Greek political prisoner on hunger strike is finally freed

  • July 12, 2013

Anarchism & Autonomy

Kostas Sakkas, the Greek anarchist who went on a 38-day hunger strike to protest his 2.5 year imprisonment without trial has finally been freed on bail.

I am bringing you the news:

In India
In the city of Calcutta
they stopped on his way
A man who was walking
they chained him.

And I don’t bother anymore
to lift my head toward the bright skies.

If the stars are far,
if the earth is small
I don’t care at all
I don’t mind…

I want you to know that I find
more astonishing
more powerful
more mysterious
and gigantic
stopped on his way
and chained.”

Nazim Hikmet
Microcosm, 1934
(Poem about the Indian Revolutionary Benerjee)

And I am bringing you the news: In Greece, in the city of Athens, anarchist political prisoner Kostas Sakkas has been on hunger strike since the 4th of June 2013, after having been held in prison for more than 30 months without trial. And yesterday, 38 days later, thanks to a huge national and international solidarity campaign, the Greek legal system finally decided to examine his objection and release him on a 30.000 euro bail (which of course Sakkas does not have and which will be generated through the movements).

In the meantime, Sakkas remains in critical condition, with imminent dangers for his health that could lead even to death any minute that passes, making one wonder what would have happened if this solidarity campaign had not pushed Greek “Justice” to finally do its job. Sakkas is only allowed to live at the address where he is registered, he is not allowed to leave Attiki (the greater metropolitan area of Athens) and he will have to report to a local police station every single week. So much for “freedom”.

Kostas Sakkas was arrested in December 2010 in a warehouse of an Athenian suburb, where arms where found stored. From the very first moment of his arrest Sakkas declared himself an anarchist and admitted his relation both with the weapons found and with the warehouse. He was held in pre-trial detention on charges of aggravated possession of weapons and membership in an unknown terrorist organization.

However, as Sakkas argues in a declaration he sent from his cell, the principal investigator soon realized that “a case against an unknown organization that doesn’t have any registered actions, doesn’t have any bombs, nor any communiqués, that has not used guns, an organization without a name, couldn’t stand up in a courtroom”. Aggravated possession of weapons means that the weapons were intended either for trade or for equipping a terrorist organization, something which is neither evident, nor something Sakkas has admitted to.

As a result, the Greek police have been trying ever since to connect Sakkas with the organization R.O.CCF — Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire — without any evidence to support the accusations, however, since a ballistic examination showed no connection. In the meantime, both Sakkas and the R.O.CCF. have denied any relationship with one another, while no further evidence of the opposite has appeared.

Still, Sakkas had been held in prison awaiting trial for two and a half years now, way beyond the maximum pre-trial incarceration period of 18 months prescribed by Greek law. So, on June 4th, the day his maximum pre-trial custody period was over, Sakkas started a hunger strike to demand his release. Yesterday, Sakkas completed 38 days on hunger strike, and the Greek State 38 days of violating its own legislation and Constitution.

In the meantime, Sakkas’ health is deteriorating, with the doctors warning that his life is hanging from a shoestring and every day that passes Sakkas is closer to death. Several other prisoners in prisons all over Greece also went on hunger strike in solidarity. The Greek state at the same time kept delaying the examination of Sakkas’ objection in an effort to prolong his detention, while using violent police force to brutally crack down on peaceful demonstrations for the release of Kostas Sakkas, like the one of the video that follows.

In an announcement made earlier this month, Nea Dimokratia, the conservative party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, accused Sakkas of being an “anarchist” — as if subscribing to the theory and practice of anarchism is somehow a crime. How about accusing the governing coalition of neoliberalism? As even the IMF now openly admits, it is neoliberalism — and not anarchism — that brought the country to its knees and destroyed the lives of millions of its citizens, unnecessarily killing hundreds if not thousands.

It is evident, therefore, that Kostas Sakkas is a political prisoner whose constitutional rights have been violated for 38 days by the government — “Justice you said?” — of Greece itself, which is now penalizing political ideologies and political activists in its effort to defend its grasp on power, and the destructive neoliberal policies that have brought the country to its knees while squarely protecting a tiny elite of bankers, ship-owners, party members, media magnates and other corporate and political elites — not to mention global finance and the wealthy countries of the European Union.

I guess that makes the government of Antonis Samaras and Evangelos Venizelos the closest thing to fascism we have witnessed in Europe in a long time.

What follows is the hunger strike declaration Kostas Sakkas sent from his prison cell:

Hunger strike declaration by Kostas Sakkas, Koridallos prison, May 29th, 2013:

On the 4th of December 2010 I was captured along with my comrade Alexandros Mitroussias in the district of Nea Smyrni, Athens, while I was leaving a rented warehouse where arms were being stored.

Since the beginning, I have admitted my connection with this place as well as the weapons found there. I have stated, since the first moment, that I am an anarchist and that my presence in this specific place was related to my political identity and the choices I make as a consequence of this.

On the 7th of December 2010, they brought me before the head investigator and I got in pre-trial detention on charges of participation in an unknown terrorist organization as well as aggravated possession of weapons.

On the 12th of April 2011, when I had already been in the prison of Nafplion for more than four months, I was called upon again by the investigators Baltas and Mokkas, and without any new evidence, nor even any new developments on the investigation, I was remanded for participating in the R.O. CCF. It was obvious that this was because the principal investigators realized that a case against an unknown organization that doesn’t have any registered actions, doesn’t have any bombs, nor communiqués, that has not used guns, an organization without a name, couldn’t stand up in a courtroom.

