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Disciplinary penalties – Conviction of struggles in prisons: Pola Roupa member of Revolutionary Struggle – Greece

Eleonas-Thebes prison. Greece. Statement by Pola Roupa, member of the Revolutionary Struggle.

Originally published by Athens Indymedia.

Disciplinary penalties – Conviction of struggles in prisons


The first disciplinary procedure for the events that took place on 9/4 in Eleonas prison after the death of the detained Azize Demiroglou was determined for 28/4. Upon hearing of Azize’s death, an uprising broke out in the prison, which was sparked by a long period of increased pressure on the detainees, in which the fear of coronary heart disease, the fear of death from either the coronary or other cause, played a decisive role, as well as the wait for the implementation of the measures for the decongestion of the prisons that the ministry had announced and which it never implemented, causing anxiety, anger and resentment. Among the causes that fueled the uprising were the conditions of detention (overcrowding in chambers), as well as the characteristic rigor in any of the demands of the prisoners, who constantly encounter the wall of threat and punishment.

The uprising, unprecedented in prison for the past 13 years, has momentarily undermined the government’s “success” policy in managing the pandemic crisis, and for the most part the media has chosen to bury it as a serious threat to undermine both the government’s work and the much-publicized “social consensus” on government measures. However, despite the coordinated efforts to hide the fact, it managed to come to the surface by highlighting “another world”, the cry of a large vulnerable group, that of prisoners crowded into cells and chambers, anxious for their own survival. It showed a “different world” who is silenced, who is denied his rights and refused his right to claim them, with the threat of prolonged imprisonment hovering over every thought of reaction. As a result, this had a significant political dimension that far exceeded the narrow confines of prisoner issues. It touched the core of the current government policy exposing its lies about its “philanthropic” and “socially solidarity” policies.It has also brought to the surface the government’s hidden fascist core that prioritizes lives and deaths and tramples on rights, racistly treats detainees and unleashes brutal state violence when they claim them. The end of the uprising was followed by a mobilization as a reaction to Azize’s death, against the mockery of the government that had announced decongestion measures and did not implement them, and with demands concerning the immediate decongestion of prisons. The protest was violently suppressed shortly after it began, although it had been preceded by the submission of a document signed by several inmates informing that the prison would be kept open until 11pm, at noon and that detainees would abstain from meals and from work.The repression continued with mass disciplinary proceedings, with the referral to the “pile” of detainees for a number of charges. As I have stated in a previous text that I have published, I was the first on the list of names that would go through a disciplinary board on the charge of “disobedience”, a charge concerning the post-insurgency mobilization. The disciplinary proceedings began on 28/4 and while I was again first in the announcement of names, I was called by the council last.I was informed by the other detainees that they had all been asked “who made them sign and stay out of the cells”. As I was told, they categorically denied that something like that had happened. It was clear that they were eagerly looking for incriminating evidence against me, as I had been targeted since the morning of April 9 by the ministry itself and by secretary general for anti-crime policy S. Nikolaou with her statement to journalists “that Pola Roupa is in Thebes”, a statement that indirectly but clearly aimed to blame me for all the events of that day.

In addition, an “informal pre-investigation process” was underway in the previous days by the service in search of “the instigator or instigators”. However, neither the informal nor the formal procedure yielded any evidence against me.The only ones who weren’t asked who put us to it were me and my inmate Pagoni Katerina who was also convicted.

I summarize the main points of my “apology”:

“In order to examine the indictment, the background and context in which the events of April 9 took place must be analyzed and understood. Prisoners have recently experienced suffocating pressure due to the threat of coronavirus in combination with the conditions of our detention in prison, the threat of pandemic in our families and our children. There was intense anxiety and upset because the government did not take the measures to decongest the prisons that it had announced, an act that we all perceived as mockery while the anxiety in the face of the threat of pandemic and death was and is great. I have not been in this prison for a long time but from the first moment I came it was obvious that the prisoners were very anxious and in agony about what would happen. Demiroglou’s death came to culminate the anxiety, agony, fear of death of the prisoners, and in combination with the government’s mockery, the fear turned into rage. Also, a month and a half ago, another prisoner, Georgia Triantafyllou, had died, a fact that the prison administration had denied on 9/4 when I referred to her in front of the ministry envoy. The death of our inmate was the trigger that caused the explosion. You need to take into account, at all the disciplinary procedures that will be held, the background that gave birth to this explosion and to look at all the events that preceded it. In addition, Article 79 of the Penal Code states that each court must examine the causes and circumstances of the acts being tried, while paragraph 4 of the same article states that an act is justified on the basis of emotional charge. Even the Penal Code in Article 71, which refers to disciplinary proceedings, calls for the examination of the conditions under which the acts were committed and states that the council may abstain from imposing a penalty. This persecution concerns our refusal to enter the wards during the evening hours. The uprising had ended hours ago. There was a collective decision to mobilize, to keep the cells open at night until 11 and at noon, to abstain from work and meals, with demands for the decongestion of prisons. We had submitted documents of protest with signatures beforehand. Our mobilization was suppressed by the violent invasion of the police forces. In other words, a non-violent mobilization was violently attacked in order to end it. I would like to point out that many prisons have been mobilized to demand decongestion and some of these mobilizations are happening now as we speak. I should add that everything that happened on April 9 had no selfish motives. Many detainees and I also did not intend to be released with the decongestion measures we proposed. Motivation is supra-atomic and the determining factor was solidarity. Claims, mobilizations, protests are not made by submitting a document, but through actions that put pressure on the implementation of the demands and for the protection of rights, are legal and guaranteed by the Constitution itself but also by international jurisprudence. Nowhere in the Constitution, in the Penal Code or in the Penitentiary Code is it stated that prisoners are excluded from the right to hold mobilizations, protests, struggles.”

