Letters / FRFI 220 April/May 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011

British complicity with torture

Thank you for the newspaper – I received it in the end! Please thank all who are involved with FRFI, they do an amazing job.

You will have heard that I lost my appeal against conviction, although to be frank I never thought we’d end up with an honest judgment. It’s to be expected, especially in politically motivated cases, such as the Birmingham Six. This government will do anything to hide its crimes against its own citizens. I knew that M15 would not allow the judges to speak the truth. But we must stay strong. I have been allowed to appeal.

With regards to the public inquiry [on torture], the government is looking for a whitewash. There was a report published by Human Rights Watch in November last year called Cruel Britannia: British complicity in the torture and ill-treatment of terror suspects in Pakistan. In it, Pakistani security services admit that the accounts of the victims are true and the British government was pressing them for results. This was further proved by a programme by Peter Taylor, The secret war on terror, broadcast on BBC2 in March, where President Musharraf was very bold with his words.


HMP Full Sutton

Support the Maghaberry POWs!

In February the Maghaberry POWs went on protest against the prison administration for continual strip-searches and reneging on its commitment to introduce electronic scanning equipment. The POWs refused to comply with strip-searches in a bid to force the prison administration to deliver on its promise, made in August 2010.

On the 15 March two Republican POWs – Kevin Barry Nolan and Gerard McManus – were both subjected to two forced strip-searches each when leaving and returning to the prison. They both suffered injuries to their wrists, arms and bodies. Eight riot squad officers forced them to the ground using riot shields and twisted their wrists to hold them to the ground as they forcibly removed all their clothing.

Another tactic used by the prison officers to break prisoners is sleep deprivation.Wardens are opening the hatches on the cells and shouting through numerous times every night in what appears to be an attempt to aggravate the POWs through sleep deprivation.

Support the POWs on protest in any way possible. The men and women of 1980-81 had tremendous support from the public. These men are no different; they are Irish political prisoners being brutalised by a British prison system which seeks to break them both mentally and physically. Do not allow these men to be forgotten. Do not allow the British government to triumph.



Student accommodation rip-off

Companies running student halls are ripping off university students. I’m in my second year of a film and media degree at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). During my first year I lived in shared accommodation at Mill Point halls, which is run by the Liberty Living company. We were given what we thought was a good deal at the time, with bills included in the rent and only having to pay £100 deposit. But since leaving the halls, my former flatmates and I have been hounded by Liberty Living for money we shouldn’t owe.

After we moved out Liberty gave us maintenance bills of around £150 each; my friend got a £400 bill! We had left the flat in a good state of repair and cleaned hard to avoid giving them any excuse to impose charges. All of us complained immediately but our complaints were ignored for months and the charges remained. When I gave them an angry phone call, their response was to send a detailed account showing what we supposedly owed – including hundreds of pounds for painting and decorating, new carpets  and all sorts of things we shouldn’t have been responsible for. We were also told that our £100 deposit was non-refundable.

As if that wasn’t enough, the university has used our dispute with Liberty to deny us access to facilities and severely jeopardise our studies. MMU has disabled my library card and I have been blocked from accessing the uni intranet, stopped from getting key information at a time of year when work is due in. I can’t believe that a university can be run like a business to attack students rather than help us when private firms are after what little money we have. Fees are set to rise and it seems like the universities are on the side of the rich.

This kind of abuse by companies that run halls seems widespread. Mill Point halls are becoming notorious for ripping students off. But many students just pay, particularly those with parents who can. They are often bullied into it as the university and private company gang up on them.

Liberty have knocked back my appeal against these charges and things are difficult. If it wasn’t for the small bursary I am entitled to I wouldn’t even be able to pay rent. Others have been refused their bursaries because of Liberty’s fees. I can’t pay these charges and I won’t. If more students do the same these cheats would have a real problem on their hands.



Germany’s Nazi law

Every issue of FRFI is an inspiration for English-speaking prisoners here in Bruchsal, a prison in Germany. Thanks to FRFI and everyone who helps to ensure that the newspaper can be sent to inmates. Currently we’re having a discussion in Germany about the the categorisation of ‘dangerous inmates’, because the European Court of Human Rights has found Germany guilty on a number of occasions of violating human rights law. The German courts make use of a Nazi law of ‘Preventive Detention’, dating from 1933, to hold people behind bars despite having completed their ‘regular’ sentences. I think it says a lot about a society that it still relies on a law introduced by Hitler and Goebbels!



Workers should control banks

Congratulations on highlighting the arrogance of the ConDem junta and its failure to take on the banks (FRFI 219, February/March).

It is obscene that ordinary workers have to suffer the cuts caused by the financial meltdown. Public services are suffering already. Why should we suffer when it was the banks that caused the crisis? Yet, as the money in our pockets disappears, the City lines its pockets with grotesque bonus payouts.

We need not only to tax these bonuses and bank profits more heavily, but also elect ordinary workers and customers to the board that runs each bank. We need more democracy in the banking system. Workers need to be in control.


(by email)

HMP Wakefield harassment

Many thanks to all of you for your ongoing help and support from the bottom of my heart.  My thanks also go to all my loyal supporters who have not let me down. I was wrongfully convicted over 24 years ago on fabricated evidence. Presently my legal team has contacted a linguistic expert to test three statements, one which I made and two which were fabricated. Now I am hoping that sooner rather than later all my supporters can be on my victory train celebrating justice day.

As a hostage in a foreign country, living in a dungeon, each day has its own difficulties. Some time ago HMP Wakefield stopped me receiving copies of newspapers. I took the matter to the prison and probation ombudsman and my complaint against the prison was upheld. Yesterday, I was informed by prison officers that I am no longer allowed to correspond with my long-standing supporter and friend Dr George Coombs because of some artwork I have on a website which I was told is making a profit. I have contacted the ombudsman and my solicitor about this. The prison authorities have not given me anything in writing, simply told me I can’t correspond with him because of the paintings. Please note my artwork is internationally known and I posted it all out from the prison using legal channels. There is no basis for what HMP Wakefield is saying. They are just harassing me because the ombudsman upheld my earlier complaint.

The prison is certainly in contravention of the Human Rights Convention article 10 – freedom of expression; article 8 – right to a private life; article 6 – right to prove your innocence. Dr Coombs, my solicitor and my barrister are working to defend my legal rights. No justice – no peace.


HMP Wakefield


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