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EUROPE / Press release on the hunger strike of Dimitris Koufodinas
Date of publication at Tlaxcala: 22/03/2021
Original: Ανακοίνωση για την απεργία πείνας του Δημήτρη Κουφοντίνα
Translations available: Español  Français  Italiano 

Press release on the hunger strike of Dimitris Koufodinas

Various Authors - Div. Auteurs -Versch. Autoren -Muhtelif Yazarlar-مؤلفون مُتنوِّعون - نویسندگان مختلف


On Sunday, 14th of March 2021, the 63-year-old political prisoner, Dimitris Koufodinas, ended after 65 days the hunger strike, which had started on 8th of January and while, already on the 16th of February, he was in the intensive care unit of Lamia hospital, facing serious risks of irreversible damage and sudden death. According to the doctors, the process of rehabilitation will take up to 2 months and poses serious risks for his life, while it is unknown whether the functionality of the damaged organs will be restored.

"I was born on 17 November"

The request of the hunger striker, which was the implementation of the law according to which he had to be transferred to the Korydallos prison (in the area of Athens) instead of Domokos (a remote mountain village in the middle of Greece), was not satisfied. It was rejected by the Courts, which declared themselves incompetent to examine it, as well as by the competent institution, the Central Transfer Committee. All of the above mentioned complied with the orders and arguments of the Government.

The end of the hunger strike, and the prevention of death of the hunger striker, was accepted by the solidarity movement with relief, while his struggle was seen as a victory of life over a government that took the risk of leading him to death or subjecting him to forced feeding with immobilization, reaching to the limits its uncompromising and vindictive political attitude towards the striker.

According to the striker himself, "what is happening out there is much more important than what the hunger strike started for’’. This assessment is absolutely valid: the struggle of Dimitris Koufodinas achieved much more than his request:

  • For almost two months, tens of thousands of people across Greece have defied the uncontrolled police violence against people in solidarity, the reckless use of chemicals, the constant risk of being arbitrarily brought for questioning, arrest, abuse and fines (under the guise of pandemic measures) - but also a well-organized propaganda in the official media, as well as extensive censorship on social media such as Facebook–, demonstrating and intervening systematically, with online events and comments, in favor of the striker’s demand. In a country where demonstrations were practically banned under the guise of a pandemic, government intransigence and police violence brought together students, intellectuals, lawyers, artists, union members, left-wing extra-parliamentary groups and the anti-authoritarian movement, with the participation of people, even on a daily basis.

  • Although initially supported by anti-authoritarian groups, extra-parliamentary left organizations and left-wing intellectuals, this hunger strike sparked within weeks significant interventions by institutions, public figures in Greece and abroad, as well as countless acts of solidarity around the world. Indicatively: the interventions of the Greek Ombudsman, Amnesty International, Greek and foreign MEPs, the Hellenic Union for Human Rights, the National Commission for Human Rights (advisory body of the government), leaders, MPs and MPs of most of the parliamentary parties (SYRIZA, KKE, MERA25, KINAL), statements of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors, successive mobilizations of more than a thousand Greek lawyers, unions and associations, hundreds of academics, journalists, artists and all non-government controlled media. It also provoked actions such as other hunger strikes in solidarity (i.e of four anarchist prisoners as well as of the Greek professor of the School of Fine Arts named Georgia Sagri). It is indicative that during the last weeks, theologians, priests, and even members of the Right have either made public statements or supported the striker, seeking to curb government intransigence. Somehow, all the government allegations and the attempts to morally deconstruct the striker were refuted: the lies, the distortions were revealed, the claim that the striker is abusively demanding privileged treatment, or blackmailing (according to the penitentiary code, the strike is his right), as well as that the hunger strike does not concern society and that the striker  was the one hurting himself.
  • Dimitris Koufodinas' struggle has been internationalized since the first weeks. In addition to the interventions of MEPs and the actions of Amnesty International, which revealed to the international community the legality of the strike request and censorship in Greece, signatures and messages of solidarity were sent from Europe, Latin America, India, USA, Canada. Dozens of solidarity rallies were organized from Italy, Spain, the Basque Country, Germany, France, Turkey, Kurdistan, Argentina and the United States.
  • For many weeks, the solidarity movement has shown in the eyes of even the most unsuspecting citizens that the state’s and international counterterrorism strategy - especially in a country like Greece, where the cycle of armed far-left violence has been closed for years - is not just about the "weakest links" ", meaning those who participated in organizations such as" 17th of November "in Greece. It was therefore proved that in the name of "fighting terrorism" (or, in modern terms: "preventing radicalization"), a scheme that includes foreign embassies, government, parties, the media, the judiciary and the police, is shrinking dramatically democracy, freed from the rule of law, uses / violates laws for political purposes, uses violence or "files" citizens on the basis of their views as in the '50s and' 70s, carries out ideological terrorism against the Left, seeking to drastically shrink the limits of legitimate anti-government political protest.

For all these reasons, the hunger strike on the one hand and the giant solidarity movement that sprang on the other hand, became for more than two months catalysts for the return of important sections of Greek society to politics and made them demonstrate on the streets, against an extreme, conservative, hostile government to society, which clearly failed to manage the pandemic and the economic effects but which was morally illegitimated - and, for that reason, was increasingly authoritarian and dangerous to the country’s democracy.

We would like to warmly thank the comrades, friends, who contributed to the counter-information, the support of the strike demand and for strengthening the solidarity movement.

Solidarity campaign for hunger striker Dimitris Koufodinas

Athens, 15 March 2021

Courtesy of Τλαξκάλα
Publication date of original article: 15/03/2021
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Tags: Dimitris KoufodinasGreece

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