Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘imprisonment’

Testimony from the Petrou Ralli hell

Posted by clandestina on 11 February 2010

more about the Petrou Ralli in these posts.  Source of the following text: article translated at reposted at athens indymedia.

Testimony from the Petrou Ralli hell

(Testimony from the hell of Petrou Ralli by comrades that were detained in the prison wing for migrant women on P. Ralli St. after the occupation of the Keratsini Town Hall in solidarity to the 22 persecuted in the “Resalto” social space on 5th December 2009).

The scene is the same as if it were a high security prison; the difference is that no one has committed any “crime” here. The cctv’s that are everywhere in the cells, apart from the toilets, are an example of how human dignity is violated in here. The detainees are under 24/7 surveillance, they can’t get a moment of privacy and no personal data protection policy is in effect. Even the cell doors are made of iron bars, from top to bottom, and in order to create a somehow private space the detainees have hung bed sheets. “I cannot bear it that everyone walking up and down the corridor can see me”, an immigrant woman told us. The wings made of cement have electric doors of latest technology, windows (some without pane) that look out on… the rest of the cells and are at a height that you cannot reach in order to see what is happening outside. The cells are equipped with “post-modern” beds made of cement (square ones that remind of benches) with worn-out foam rubber on top, a “soft” blanket that resembles emery cloth (exclusively sponsored by the Greek army) and no pillow whatsoever.

Hygiene conditions are non-existent, which explicitly shows the intention to “decompose” the body and to eliminate any characteristic that reminds detainees that they are human. The medieval-style toilets – which often host cute insects such as cockroaches– are only four and superdirty. The idea in the Petrou Ralli St hell is that cleanness is a fallacy [trans: play on words on a popular Greek saying]… Soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper and sanitary towels are considered “small bourgeois residues” and consequently are unnecessary. Instead of a mirror, they use a piece of plastic that reflects like tinfoil the faces of those who live there for up to 6 months (according to the new law): distorted and partial reflections of persons that eventually forget who they are. All adds up in order to forget your very own existence.

Food is transported daily from GADA [trans: police headquarters] and of course it does not contain milk because there is fear that it will go bad during transportation. Everybody is given an instant coffee, a juice and a chocolate croissant. Even children are given the same (from 12-month babies to 10 year-old boys); age and personal needs do not matter. For lunch we were given bean soup, olives and one loaf of bread per cell to be shared by all the detainees, as well as oranges from Arta [trans: Greek city] at preference. The detainees serve themselves in plastic yoghurt-pots. There is no refectory or special room for food to be served, and they are obliged to place their bread on dirty, miserable blankets. Special needs are not taken into consideration, and diseases like diabetes, intestinal dysfunctions, cardiopathies etc do not receive any special alimentary treatment. We heard the detainees complain that they and their children suffered from itching. Cases of dermatological problems, such as mycoses, scabies, allergies and other kinds of dermatitis are frequent; they are mainly due to the sordid mattresses and the horrendous hygiene conditions in the cells and the toilets. They even face serious problems with their teeth, as they are not given enough bottled water and are forced to drink tap water from the toilets.

The women also talked to us about the aggressive behaviour of their underage children. And what is more reasonable for a child that grows up in prison than to develop an “antisocial” and aggressive behaviour. How can it not hate the world, as it is experiencing it from this hell? It has been marked for life by this experience and we better not dare to ask it in puberty why it’s throwing stones. Surely, in any case, the prisons on P.R. St. are an ideal environment for panic crises and psychosomatic conditions. The human being is a part of nature itself, and therefore it cannot survive in an environment made of cement.

Some prisoners have made artistic interventions to their cells in order to make them feel cosier. A Russian detainee has drawn huge cartoons on the walls. My soul is in pain… she misses her baby. She has transformed the cell into a child’s room. Love graven in hearts, and around the beds graven lines that mark days and months that have gone by. Engraved poems, promises, memoirs, names. In other cells the detainees have made an iconostasis; they have hung pictures of Saints everywhere in an effort to keep their hopes and dreams alive. Above their heads Angelina Jolie and Helen Menegaki [trans: Greek television star] next to shampoo labels, anything that can fill the empty walls.

