Freedom for Dimitris Koufantinas!
A prison is a space of dictatorship. Any hunger strike that a prisoner leads is the subject’s struggle against a totality that deprives this subject (nothing less than) of this very subjectivity.
Dimitris Koufantinas has been on a hunger strike in a Greek prison for over 50 days. Dimitris Koufontinas belonged to the armed Revolutionary Organization 17 November formed in the aftermath of the Greek military dictatorship in 1975 and existed for 25 years. The group was accused of several armed attacks, including the shooting of the CIA chief for Southeastern Europe. Other attacks on U.S. officials followed because of the connection between NATO-U.S. and Greek coup plotters who installed a terror regime over Greece for years. Other attacks targeted Greek politicians and journalists.
Remember, the Revolutionary Organization 17 November‘s actions are directly linked to the fact that the Greek military organized a coup on April 21, 1967, and imposed a climate of open violence until its overthrow in 1974. It is a historical fact that the U.S. Nixon administration worked closely with the dictators for years. The same allegations must be made against the Greek royal family of that time, as well as many of the wealthy families. Fearful of losing their special privileges, they sponsored the coup plotters because the political mood changed in the 1960s.
Dimitris Koufontinas voluntarily surrendered to Greek justice in 2002 to accept political responsibility for the 17N‘s actions, alongside others who were arrested and charged. He always refused to make statements that could have incriminated his co-defendants. Many leftists and intellectuals appreciated his overall attitude. The prisoner sentenced to multiple life-terms has been granted the easing of detention conditionssince 2017, although he would have been legally entitled to them years earlier.
The current government in Greece makes little secret of the fact that it thinks in the social and political categories associated with the military dictatorship. The president of the now ruling New Democracy party, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, declared even before his election that he would tighten the prison conditions of Dimitris Koufontinas. To implement this undertaking, which is based on the personal need for revenge of a ruling Greek family attacked by 17N, a law to this effect was passed in December 2020. Behind this is the demand that leftist political prisoners must testify and publicly repent. It is precisely this demand that the Greek dictators brought forth in 1967 against thousands of prisoners suspected of being communists and then subjected to brutal prison conditions and permanent torture.
Dimitris Koufontinas is now 63 years old. Since January 2021, he has been subjected to a dramatic deterioration of his prison conditions. Meanwhile, he has been on a hunger strike for 59 days (March 7, 2021). Dimitris Koufontinas can die at any moment. But he is dying then not because he is leading an armed attack on the neoliberal government in Greece, but because he is refusing the demand of a ruling upper class to grovel at its feet. Even after decades of their pact with a bloody colonels’ dictatorship, this upper class does not seem to have gotten over the fact that they, too, have been held accountable.
There is no right to society’s subjugation by a wealthy minority that thinks of nothing but expanding its wealth and power. The abject behavior towards Dimitris Koufontinas includes the equally abject actions against refugees in Greece, against the poor and the elderly, or those whom the capitalist system simply no longer needs.
We are former prisoners from the RAF and the 2 June Movement and know the state’s harsh attitude and its apparatuses. We know force-feeding and excessive violence of the guards. We know the “coma solution,” the cynically called “ping-pong game,” with which they tried to keep us in a state between life and death in the hope that we would break. We know the game of forcing repentance as a condition for freedoms. Dimitris Koufontinas is exposed to the same intentions and actions.
Neoliberalism has failed worldwide, leaving a disastrous social field everywhere. And at the same time, it is increasingly trying to erase any thought of another world, any approach of resistance against it in history.
It is not we who must renounce, but all those responsible for those horrible conditions that determine the lives of a large part of humanity must leave.
We are all obliged to fight also for the life and freedom of the political prisoner Dimitris Koufontinas.
Knut Folkerts, Christian Klar, Roland Mayer, Karl-Heinz Dellwo, Eva Haule, Monika Berberich (all: RAF)
Ella Rollnik (2 June Movement)