A LETTER FROM ANARCHIST COMRADE NIKOS ROMANOS CONCERNING HIS HUNGER STRIKE – GREECE

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Translated by Act for freedom now!

It/Gr

fantazia5I am writing this text to critically evaluate the struggle we carried out, as it is an important legacy that needs to be analysed so that we can use it as a strategy compass for the hard days ahead.
The State, aware of the political defeat it suffered, is counter-attacking on other fronts of the struggle, so the continuation of a coordination based on specific agreements is necessary. Not only as a defensive battle position but as a conscious possibility of re-entering the chessboard with assertion as some comrades have rightly said.
During the hunger strike the State weighed up what the political cost of my possible extermination would be; the more the multi-form solidarity movement strengthened, the more the State changed its rhetoric. In brief we can say that the chameleons of government policies changed colour four times. From provocative indifference to superiority, then to a show of power, followed by panic. But let me be more specific.
 “Provocative indifference”
The Ministry of Justice secured the intransigence of judicial authority through political orders right from the start of the hunger strike. This was obvious from the moment that the Special Appellate interrogator Nikopoulos took up the case. Up until then he had claimed to have no jurisdiction. This was confirmed when the Ministry of Justice made an announcement just before my claim was examined in another judicial council, in which the reason for my not getting the furlough was explained, passing on the responsibility to Nikopoulos’s negative decision.
This was something I realized and had communicated to the comrades beyond the walls in my intervention at the event in the Polytechnic, as well as in the text that I wrote during the hunger strike. That’s why my choice of making a claim to all the judicial councils had the precise aim of revealing the government’s political strategy, causing simultaneous hotbeds of increasing intensity, which is what happened as I shall explain better.
 The phase of chronic indifference ends with my admission to hospital and the mainstream media’s focus on my case.
 “Superiority”
The State mechanism had already planned its strategy for this phase and began the process of materialising it communicationally. Given, as I said, that it had secured the intransigence of judicial authority, it would then present an amendment which would seemingly solve the problem in the eyes of “public opinion”. The case would be followed through the distorting lense of the mainstream media, while it basically it was toughening its correctional policy even more by demonstrating the dogma of zero tolerance to all resistance.

