Greece. A letter from anarchist prisoner Giannis Dimitrakis. Back in May he was attacked at Domokos prison and hospitalized. There is currently a fundraiser for him through Firefund.
Originally published by June 11.
I am very happy that my voice and my thoughts cross the Atlantic and reach you, through a free and self-organized radio station, as it was very difficult for us to communicate closely. Imprisonment, the “dirty” political and criminal records, the enlistment in the anarchist movement certainly make it almost impossible for me to officially enter the United States with permission and documents from the American Embassy in Greece.
Today, however, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with Anarchists Prisoners is an opportunity to travel and meet, beyond borders and restrictions, common values and ideals, similar paths and experiences of people, who lift the heavy burden of responsibility to reverse the self-destructive course of state and capital for humanity, nature and animals.
It is another moment in the relentless fight against oblivion for all the fighters who pay the price of their choice to use any form of social anti-violence to resist or attack to the absurdity, vulgarity, injustice and oppression of the modern exploitative system.
Having already lived 42 years of my life now, I am now talking to you on a telephone from the wing of a provincial prison located about 250 kilometers from Athens, where I come from. 24 years after my first reading of the book “God and State” by M. Bakunin, I remain incurably enchanted by the ideas of anti-authoritarian communism, anarchy.
Constantly following my desire all these years, to fight the seemingly powerful of this land in every way and means, I collectively refuted my denials through joint actions with comrades of the anarchist movement in Greece, where with our own political proposals we dived into big pot of mass social-economic-political struggles.
This is the second time I am trapped behind the walls of a prison as Ι was arrested together with comrade Kostas Sakkas, 2 years ago, by a counter-terrorism unit that was watching at that time every move we made , unfortunately without us realizing it, just a few seconds after we had removed with the threat of weapons from private security officers of the company Group4S the money that they placed in an ATM bank at the entrance of a hospital in Thessaloniki.
Of course, it was no coincidence that we were in a narrow circle by special police ranks. I, almost seven years after my release from prison, remained the target of the cops as a former prisoner and politically active within the lines of the anarchist movement. Costas, just a few months ago, had been released from a four-year detention for possession of weapons and explosives, having previously been acquitted of a series of crimes as he had initially been accused of being a member of the revolutionary organization Conspiracy of Cells of Fire.
For first time, i was imprisoned for six years, in January 2006, when I tried with three other people to expropriate money from a branch of the National Bank in the center of Athens, ending in my arrest and my serious injury from cop’s gunshots after a clash during our escape. On the occasion of this event, three anarchist comrades, Simos Seisidis, Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis, went underground, when they were considered perpetrators of the robbery by the prosecuting authorities and were issued against them arrest warrants.
Five years later that day, Simos was arrested after being shot in the back by a police officer during a chase that followed his accidental localization and cost him the amputation of his right leg. He was then acquitted of all charges, like Grigoris, who will be arrested in 2015, and are now both free.
Marios was caught in 2016 and currently remains in prison for four years with a long sentence and is awaiting trial in the second degree. At that time I had defended my act with a public text but also in the trials, including the bank robbery as another expression of practical denial of wage labor, as my own answer as an anarchist to the dilemma posed by the capitalist and authoritarian grid, exploiter or exploiting.
Last September, the judges who sentenced me to 11.5 years for a robbery, who played the role of a guinea pig in a police “laboratory”, determined from the beginning to fail in the well-established ambush of the cops, I spoke of my instinctive reaction to resist to the economic, psychological collapse that led me mathematically to the years, uninterrupted and serious conflicts with the repressive mechanism of the state.
After, during the seven-year and difficult effort to avoid a new imprisonment and at the same time to heal the wounds of the six-year confinement that had opened in my family-friendly environment, I realized that the rival camp’s vengeance continued to linger on many levels, suffocatingly narrowing the boundaries of my living space in society outside the walls.
Returning to today, a day of remembrance and solidarity, I must say that the warm embrace of protection that the support of my comrades generously offered me all these 15 years, from 2006 onwards, is the one that has kept me and keeps my mind and my soul intact and unharmed from the days with the monster of confinement, state violence, the justice of bourgeois false-democracy and as many others try to harm me.
Here, in Greece, we often write on the walls of the city, on our banners and in our texts a phrase: “SOLIDARITY IS OUR WEAPON” and really what a great truth it contains!
When the domestic anti-authoritarian / anarchist movement flourished and grew rapidly, going through an explosive decade that passed through the flames of December 2008, thousands of arson and bomb attacks on state and capitalist targets were carried out by many of them to the incarcerated comrades, the anti-memorandum clashes in Syntagma Square in the period 2010-2012, was the solidarity that spread, strengthened the political-comradely relations and formed the necessary counterweight to the Greek state that had overcome its initial his anti-anarchist strategy by imprisoning dozens of anarchists.
