March 6, 2021. Dimitris Koufontinas is still alive after he almost died yesterday. His personal physicians remain denied the right to enter the hospital, which is guarded by police. The state is buying time by delaying the final expected decision while at the same time preventing him from dying. A psychological and physical torture that protesters denounced last night before being violently suppressed. At the moment, new rallies are taking place all over Greece, supported by solidarity actions in other parts of the world. The son of Dimitris has just been arrested….
“Koufontinas shows us the true face of power”
This sentence was expressed yesterday by an acquaintance, a lady close to my father’s family in Greece, a discreet neighbor who had never spoken to us about politics before. She had always seemed distant during the struggles and solidarity actions, rather passive in front of her TV when we came by to see if everything was okay. And then, all of a sudden, despite the media propaganda about the “bloodthirsty criminal who threatens the Republic” (as portrayed by several ministers), she finally expresses her indignation for the first time: “I don’t like Koufontinas, but what they are doing to him is terrible! Can’t they leave him alone for a bit? ” and adds, “I also support Koufontinas in the face of all these depraved people. He shows us who the real monsters are. In his misfortune, Koufontinas shows us the true face of power.”
A new generation of rebels?
In Athens last night, demonstrators failed to reach Syntagma Square in front of Parliament. The government fears that the situation could escalate and get out of control. Several ministers mentioned the risk of a new December 2008 (riots throughout Greece after the murder of young Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police officer in the Exarcheia district). As a result, the anti-Covid19 measures were tightened three days ago at an advantageous moment, exactly when the demonstrations were multiplying and becoming increasingly bigger, bringing together a very wide range of political opinions. Last night, demonstrators were fined 300 euros for travel bans and curfews. The words “travel to help someone in need” were abruptly removed from the official downloadable form, as this is the box that many protesters across Greece have chosen. (1)
Dimitris Koufontinas’ son, Ektoras (English: Hector, Enough 14) Koufontinas, was also prevented from marching for his father at the demonstration in Athens, as were the “front row lawyers,” who were hit by water cannons after a tense face-to-face encounter with Greek riot cops, the MAT.
The evening ended with confrontations on the outskirts of Exarcheia: the anarchist neighborhood continues to be a zone of retreat during tensions in the city center, although it is not as well protected as it used to be. 8 of the numerous detentions turned into arrests, mainly for transporting or using Molotov cocktails. 7 of the 8 arrested are minors: a confirmation of the rise of a new generation among the insurgents, a phenomenon also verified around the numerous student demonstrations in recent months. A generation that is disgusted by Mitsotakis’ policies, that expects nothing from a hypothetical return of Tsipras to power in two years, and that is suffocating in the context of a pandemic that is being responded to in Greece with very restrictive state measures.
Mobilizing without borders
Something else that strongly affects Koufontinas’ supporters: the international mobilization seems to be very important today. Even George Ibrahim Abdallah (2), the oldest prisoner in France, still imprisoned after 37 years (10 years more than Mandela!), is participating in this international day of support for Koufontinas: the Lebanese prisoner has decided to go on hunger strike today to support his Greek comrade. Another example: the participation of Jean-Marc Rouillan (3), whom I was asked to call on behalf of Koufontinas’ support committee. Jean-Marc, who also had spent many years in prison and still suffered persecution from the state afterwards, immediately said yes to a request for a meeting/debate via Skype on the issue of the situation of prisoners for the Thessaloniki meeting. From many parts of the world we keep receiving messages of support and solidarity actions with the hunger striker who is slowly dying in Lamia in Central Greece.
Koufontinas is deprived of his personal physicians
At the same time, Dimitris Koufontinas’ personal physicians continue to be denied the right to enter the hospital, which is guarded by the police. Thodoris Sdoukos and Katerina Douzepi issued the following statement:
“The health condition of Dimitris Koufontinas, who is on hunger and thirst strike, is extremely critical, as he has developed acute kidney failure and is now at high risk to fall into a coma or sudden death. Due to the seriousness of the situation, we, as physicians of personal choice of Dimitris Koufontinas, whom we visited several times in Domokou Prison and then in the Intensive Care Unit of Lamia Hospital, at his request, asked the management of Lamia General Hospital for the possibility to continue coming. The colleagues in the ICU agreed to our request. However, despite our multiple efforts to obtain the appropriate permission, this has not been possible. Yesterday, the director of the hospital, Andreas Kolokythas, apparently on instructions from the government, once again refused – under the pretext of protective measures against Covid19 – to send us the certificates for our movement and travel (4). Today he does not even answer our calls on his private phone, in his office or by email. We demand the Ministry of Health and the Director of Lamia General Hospital to stop this tactic and allow us to visit our patient Dimitris Koufontinas at his request and send us the necessary certificates.
Katerina Douzepi, anesthesiologist and Thodoris Sdoukos, general practitioner.”
The ban on dying
So far, neither the director of Lamia General Hospital nor the Minister of Health have responded to the open letter written by Dimitris Koufontinas’ physicians. In addition, to add to this psychological and physical torture, the Central Transfer Committee (KEM) did not take the time yesterday to decide whether or not to transfer Dimitris Koufontinas to his former prison, Korydallos, west of Athens, where he was initially imprisoned. Although the urgency of this measure is known, given the condition of the prisoner who is on hunger and thirst strike, the president of KEM did not consider it useful to accelerate the process. She promised a response “within the next few days,” provoking the anger of the supporters of the prisoner, who could die any moment. The KEM chairwoman, Sofia Nikolaou, is also secretary general of the “Anti-Crime Union,” a member of the right-wing New Democracy party and close to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Speaking about the hunger and thirst striker’s health, she told journalists, “Our physicians are watching over him, they will not let him die. They have already resuscitated him once, they will do it again if necessary. After resuscitating him yesterday, our physicians didn’t need to force him to take the hydration serum, because he finally agreed. But if necessary, they will give it to him against his will. It’s not up to him to decide. “
Koufontinas’ son has just been arrested
Just now (in the early afteroon, Enough 14) the new demonstration on Syntagma Square, in front of Parliament, was violently suppressed and dispersed by the police. Ektoras (In English Hector, Enough 14), the son of Dimitris, who has already been deprived of the right to see his father, was brutally detained by the police, along with other demonstrators who were being chased. There are skirmishes in several streets in Athens at the moment. The unyielding, provocative and cruel approach of the government is making the situation worse every day. An attitude that could soon turn against them, as revolt is rumbling in Greece.
(1) In Greece, like in France for a long time, you have to carry a certificate with you when you leave your home, stating the (valid) reason for doing so.
(2) Controversial political prisoner among the left, accused by parts of the left of having anti-Semitic tendencies
(3) Founding member of Action Direct who served time in jail from 1982 -2012, was then placed under house arrest, including the obligation to wear an electronic ankle bracelet.
(4) See (1)