Saturday, November 15, 2008

5600 prisoners on hunger strike in Greece

Prison wall

Amidst the glam and glitter that go with the opening of any international event, the start of the Thessaloniki film festival was also marked by a march of between 500 and 1000 anarchist protesting conditions in Greece’s prison system. The demonstrations, which took place yesterday evening in most of the country’s major cities were aimed at bring public attention to the hunger strike taking place throughout country’s jails.

According to figures released by the Greek ministry of justice over 5600 of prisoners in jail are still either on hunger strike or refusing prison meals. Three Kurdish inmates in Trikaka, central Greece have also sewn their mouths shut in protest, according to some reports.

The prisoners’s action started on 3rd November in order to highlight a 16 - point list of demands which include the reduction of sentences, the ending of punitive disciplinary measures against inmates and improvements in basic hygiene and sanitation.

According to the Initiative for Prisoner Rights blog ( the government’s response to the crisis and attempts at negotiation are “inadequate” and fail to address the protestors basic demands.

The site also said that the strike claimed its first victim when 32 year old Nicolas Badakis, a participating inmate in the Grevena prison in northern Greece was found dead in his cell on the 13th November. Badakis had originally been found unconscious in his cell and taken to the local hospital. Next day he was released from hospital care and return to jail where he died the following day.

The hunger strike has also put extra strain on the Greek prison health care system which has long been criticised as severly lacking in European Union reports. Last year the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) roundly condemned the Greek authorities for conditions in the nation’s penal system. Their 2007 report was scathing in its condemnation of the standards of health care in the system and the poor conditions in which many were held, often without proper health care facilities.

Much of the medical treatment such as the keeping of records and provision of medication is carried out by the prisoners themselves in Greek jails. In addition prisoners often do not have access to hot water or soap and in some cases are allowed just one toilet roll per month.

Earlier this year the Greek language newspaper, Eleutherotypia reported that on average in 2008 one person a week died in custody in Greece.

Greek minister for finance, Giorgos Alogoskoufis was pelted with eggs by protesters during a speech at the London School of Economics on 14th November. According to the Greek national daily, Ta Nea the protesters scattered leaflets and shouted slogans in support of hunger strikers. In addition there have been dozens of attacks with improvised incendiary devices against banks, political party offices, luxury car outlets and news vans throught Athens and Thessaloniki.

5600 prisoners on hunger strike in Greece Protest by anarchists in solidarity with hunger strikers in Greek prisons

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