Communication with the outside world is difficult and only those who have the money to buy a phone card have the possibility to make calls. Even the communication between the detainees is difficult as many of them do not speak nor understand Greek. There are no interpreters whatsoever and communication takes place through eye contact and gestures in an effort to exchange information on daily survival. Of course, this means they are deprived of their right to claim their rights or to be informed on their detention status and the date of their release. Complete isolation and loneliness.

Contact with the air, the rain and the sun is simply zero, as there is no yard to go out to. Detainees can only walk in the corridor (1 meter width and 20 meters length) that is outside the cells. They are deprived of a room where they could sit or do physical exercise; as a consequence they can only walk or lie down, in other words they carry around their pestered body. In this decorative background we saw small kids holding dolls, climbing up the iron bars and walking barefoot on filthy water and liquids of unknown origin. Their shoe laces had been taken away from them, thus they cannot even run. Some older children have understood what’s going on and every spark of life in their eyes has disappeared. Who can explain to them how one day they were returning home after school with their mum and suddenly they found themselves behind prison walls?

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A brief outline of the solidarity in France with the Vincennes detention center prisoners in trial and against all sort of prisons

Posted by clandestina on 16 January 2010

A brief outline of the solidarity in France with the Vincennes detention center prisoners in trial and against all sort of prisons

On January 25th, 26th and 27th, ten former detainees of the Vincennes detention centre will be tried for a revolt.

During the first semester of 2008, revolts repeatedly occured in the Vincennes detention centre, a place where undocumented foreigners are locked up pending their deportation. On June 21st, a detainee died due to lack of care. The next day, the centre was burnt during a revolt. Later, a number of detainees were arrested and accused of arson and aggression against police officers. Most of them have been in preventiive jail for eight to twelve month.

A solidarity week is set from January 16th to 24th.

In solidarity with the rebellious of the Vincennes retention center who will be in court on January 25th, 26th, 27th 2010, for burning their prison during a revolt in June 2008. Here is a very brief outline of the solidarity actions (far from complete for reasons linked to translation).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Toddler behind bars

Posted by clandestina on 11 October 2009

Toddler behind bars

Issue No. 13358
Three-year-old Rozita and her mother, Zahra, have spent nearly a year in prison
ROZITA has spent one-third of her life in prison. She’s three years old.

Her parents, undocumented migrants from Afghanistan, were arrested in Greece and sentenced for forgery and immigration violations. They had illegally entered the country last year and were caught trying to leave on forged passports.

A court in Kilkis, a town in central Macedonia, sentenced the couple to six months in prison and fined them 3,000 euros. The sentence was indefinitely suspended on the grounds they would be deported.

This was in December 2008. They are still awaiting deportation.

They are still behind bars. To be deported, they need passports, which they do not have. This is why Rozita and her mother, Zahra, remain locked up.

Rozita is with her mother in a women’s prison in Thiva, about 50km outside Athens. The father is being held in a separate facility. Over the past 10 months, mother and daughter have been shuttled around the country: from a jail in Kilkis to a detention facility in Thessaloniki and the Korydalos prison in Athens.


According to Electra Koutra, an Athens lawyer and founder of the non-governmental organisation Hellenic Action for Human Rights, the family was unlawfully denied a lawyer and interpreter when they first appeared before the Kilkis court.

A second judicial blow came last week when a court in Thiva rejected a petition to release Rozita and her mother on the grounds they are seeking asylum in Greece and do not pose a threat to public order. The court rejected their petition and ruled they must remain in prison until deported.

“Not only is it inhuman to keep a child locked up, but it’s also a gross violation of human rights,” Koutra tells the Athens News. “The little girl came down with scabies and is always getting sick. She had to be taken to hospital twice.”

