Koridallos prisons: Revolutionary Struggle member Nikos Maziotis on the escape attempt and life sentence (Greece)
Text of Nikos Maziotis about the operation of escape from Koridallos prison and the sentence of life imprisonment handed down in the 2nd Revolutionary Struggle trial
The attempt to escape from Koridallos prison by helicopter on February 21st 2016 – an operation carried out by comrade Pola Roupa, member of Revolutionary Struggle – was a revolutionary act, a guerrilla action for the liberation of political prisoners. It was a means of continuation of Revolutionary Struggle’s activity, a response to the State’s repressive operations against our organisation and other political prisoners, comrades who are in prison for armed activity as well. It was therefore an exemplary solidarity act of great and unique importance. The prison escape operation was a step towards continuing armed revolutionary activity; promoting the struggle for the overthrow of the State and Capital; overturning the establishment’s policy of bailout programs imposed by the troika of the country’s supranational bosses, the EC, ECB and IMF, to which the ESM has been added with the enactment and implementation of the third memorandum program by the SYRIZA-led government. Armed struggle in the present circumstances is more timely and necessary than ever. The failure of this operation won’t bend us. We will struggle as long as we live and breathe.
Revolutionary Struggle has proven that it has remained standing over the years, despite successive repressive blows and sacrifices: the blood of comrade Lambros Foundas, who was killed on March 10th 2010 in a shootout with police in the district of Dafni, Athens, during a preparatory action of the organisation; our arrests a month later, April 10th 2010, on the eve of Greece’s signing of the first memorandum; my arrest on July 16th 2014 in Monastiraki, Athens, where I was injured following a chase and shootout with police. Revolutionary Struggle remained standing because we undertook political responsibility for our participation in the organisation – in Greece, we were the first armed revolutionary and anarchist organisation to do so – and because we defended our history, the organisation’s actions and our comrade Lambros Foundas, who gave his life so that the memorandum wouldn’t pass; to turn the crisis into an opportunity for social revolution. We remained standing as an organisation because we didn’t mind paying the cost and price, because we didn’t turn ourselves into betrayers or deserters, because none of us tried to save one’s own skin at the moment of repression. It’s precisely because we claimed political responsibility that we stayed alive as an organisation in prison in 2010–11. We gave a political battle against the enemy in the 1st special court. Once released from prison after 18 months in pretrial detention, we chose not to surrender ourselves to imminent imprisonment and went underground instead, to continue armed struggle and the organisation’s activity.
The attack of Revolutionary Struggle – Commando Lambros Foundas on April 10th 2014 against the Bank of Greece, a branch of the ECB – one of the most popularly-hated organisations that make up the quartet of supranational bosses – but also a building that housed the office of the IMF’s permanent representative in Greece, annulled the 2010 repressive operation, and continued the organisation’s strategy that was launched in 2009 with the attacks on Citibank’s headquarters and one of its branches, a Eurobank’s branch and the Athens Stock Exchange. For years Revolutionary Struggle is faced with the spearhead of state repression, since the issue of dealing with the organisation and generally armed revolutionary activity is a major priority for the survival of the establishment, seeking to eliminate the internal enemy for the smooth enforcement and implementation of bailout programs, which constitute policies of social genocide and cleansing of parts of the population.
In 2007, the U.S. Department of State and the Greek State placed bounties of 1 million dollars and 800 thousand euros, respectively, after the organisation’s attack with an anti-tank RPG at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. In 2010, the Papandreou government celebrated our arrests, and a government official stated that they prevented a blow that would end the economy, on the eve of the signing of the first memorandum and amid fear of Greek economy’s collapse. In 2014, after we had gone into clandestinity and had been sentenced to 50 years imprisonment by the 1st special court, the Samaras government placed a bounty of 2 million euros on our heads – one million on comrade Roupa and another million on me. My arrest, three months after Revolutionary Struggle’s attack against the Bank of Greece, was celebrated by Greek authorities. U.S. officials congratulated them on my recapture and made statements on political stability. Special measures were implemented after my arrest and, in December 2014, I was transferred to the newly-inaugurated type C maximum security prison, this being the first such transfer of a political prisoner, already preannounced since my recapture. In April 2015, I was included in the list of “international terrorists” designated by State Department, even though I was in prison. The authorities have now unleashed a manhunt to arrest comrade Roupa. All this demonstrates that combating Revolutionary Struggle holds great significance for the establishment. That is, repression against Revolutionary Struggle and implementation of memoranda, together with the establishment’s political stability, go hand in hand.
