Athens,Greece: “the struggle escalates!”

9 June 2020:
16 of the 26 women detained at Petrou Ralli refused to eat. They decided, once again, to go on hunger strike because they cannot sustain themselves eating the appalling food the authorities insist on giving them—food which results in illness, digestive problems, vomiting, and weight loss. The wretched quality of the food has persisted over the four years we have been visiting Petrou Ralli, likely longer. Likewise, on 17 March, 9 detained women started a hunger strike which lasted 3 days. They sent us the following message on Day 3: “9 women we started a serious (i.e. hunger and thirst strike) hunger strike. The situation is terrible and it’s getting worse and worse. Two of us passed out and still haven’t regained consciousness. We will continue the hunger strike until we are free from this captivity. They will either set us free or we shall die, followed by their names.
On this occasion, the authorities employed the standard method for terrorizing detainees, employed in all prisons in the totalitarian world of patriarchy. The women were called down one by one and a police officer or Commander questioned them and threatened that if they didn’t stop the hunger strike, it would be at the expense of their case— it would be too late for them to be released or they will be transferred to Korydallos prison. Their strike ended after Day 3.
Quite a few of the nine women are still inside. Irma is, unfortunately, as of 10/6/2020, in a 15-day quarantine in Georgia, after her deportation.
The lockdown may have stopped outside, but in the Aliens’ police detention center of Petrou Ralli, the routine continues undisturbed.
Two more suicide attempts followed the three earlier this year.
26 May:
After a long and particularly painful detention, one woman felt unable to endure, taking a large quantity of psychoactive drugs. The most violent repression technique was implemented in response—a tactic legally prescribed by the authorities, the head of services explained in answer to our questions. A renowned officer whom the detainees call ‘Big Mama’ handcuffed the almost unconscious girl behind her back in order to transfer her to the hospital, confident that she would be unable to escape.
9 June, Tuesday:
There is another self-immolation attempt. Luckily, the woman fails when her fellow detainees intercept her in the act. The woman has not seen her young child since 8th March—the evening when she went to the police station seeking help after being abused, only to end up in Petrou Ralli due to her lack of papers.
10 June, Wednesday:
1. There were 3 deportations, to Norway, Albania and Georgia. The first two detainees had requested to be deported while the third case was a series of manipulations and legal errors which resulted in the woman being detained for eight months.
2. From the morning, officers started bringing the hunger strikers one by one down into the social workers’ office of Petrou Ralli in order to convince them to stop their action for the sake of their health.
3. When lunch was served on the 3rd floor, the psychologist also went up to talk to all the hunger strikers in a more ‘noble’ mechanism of repression. The screams from the savage beatings of male prisoners of the 2nd floor, the woman reported, was also greatly reduced.
11 June, Thursday:
Ιn the morning they offered for breakfast: bun, juice, and coffee. Great luxury for Petrou Ralli and challenge for the young girls, who do not know that this is exactly repeated, for two or three days, until every form of resistance is broken and then continues to feed the same and unchanged, chickpeas uncooked for dinner, no salad, except a damaged tomato that does not always come and no fruit except orange, etc, etc. 16 who started the strike were limited to 11. They require that the quality and the contents of the pot be changed to stop.
As an Initiative: The House of Women, has constant contact with the female prisoners and former prisoners in Petrou Ralli and meet with them after their release. We collect essential items from individuals and collectives in the anti-hierarchical and self-organized solidarity movement—a movement that gained momentum during the pandemic, with an abundance of donations for the detained women and even the men. But our goal remains: to close detention centres and extermination camps for refugees and open the borders!
No one, regardless of gender, deserves the deprivation of freedom, the violation of basic rights, the torture of having their lives threatened or to be degraded and abused: all this on the grounds that they are “illegal” due to not having papers.
We know how these hellholes are operated, with duties delegated to NGOs who continue to profit from the refugee crisis and to individuals with direct contracts—for example, the recent disinfection of the filthy detention centres and camps during the pandemic, or the business cronies and relatives of the powerful who profiteer by selling spoilt and carcinogenic food to detainees, treated as “garbage”.