If mother and daughter are not immediately released, Koutra warns the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

According to Asan Sukuri, president of the local Afghan association Noor, Zahra’s life is in danger if she is returned to Afghanistan because she belongs to the Hazara ethnic minority group. He also said she is from a region that is under Taliban control.

Sukuri says he told the Thiva court that if the mother and daughter were released they would be hosted by relatives legally residing in Greece and that his association would help them find employment while their application for asylum is being processed. The court denied his proposal.

“Zahra cries all the time when we speak on the telephone,” Sukuri told the Athens News on September 29. “She cries and tells me that she cannot stand the situation any more. She has been in prison for almost a year. Something needs to be done.”

Asylum in Greece

Greece has one of the lowest refugee recognition rates in the European Union. Last year, Greece granted refugee status to 379 people out of nearly 20,000 applications reviewed.

By law, authorities must process all claims for asylum immediately. Asylum seekers should be fingerprinted and issued a so-called pink card (rose karta).

Holders of this card are entitled to free medical treatment and the right to employment. Authorities, by law, have three months to examine the asylum claim and render a decision. This is seldom the case.

New legislation passed in July has severely undermined the appeals procedure, according to local and international human rights groups like Amnesty International and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

The new rules force rejected asylum seekers to take their case to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court. This requires them to hire a lawyer – something which few can afford.

Greece has faced a barrage of Europe-wide criticism since November 2007 when the German non-governmental organisation Pro Asyl published a shocking report accusing the Greek coastguard of “systematically abusing newly-arrived refugees”.

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Letter by detainee Th.Iliopoulos, beginning a hunger strike, 9 July

Posted by clandestina on 9 July 2009


Letter by detainee Th.Iliopoulos, beginning a hunger strike, 9 July

‘… I begin a hunger strike. It’s the only way I have as a detainee to shout for freedom and denunce the great inustice…’

Image scaled down

Thodoris Iliopoulos, detained at the Court Prisons of Koridalos (in Athens, Greece) from 22 December 2008, after the refusal of his appeal for freedom and their decision to continue my detainment for 6 more months in prison, begins a hunger strike by tomorrow, Friday 10 July.

Here’s his letter written from the A’ Coridor of the Koridalos Prisons:

Today, 9 July 2009

On 8 July, after 6 and 1/2 months in prison, where I am kept detained after the December Uprising, charged with acts that I never did, they [TN: Συμβούλιο Πλημμελειοδικών, Simvoulio Plimeliodikon, Council of Jurists] decided to continue my detainment.

It’s the only decision that called for continuation of detainment for such a case, when all the other detainees for the December Uprising, charged with the same or other acts, have all been freed.

This decision proves the personal antipathy and hate against me; they can neither rationalize nor explain it, for it’s a decision taken for personal dislike, unjustly and illegally, as in any detainment.

Against this hate that is being expressed against my person, against this unjust ‘punishment’ that I am subjected to as a detainee, against this continued refusal on the part of the jurists and the prosecutors to see the real facts and the truth of the case, against this apparent and unprecedented discrimination against me, I’ve no other way to fight except my own body.

I begin a hunger strike. It’s the only way I have as a detainee to shout for freedom and denunce the great injustice.

[TN: The only way to] To denunce the hate and the prejudice of the mechanism of the ‘penal law’. To denunce the arbitrariness and the violence of a blind ‘justice’ and its even more ‘blind’ employees.

From Friday 10 July I stop accepting food and I submit a letter announcing my hunger strike to the prison administration.

Those who experienced the events of the December Uprising, those who experienced the violence of the mechanisms [TN: of the state, police, etc], those who experienced the cruelty of the cell without a sentence or with a sentence, those who know that the only way for freedom is resistance, those who fight against the arbitrariness of the courts and its horror, they are those who can understand me and will support me.

I thank them right now.

Thodoris Iliopoulos (Θοδωρης Ηλιοπουλος)

Koridalos Prisons (Φυλακές Κορυδαλού)

[TN: end of letter]

Translated from Greek in solidarity with those who experience the horror of state repression and the inhuman conditions of prison. Feel free to put it into blogs, other IMCs etc!

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