The Kallipoli police station: A little Guantanamo and its little people

Posted by @csyllas, translated/adapted from Greek by @IrateGreekThe following is an eyewitness account from Giorgos Karystinos after a visit to the Kallipoli police station in Piraeus on 03 May 2013

“Today I visited the Kallipoli police station in Piraeus, after I was informed that victims of the Xenios (“hospitable”) Zeus sweep operation who are held there went on hunger strike. If the Drapetsona precinct qualifies as a dungeon, the Kallipoli precinct is a solitary confinement cage. Imagine: the prisoners biological clock is out of order, because they couldn’t tell when it’s day and when it’s night. The policemen had to make a hole in the outer wall so that they can keep up with what’s going on outside.
We then had a discussion with the police officials, who admitted, once again, that detention conditions are inhuman and that this situation must change. They said that, as human beings, they disagree with what is happening, but that, as policemen, they must follow the orders they get. That we should be doing something, to push for change, that MPs should do something on their end, lawyers on their end, etc.
Because of Easter, I kept thinking of Pontius Pilates, who, instead of releasing Jesus as he believed was right, chose to crucify him because that was his executive duty, that was his role.
So I asked these policemen why they aren’t doing something themselves. Why they don’t go public and denounce this situation. Why they don’t live up to their responsibilities and why they don’t refuse to implement orders that they deem inhuman. Why they don’t take at least symbolic action.
Their answer was that, to do this, they should resign, and then, who will feed their children?
I’ve been hearing for years now, especially since the beginning of the crisis, people who don’t take action tell me that they can’t do anything because they have a family to look after. They have children and can’t afford to lose their jobs. Friends and acquaintances have been telling me this. Journalists and technicians told me this when I asked why they’re not fighting inside their media for the truth to be heard. Policemen and riot policemen have been telling me this when I asked them why they don’t disobey orders to hit people, when they’re fully aware of the situation.
(…)
On the other end of society, there are a few people who dare do it, even though they have children to feed. I congratulate them, because their children will grow up to be Human with a capital H, like their parents before them. Such Human beings and such families give me hope. (They’re not policemen of course, I wasn’t lucky until now to meet this kind of policemen, but I’m sure they exist and it’s first and foremost for policemen that I’m writing this text, so that they live up to their responsibilities.)”

Police brutality is a chronic and well-documented problem in Greece. You can read here an extensive report by Amnesty International on the matter (October 2012)

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