Letter from Rami Syrianos about political isolation at Ioannina Prison (Greece)
From culmine via this is our job:
Rami Syrianos, arrested on January 31 and charged with robbing an auction in Thessaloniki, recently released the following letter-
Shortly after being transferred to Ioannina Prison, prison authorities began a process of selective censorship of the printed matter (books, pamphlets, printouts from the Internet, newspapers, fanzines) being sent to me. Their excuses were that it was “being done for the good of the prisoners” (who evidently shouldn’t be be exposed to such reading material), that “writings that defend terrorism can’t be allowed inside,” and other such imaginative notions, accompanied by demonstrations of Power (without which they would never be able to do what they’re doing) via statements like: “I administrate this prison, and if I feel like it, I won’t give you anything.”
After the application of some pressure, but thanks above all to the demonstration—which functioned as a catalyst—that some comrades held in front of the prison, the censorship regimen ended and I was able to receive printed matter without any problems. Until about a week ago, when the censorship began again, this time with the help of a “skeleton key”—a bureaucratic excuse about some order “from above” that supposedly prohibits so-called “street publications” and texts taken from blogs. When asked what “street publication” meant, they explained that it meant anything not sold at a newsstand for a fixed price. In other words, according to that definition, any publication, pamphlet, or newspaper with antiauthoritarian/subversive content is off-limits, since those materials go against the logic of commerce, basically circulate without any price, and obviously can’t be found at newsstands next to Cosmopolitan or Playboy.
I don’t know if prison warden E. Agapitou is acting on her own or if she is in fact following orders like she says, nor do I know what the reasons were for restarting the censorship at this particular time. What I am sure of is that the physical confinement behind these walls of those who choose to confront democratic barbarity and defend their dignity as human beings—which gets trampled on every day here in the cells of democracy—is not enough to satisfy the State mechanism’s thirst for revenge. The deprivation of the simplest everyday things after imprisonment, the endlessly repetitive sensory torture of the surroundings, and the isolation from one’s local milieu is not enough to make all these prisoners obedient. So democracy throws off its masks and uses every means at its disposal to send the cautionary message of its own force: humiliating body-cavity searches, disciplinary measures, constant transfers, censored correspondence, quantitative isolation in prisons that are hundreds of kilometers from where one lives, qualitative isolation in special wings, deliberate medical and pharmaceutical carelessness. The goal of these and dozens of other premeditated procedures is the total submission of the prisoner by methodically annihilating her—ethically, psychologically, and physically—and assimilating her as much as possible to the tortuous and vacuous routine of “penitentiary institutions,” where psychopharmacology and apathy prevail, crushing one’s very personality and finally lobotomizing all subversive thought.
I view my imprisonment as a consequence of my decision to truly apply my rejection of this world in practice, and as nothing more or less than another situation in which revolutionary struggle continues. In this situation, books, printed news, and correspondence must take the place of meetings, demonstrations, actions, and debates, which at one point were the doorways to relationships and political development. I therefore consider the unobstructed receipt of printed material vitally important, and I publicly declare—to the prison warden as well as any of her responsible (or not) superiors—that if this regimen of political isolation doesn’t cease, I will move on to whatever method I deem necessary to achieve my goal.
(Instead of a) P.S. The humiliations I am subjected to by prison functionaries seem trivially insignificant compared to what other fighters have endured in the clutches of bourgeois democracy. The clearest, most representative case of the barbarity and fury that Domination reserves for its enemies is that of Savvas Xeros. His path, from the moment of his arrest and beyond, quite plainly reveals the face of a democracy that, in its own words, “isn’t taking revenge.” The use of special psychoactive drugs during his interrogation while hospitalized and seriously wounded from an explosive device that detonated in his hands, the many years of solitary confinement in the so-called “white cells” of Korydallos, and the medical mistreatment and deprivation of medication he suffered have all resulted in numerous health problems, and he is in danger of going blind if he doesn’t urgently receive suitable specialized medical assistance. On June 6, the court will rule on his petition for a suspended sentence that would allow him to be hospitalized at a special clinic.
I send him a fighter’s greetings and my complete solidarity.
—Rami Syrianos; June 5, 2011; Ioannina Prison
Translators’ Note: Savvas Xeros was a member of the armed leftist group known as November 17. In the summer of 2002, a bomb exploded in his hands, and his arrest was the first in a series that put an end to November 17. His defense attorney has requested several times that Xeros’ sentence be suspended to allow for suitable hospitalization that might save the remnants of his health. In view of the June 6 hearing on the petition to suspend Xeros’ sentence, a number of leftist and anarchist groups (including the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire) as well as prisoners issued calls for solidarity. However, the court ultimately rejected the petition.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 27th, 2011 at 10:45 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.