It was what took root and pushed and pushes many to risk even their own freedom or life, in order to transform the theory into practice, jumping into the fire of the struggle. And it was only natural that the repressive mechanisms should make the breaking of these strong bonds of solidarity as a top priority successive persecutions, imprisonments and severe convictions, but they have not succeeded.
During this condensed period, during which the spread of anarchist ideas and actions enlarged and thickened the lines of the movement, while at the same time beloved comrades passed through the prison doors at an increasing rate, a quality connection of inside and outside the walls was achieved. On the one hand, the relentless attitude of the prisoners-now-anarchists, who continue to speak, write, defend their actions through the prison cells, to participate in common struggles with the wider population of social prisoners, gave inspiration to those outside the walls to create that solidarity network that will pierce the walls and in practice say nothing is over, everything goes on.
Ethical, political support for the captive anarchists framed by calls for telephone interventions at events, for the publication of interviews and their texts on film and radio, by the sending of books, letters, posters, publications and of course by hundreds of acts of aggression, against various targets as the minimum cost to be paid by those who have a share of responsibility for the hostage-taking of comrades in prison.
In this movement was born the idea of the Solidarity Fund for imprisoned, Persecuted and Revolutionaries which undertook the monthly financial support, initially of the imprisoned anarchists, further expanding the concept of solidarity. In fact, in the following years, as far as possible, the support of the Fund opened its framework and included communist political prisoners and social prisoners with militant activity inside the prisons or who had practically stood in solidarity with persecuted anarchists.
Under this protective umbrella stood those of us who were or are still imprisoned, avoiding a lonely and destructive course in the toxic and corrosive rain that soaks the dark and carnivorous cells, trying – depending on the forces – both inside and outside walls to give feedback to each other.
It was this experientially impressed sense of the value of solidarity that in mid-January prompted me and comrade Nikos Maziotis – a member of the anarchist armed organization Revolutionary Struggle – to launch a hunger strike, supporting effectively the struggle that Dimitris Koufontinas had already begun as a hunger striker. Imprisoned since 2002, taking responsibility for the activities of the armed communist organization 17 November he pledged his life and demanded the implementation of the law passed by the government and illegally by passed it, in order to transfer him to a different prison than planned.
It was impossible to remain inactive in front of the spectacle of the violent abduction from the wing of the emaciated and physically weak fighter by hooded cops, which unfolded before our eyes. A disgusting image that Nikos and I had the “luck” to see as this provincial prison with the highest security standards, intended in the near future to be upgraded to special conditions hell for political prisoners and serious crimes cases, brought us all three in the same wing and in adjacent cells. Also, unfortunately, on the next wing are the recently condemned fascist garbage of the Golden Dawn.
With Dimitris Koufontinas as the protagonist, we attempted to enrich the concept of solidarity with Nikos with our spontaneous reaction and the immediate action of two other fellow prisoners, Polykarpos Georgiadis and Vangelis Stathopoulou, who were held in another prison and connected with the wider radical movement outside the walls, which swept bans and lockdowns due to the pandemic and stubbornly and patiently took thousands of fighters to the streets of the country’s major cities.
The mass demonstrations, the hundreds of night and dynamic actions that took place against banks, political offices of the government and its deputies, vehicles of the cops, etc. in the empty and mined web of cops and patrols was the result of the quality feedback produced by the joint struggle to justify the request of Dimitris Koufontinas.
The end of this conflict, which lasted almost two months, did not have the desired result. But I believe that this resurgence, the rebirth of the social militant forces that developed and defied the military-occupied cities by hordes of enraged cops, who chased and beat anyone who took part in public solidarity movements, far exceeds its values.
The government’s victory was met with heavy losses for itself, as the persistent refusal to a transfer request that led the hunger striker to the brink of death condensed all the sadistic, cold and inhuman nature of the state power that annoyed, awakened, and outraged of society. Let them keep Dimitris in this prison, as we reconstruct, on the basis of the new and quality fomentations that were achieved, the thread for the next games! Prison is the most sharpened weapon of state power and capital to keep the oppressed in the regime of exploitation and freedom imposed on them in order to perpetually reproduce wealth and privileges for a few and some of their courtiers. He is the executioner who awaits both the lower social classes who suffer from misery and the militants who actually challenge the rule of bourgeois false-democracy.
It is the Damocles sword that hangs over the oppressed society and cuts through each individual the collective expression of the anger that accumulates from the violence, the injustice that it receives daily from the exploitative system.
