Nikos Romanos, on a hunger strike for 24 days so far
A press conference was held yesterday morning by the parents of the hunger strikers in prison, along with supporters such as Anastasia Tsoukala , criminology professor at Paris III, in a packed theatre at the city centre, in Athens.Representatives from supporting organizations such as Aphrodite Babasi from the Initiative for Prisoners’ Rights and Petros Konstantinou from the Union of Immigrant Workers, also showed up. The following statements were translated in English, in order to give you an idea on what was said.
Father of Nikos Romanos:
”My son’s right to education is brutally violated in this game, meaning that the minimum guarantees for a rudimentary form of democratic operation of the authority, within the context of bourgeois legality has been violated. The attack against the borders of formal legality serves to hinder the deeper cause -the aim of controlling the social body- this legal form of violence represents the epitome of the ethics of the survivors of the era of democratization (Metapolitefsis) and it is a belief of mine that the Greek people must put an end to this by all means. My son’s life is in great danger and the minister has done nothing more than focus on ankle tethers for the past two years. He must assess the consequences of his actions and the heavy weight of responsibility for what is going to happen. Personally, I am not going to be emotional, I believe deep in my heart that my son was not following anyone’s orders, he has always followed a personal ethical stance and does not hesitate to put his life on the line in order to stand up for his beliefs and the choices he made”.
Father of Yiannis Mihailedes:
”My son Yiannis Mihailedes has always tried to convince me that every form of authority treated him and like-minded individuals in a punitive and vengeful way. At that time it seemed to me incomprehensible that the authorities woud spend their energy on them, but unfortunately the outcomes proved that I was wrong. The executive authority has relentlessly tortured them and the mass media have publicly humiliated them. The lawmakers have passed legislation for creating special prisons to make them disappear out of the face of the earth and the judicial authority burdens them with arrest warrants, charges and imprisonment, however, they do not respect the fundamental right to education in prison. As a father, I appeal to those in the government who influence and direct the decisions of individual authorities, to do the right thing, to let Nikos Romanos, Yiannis Mihailedes and the other political prisoners get educational furloughs, before it’s too late for them”.
Anastasia Tsoukala criminology professor at Paris III stated:
”Yesterday, the minister of justice made a suggestion, which as far as I can tell he probably thought it was genious, that prisoners would attend their classes on distance learning mode. This is the point I want to analyse and deconstruct. First, this proposition has been articulated after a very long delay.. So I am asking, what was the purpose of this delay? I think the answers are more than obvious, but I will still mention them. First of all, this is a demonstration of power, a demonstration of authority towards the free citizens, giving the message that the state does not give way, or at least the state does not give way quickly. This is also a demonstration of force towards like-minded individuals, anarchists, those closely affiliated, and of course the hunger strikers. This is the realm of symbolic politics, the realm of games of power against some citizens. The delay, apart from a demonstration of power, also meant other things. Mr Athanasiou waited to assess the level of public support, the level of solidarity expressed. It is not a coinsidence, that he made an announcement, when the solidarity movement started to grow and become obvious everywhere in the country. It is not a matter of chance, that his announcement was made when the hunger strikers were supported by political parties and when non-political professionals such as doctors working at ‘G.Gennimatas’ and some actors on a popular tv show proclaimed their solidarity. The minister waited to assess the arguments of those showing solidarity and then he published his announcement. That also means that during all this time he put the health of Nikos Romanos and the other hunger strikers in jeopardy, degrading the value of human life and health, because he places more importance on political games than human llife itself” ….
”Education is not the dry content within the books one reads, its meaning extends beyond thaat, education means the entering in a context of life, of the one wanting to be educated. Education is not a lifeless thing, that can be isolated and placed in tins and provided to people, saying ‘here take five pages today and another five tomorrow’. This is not education. The minister is an ignorant regarding the meaning of education. The minister is also an ignorant of the real reason why educational or other type of furloughs exist in prison. There are different types of furloughs that prisoners are entitled to. Whoever is knowledgeable on the penal system, and the minister should have been one of them, knows that there the reason for this is not to cut off prisoners from society, so that they won’t turn into savages. To avoid breaking their bond with society, because the ultimate goal of prison is their re-entry to society. If prisoners lose their socialization skills, and educational furloughs provide a kind of socialization in the field of the university, the prisoner, nomatter how strong a personality he has, turns into a savage. He cannot re-enter society.
The minister is fully aware of that since he is referring to a young man who is not convicted to life, a man who hopefully will be a free man in a few years. What kind of person would the minister want to re-enter society? An individual completely cut off from society? This is exactly what he wants. And to add to what was previously said, about degrading the value of human life, there is a negation of humanity through the indifference towards human life as such. This is the meaning of the minister’s proposition.”