I have clarified in the past — as did the R.O. CCF for their part — that I’m not a member of this organization. I didn’t do this to avoid the vengeful, punitive odyssey that the bourgeois justice reserves for all those accused of being members of that organization, but simply because that’s how it is. I ought to set the history straight; not only for me but also for the R.O. CCF.

The initial charge of participation in an unknown terrorist organization attributed both to me and my two comrades (Alexandros Mitroussias, Giorgos Karagiannidis) and the rest of the people arrested in the same operation — although they had nothing to do with it — showed up at a time that was political expedient for the DAEEV anti-terrorist force (the so-called Special Violent Crime Squad of the Greek police), on account of the ex-minister of public order named Christos Papoutsis, who desired — like all his counterparts — to dismantle, at all costs, a terrorist organization during his mandate.

It is known that this minister directly supervised the operation, and even evaluated the information that the anti-terrorist force had, and finally gave the order to make arrests. Anyone who watched the mass media during that time remembers the scenarios and evaluations of various journalistic parrots about which organization we belonged to, what we intended to do, etc., obviously being fed by the DAEEV, until the results of the ballistic tests made them shut up… Later, Mr Papoutsis, in an attempt to apologize for the fiasco, gave an interview to a well known magazine stating that the ‘anti-terrorist force has tricked him’ (!).

On the 6th of April 2012, still in jail awaiting trial and reaching the limit of 18 months (the maximum pre-trial incarceration period), I was out again in pre-trial detention for committing 160 incendiary and bombing actions claimed by the organization CCF. It’s worth noting that in this particular case file there is neither any evidence against me — they didn’t even bother to frame me this time — nor any reference to my person except in the execution of the indictment.

It’s a case file that could be served, without exaggeration, to anyone, according to the logic of the intransigent investigators Baltas and Mokkas. The prosecutory purposes of this are evidenced by the fact that the principal investigators had their hands on this specific file from the very first moment of my arrest, and were obliged — that is, according to the law — to give it to me along with the first accusatory file. To put it simply: these gentlemen detained me on charges of participation in the same organization twice, consecutively (!).

Today, after being jailed for two and a half years, for simple weapons possession (to clarify: aggravated possession of weapons means that the weapons were intended either for trade or for equipping a terrorist organization, something which is neither evident, nor something I have admitted to), the primary institutional defenders of justice and law, who hold me for breaking it, decided to ignore even their own Constitution — which defines the maximum time of 12 months for each subsequent to the first pre-trial detention — since that is not enough for their political needs. Therefore, they decided to hold me hostage for six more months.

In fact, they intend this prolonged and excessive captivity to offset their makeshift, lazy accusations. Whatever they may do, it is not enough to prevent the ‘deflation’ of the charges in any courtroom, despite the special regime that characterizes the terror-courts (in every way). Anyone who has ever set foot in them even for a while knows it very well.

Their tactics and vengeful intentions are clear by now. Yes, it’s true: the state avenges its political opponents; avenges but never acknowledges them. It never has, as a matter of fact. In the past they were treated as foreign agents and traitors, and now as terrorists and enemies of society.

The fact is that, due to the domestic consequences of the global capitalist crisis, the political system is going through what is both the most critical and the most unstable period since the dictatorship. It is also a fact that repression, and the generally authoritarian attitude of the state, is the ‘last card’ in its hand, the last thing it can do to ensure a subordinated social peace and prevent a generalized reaction from being expressed in organized and substantial insurrectionary forms.

The finance minister himself has confessed that this is the first time that a government is asked to implement such extreme measures in peacetime. The laws have always reflected the will of the powerful, but today not even these laws are enough for the political representatives of the system in the face of what they need to implement so as to loyally serve the establishment.

Because of my political views and position, that the road to individual and collective freedom is full of struggle and resistance, I decided on Tuesday 4/6 to go on hunger strike; the date when, according to the current laws, the maximum time limit of my pretrial custody expired. I would like to clarify that, for me, the choice to go on hunger strike is not a gesture of despair, but a choice to continue the fight; a fight that my comrades and I have made since the first moment of our captivity; a resistance to the unprecedented and vindictive treatment of the judicial mechanisms, which decided in our case to take a break from their cash collection duties to defend society from its supposed enemies and the laws from the outlaws.

They have the same mechanisms and the same persons behind them, who are the actual perpetrators of the legitimacy of forced return to work for strikers; the same who are primary responsible for the thousands of property auctions and the homeless; for the abolition of labour demands; for the unemployed; for the abolition of social benefits; for the thousands living below the poverty line; for hundreds of suicides every year by those who, unable to cope decently, put an end to their lives; they are actual perpetrators of the legitimacy of declaring people illegal and piling them up in camps; responsible of classifying tortures and beatings at police stations, accidental gun discharges, the silencing of anti-regime media as legitimate…

They are responsible for creating a cemetery society in the name of law, and when it’s necessary, for establishing a cemetery society outside the law… Steeped in hypocrisy and nastiness, despicable to both the devotees of bourgeois justice and its detractors and ideological enemies.

“Slowly dies he who does not risk certainty for the uncertainty to chase a dream, he who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives, … Who does not find grace in himself, dies slowly, … Let’s try and avoid death in small doses, reminding ourselves that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.”
—Pablo Neruda

Kostas Sakkas, first wing in Koridallos prison

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