I had requested the presence of my lawyer Koutra Electra-Leda as provided by the penal code and it took place via skype. My lawyer took a position defending the legitimacy of our mobilization and referred extensively to domestic and international case law that ensures what we have defended in the proceedings. Her performance took place also during the examination of Katerina Pagoni with the same defensive framework. Two hours after the end of the proceedings, Pagoni and I were called the first this time to hear the announcement of the decision about our sentence ( 20 points) for the “illegal” act of “disobedience”. The prosecutor asked me if I had anything to say and I replied: “Illegality is not what we did. It is illegal for people to die in prison. It is illegal for the executive to announce measures and not implement them. It is illegal to violently suppress a non-violent and fair mobilization, to beat prisoners. Illegalities were committed on the other hand, yours, not ours. “The others were later summoned to be acquitted. We insisted on being informed about the justification for our conviction and our discrimination from the others, but we were not given any explanation. The fact that the disciplinary council (consisting of the supervising prosecutor A. Mousouri, the director of the prison G. Makris and the head of the social service Karakatsani V.) acquitted the other detainees, is admittedly unprecedented for the history of this particular prison since disciplinary proceedings and very severe punishments are imposed here on every occasion. This decision was facilitated by the insistence on the systematic publication of the facts, the promotion of their content and the extensive publication of the detention conditions.The reason for the events of April 9th, as well as the plethora of messages of support, served as a shield for the detainees.

But my condemnation involves very heavy symbolism. First of all, it aimed at me, my history, my attitude, the reason I articulated publicly about the events. It is the continuation of a systematic targeting that began with the invasion of police forces in my ward in Korydallos and my transfer to Thebes in order to stop the mobilization there. A transfer ordered by the ministry itself with S. Nikolaou’s representative stating a few days later in the middle of the prison uprising, that ” Roupa is in Thebes” targeting me as the culprit for the uprising. That is, the same person who ordered my transfer to Eleonas targets me because I am in Eleonas, as if I came voluntarily (sic). Because they did not suceed to substantiate other charges against me, neither that of the “leader” nor of the “instigator”, the sentencing decision, especially to me, is an indirect and devious blame for a central role in the mobilization. As for my inmate Pagoni Katerina who was also represented by the lawyer Koutra Electra-Lida with the same defensive line, this is the same prisoner I mentioned in my first text about the uprising, who had stayed out of her cell because she and her baby had not been taken to the hospital and had been severely punished with 1 year of work deprivation. Obviously in punishing her as well they strike at her choice to claim and protest against the violation of rights. The sentencing decision was a very serious symbol for the choice to “execute” the right to be represented by a lawyer during the disciplinary proceedings, since we “happened” to be the only ones who requested a lawyer’s representation. Therefore, the imposition of the disciplinary penalty was also addressed to our lawyer and her capacity with a very vengeful character. Given my position in front of the Disciplinary Board and the defense of prisoners’ rights to hold such mobilizations, the penalty strikes down any action by the detainees to defend their rights and to claim.

Finally, this decision is a legitimation of the criminal abandonment of the prisoner Demiroglou to die helpless in prison, it is a legitimation of the deaths in prisons, the government’s tactical mockery of prisoners, the exercise of brutal violence against them when they fight. It is a legitimation by all means of the silence in the cemetery of prisons. They shouldn’t expect it to remain unanswered.

Pola Roupa, member of the Revolutionary Struggle, May 2, 2020.

Third wing of the women’s prison of Eleonas-Thebes, Greece. Y.G

Because disciplinary proceedings continue, we support the detainees here: we support the detainees here.

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