The first day in the cell, still waiting to be judged at court, I started contemplating where my actions up until then had been leading me. The prospect of one day being convicted, of being closed up in that place for years on end, seemed scary. And what had my actions managed to change? Had the world improved, even a little? So I was thinking whether I should and, if so, in what way I should change my attitude so as to avoid such a terrible conviction in the future. What should I omit, what should I do less of?
But what had I done until then? I had hardly done anything. I disseminated pamphlets in interventions, I put up posters, I wrote a slogan on a wall now and again and I participated in demonstrations, where, at least within the space controlled by the Cyprus State, I used no sort of violence whatsoever. Not that I am against violence when it is aimed towards those that exploit others, towards social criminals and the puppets who protect them. It’s just that the conditions were such that I hadn’t had the opportunity to use violence except clearly for self-defense. Any anti-authoritarian anarchist in any country where there is a serious anarchist movement would call the kind of action which I had taken at least flimsy, if not frivolous action that only suits reformists. Nevertheless, despite this I found myself accused with serious false accusations and I have ended up in prison. So what’s left for me to change? Primarily two things:
One is the very content of texts and slogans. Those that until then turned against authority, the state, capitalism, the system.
The second is my attitude when a figure of power is trying to impose on me, even when s/he holds in contempt the laws which s/he is supposed to uphold, which is the usual case. In other words, I should remain silent and accept his/her authority. So I imagined my life under these terms. To compromise, obey the system, consent to crimes with my silence. Not to be anti-authoritarian but to pretend that I can fight “in other ways”. To suck up to the cop when s/he approaches me, lest he finds a pretext to arrest and accuse me. What’s left to change? To become subjugated. There is no middle ground, since I believe that I don’t believe that you can change the system with the means that itself has to offer. In such a case I would have to be consciously subjugated because I could not fool myself about this. Every trace of freedom I had would have vanished. I would be imprisoned, even if I could walk freely in the streets.
So then I compared the two prisons: the one which I found myself in and the one which compromise would lead me to. I found the second one unbearably awful; much worse than the first. So I preferred the first one. From that moment onwards I knew what I should do. I would take things as far as they would go.
A bit later, a warder came and announced to me that I had been assigned to do chores. I refused. I knew that that would lead me to the isolation cell. I was even warned about that. The isolation was postponed, in the end, because the next day I would be led to court for the announcement of my sentence. I decided that if I was sentenced to prison, I would go on hunger strike. Indeed, I was sentenced to 15 days in prison. It was less than what I had expected. But I thought I’d go on hunger strike, even symbolically, for those two weeks.
Hunger strike in central State prison [of Cyprus] constitutes an offence. So after all my personal belongings were removed from me, save for the clothes that I was wearing, I was led to isolation. I had thought upon isolation as something horrible. To be constantly confined to a space of 2,5 x 2 metres, with nothing to do and, in my case, with no food,to sleep next to the crapper.
But there a surprise awaited me: I felt free! In isolation the legal authority of the system stops, it is the prison within the prison. No other penalty can be imposed on you. You can be undisciplined, swear at the warders, refuse to obey to any other order and they can’t do anything to you. You are confined, but you’re free!
Today is 28 July, a week in prison, sixth day in isolation. Today I got a message of solidarity. I was informed about what is happening outside. There is nothing that gives more strength to a political detainee than to know s/he is not alone. The first time I heard about the power of support was from the comrade George Karakasian, with the message he sent from prison. But back then I could not grasp its meaning. I just thought those were typical words that are usually written under such circumstances. I had to go through a cell myself to realise what it means, when I was held up for 24 hours in Limassol. Now I discover it all over again and the message is even more powerful, because I see my comrades unite again for a common cause, and with them also people that are politically aware. A movement is finally being formed. And it becomes even more powerful, because we are no longer segregated into Turks and Greeks, to Kurds and whatever else. We’ve broken the artificial segregations that they imposed upon us. Their racism does not touch us, their borders do not concern us.
Today I am happy, I am strong. The warders see that. They know that they no longer have any weapon against me and they’re not even trying to impose on me. They are completely relaxed. They kindly ask me if I want (!!) them to let me out in order to do something I want and upon my refusal, they leave without a second thought. Yesterday they allowed me to have a book, a note pad and a pencil. These are a whole fortune in here, but I can do without them.
Closing, I would like to say the following: from the moment I joined the anarchist movement, the State has never stopped giving me political lessons. It taught me to hate its authority through unjustified arrests, beatings, false accusations. It taught me to scorn its institutions through pre-arranged and unreasonable trials, whether mine or my comrades’. It taught me to doubt the “information” it provides us with, after the cruel war by the media, which constantly speak against us, with no interest in the truth (save for very few exceptions). It taught me to hate it, for its participation in crimes against humanity. It taught me who the real enemies and who my friends are. It taught me the power of solidarity.
Today it gives me one more lesson: that the worst prison that exists is subjugation, that real freedom belongs only to the revolutionists. It even taught me to believe in something that had previously seemed metaphysical, that:
THE PASSION FOR FREEDOM IS STRONGER THAN ALL CELLS