Thessaloniki 7 Are Released!
Anti-capitalist activists finally freed from Greek prison after two month hunger strike
27th Nov 2003
A Greek Council of Judges has finally ordered the release on bail of the seven anti-capitalist activists who have been languishing in prison since the protests at the EU summit at Thessaloniki last June.
The seven jailed protestors - including one British activist from Essex, Simon Chapman - claim to have been beaten and spat at during their arrest and subsequent incarceration. Chapman's head wounds required stitches.
One of the prisoners, Carlos Martín Martínez, was ill-treated during his hospitalisation on 4 November for health problems resulting from the hunger strike. Reports in the Spanish daily El Mundo stated that he was handcuffed, offered no access to a bed and actively prevented from sleeping by being subjected to repeated blows and verbal abuse by the guards who accompanied him to the hospital.
Twenty Eight European Parliament members had called for the prisoners release and Amnesty International have called for an independent enquiry into their treatment. [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR250092003]
Five of the seven prisoners have been on hunger strike for up to two months and some of them were approaching critical condition. Their hunger strike demands were that bail should be granted for all seven, and that one of the prisoners, Suleiman "Kastro" Dakduk - a Syrian who has been living in exile in Crete for 18 years, and who is now threatened with deportation back to Syria where he faces torture and imprisonment for trade union activity - be allowed to remain in Greece. Amnesty International have also expressed concern over Dakduk's safety should he be deported to Syria.
Clear evidence that Simon Chapman was framed by Greek riot police has now come to light. Chapman was arrested on June 21 and his charges included possession of three black bags containing molotoff cocktails and dangerous weapons. However, photographs taken by Reuters and Associated Press photographers all show Chapman had a blue and purple bag, though the Greek riot police denied this bag ever existed. More recently film footage shot by Greek news channels was discovered which revealed that Chapman did indeed have a blue bag prior to arrest. On camera, Greek police are seen holding a black bag with molotoff cocktails in it some distance from where Chapman can be seen sat on the pavement, his head bleeding after a truncheon attack. The footage shows Greek police placing a hammer and a pick axe handle in the bag and then walk over to where Chapman was sitting and place it next to him. [http://www.freesimonchapman.org/evidence.htm - offline]
Solidarity groups had carried out demonstrations around the world, including pickets of the Greek Embassy in London, and the case had just begun to attract the attention of the mainstream media in the UK.
The hunger strikers are now recovering in a civilian hospital and all seven activists, [Simon Chapman (English), Fernando Perez Gorraiz (Spanish), Carlos Martin Martinez (Spanish), Souleiman "Kastro" Dakduk (Syrian), Spyros Tsitsas (Greek) and two Greek juveniles], have to remain in Greece until their trial.