After several centuries, when humanity has replaced torture, mutilation, hangings, guillotines and other harsh ways of punishing lawbreakers with imprisonment and deprivation of liberty, it is certain that this method is a failure. It has accomplished nothing more than reproducing, inflating, and recycling violence with fuel material crushed and disintegrated human souls.
In countries of savage capitalism that apply even stricter conditions of detention for prisoners, not only have they failed to solve the problems posed by the capitalist for-profit and cannibalistic arenas they have set up as a social condition but on the contrary have led to general ossification.
For me, the critique of the anarchists towards the institution of the prison is absolutely apt, which through analyzes ends up abolishing them. Surely the “penitentiary” abortions, the inhuman hells, the concrete storehouses of souls must be destroyed. However, we, who propose the end of deprivation of liberty as a method of administering justice for damages and harmful behavior of some towards others, should propose the new ways of applying justice of the people.
The invocation of a future revolution which, from the next day of its domination, will purify all the mental and psychic distortions of human behavior, will eliminate all the causes that push the individual into cannibalistic practices, and will announce the new sanctified society can go hand in hand with the dreams and desires that motivate us to fight and fight under the ideals of anarchist communism are not enough.
In the fertilization of the revolutionary womb, should not we, as anarchists, have our own seeds, so that if they find fertile ground, that is, the acceptance by large sections of society, the ideas we have for the future world can be developed and tested? Should we not be aware of the experiments and institutions applied by previous revolutionary societies in their attempt to re-approach the concept of justice, so that on the errors or exaggerations that have arisen we may elaborate and imagine, albeit sperm, the new paths that may lead to fairer and freer living conditions?
Our struggle may or may not have many pieces to complete the puzzle, and the image of the revolution. Comrades, have no doubt if this earth, if this paradise that is being transformed into hell hopes to be saved, then the solution belongs to the road that leads to Revolution Avenue. And because the opposite side, at least for the time being, does not seem to give up its privileges, power and wealth voluntarily, it unfortunately remains – as a solution the violent confrontation and overthrow of power and capital.
Without coordination and organization, without the necessary collective substance between ecology, anti-racism, anti-fascism, anti-patriarchy, anti-nationalism, the adoption of sexual preference or any other individual identity, which is nothing more than the rejection of power and capitalism, we will remain which after a while will disappear, passing the disputed to the eternal, in a future whose boundaries are constantly narrowing.
If the revolution comes when the Earth is transformed into a landscape by the movie mad max, then it may be too late and everything, animals, people, natural environment will have paid such a price that victory will have lost its natural and vital space to develop .
In closing, I would like to address in particular the comrades who are struggling in one of the most difficult political environments, such as that of the USA, perhaps the world’s first and most powerful imperialist capitalist locomotive. I can not imagine how difficult it is to speak, think and act in subversive and conflicting ways within a state complex where the death penalty is in place or political prisoners such as members of the Black Panthers are still in prison after many decades.
Observing the level of police violence in the United States in recent years, and not just during the Trump period, our concern was intense, while creating ominous speculation about the future of North Americans and especially the weakest social classes. However, the reactions that erupted on the occasion of the assassination of George Floyd, the months of conflict, the mass demonstrations, the resurgence of social anti-violence as a lever to return the violence accepted by the oppressed, for a long time gave birth to hope again.
My personal joy was great to see that in the cradle of capitalism people took to the streets en masse, multi-racially determined to respond to state violence. I am sure that the fighters who took part in this uprising are now facing the consequences of the repression with arrests, imprisonment and surveillance. I imagine that no one is allowed to attack the “American Dream”, the Success Story that says that in this country everything is possible, meaning that if you bow your head, follow the rules, work like a slave and sell your soul to the strong maybe find a place in the sun.
150 years since the blood-stained Paris Commune and a little less than when in 1886 one of the fighters of the Battle of Chicago and the introduction of the eight o’clock, August Spies said: “exploiters the only argument that can be effective: VIOLENCE! ”
If we as militants / revolutionaries owe a debt to ourselves and then to others then this is to overturn the train of self-destruction led by states and capitalists, to heal the wounds that humanity has opened on nature in animals and to herself and to chart a course for the re-creation of an earthly paradise where life will be the most magical game worth participating in until your last breath.
Today we honor the comrades who endured, endure with dignity, who did not capitulate, did not kneel before the prison monster, the heavy and destructive sentences imposed on them by the rulers of this world.
Until the victory, nothing is over, everything continues.
Good strength to all inside and outside the walls.
Solidarity is our weapon
Giannis Dimitrakis from Domokos prison.