We repost these two statements of life and freedom from the recent trial in Athens of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF) fighters and those accused of trying to help them escape. The first is from Athena Tsakalou, mother of CCF anarchist prisoners Christos Tsakalos and Gerasimos Tsakalos. She was found not guilty in the trial, while her sons received sentences of 115 years each. The second statement is from Aggeliki Spyropolou, who was sentenced to 28 years for her involvement in the escape attempt. Via Contra Info and 325.
Statement of Athena Tsakalou
Below is the statement of Athena Tsakalou (the mother of CCF anarchist prisoners Christos Tsakalos and Gerasimos Tsakalos) which was read out in Koridallos prison court by her defense lawyer in late June 2016, while the CCF escape case trial was still underway.
I haven’t chosen silence, even though it expresses me on many occasions because everyone interprets silence as it suits them. I’ve preferred to make this personal statement. And I call it personal because I don’t belong anywhere; I only belong to myself.
There comes a moment when you take a look back at the years in your life, and you realise you’ve left to live far fewer than the years you’ve already lived; that is, if everything goes well. And this is a strange but intense sensation, which makes me ask myself to be sincere. Not in the simple way we often think about it, but in an essential, deeper way.
I don’t like to say: where is this world going? It’s something that we – people at an older age – often do, but such a phrase conceals some sort of innocence that I refuse to accept. I prefer to ask myself: how do you yourself walk through this world?
And the truth is that all I want is to walk among people in a consolatory manner. It’s very important to be able to console people, especially your own people; to be able to tell them when they’re going through tough times: I’m standing by you; I’ll always stick with you. Nothing else. This is my only desire, and I’m glad whenever I’m able to do that.
So when Angeliki knocked on the door of my home, that’s exactly what I did. And it was a great pleasure for me that I was able to offer her refuge, even if only for a short while. The way the world is, the only place I want to live in is the place of defiance.
Assuming that, throughout the centuries, people have intended to live, if not a life of happiness, at least a joyful life, their history to date shows that they’ve failed. History books, either the official, inspected ones, or the secret ones that it’s hard to come by, show that people have failed. It may be that the conditions for survival or living standards got better – although ‘better’ is relative, as this is not the case in some parts of the earth – but the pain, the horror of wars, of hunger and oppression continue to rise.
Of course there’s a difference; a nightmarish difference. Nowadays, death is no longer caused just by hand-to-hand combat on the battlefields where, even from a distance determined by a firearm, you’re able to see the falling body and hear the cry of pain, and regardless of how much dehumanised you’ve become, this sight and sound leaves a peculiar imprint within you that, at some point, might make you not want war anymore. On today’s battlefields, we find ourselves in the era of smart bombs, and one is able to retain ‘their innocence’ by pressing a button which brings mass death; that’s the difference.
For some time now, more than 10,000 refugee children who were travelling unaccompanied have disappeared in Europe over the past 18–24 months. There are fears that many of them have fallen victim to exploitation by organised crime networks…
The world’s 62 richest people hold as much wealth as half the population on the planet…
The earth’s products are enough to feed its entire population, yet millions of people, millions of children die of hunger.
Some very few, like these 62 wealthiest people in the world, might say: ‘all this stuff about a joyful life is nothing but a trap set for the many to be lured into it, because the whole deal with the world is a game, a game of death. It’s not just the money that matters; besides, we have plenty of that; what really matters is the ability to use our power to play games with the entire world; all of a sudden, to drive thousands of people to death; to scare entire populations with wars, famine and diseases when we’re bored; because that’s also up to us, to cause diseases, thanks to scientists. In some sense, we’re a kind of gods; and gods are always almighty.’
And this is true, but it’s also true that there are no gods without believers. Gods cannot just live all by themselves; they want their faithful to walk quietly around their gardens, ready to execute their orders – all of their orders, even if it means killing one another. However, there are always those whose blood is resided by the first rebellion of Eve and Adam.
And it’s about time we said: after so much human blood watering the earth’s soil every day, after all this lament filling the earth’s air, if there’s no change of course for the human species, if the human mind isn’t crossed by a lightning at some point, so that we see everything differently… then indeed it’d be a brave decision if people eventually said: ‘for so many centuries, we’ve been unable to find joy; we might as well admit that as a species we aren’t capable of something like this; we might as well admit our failure and leave calmly; let us be the last of the humans; let us admit that only trees deserve life, continuity, eternity as they’re free of the instinct of war, of horror.’
Lately all I want to do is plant trees. And someone might ask me: but is this truly your deepest desire? No, I haven’t done well; I’m still determined by the ability to see as far as my eye can see, to keep my mind off things by taking pleasure in small joys; but when I open the eye of my mind to a worldwide wandering, a worldwide looking, and I see how small a share joy has in people’s lives, I say once more: if the dream doesn’t enter people’s lives, if there’s no change of course for the human species, only trees deserve continuity, life, eternity.
