“From today, prisoners in Korydallos begin to mobilize in order to assert a series of demands which constitute an integral part of prisoners’ struggles and the solidarity movement”.
Over a month has gone by since the 25th of October, when prisoners announced their intention to protest the current institutional framework of the justice system as well as the conditions of detention inside Greece’s largest prison facility. They initially refused to conform with midday lockdown and thus remained outside but soon escalated their struggle by causing a two hour delay in evening lockdown every night.
The Ministry of Justice has chosen to remain uninvolved so far: no representative has been sent to meet with the prisoners committee and receive the list of demands, while prison staff has repeatedly used various kinds of threats in an effort to stifle the mobilization, such as transfers to other facilities and disciplinary hearings.
On the 16th of November prisoners mentioned the degrading comments made by prison official Mrs.Perimeni, who claimed that a member of the struggle committee is ignorant regarding the demands because he happens to be a migrant. Mrs. Perimeni refused to contact the Ministry of Justice with the demands of prisoners, however the committee made it clear that they know that the ministry is aware of their direct action.
This protest has received the support of The Initiative of Political Prisoners and female prisoners detained in Korydallos prison as both groups declared their participation in the protest. Moreover, female prisoners refused to receive prison rations from the 12th to the 14th of November and according to their announcement: “This is a collective symbolic action since many prisoners refuse to eat the daily meals provided in prison due to the extra protein sources in the form of worms, flies and cockroaches, a very common phenomenon nowadays.”
An excerpt from a longer announcement by women prisoners is the following:
“The so-called left wing that all these years was incessantly speaking of the rights and freedoms of prisoners and the oppressed, is the same left wing that today, as a governing political party, is called to prove that those words, believed by a large number of prisoners, are going to become reality. The basic ‘hospitality’ infrastructures within prison facilities are being estimated daily and are found lacking.
For decades, through mass movements, prisoners have protested the issues of overpopulation, malnutrition and the miserable, in terms of sanitation, prison rations, as well as the insufficient and often non-existent healthcare. These problems remained unresolved through the years, as the purpose was to establish these conditions as the norm in order to force prisoners to eventually give up.”
As a reminder, the women in Korydallos have been protesting a nearly 300% overpopulation in their section and the replacement of their yard with an area adjacent to the prison’s garbage site, for months. Unfortunately, their struggle was as invisible as the issue of women prisoners -an expression of patriarchal values within solidarity movements.
Below is a summary of the demands:
A) conditions of detention
-Healthcare for all prisoners. Medical staff to be present on a 24 hour basis and medications to be distributed on a 24 hour basis so that emergencies can be dealt with on time without putting inmates’ lives in danger
– Provision of hot water so that prisoners would not be forced to shower with cold water during the winter months
-Improvement of the quality of food so that even poor prisoners will eat healthy meals containing all the necessary nutrients for health and well-being
Demands promoting institutional reform
1. To allow conjugal visits based on the standards defined by the E.U.
2. Abolition of the law of total sentencing in cases of violent acts committed in prison or during furloughs, since the law is ambiguous and leads to disproportionate sentences
3. Abolition of monetary deposits to N.G.O.s as an obligatory condition of decarceration according to a law by current Minister of Justice Nicos Paraskevopoulos, since the majority of prisoners are poor migrants who can’t afford to pay the requested amounts.
4. Enforce the progressive articles of the new penal code that was submitted by the former minister of Justice Roupakiotis, which remain inactive until today.
5. Begin the process of deportations to give an end to the regime of ‘temporary’ prisoners leading many migrants to remain incarcerated after having completed their sentences. The blame falls on the judicial authorities and the Prison Transfer Management which use bureaucracy as an excuse to violate the predetermined time of sentences.
6. We demand conditional release after having served 1/3 of prison sentences, instead of the 3/5 which currently applies. Furloughs to be provided after completing 1/6 of mixed sentences instead of 1/5 that applies today. Reduction of life sentence to 18 years instead of 20.
7. To combat judicial arbitrariness:
a. with a detailed description of the conditions required for furlough provision and sentence suspension, as well the abolition of requirements which are in fact used as a pretext for the expression of judicial arbitrariness.
b. by putting a stop to the measure of repeated and pretextual prosecutions and pre-trial detentions, a contemporary vengeful tactic allowing certain extremely conservative circles of judges and police officers to violate the rights to furloughs and suspensions from prisoners that have been targeted.
c. Establish a new disciplinary body responsible to assess judges and district attorneys for unfair and extremely strict decisions in all stages: from pre-trial detention and courts, until applications for release, furloughs and suspensions are filed.
(translated from various Greek language sources by BlackCat)