the Disillusioned kid: It's all Greek to me
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Friday, April 27, 2007

It's all Greek to me

Earlier this week, riots shook the Greek penal system, as prisoners protested against the beating of one of their number.

The unrest began at Malandrinos prison in central Greece after the alleged beating of a bank robbery suspect by prison guards. Although designed for 260 inmates, the facility currently holds 440 in predictably cramped conditions. The protesting prisoners demanded a reduction of prison overcrowding and reform of Greece's parole system.

Police were called to the prison in central Greece after inmates refused to return to their cells and began throwing burning sheets and clothes from the roof. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman from the Justice Ministry stated that some 200 prisoners remained on the roof, following the breakdown of negotiations with ministry officials. "Police have entered the prison," she claimed, "and are trying to get them off the roof without using violence."

One inmate, described by Associated Press as a "spokesman" said police were "welcome" to take on prisoners. "We will kill for our dignity," convicted murderer Yiannis Palis told Antenna TV. "We will take this all the way." Unlike so much activist rhetoric you can't help feeling that his past form, suggests this promise should be taken seriously.

Although disorder had initially spread to ten other prisons, this had largely died out by late Tuesday. Police utilised stun grenades and tear gas to quash an uprising at a high security facility in Athens after a number of inmates tried to use the unrest to escape. The use of tear gas, appears to have been particularly controversial, as this institution is located in a densely populated area of the city. By Wednesday, authorities had regained control everywhere except Malandrios and another institution on Crete.

There have been a number of solidarity demonstrations in Greece, organised by the country's famously militant anarchist movement. On Wednesday, a group of anarchists, numbering anywhere between 30 and 80, marched through the centre of Athens, attacking shops, a bank, ministers' offices and a police station where they torched twelve police vehicles. Amazingly, despite clashes with the police at Kaningos Square, there were no arrests and the group dispersed into Exarcheia district, apparently a traditional anarchist neighborhood. Further arson attacks were carried out the following evening and into the early hours of the morning, with two cars belonging to the Uruguayan ambassador to Greece being among the targets (no, I don't know why either).

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