“The basic aim of the structure is to ensure decent living conditions for the imprisoned comrades through a process that would take place within the political movement; thereby taking the material dimension of solidarity a step beyond close family, friendly and comrade relationships, as well as to help with the immediate coverage of emergencies (such as court expenses and bails for the persecuted). Yet, the actions of practical solidarity and the building and development of communication bridges and united struggles between those inside prisons and those outside of it, remain as priorities of the people who form and sustain the structure.
During this crucial period of time for all of us, regarding both the spreading of the virus and the repulsive mechanisms that the state manages to impose using the severity of dealing with the pandemic and the assurance of public health as an excuse, it is again extremely difficult to secure the resources to support the material needs of the ones within the walls. Perhaps it is more difficult than ever.
We are going through a particularly difficult situation regarding multiple levels while each and every one of us struggles not only to cope with the consequences of the pandemic but , also, keep on fighting. We recognize solidarity to our imprisoned comrades as a mean of the struggle against the state’s repression and we aim at the continuance of the structure’s goals through overcoming the obstacles of the state. The slogan “no one left alone in the hands of the state” is becoming more crucial and tangible these days than ever. We urge you to defend it once again in practice. Factual solidarity will again be our weapon.”
The Solidarity Fund for imprisoned and persecuted militants was established in 2010 in a circumstance where, on the one hand, a hard capitalist restructuring was carried out under the guise of the “economic crisis” and, on the other hand, the radical movement, having very recent memories from the experience of the social revolt of December ’08, was in full bloom. Under those circumstances, repression became even more intense, resulting in an ever-increasing number of political prisoners. It is precisely in this context that the Solidarity Fund was formed, initially setting out to provide regular and consistent support to those persecuted or imprisoned for their subversive action or for their participation in social struggles. The basic aim of the structure is to ensure decent living conditions for the imprisoned comrades through a process that would take place within the political movement; thereby taking the material dimension of solidarity a step beyond close family, friendly and comrade relationships, as well as to help with the immediate coverage of emergencies (such as court expenses and bails for the persecuted). Yet, the actions of practical solidarity and the building and development of communication bridges and united struggles between those inside prisons and those outside of it, remain as priorities of the people who form and sustain the structure.
From 2010 until today, the Solidarity Fund has been trying to obtain a regular and consistent political, moral and material support for collecting funds, which derives primarily from the conscious participation of each and every one of us, as well as from groups and collectives, that contribute to the continuation of factual solidarity. Continued state repression, however, results in a large number of political prisoners and legal costs, and consequently, in particularly high material needs. At this moment, the Solidarity Fund supports 25 prisoners on a regular monthly basis; Athanassopoulou Konstantina, Valavani Dimitra, Georgiadi Polykarpo, Yagtzoglou Konstantinos, Dimitrakis Giannis, Koufontinas Dimitris, Kostaris Iraklis, Michailidis Giannis, Xiros Savvas, Petrakakos Giorgos, Sakkas Kostas, Seisidis Marios, Stathopoulos Vangelis, Christodoulou Spyros and the 11 militants from Turkey and Kurdistan (Harika Kızılkaya, Hazal Seçer, Sinan Oktay Özen, Sinan Çam, Ali Ercan Gökoğlu, Burak Ağarmış, Halil Demir, Hasan Kaya, Anıl Sayar, İsmail Zat, Şadi Naci Özpolat). In many cases we also try to cover -as much as our (financial) capabilities allow-the legal expenses and bails of comrades who are persecuted for their political identity, their actions or even for their family or comrade relationship with imprisoned militants.
During these 10 years of activity, we have turned to comrades and collectives many times, as securing financial resources has always been a difficult process. Solidarity and participation of comrades both from Greece and abroad is the main reason why we have stood by our imprisoned comrades with consistency. During this crucial period of time for all of us, regarding both the spreading of the virus and the repulsive mechanisms that the state manages to impose using the severity of dealing with the pandemic and the assurance of public health as an excuse, it is again extremely difficult to secure the resources to support the material needs of the ones within the walls. Perhaps it is more difficult than ever. Unfortunately, this has to be added up to the already difficult times that our comrades are facing within the walls, as well as the prison population as a whole, and this is why we are once again turning to our comrades.
The overcrowding of Greek prisons, with the forced packing of prisoners in cells and wards reminiscent of human hives, the inadequate – and in some cases – non-existent medical care, the refusal to provide self-protection measures (prohibition of medical supply, such as antiseptics), the fact that even the most vulnerable (the elderly or the sick) are still incarcerated, create conditions for a pandemic outburst with significantly higher mortality rates than the ones in the society outside the walls. This may amount to the death penalty for many people in prisons. Recently the announcement of the death of two prisoners came out of Diavata’s prison cells. The cases of covid-19 being reported from every prison of the country intensify our worry concerning the conditions under which they have to live inside the prison’s walls. Since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, during spring of 2020, this particular worry was the cause of a series of prison mobilizations with key demands the decongestion of prisons and the implementation of basic protection measures for the inmates. The starting point of these mobilizations was Korydallos women’s prison and was followed by the prisons in Chania (Crete), Agios Stefanos (Patras) and Larissa, while 856 inmates from all the wings of Korydallos men’s prison signed and published a statement. In the rural prison of Kassandra, area in Chalkidiki, the prisoners stopped working on the 15th of November in order to react against the prison’s administration and the ministry, who still haven’t managed to realize any measures regarding the pandemic and have not put their words into practice.
