Greece: Mass hunger strike in Grevena prisons

Inmates of Grevena prisons, one of the worst penal establishments in Greece, have gone on mass hunger strike since Monday 11 of January “against the repressive intentions of the government and the breach of basic prisoners rights”.

Grevena prisons have come under the grip of a mass hunger strike by inmates since January 11. The 330 prisoners are demanding an immediate end to repression and breach of prisoners rights. In their communique they note:

  • The usual humiliating rectal control reigns [in the penal establishment], even for the shortest transfers for medical reasons. Whoever refuses to have the check is shut in isolation and faces disciplinary charges.
  • The demands for a leave are ignored and/ or their examination is outrageously delayed.
  • The disciplinary regime is reminiscent of the junta, as prisoners are persecuted for trivia.
  • Demands for a hearing are also ignored, even for individuals facing serious problems. There is no doctor for 330 prisoners. There is no secretariat for providing information and serving the needs of the prisoners.
  • The time schedule of visits changes randomly, and as a result the prisoners are denied the necessary contact with the outside world while relatives who perform long journeys to the isolated prisons are faced unexpectedly with not being able to see their enclosed kin.
  • Yard airing takes place in a far too small area for a far too short period of time. In the yard there are no exercise facilities for the free time of prisoners. Heating last only for one hour in the morning.
  • Prisoners are forced to buy everything, even good of basic need, which the prison should provide, like for example the pillow.
  • In the establishment’s super market there is no price list, and as a result the prisoners are subjected to arbitrary and illegal prices”.

The hunger strike comes as 14 months after the previous government’s pledge to total prison reform (as a result of a universal prison hunger strike in the country) and 4 months since the new government’s pledge to implement the reform immediately, greek prisons remain in a medieval state.

The hunger strike comes at a time of high tension across the country as the expiry of the proclaimed 100 days of reform of the new socialist administration has been marked by deepening economic and social crisis. The Minister of Labour, Mr Lomberdos, has announced that unemployment money have run out: “We are out on Tuesday, we are unable to pay the doll on Thursday, how can I put it, there is not a drop of ‘saliva'”, he declared. The government, which was payed a darkly visit by the IMF, has pledged it will not allow the country to be kicked out of the Eurozone. Nevertheless due to mounting social pressure it has been forced to take back most of its austerity measures only 5 days after announcing them. The ambivalence on the road to economic recovery has once again laid to mass losses in the stock market with a collapse of banking stocks by 8%.

As a response to the austerity measures, teachers have announced an all-country protest march for the end of the month while a general strike of the private sector has been announced for early February. Farmers have already started mobilising and placing their tractors at key points in the national highway system warning of long-term closures and even of tractor marches in major cities. Large numbers of Thessaly farmers are enraged by the government’s inability to restore traffic along the Salonica-Athens highway after a landslide last month. The highway will be given back to traffic in April causing major economic problems for small farmers. At the same time, residents of the Leptokaria area have occupied the road toll booths on the highway near their villages demanding an immediate end to payments towards construction companies responsible for the landslide.

On other fronts, the Chania University rectorial headquarters remain occupied by students protesting against the evacuation of an inner-university squat during the Christmas holidays by Crete’s notoriously extreme-right rector. In Salonica ambulance drivers staged a demo on Thursday 14 demanding better working conditions and hiring of more staff. In Athens at the time of writing the vast central courts of the country in Evelpidon have been evacuated due to a warning call for a bomb, causing major disruption to judicial processes. The bomb warning comes in series of farces that are trying the greek police since the bomb attack against the parliament last weekend. In a blow to the credibility of media reporting, the NFC who took responsibility for the attack have revealed that contrary to the official narrative, the presidential guard was in fact moved to a safe area during the explosion. Bourgeois media and the presidency have been trying to portray the guards (a relic of the 30s fascist dictatorship and a collaborationist corps during the Nazi occupation) as “brave men whose resilience cancelled the coward act of the terrorists”.

Finally, earlier this week, a National Information Service (EYP – greek MI5) agent was arrested by citizens while trying to put a probe under the wheels of the car of a local anarchist in Agia Paraskevi. The enraged citizens delivered the agent to the police and charges were pressed against him for breach of home peace – yet another blunder in the face of the repressive mechanisms that plague the country.

2 Responses

  1. Can you help me get a mailing address for an Albanian friend whose husband is serving a 17 year sentence at the prison in Grevena, Greece? Possibly you would know how she as an Albanian could visit her husband, it has been three years since she has seen him? thank you for any help you can provide.

    • I’m sorry, but we don’t have any specific knowledge of the Greek prison system. In prison systems we are more familiar with, it is generally allowed to write to a prisoner if not visit them, especially for close family.
      If you are versed in Greek language, people at might be helpful. Sorry we don’t have more for you.

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