In prisons all over Greece, detainees are intensifying their protests against the introduction of a new bill by the Ministry of Justice, which proposes the creation of high security prisons. Since last Monday, more than four thousand prisoners have gone on hunger strike and the number is rising by the day, in what is the largest mass hunger strike to day. ‘Hunger strike is the ultimate tool to express opposition, but it also manifests accurately our desperation’ the detainees said to ‘Sunday Ethnos’, who also expressed their determination to see their cause to the end, while some of them, mainly immigrants, went to the extreme of sewing their lips.
‘We will continue abstaining from meals, as much as we can. After all we are fighting for a cause that is worth dying. We are risking our lives but we are willing to die, if we can’t live with dignity’, they added.
The new legislation, which detainees want to prevent from being voted in Parliament, introduces a maximum security prison (Type C), made for those who are considered particularly dangerous and they have been convicted to at least 10 years in jail, and for those convicted for terrorism, treason, murder, blackmail and robbery while being a member of a criminal gang. Those who enter ‘Type C’ prison will not be released before serving at least 20 years and they will not take leave, while their communication with the outside world in the form of telephone calls and visits, will be restricted.
Vassilis Stefanakos, an inmate in Domokos jail, where the top-security jail is planned to open descibed his fellow inmates’ struggle as ‘an important lesson for some people to realise that they have to fight to make their lives better’ and added that ‘ this should be the aim of the penal system, to teach people to live according to healthy and humane principles and not to succumb to easy and untenable profiteering’.
Greece’s prisons are in turmoil, with prisoners΄commities emptying the cells of any remaining food, while they are preventing suppliers from transfering food to the jails. Inmates with basic first aid training have set up temporary health check points, where they measure their fellow detainees’ blood pressure and weight. Although chronic patients, elderly prisoners and drug addicts are advised not to take part in the hunger strike, there are some patients who are taking the risk anyway in an effort to highlight the .
According to data given by the Initiative for the Detainees’ Rights, 1,300 inmates from Korydalos prison are taking part, along with 550 from Patras, 120 from Corfu, 100 from Avlona, 400 from Grevena, 240 from Domokos, 300 from Larissa, 200 from Amfissa, 50 from Nauplio, 280 from Chania, 120 from Trikala, 80 from Serres and 120 from Malandrino and it is expected that female inmates from Thiva and Korydalos will join in.
Inmates from Korydalos jail said: ‘We don’t eat. We rest. We drink a lot of water. The jail looks empty, all inmates stay in their cells to save energy’.
[The above is a summarised version of a report from Ethnos newspaper by Mairy Benea. The detainees’ hunger strike started on 23/6 and laster till 1/7]