Souleiman Dakdouk,, a Syrian political refugee and social activist, is detained in prison, after being arrested with a questionable procedure in the Anti-Summit demonstration of Thessaloniki, 21/6/2003
We ask his immediate release from prison and grant of residence permit.
To the Minister of Justice and th Minister of the Interior of Greece
Souleiman Dakdouk (known with the nickname 'Castro'), is a Syrian political refugee, who lives and works in Greece 14 years now. Since the first years of his residence in Greece, and especially in the region of Crete where he chose to live, Castro has been intensively and effectively involved in the field of antiracism and syndicalism. He was the first immigrant trade unionist in the region of Chania, where he was elected as member of the executive board of the construction workers' union in 1998. He has been a member of the organising committee of the annual festival of ethnic groups for many years, one of the founders of the independent association of Syrian immigrants, an active member of the network for the support of immigrants and refugees in Athens, a founding member of the Association: 'Immigrants' Drop in Centre' in Rethymno and, since 2002, a member of the executive board of construction workers' union of Rethymno region. He is also a founding member of the European Forum of Immigrants.
All the aforementioned prove his open social activity and the transparent and democratic manners of action that many years now he has chosen, in order to promote the equality in employment, social and political rights among Greek people and immigrants in Greece. Due to his political activities, as well as his artistic presence in Crete as a painter and cartoonist, Castro integrated very early in the society of Crete and became particularly popular among the local population. Nevertheless, he lives and works in Greece under an illegal status, since the authorities refused to grant him a residence permit although he was already married to a Greek citizen.
In June 2003 he came to Thessaloniki, in order to participate in the 6th Antiracist Festival, invited by the Antiracist Initiative of Thessaloniki. Following, he participated in the anti-summit demonstrations. He was arrested by a group of policemen who were disguised as "demonstrators" and were spread among the people since the beginning of the demonstration. The arrest took place when the body of the demonstration was split in small groups due to the teargas, and while Castro was circulating amongst all the groups of the demo handing out leaflets with antiracist content by the Association 'Immigrants' Drop in Centre' of Rethymno. Based on the testimony by only one policeman, he was taken into custody pending trial and, since then, he is detained in the prison of Diavata.
In 21/9/2003 he started a hunger strike, asking to be let free and to get a legal status.
We support his claims, we question the validity of the whole procedure that led to this unjustified and prolonged detainment and we demand that he is let free and he is granted residence permit for humanitarian reasons. Note that he has applied last July for residence permit to the Ministry of the Interior, but the Ministry refused to receive the application, referring to a circular as the reason of refusal. We condemn the unacceptable conditions in the prison of Diavata, where Castro is detained in isolation in a cell 2 by 2,5 square metres, since the first day he started the hunger strike, and the worst, where since the first day of his imprisonment he is refused any visits. For more than four months, the only person that can visit him is his lawyer.
Free Castro immediately. Grant him residence permit for humanitarian reasons.