Some extracts from letters of ex-detained and detained immigrant women:
“(…) Imagine that every day, the sound of crying, tears, moans, and screams of girls fill up the universe, but the police do not mind. Every day, every day, every day, the girls were screaming in Allodapon. There were mothers who’d been away from their children for months. One when she heard her child ‘s voice crying over the phone, went to hang herself, but the other girls found out and prevented her.
Every day, a girl from Turkey fainted, in the morning and at night.
Another girl from Iraq with diabetes had to take insulin at precise times, but the police paid no regard. One day she asked ‘Big Mama’ for her medication, but she refused to give her the insulin pill and the girl became unconscious. After two hours, they took her to the hospital in handcuffs.
One girl from Africa who had been in Allodapon for three months developed digestive problems, vomiting every day, and unable to eat. She asked the police several times to take her to the doctor but it never happened; she became so weary that she tried to commit suicide by drinking chlorine. After one hour she was taken to the hospital in handcuffs.
The authorities then threatened the women that anyone who attempted suicide would be taken to solitary confinement, rather than investigating the cause of their distress.
Sleeping pills and other unidentified pharmaceuticals are administered to control the detainees so they do not protest. So strong are these medications that one pill reportedly causes you to fall asleep for two days—when you eventually wake up you are confused and out of energy, zombified and only able to sit and stare blankly.
It was so difficult to bear living there. Male prisoners, from the 2nd floor below us, shouted all night to take them to the toilet and the police paid no attention. This is the reality. Men are locked in their cells day and night. Every day, some of them tried to commit suicide, but the police just proceed to beat them.
I hope Allodapon will be destroyed. That prison is our nightmare. Freedom is the only hope for all the girls. I wish the screams of poor girls in Allodapon would be heard by all people around the world.”
“(…) I’m here just because of a lack of documents, where is all that which you call human rights? I’m not a murderer. I didn’t steal anything, why and according to which claim do they keep me here—not just me, but all the detainees, just because of lack of documents?”
“(…) My husband was harassing me and abused me with two of his friends. I broke up with this man and I left with my children. I could not shake off his threats though, so I escaped from my country to seek protection and now I am in Allodapon for four months, as if I can’t have the right to have a normal life. I am very unhappy here, also the food is very bad. You, as a woman, should understand my pain and because I am a mother, I will struggle for my freedom forever.”
“(…) I’ve been in Turkey where I was raped because I had no money. A man forced me to do things I never wanted to do and led me to Izmir where I got to know the sea, and I crossed it to Greece, to a camp on an island. This man didn’t allow me any space to speak and he made me carry some items for his friends. At some point, I took an opportunity to flee to Athens to protect myself from this man, and I denounced him at the NGO «Doctors of the world». There I received a document to prove that I have been raped. After that, some months later, I am in Petrou Ralli jail, where nobody knows when we can leave, the food is very bad, the toilets are disgusting. They’re ignoring us when we are sick, and because of them, many of us have psychological problems. I am in tears and I am shouting for help. At this very moment, I am writing it’s been three months and six days that I am in jail.
The hands that produce violence and repression are always alike. They wear uniforms, they bear arms; they have conceit; they abuse their position; they make a show of their power; they come authorized.
Torture and mistreatment of prisoners are crimes and as such must be dealt with, and not only be covered up and sanitized with flimsy excuses and rationalizations about “necessary practices”.
NO to the abject brutality of power
NO to its legitimation and impunity.
Let us raise our voices before we become desensitized to mass abuse, overcrowding, horror, and wretchedness, silenced by the fear which seeks to suppress us.
We stand against every fascist and patriarchal pandemic!
We stand by our rebel sisters who started a hunger strike!
Empty all detention centers and refugee camps now.
Give all applicants papers and transfer them to accommodation that meets the requirements of quarantine, with proper information,
health care, education, and dignity
No person illegal, no person invisible
The passion for freedom is stronger than all kinds of prisons
Solidarity and self-organization are our weapons
Assembly of the Initiative: The House of Women, for Empowerment & Emancipation

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