“Thousands of people are being stored, literally, on top of each other under inhumane and shameful conditions. This does not come as a surprise regarding greek prisons. Yet, under present circumstances of the pandemic the situation has grown to resemble a nightmare in a greater degree. Not only have the detention conditions remained as they were but also, no particular measure has been taken regarding the health and the protection of the prisoners who are still being stowed as dead men walking in cells and chambers-coffins. Prisons keep getting fuller and are reaching their limits while the government through the mass media promotes “the decline of crime statistics” (…) At the same time, the government keeps making fun of the prisoners directly by posting guidelines on preventing the spread of the virus by avoiding overcrowded places! In the greek prisons instead of taking basic health measures the Ministry of Public Order prefers to rely on restrictions while imposing repressive measures that make the life of the prisoners even harder. No one is given any license, free visitation has been repealed while supervised ones are being reduced instead of being increased, in order to prevent relatives and friends of attending overcrowded places like waiting rooms (…)
It is evident that this particular political strategy is murderous and some people decided to lead the role of the executioner. On the opposite side of these exhaustive and inhumane conditions there is the need inside and out of these hellholes to collectively build a broad solidarity movement which will demand the direct decongestion of prisons, ensure a decent way of living and health support, the visitation of doctors in the prisons who are going to test by themselves the measures of health protection of the prisoners – and not the Ministry of Public Order, the carry out of covid-19 tests for everyone, supply of free masks and antiseptics, the direct withdrawal of repressive measures and their replacement with actual health measures against the pandemic”.
Polykarpos Geordiadis,10/11/2020, Larisa Prison (https://athens.indymedia.org/post/1608348/)
Under these particular circumstances, the state and its repressive mechanisms follow a beaten track. While no effective sanitary measures are being taken to protect the prison population, they block communication with the outside world by suspending visitations with relatives and lawyers, and take reprisals and retaliatory measures where outbreaks of protest occur: abductions-transfers of comrades / militants in the case of the mobilization in Korydallos women’s prison with the abduction of two female prisoners and their transfer to Thiva prison under quarantine (one of which is the political prisoner and member of Revolutionary Struggle, Pola Roupa, and a few days later a violent transfer of Nikos Maziotis took place, who is also a political prisoner and a member of Revolutionary Struggle, to Domokos prison), deprivation of yard time in Chania prison, cops raids, investigations and destruction of cells in Patras prison. At the same time, and while the pandemic is still under way, comrades are facing false indictments, they are being persecuted and imprisoned, reminding us the permanent priorities of the state whose declarations about the decongestion of prisons concern only a small number of prisoners –considering the total population – as the number of prisoners they affect does not exceed the one thousand five hundred.
At this moment 16 out of 32 prison accommodations have verified covid-19 reported cases while we, also, count two dead prisoners. The prisons of the country are overfull and beyond their capabilities. We are talking about prisons with people sleeping on the floor, without medical and nursing staff, without any special spaces to set the verified cased of covid-19 under control. We are talking about prisons in rural areas where they disrupt the water supply for hours resulting in prisoners not being able to even wash their hands, where despite the increased number of verified cases PHEA has not paid a single visit, where there has been a mantle of silence and nobody seems to talk about the lost souls living in there… The only solution in prison accommodations” contemporary dystopic reality is their decongestion.
Kostas Sakkas, 22/11/2020, Korydallos prison (https://athens.indymedia.org/post/1608705/)
We are going through a particularly difficult situation regarding multiple levels while each and every one of us struggles not only to cope with the consequences of the pandemic but , also, keep on fighting. We recognize solidarity to our imprisoned comrades as a mean of the struggle against the state’s repression and we aim at the continuance of the structure’s goals through overcoming the obstacles of the state. As Solidarity Fund, at this moment in time, we are announcing our decision to suspend all of our planned public actions for the immediate future, but we are not suspending our solidarity with political prisoners. In this difficult situation that we are experiencing, we are in a difficult position to keep a temporary reduction in the amount of material support for imprisoned comrades in order for us to be able to support them with consistency during the months that follow.
Comrades from Greece and abroad, the Solidarity Fund is facing a serious problem concerning the viability and the function of one of its fundamental components, the financial support of imprisoned militants. Its failure, due to the particular circumstances regarding the pandemic, to ensure its resources through its public acts could possibly lead to a complete financial deadlock and the practical support offered to the imprisoned ones will technically be impossible. The only way to avoid this is the material / financial support from the wider antagonistic movement around the world. From all the individuals and all the collectives who consider the imprisoned militants to be part of the people who struggle, a struggle that we all engage in -in any way we can- against the barbaric world of authority.
The slogan “no one left alone in the hands of the state” is becoming more crucial and tangible these days than ever. We urge you to defend it once again in practice. Factual solidarity will again be our weapon.
UP UNTIL THE DEMOLITION OF THE LAST PRISON NONE OF US IS FREE
SOLIDARITY WITH POLITICAL PRISONERS
*The picture on the headline was taken during the intervention that we participated on New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2017) outside Larissa’s prison, “celebrating” near to imprisoned comrades.