Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Greece: The persecution of the families of political prisoners by the state continues

The following information comes to us via BlackCat; a sociologist, translator and writer from Greece. 

Female relatives and partners of prisoners are still being targeted by the Greek state in an effort to isolate prisoners and repress solidarity movements. Women are seen as an 'easy target' whose repression facilitates the prevalence of a climate of fear impeding the struggles against injustice.

Maria Theofilou, the sister of anarchist communist author and political prisoner Tasos Theofilou was arrested and imprisoned despite the law passed by the so-called 'leftist' Syriza government decriminalizing family relations of political prisoners and despite the recent hunger strike staged by anarchist Evi StatiriEvi Statiri was arrested and imprisoned under the same conditions as Maria with the excuse of family relations which are supposedly now decriminalized by law.

Maria has been in detention for over a month now because of her relationship with her partner G. Petrakakos and her brother Tasos. Maria was specifically asked about her incarcerated brother during her interrogation by police and then her detention was ordered. 

No matter how cruel the repressive tactics used to create this climate of fear, people will resist as they are left with no other choice.


The counter-terrorism unit raided the home of the Theofilou family

The vengeful treatment of prisoners' families and relatives continues and the Theofilou family is at the epicenter of this tactic, despite the law reforms enacted by Minister of Justice Nicos Paraskevopoulos that forbid the criminalization of family relations.

On Monday, 5th of October, around 2pm, 7-8 men of the counter-terrorism unit intruded the residence of the parents of Tassos and Maria Theofilou, while other officers had remained outside.

According to Mrs. Theofilou, the men were conducting a search for four hours and were disrupting and destroying everything inside the rooms. They confiscated the family's personal computer, old mobile phones, keys and irrelevant documents such as addresses and phone numbers of friends of the family, as well as documents regarding the ownership of land and the correspondence between Maria and Tassos.

Because of the unexpected police raid, Mrs. Theofilou was forced to arrange for her two grandchildren (the children of Maria, aged two and four) to remain at a local park for four hours until the search was over.

The counter-terrorism units stated that the search was ordered by the 17th investigator who is in charge of the case of Tassos' sister. Maria was arrested, remanded and faces serious charges for participation in an unknown terrorist organization, without any incriminating evidence at hand, except her relationship to her partner and father of her children G. Petrakakos.

After Maria Theofilou's prosecution, her attorney, Spyros Phytrakis stated that the facts  contained in the case file are not indicative that "we are dealing with a terrorist organization." In reference to the 36 year-old woman, he said:

"None of the added evidence proves that the two guns found in a wardrobe within the house were used by the woman, or that she was aware of them being kept there, or that she committed a delinquent act. Having two children with a man who has engaged in delinquency is not a crime. That was typical of a different time in the past. I hope that the interrogation will not cause problems to the woman and the two underage children."

A similar intrusion of the counter-terrorism unit took place at an empty house owned by the family in the city of Volos.


The International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry demands the release of detainee Maria Theofilou

Athens, 7th of October 2015
Dr. Argyris Argyriades

We have systematically clarfied that the penalization of family relations and their use to reinforce an indictment is a constitutional construct that characterizes totalitarian regimes. It constitutes the most barbaric institutional process and practice.

Another typical example is the new ''grand success'' of the police in the arrest and detention of Mrs Maria Theofilou, a young mother of two toddlers (aged two and four) who is indicted on charges of being an accomplice of her partner and father of her children. This is a flagrantly unlawful prosecution of a relative which has taken place despite the law prepared by Minister of Justice Nicos Paraskevopoulos, that forbids this kind of treatment against relatives.

We consider the violent removal of the mother away from her children a psychologically pressurizing event bearing traumatic consequences to the mother as well as the children, since it contributes to separation anxiety. The dependence of toddlers at the age of two and even four on their mother is a very normal response based on the instict of survival. Children internalize  the safety that stems from the mother's love and care, a process that was disrupted abruptly in this case. As the counter-terrorism unit raided the home of Maria's parents, her mother was forced to arrange that the children stayed away at a local park for four hours, which only made the situation worse.

We insist once again that the case against Mrs Maria Theofilou is the practical expression of  institutional retribution of justice. It is obvious that her prosecution and detention resulted from her family relations. According to anthropologists all people are relatives of each other, which is why Maria's case is relevant to all of us.

We demand the immediate release of Maria Theofilou in order for her to reunite with her two children.


The Initiative for Prisoners' Rights demands the release of Maria Theofilou

The life choice of a husband or the accidental fact of parental or any kind of relationship to defendants continues to amount to incriminating evidence and has become the focal point for the expression of vengeful and inhumane treatment by the authorities based on a new kind of statutory familial co-responsibility.

The pre-trial detention and ill-treatment of defendants' families is not something new, it's a tactic that has been deployed for years in order to inflict psychological pressure and fear in defendants. The most recent case was that of Evi Statiri who remained in detention for six months until she became released following a geat struggle she carried through hungerstrike. The only incriminating evidence in Evi Statiri's case was the fact that she is the wife of political prisoner and member of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire Gerasimmos Tsakalos.

The case of Maria Theofilou is even more unfair and vengeful on the part of the authorities, since the outcomes  affect both of her children. Maria Theofilou - from the day she was pilloried when her photographs appeared in mass media- was remanded and her relationship to her husband and father of her two under-aged children (2 and 4 years old), G. Petrakakos, was used as ''evidence''.

It is obvious that for the authorities the separation of the two small children from their mother was not enough, despite the fact that at this age separation can be be a cause of trauma. This inhumane treatment goes to extremes when, in complete disregard for the children as well as Maria's parents, the police raided her parent's home resulting in the two toddlers having to stay at a park for four hours, which is how long the raid by the counter-terrorism unit lasted.

The most solid proof of the arbitrariness exhibited by the judicial and investigative authorities is the clear violation of the amendment introduced in the bill for prison reform voted in April 2015, which clarifies that family relations cannot be penalized.

For all these reasons analyzed above, the Initiative for Prisoners' Rights demands:

- that the prosecution and vengeful treatment against prisoners' families must be stopped
- adherence to the amendment of Minister of Justice Paraskevopoulos which de-penalizes family relations 
- the immediate release of Maria Theofilou as a family member of a defendant and as a mother of two under-aged toddlers.



Maria Theofilou on her pre-trial detention and the effect on her children

Since Tuesday, September 29th, after five days of detention in the Counter-terrorism jail, I have been remanded in the women's section of Korydallos prison. The series of charges I am facing essentially occurred from harbouring my Partner.

Our children 2 and 4,5 years old had to endure the violent moment of their father's arrest but mainly the frightening experience of the attack against them since there were guns pointed at the four of us with excessive violence the moment we got in our car. These events along with the violent separation and weaning as well as the deprivation of both their parents pose a great risk to their mental health.

I would like to clarify that the only incriminating evidence against me, based on which my pre-trial detention was decided,  was my relationship with my brother who is incarcerated in Domokos prison. It's worth noting that the final question I was asked by the interrogator and the prosecutor with a great amount of irony and satisfaction, as if this was proof of my guilt, was whether I have any siblings and where my brother is currently.

Considering that there is no evidence against me, I am asking for my temporary detention to be terminated so that I can return to my children. I am asking for an end to this vengeful prosecution and a treatment based on evidence and not my family relationships.

Maria Theofilou