On my back they attempted a restructuring of the correctional policy of the fascist legislation for the C’type prisons. This would now concern all prisoners, as no prison council would ever give an educational furlough because tele-conferencing would solve the problem, relieving them of their permanent fear of responsibility.
 With this changing inter-State strategy the authorities want to demonstrate to their subjects that the struggle always makes things worse and that only they, like small gods, can help common mortals. This is how the State monopoly of violence is secured and State omnipotence is validated. This is why the State intensifies repression after every guerrilla act, this is why the MAT (riot cops) beat people indiscriminately at protests, this is why the military councillors of the capitalist super-powers write in their manuals that in order to attack the morale of any resistance you must target the non-combatants. Because the aim is to internalize fear and turn everyone against those who are factually disputing the existent.This is exactly why all “provocative chatter”, theories that put the blame for repression on the urban guerrillas and the condemning of direct action give political support to power, consciously or unconsciously aligning with it.
Therefore, with this successful recipe in mind, governmental executives and known major-journalists vomited mud on me on a daily basis.
Athanasiou (ex minister of justice) himself, before my claim was even examined in other judicial councils and forgetting the standard that executive authority does not intervene in judicial matters, said: “even if god himself were to come down, Romanos would not get his furlough”. Soon we will live the days of the second coming, and despite being an anarchist I have begun to pray that the State be destroyed by divine intervention, maybe god has finally chosen the side of revolution. Judgement day is coming, mr. Athanasiou, repent.
This and many others were targeted political interventions pointing to their superiority, wanting to make me believe that I had already lost. Suddenly a filthy raff of politicians, columnists and commentators all had an opinion. With words that dripped blood they stressed that an unrepentant criminal cannot blackmail the State. They would really like to see me kiss the cross of repentance with which they sanctify their crimes, it would be a trophy for them to see an anarchist begging for mercy. A victory for them to write down in gold letters in the book of the history of subjugation those who did not bow their heads to their power. A victory I would never give them.
 Demonstration of strength
 The more the 6th of December approached along with whatever this means to each one, the hunger strike and the dynamics that developed around it emerged as a major political question for the regime.
The State, continuing the strategy I mentioned above, announced the voting of the amendment on December 9th and was ideologically and repressively prepared for the attack it was receiving. Meantime, through the mass media and prosecutor Evaggelia Marsioni the question of my force-feeding was rendered public. This happened so that in the eventuality of my dying they could give penal responsibility to the doctors, whom they had threatened to sentence to life imprisonment.
 A characteristic example is the embalmed Tragas, who wondered why the doctors had not yet tied me to the bed in order to perform the force-feeding and could not understand why no one was bothering with the problems of other prisoners. Of course the sensitivity of this specific journalist was extremely selective since a few months earlier he had dedicated hours on end crying about the unfair treatment of slime-ball Lavrendiadis (banker accused of embezzlement), something obvious since Lavrendiadis had plenty of what Tragas was interested in, money.
Even the prime-minister of this cursed country, in a conflict he had with Tsipras in parliament for their own party reasons concerning my case, informed the whole of Greece that I have been sentenced to “15 years for a robbery with a Kalashnikov” in the style of a war correspondent under the influence of psychotropic-pharmaceuticals.
In the meantime major publishers and business lobbies prepared for war through their salaried pen-pushers. Some of the statements that came out just before the 6th of December are indicative.
“If the State retreats it will appear that it is giving privileged treatment because it was blackmailed”
 “The hunger strike has become the reason for the most violent protests of the last 2-5 years while the State is called to save face against its defiers”
 “No law-abiding class can give a furlough to someone indicted and convicted who does not respect the laws”
 “Zero tolerance and undercover police on every block”
“Three days of suspense for Athens with 20.000 police officers on the streets”
 And when the day came and prolonged enraged clashes broke out with the thousands of cops, all these people wondered about the failed operational plan of the police. What they cannot understand is that memory is a well-honed knife. Memory, present and future are connected with an invisible thread of pain and hope. Pain for those who were left behind and now appear only as ghosts that haunt their sleep. Hope for those who stubbornly seek the traces in the snow in the frantic course for a slave-less life. That is where the revolutionary perspective is born, in the constant insurrection that knows where it comes from, where it is and where it is heading. That is where all of us who believe in the force of the free human meet. And in the passing of time, in the turning of the circles we might be few or many but never alone.
  “Panic”
The panic of the State mechanism made its appearance when they realized that the zero tolerance plan had failed and that contrarily revolutionary solidarity continued to grow, igniting a strong social polarization and forcing wider social forces to take a position for or against.
 Their last spasmodic move was the negative decision of the Supreme Court the day the amendment was due to be voted in Parliament in order to blackmail me into accepting defeat, something that they did not succeed in doing since I started a thirst strike as well, as I had decided, in the final days.
 Independently of this however the political world had realized that if the State murdered me with its attitude an insurrection would break out and it would be especially destructive for their political plans. It would have given the coup de grace to the economy that was expecting profits from the consumerist high of Christmas, it would have damaged the image of the country abroad because of the murderous attitude towards the hunger strike as well as the desperate attempt to present Greece as a country safe for tourists and investors, and at the same time stigmatize the political career of government officials.
 This is why the same journalists, who a few days earlier had given a recital defending the dogma of zero tolerance, now call the government to find solutions wearing the suit of humanitarianism which is always well pressed and ready in the closet of democracy for such urgent situations. They stressed through the newspapers and TV channels that the hunger strike had created a time-bomb for the political scene.