Last link in the chain of the establishment’s repression against Revolutionary Struggle is the decision of the 2nd trial against the organisation, a few days after the prison escape attempt. I was sentenced to life imprisonment for the bombing attack against the Bank of Greece, plus 129 years for two expropriations of bank branches and shooting of cops who persecuted me in Monastiraki. The imposition of the severest possible sentence for the organisation’s attack against the country’s bosses is a conscious political decision and not just a procedural exaggeration. As I have already stated, this decision aims not to terrorise me – because they know I am and will remain unrepentant – but those who’ll want to opt for armed struggle, comrades of the anarchist/antiauthoritarian milieu and other fighters within society. This political decision – applied for the first time in Greece in regard to a bombing attack which took place following a phone call warning, causing no injuries, but only material damages – is aimed at multiple recipients and sends out an intimidation message, that fighters who’ll opt for armed revolutionary activity will be treated with the utmost severity.
This decision demonstrates the establishment’s increasingly harshening stance against their number one enemy – Revolutionary Struggle, armed fighters. It’s not difficult to understand why, at a time when the SYRIZA-led government has voted the third memorandum, which is harsher than the previous ones. The big difference between penal treatment in the 1st and the 2nd Revolutionary Struggle trials may give rise to misinterpretations; I would therefore like to point out the following: Since the enactment of anti-terrorism laws in 2001 and 2004, this special legislation constitutes a political choice of Power in order to deal as effectively as possible with urban guerrilla in Greece as a major threat to the establishment. A provision in the anti-terrorism legislation allows life sentence, not for homicide, but for explosion as a result of which there was danger to humans or an injury occurred. I was sentenced to life in prison under this provision. Special court decisions in trials against armed fighters are eminently political decisions; the elements in the accusatory dossier are often of secondary importance. For example, as demonstrated during court hearings of the 2nd trial against Revolutionary Struggle in regard to the organisation’s attack against the Bank of Greece, even though there was a phone call giving 50 minutes warning before the explosion, the security officers remained inside the building on the instructions of the Bank of Greece’s security supervisor. The security supervisor himself admitted there’s a standard regulation which obliges the security staff to stay inside the building despite the threat of explosion. The same happened at Piraeus Bank’s headquarters located opposite the Bank of Greece, where security officers remained inside the building on the instructions of the bank’s head of security. As demonstrated in the 1st trial against the organisation, the same also happened on September 2nd 2009 in Revolutionary Struggle’s attack against the Athens Stock Exchange building, where security staff stayed inside as ordered by the head of security.
It’s thus demonstrated that those who are responsible for causing danger to humans are the executives of the economic Power and establishment’s mechanisms and central structures, such as banks and the stock exchange, who consider people and entire populations to be expendable, and even the security officers of their facilities. Because, for them, their profits override everything; their profits, which are dipped in blood and misery, override human life itself. These are the mechanisms that the Greek people consider responsible for the policy implemented over the last six years, which has resulted in thousands of deaths and millions of poor, destitute and hungry people. These are the mechanisms whose executives (bankers, major shareholders, big businesspeople) alongside their subordinates (politicians of Greek governments) the Greek people consider responsible for the devaluation of life of millions of people, for suicides and pauperisation; not the fighters of Revolutionary Struggle. Revolutionary Struggle’s attacks against such mechanisms and structures are to a great extent popularly and socially accepted.
In both the 1st and 2nd trial against the organisation, I have been consistent in facing the enemy at special courts. This entails the undertaking of political responsibility, the political defense of Revolutionary Struggle’s activity, armed struggle and Revolution for the overthrow of the State and Capital, without counting the cost and the price. This is the duty of every fighter, every anarchist, every revolutionary who is faced with judges and organs of the enemy. The sentence to 50 years imprisonment in the 1st trial was based on the undertaking of political responsibility. This is why we were convicted as accomplices in the organisation’s 16 actions by the theorem of collective responsibility, rather than being convicted as actual perpetrators. The State’s response to the fact I remain consistent in my trajectory as a fighter and continue to defend Revolutionary Struggle, and by extension armed struggle and the prospect of Revolution and the establishment’s overthrow, was the outcome of the 2nd trial, where I was sentenced to life imprisonment for one action, the bombing attack against the Bank of Greece. My entire trajectory after the initial arrests in 2010, the fact that Revolutionary Struggle stayed alive during the pretrial detention in 2010–11, the fact that comrade Roupa and I defended the organisation’s activity at the 1st special court, our choice to not surrender ourselves to prison, to go into clandestinity and continue armed struggle and the organisation’s activity with the attack against the Bank of Greece, this entire trajectory and all these choices are based on the undertaking of political responsibility for our participation in Revolutionary Struggle after being captured in 2010. This is what the State attempted to crash by means of the decision of the 2nd trial against the organisation.
