutionary Struggle, of which I am a member. I do not accept the subpoena because I have nothing criminal to declare. Revolutionaries do not testify in front of State criminals.”
Roupa: “I am in prison for being a revolutionary and struggling against the current criminal system. I do not recognize your charges and I have nothing to declare or apologize for. Revolutionary Struggle is a revolutionary organization that I am proud to be a part of. The terrorists are all those who constitute the modern regime of representative democracy, capitalism, and the market economy.”
Gournas: “As a member of Revolutionary Struggle, I refuse to attend the appeal hearing in Athens. I consent to no interrogation, whether by the torturers of the Anti-Terrorist Squad or the authorized servants of the regime.”
The prosecutor said he will be “visiting” all six in prison. On October 14, an independent committee of prosecutors and appeals court judges discussed whether or not to extend the period of preventive detention for the accused. According to Greek law, this occurs in every case, more or less six months after the initial arrest. There has already been a demonstration in front of the appeals court, and there was also one in front of Korydallos Prison on October 19. Both demonstrations were in keeping with the slogan: “If the innocent deserve our solidarity, then the guilty deserve it even more!”
On Saturday, October 9, Gournas began a hunger strike to demand his permanent transfer to Korydallos in Athens and thus ease—at least a little—the situation he and his family find themselves in. Despite the fact that Gournas is the father of 22-month-old twins, after his arrest he was immediately transferred to Trikala Prison, more than 400 kilometers away from Athens. Maziotis has begun a hunger strike of his own in solidarity with Gournas. As a further gesture of solidarity, the anarchists currently locked up in Korydallos (Nikitopoulos, Stathopoulos, Harilaos “Haris” Hatzimichelakis, Alexandros Kosivas, Aris Seirinidis, Christos Stratigopoulos, and Michalis Traikapis) plus Yiannis Dimitrakis in Domokos Prison and some “social” prisoners—among them the famous Albanian “bandit” Alket Rizai, famous for having escaped Korydallos twice by helicopter alongside Vassilis Paleokostas, the most wanted bank robber in Greece—have been refusing prison food since October 9. Alfredo Bonanno is also supporting our comrades’ initiative, but his frail health doesn’t allow him to abstain from eating.
On July 24, Lambros-Victor was born. His parents are Roupa and Maziotis. After Maziotis’ hunger strike this summer, he is now able to visit Roupa and his son every Sunday. Maziotis is in a special block at Korydallos, while Roupa and the baby boy are in the women’s block at the same prison. Their son’s name is an homage to comrade Lambros Fountas, who was killed by police last March, and Roupa’s father, who was an antifascist guerrilla saboteur during the German occupation and subsequent civil war.