 In this logic Athanasiou publicly pleaded with me to end the hunger strike and the opposition’s representatives proceeded to make declarations about the value of human life. Not because all these people were interested in my life but because they feared for political stability at a crucial time for them. Moreover it is not by chance that the amendment was voted in by all parties in order to reverse their defeat by presenting it as a victory of democracy that saved a human life. The State has always had the tendency to present its retreats as charity, the decision of the Supreme Court with which Kostas Sakkas was released after his hunger strike wrote that “he has been released for humanitarian reasons” and not because he had been in pre-trial detention for 2.5 years, also inside prison everything that has been conquered with struggles in past times are presented as “benefits”. But besides the permanent hypocrisy of democracy there were some enemies who were honest, who said it as it was. I am speaking about ex-parliamentary representative Adonis Georgiadis who voted against the amendment and made an announcement explaining why he did it, saying that he refused to vote in the amendment because the State cannot be blackmailed and continues “if the State really wants to change this law, it should do so at a politically neutral time and not under negotiations and blackmail by a criminal convicted of bank robbery… That is to say the State, which to be called such must share its authority with no one, feared the reactions of the organized Brigades of Anti-authoritarians and Terrorists.” The second reason as he says is a flash ordinance which was formed and voted for one person. And he continues, “However I must publicly recognize that he is honest. He never bought the story the Media served us up. In all of his texts he defends his ideas and boldly states that he wants to win his freedom from the Bad State, so he can be in the streets of struggle again and do the same. As for Studies and Universities, just a few days ago he publicly claimed that universities do not interest him because they are also means of State repression.” And his text ends saying that “The Romans who gave the global standard on how States are organized, showed the way for the case of Romanos: DURA LEX SED LEX (a tough law but a law)”.
These opinions are not the individual opinions of Adonis Georgiadis, on the contrary they were the collective opinions of government executives as expressed during the hunger strike and prove that their initial target was to continue an extermination strategy which failed for the reasons I have explained above.
 “Grasping the new facts”
 In this short description I have tried to describe the most important facts and ways with which the State mechanism acted. The result of this political blackmail we carried out was that educational furloughs were granted to all prisoners whom the prison council had rejected, with electronic surveillance (ankle tag) after they have successfully passed 1/3 of the semester classes (two classes in my case) widening the use of the “tag” which had only been used for economic crimes and thefts for all prisoners independently of the crime, including law 187A (‘anti-terrorist law’) while the opinion of the investigator for those in pre-trial detainment has been abolished.
Because many critiques have come to light by comrades and “comrades” concerning the matter of the “tag”, I will explain my frame of thought.
Taking into consideration that all the legal routes had closed, the only solution was for the government to change its initial amendment. The opinion of the interrogator had to change and the furlough had to be conceded. This happened with the parameter of the tag because it simply could not happen in any other way. That is to say, how could they abolish the jurisdiction of the interrogator as they did and cancel the negative decision of the prison council as they did.
Undoubtedly the “tag” could in the future operate in order to put under digital captivity those under bail conditions, those who are released with conditions etc. No dispute about that, but in this case its application is defensive. And to put the matter differently, this would mean that with the escape of the 11 from Trikala prisons following which the first announcements about high security prisons were made, the prisoners with their choice legitimized C’type prisons, that comrade Maziotis who violated his bail conditions after the 18 month pre-trial detention period ended, legitimized the indefinite detainment of political prisoners. All this might sound like a Syriza (leftist political party) conference, the problem however is that they are also the opinions of specific comrades who accuse me of “legitimizing” the tag.
However, things are simple, life within the system is death transformed into a thousand faces. Every expression of this world is hostile ground where exploitation and subjugation dominate. All those who want to be called enemies of oppression must carefully study and analyse the moves of the opponent, process the internal clashes within the gulfs of authority, see the facts in their substantial dimension and through the lens of ideological formations, provoke social atomization in order to exploit the social objections in favour of this case, unleashing the anarchist war to the politically weakened enemy ground.
 In the world we are living in there are no innocents let alone expressers of “clean-cut” viewpoints. These are usually dipped in the filth of inactivity and glance at real life from the summits of the glass towers of ideology, which will be blown up sooner or later along with their bosses.
All of us contribute more or less to feeding the social machine through our participation in the consumerist cycle, waged labour and much more. The sole and deep structural difference are those who choose to become sand as well as oil in its cog-wheels, setting fire to the social space-time of monotonous repetition and liberating messages, hopes, concepts and destructive intentions against the world of power. Hence our date for this chaotic point of no return.
“A step forward without illusions”
 One of the main targets of the hunger strike was to create a struggle front at a time when so much is at stake for the system as well as those fighting against it.
A struggle front that was formed with words and acts, overcame fear, frigidity, fragmentation. With the persistence and rage of everyone it managed to bring back and light up anarchist direct action, warming the frozen nights and the hearts of many captive comrades, creating live hotbeds of the spread of subversive actions through dozens of occupations. It raised the existence of anarchist political prisoners inside Greek prisons to a central political level, clashed in the streets without inhibitions, connected the dots on the map of international revolutionary solidarity, spreading the rays of destruction in many countries around the world. Closing my eyes in the bed of the hospital my mind travelled behind flaming barricades and fortified roof tops, the dark alleys of a conspiratorial meeting, through occupied buildings where our banners and flags hung, to every spot where anarchy remained alive in the minds, hearts and hands of those comrades, all that filled me with strength and made me know that it was all worth it.
 We keep all these positive signs of struggle as a legacy and look ahead. The point is for this struggle front to set aims, plan strategies, cause an aponeurosis to the dominant ideological propaganda and risk by striking neuralgic points of the regime.
 Already as we speak the State has inaugurated the cement graves in which they will bury the political prisoners alive, a grand opening carried out with sudden transfers and raids of the EKAM (special forces). While government officials and Media speak of triumph through a new anti-terrorist campaign of the State mechanism to prevent an escape attempt of the prisoner members of the CCF from Koridallos prisons and by unleashing a witch-hunt against comrades through warrants and photographs.
 So the question now is whether we will take a step forward without illusions, bare our teeth to the claws of repression that will inevitably attack us as a “reward” for our effectiveness, play it all or nothing now that the stability of the system has been threatened. This is the wager that must be made, not with harmless blabbering but through acts inside and outside the walls.
I believe a dynamic anti-election campaign using as a spearhead the C’type prisons and solidarity to political prisoners could create ruptures in the regime which is a topic in the foreign Media because different powerful geo-political interests are clashing for the model of managing bankrupted Greek capitalism which, unless something unexpected happens, will be a source of political instability and social intensities in the wider territory of Europe.
Now everyone should take their responsibilities and act consciously. The time is now and the place is here. Once more I would like to send out my love to those who stood by my side, fought, risked, dared. You all have a special part in my heart.
FOR A POWERFUL STRUGGLE FRONT INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE PRISONS
 BECAUSE WHOEVER FORGETS THEIR HOSTAGES FORGETS THE STRUGGLE ITSELF
SOLIDARITY TO ALL HOSTAGE AND WANTED COMRADES
 STRENGTH TO ALL OF US!
LONG LIVE ANARCHY!
Koridallos Prisons
Nikos Romanos
January 2014

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