My sentence of life in prison was a message to the fighters who assume political responsibility and do not repudiate their activity and membership in their organisation.
Things are becoming increasingly clearer for the fighters who want to resist and the political prisoners. The dilemma “repudiation or life imprisonment” (in the old days there was execution by firing squad) comes into effect; a dilemma put by Power, a dilemma that in the old days was “repudiation or death”.
Over time, in order to suppress any revolutionary perspective, the State doesn’t confine itself to military predominance over its rivals only, but it also attempts their political defeat by forcing them into political repudiation. In the case of the Western-European urban guerrilla in the 70s and 80s, especially in Italy, the target of political repudiation was not one’s convictions or political identity, but rather armed struggle as being one of the means of struggle and urban guerrilla organisations. In Greece, the dilemma put by Power was once this: either repudiation of communism, or imprisonment and, in other circumstances, execution by firing squad. Nowadays, more indirectly, the dilemma is this: either choice of armed revolutionary struggle with heavy costs and consequences, or renunciation of armed revolutionary struggle as being one of the means of struggle. Either undertaking of political responsibility for one’s participation in an armed organisation and defense of its activity, or acceptance of the State’s pursuit of repudiation of an armed organisation and one’s membership in it, and by extension of armed struggle, in the face of fear of going to prison.
In other, more difficult periods like the Occupation and the Civil War, the price to pay for the struggle was the firing squad; and not only for armed struggle. Many fighters faced with the dilemma “repudiation or death” preferred the firing squad; of course not because they wanted to become martyrs, but because they believed that repudiation is a shame and disgrace; as such, it was considered worse than death. There were armed militants and guerrillas of ELAS (Greek People’s Liberation Army) and DSE (Democratic Army of Greece), but also fighters that didn’t wage armed struggle, who remained unrepentant and were sent by thousands to the firing squad during the Occupation and the Civil War; they were executed in Goudi, in Kessariani shooting range, in Chaidari and Pavlou Mela camps, on Makronissos and Corfu, in Yedi Kule. Similarly in Spain, after Franco’s victory, thousands of armed anarchists who fought for Revolution in 1936–39, and waged guerrilla warfare until 1975, were sent to firing squads in Campo de la Bota, Montjuïc, Carabanchel, or strangled by the method of garrote – used as a means of execution for heretics since the Inquisition.
The struggle for the overthrow of the State and Capital is an activity that requires unwavering convictions, responsibility, consistency, commitment, political engagement, steely will, and political and theoretical knowledge of principles and experiences of the historical revolutionary tradition. How can we even talk about struggle, social liberation, revolution, Anarchy, asking others to participate in a subversive struggle with all the costs and consequences that it entails, if we ourselves are unable to assume responsibility for our political choices?
For the first time in decades – since the era of the post-Civil War State, when ELAS guerrillas who were excluded by the 1945 Treaty of Varkiza, which didn’t recognise their activity as being political, as well as those of DSE remained in prison for at least 15 years – there is a prospect that political prisoners sentenced to 25 years or life imprisonment for armed revolutionary action will remain many years in the prisons of the contemporary Greek State-marionette of the supranational economic elite. We’re going through a period where Power is even indirectly trying to pose dilemmas for educing credentials once again, as in the past, to break us with the spectre of long-term incarceration.
The struggle for Social Revolution, for overthrowing the State and Capital, must go on despite the difficulties, the cost and consequences. We will never surrender the weapons of our struggle.
NO PEACE, NO TRUCE WITH THE STATE AND CAPITAL
ARMED STRUGGLE FOR SOCIAL REVOLUTION
HONOUR FOREVER TO COMRADE LAMBROS FOUNDAS,
MEMBER OF REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE
Nikos Maziotis, member of Revolutionary Struggle
This entry was posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 9:20 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.