“After 8.5 years in prison, after all these arbitrary actions against me, I decided to put an end to my 11 years of suffering, by putting up a mound against the practice of preventive imprisonment, or else the additional punishment of escape with legal loopholes. After 5 more months of preventive detention, I am starting a hunger strike for my release. This choice, with the deep motivation of the much desired freedom, I intend to support it with the same consistency that I have supported my choices so far and for which they are avenging me.”
Giannis Michailidis, preventively imprisoned in Malandrinos prison, 23/5/2022
Throughout his life, Giannis Michailidis, has been an integral part of the struggles against the state and capital from an anarchist perspective. He participated from a young age in anarchist student groups, in demonstrations against the Iraq war, in anti-state/anti-capitalist demonstrations of the 2004-2006 anti-globalisation movement and was arrested during the conflicts. He participated in the 2006-2007 student struggles against the reactionary reforms in higher education (privatization of universities, abolition of university asylum, etc.). He fought against the plundering of nature and was arrested in an intervention against the deforestation of Mount Parnitha in 2007. He was an integral part of the December uprising, when police officers murdered in cold blood the anarchist 16-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in the Exarchia area. He was present in the battles against the memoranda in 2012 and chose to expropriate the bloody wealth of the banks, remaining steadfastly committed to the vision of the overthrow of the state and capital, holding a militant – feisty stance, against the police-judicial complex, the material expression of state terrorism.
The heavy prosecution against Giannis began in 2011 when an arrest warrant was issued against him for involvement in the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF). The reason was his solidarity relations with wanted anarchists. He chose the path of illegality and was arrested in 2013 in Velvento Kozani, after expropriating a bank together with 3 other anarchists, where he was tortured by the police. After his arrest, he is accused of being the accomplice of anarchist Theofilos Mavropoulos in the armed clash with cops in Pefki (an area in the northern suburbs of Athens) and is sentenced to prison. He is, also, accused of being an “individual terrorist” along with his comrades from the Velventos case and is sentenced to prison for possession of ammunition and forgery. In the courts that follow, he will be acquitted of his participation in the CCF and convicted of the Velventos bank robbery, the Pefki case and the case of individual terrorism. His militant stance will continue inside the walls, where he will participate in prison as a solidarist in the hunger strike of an anarchist in 2014 and in the mass hunger strike of political prisoners in 2015. He will be forced to escape in 2019 from the rural prison due to a fabricated prosecution for participation in the uprising against the violent abduction of the then hunger striker Dinos Yatzoglou from Korydallos prison. This prosecution was brought against all political prisoners in order to restrict their rights and prolong their time in prison.
He was arrested again in Athens with 2 other female comrades in 2020 and was accused of a bank expropriation act, which he undertook. The anarchist comrade Giannis Michailidis has served from 29 December 2021, after 8.5 years of detention, the formal conditions of release for all his sentences. The Amfissa Judicial Council, however, refuses to release him on the pretext that he does not meet the substantive conditions of release. This additional detention is being used at will by the judicial mafia to punish choices and attitudes of struggle. After the first rejection of his request for conditional release in February, comes the second negative prosecutorial proposal, now in May, with the judges in charge unable to time his release, or rather stating that the comrade will have to remain in prison for an indefinite period of time until it is decided, based on their appetites, that he is no longer a danger. In order to this indefinite hostage-taking of the comrade, the pretext is used that the prisoner ‘does not meet the substantive conditions for release, as there is a risk of committing new offences’. In other words, it is a preventive extension of a prisoner’s detention without a time limit. Under the Penal Code applicable to the case of the comrade, all prisoners who have completed 3/5 of their sentence are entitled to conditional release, if there are no active criminal cases or active disciplinary offences within the penitentiary. Conditional release is a militant achievement of prisoners. An acquisition that, along with a few others, such as short-term furloughs, was won during the era of harsh incarceration and bloody prison riots.
Giannis’ hunger strike is taking place at a time when a right-wing, conservative, neoliberal government is in power in Greece, which, by applying the doctrine of “Law and Order”, attacks and abolishes the achievements of years that were won through hard struggles (abolition of the eight-hour day, abolition of university asylum and police entry into universities, further tightening of the penal code, law restricting demonstrations, murders and pushbacks at the borders, criminalizing collective resistance, impoverishing the social base with product price increases). This government has shown particular interest in repression against political prisoners. A typical example is the intransigent attitude of the state to Dimitris Koufontina’s hunger strike regarding the leave he was entitled to as a prisoner. Part of the same tactic is the attitude towards the struggle of comrade Giannis Michailidis.
“Because I am not asking for anyone’s interest as a victim of state repression, but as an active social and political subject who considers my condition of captivity as part of the attack of the state and capital on those who consciously stand against them. Rather, I call for a relationship of revolutionary solidarity on the basis of common projections and a common struggle with multiple edges that coordinates the rage felt by different people experiencing different conditions but with the same causes.”
Giannis Mihailidis, preventive prisoner in Malandrinos prison, 23/5/2022
Following the words of the comrade himself, we do not perceive the case of Giannis Michailidis as an isolated example of revenge against a political prisoner. It is a fact that all over the world political prisoners are subjected to discrimination and special conditions of detention. The fact that they remain unrepentant even inside the prisons, continuing their struggle and maintaining a militant stance within the walls, puts them in the crosshairs of states and repressive mechanisms against those who have fought and continue to fight. There are not a few cases where political prisoners, while meeting the conditions for release, continue to be preventively detained through a series of special laws, legalistic interpretations and political decisions.
In Germany Tomas Meyer Falk
Ιn the U.S.A. Mumia Abu-Jamal
and members of the Black Liberation Army
Ιn Paraguay Carmen Villalba
Ιn France Claudio Lavazza
Ιn Chile Marcelo Vellarroel
Ιn Greece Dimitris Koufontinas
and Savvas Xiros
Ιn Turkey Ali Osman Köse
These are only some examples of militants who show unrepentant attitude and loyalty to the struggle for liberation. For us, internationalist solidarity is an important weapon in the quiver of revolutionary movements. The struggle against capitalism is common and unites different people from different places with different starting points, experiencing different conditions but with the same causes. That is why the struggle for the freedom of one is the struggle for the freedom of all.
On the basis of the case of Giannis Michailidis and his hunger strike, we call for an international day of action against the preventive detention regime applied against political prisoners. For the case of Giannis Michailidis, we propose the political targeting of the structures of the Greek state and Greek companies and/or by highlighting the struggle of those who are in the hands of the state mafia with the same vengeance.
THE STATE AND THE CAPITAL (ARE) THE ONLY TERRORISTS SOLIDARITY TO THE ARMED GUERRILLAS
TO SET UP BARRIERS AGAINST THE ATTEMPTED EXTERMINATION OF THE HUNGER STRIKER
IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ANARCHIST HUNGER STRIKER GIANNIS MICHAILIDIS
Assembly of solidarity with the anarchist hunger striker Giannis Michailidis