Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its solidarity with Greek political prisoner Dimitris Koufontinas, on hunger strike since 8 January 2021 – and refusing water since 22 February 2021 – in protest of his treatment by the Greek government. We further salute Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Arab struggler for Palestine imprisoned in France for over 36 years, for his material solidarity with Dimitris Koufontinas, undertaking a full-day solidarity hunger strike on Saturday, 6 March 2021.
Koufontinas has been jailed since 2002 for his role in the Revolutionary Organization 17 November, and today he is confronting a “war” upon him waged by the Greek government. The movement took its name from the infamous massacre of 17 November 1973 conducted by the Greek fascist military junta against a student uprising.
The government amended the Greek penal code specifically to target revolutionary prisoners in Greek prisons, elder detainees like Koufontinas who were jailed on charges of “terrorism” for their involvement in armed left and revolutionary movements. These changes established that those convicted on “terrorism” charges may not access “agricultural prisons,” more rural institutions for long-term prisoners with exemplary disciplinary records.
Upon the approval of this law, Dimitris Koufontinas was immediately transferred from the agricultural prison of Kassevitia. However, going beyond the law, which specified that a transferred prisoner should be returned to the previous institution where they were held, Koufontinis was instead transferred to the “hard prison” in Domokos rather than Korydallos prison in Athens. He had been held in Korydallos prison for 16 years, accessible for visitation by his family members.
Today, Dimitris Koufontinas is in critical condition. He is in the intensive care unit at Lamia hospital and has developed acute renal failure; the hospital later announced that he had lost all kidney function. In a statement, Koufontinas said, “I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be treated like human garbage either! I am not threatening to kill myself. As long as they do not comply with a just and legitimate request, I have no choice but to walk with dignity and pride until death. If the Mitsotakis government does not do what is lawful and if it does not listen to those who bring the issue on the basis of humanity it will remain a state assassination.”
Protests and actions have been organized in Athens and throughout Europe, with thousands taking to the streets in Athens and large mobilizations in Berlin:
During his time behind bars, Koufontinas has remained active, writing two books. He has also expressed his solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and Palestinian political prisoners, issuing a letter in 2018 with fellow Greek political prisoners:
“The Palestinian people that in the last decades is under the imperialists’ grip, and before that the colonists’ grip as well, have proved that they know how to resist firmly and tirelessly….with their thirst for freedom but also the memory of the thousands of Palestinians whose blood has been spilled in the struggle…. After the announcement of the USA that recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Netanyahu’s veto which posed this as a condition for any peace making process, the intensification of Intifada is a fact.
The Greek government, as a member of the imperialist coalition between the EU, the NATO and recently the peripheral block of Greece-Cyprus-Israel-Egypt that forwards the geostrategical interests of the bourgeoisie, has the Middle East peoples’ blood in its hands.” The letter was signed by Dimitris Koufontinas, Kostas Gournas, Kostas Sakkas, Marios Seisidis, Panagiotis Aspiotis and Gregoris Sarafoudis.
Samidoun joins people around the world in urging immediate action to save the life of Dimitris Koufontinas by transferring him to Korydallos prison in Athens and ending the war against him. We express our strongest solidarity with Koufontinas and all of those around the world — especially imprisoned struggler for Palestine, Georges Abdallah — who continue to uphold their principles despite the most violent repression of imperialist powers and complicit regimes.