Statement of Aggeliki Spyropoulou
“Justice was born when we lost control over our lives”
My political status and conscience would never allow me to be standing here “apologizing” before a fixed trial-parody as played out recently in this court hall, hence the comments I am about to make will therefore relate to a purely political sphere rather than a procedural one. Political action neither begins nor ends under the Criminal Code, consequently in any case you, both as individuals and as an institution, are not able to judge it.
As anarchists, being against the state, we have to oppose the laws that underlie and justify its existence.
But what is the law?
Nothing more than a set of rules that define right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral. It is a “guide” of social behavior aiming to enforce the choice of allegiance and for the maintenance of power through the fear of sanctions for any deviation from the permissible, the legal…
It is “fair”, indeed, that the banks constitute themselves as global loan sharks, but it is “unfair” to blow them up in the air with a strong dose of explosives. In this case, they are renamed as “charities” and “your” justice metes out life-sentences …
It is “fair”, that the governments constantly bomb civilians within the framework of the so-called “humanitarian” war, but it is “unfair” to execute those liable for the deaths of thousands …
A game of words forming the collective imagination, elevating the doctrine of “law and order” to the utmost virtue, aiming solely to preserve the existing authoritarian system.
The dominant world which you protect and preserve promotes and imposes a structured life, the manifestations of which oppress, enslave and limit the capabilities of human existence.
The behaviors, thoughts, feelings, relationships, are transformed into mechanical processes that shape what is called normality or social norm. The lifestyle you suggest to me is summarised to a miserable repetition, specified and without any twists. A boring course of a pointless existence that just waits to be interrupted by death.
But I do not fit into your world. I can not stand this perfectly organized boredom.
All those moments at night, just before you fall asleep when you are smoking the last cigarette and you evaluate the day that passed… The smoke gets mixed with your thoughts and you end up at the last puff… Your day was not enough… The feeling of dissatisfaction is overwhelming and breathtaking … “I can not live like this …”, “I do not want to live like this.” You fall asleep while the same words keep coming in your head…
The new day is to bring you face to face with the reality and the time has come to make your choices… I have chosen to live rather than to survive… Instead of the safety of normality, I have chosen to begin a journey into the unknown where every single moment conceals its own surprises. Where the tension comes to replace the weakness.
The need that burns within me makes me refuse the uniformity that your legitimacy stipulates and led me to a continuous process of rebellion to escape from such narrow limits of the social-prison. During this journey, the time is reset. Our clocks stopped at the time of the attack. No more “triggers” are needed. We stopped taking into account the “must”. The costs, the consequences…
There is one goal; to maximize the threat, to create a dangerous internal enemy that will strike at the heart of your system. This journey is lonely and often you are confronted with your own self, with your own personal contradictions. This is a war that starts from within yourself and surges impetuously against every expression of your modern civilized world. In this war that as anarchists we have declared against you – and we have not refused it a minute; there are no neutral attitudes.
The comrades of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, despite their long captivity, they did not retreat. They refused to bow down their heads and embrace the cross of remorse. They defended with all their powers and with dignity their anarchist substance. While, therefore, I am not a member of the Conspiracy, our common political conscience allies us. We share the same values, the same ideas and the same passion for freedom. The political bonds that link us could not but make me stand beside them with solidarity.
Solidarity is not just an emotionally charged word.
Solidarity carves insurrectionary directions and prevents forgetfulness from becoming the tombstone of the captured comrades. At this point is when guilt is born. What could be a more authentic and sincerest manifestation of solidarity to these comrades than to contribute morally and practically to the breaking of their captivity? I can only feel proud that I participated in the attempted escape of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and no court is competent to judge my choice.
The prison, besides, is a stopping point for anyone who decides to arm his/her desires and refusals. At this point, the contradictions begin… We love freedom so much and we get stuck in the prison… We love life passionately and at the same time we flirt with death every single minute. If the prison is meant to “civilise” ourselves, you should know that the walls and the locks nourish us with anger and the desire for revenge grows… We can fail, but we can not bow down … This is not about the beginning and certainly not about the end of the story, but it is about the journey and this is where the whole beauty is found…
For these reasons, and for all the reasons in the world, I proudly and without a trace of remorse, undertake the responsibility for my practical political contribution to the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire escape plan. No matter how many times I would turn the clock back I would make the same choice again and again.
Women’s Prison of Korydallos
Imprisoned anarchist comrade Aggeliki Spyropoulou was sentenced to 28 years in prison for her involvement in the 2015 escape attempt of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire. The comrade will shortly be transferred to Thiva prison from Korydallos now that the trial is over.