- Created: Monday, 19 December 2011 15:01
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 224 December 2011/January 2012
Support anti-fascist prisoners in Britain!
I just wanted to write and say thank you for thinking of me and sending me a copy of your great newspaper FRFI. You sent it to me at Chelmsford but I’ve since been moved to Wayland. I always enjoyed reading your paper while on the outside so it was fantastic to get it here. I’ve already passed it to a few inmates here who were quite impressed and I’m hoping they’ll purchase it regularly on release. Being the only political prisoner here it was refreshing to hear their comments and to see the looks on their faces as they realised there’s so much they don’t hear about in The Sun or on TV!
I’d be more than happy to receive future issues whilst in prison or info on how I can subscribe. It’s very difficult to order things in this prison.
You may be interested to hear that the anti-fascists in our second trial were all found innocent of conspiracy charges, showing even more the ridiculous nature of the very few convictions that were successful.
Once again, thank you very much
Connor Riley writes for FRFI:
The background to Ravi’s letter is that on 28 March 2009 a number of anti-fascist activists travelled to south-east London, where Neo-Nazis had congregated for a music event organised by racist promoters Blood and Honour. Anti-fascists confronted two fascists on the platform of Welling train station; the police quickly arrived and arrested seven anti-fascists. Another 16 people were subsequently arrested in dawn raids and they were all charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder, although the charges against one young woman were thrown out before reaching the Crown Court.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) then split the defendants between two trials, both using the same prosecutor, Mark Trafford. On 6 June 2011, 11 defendants appeared before Blackfriars Crown Court. They were selected not on the basis that there was the most evidence against them (no evidence of conspiracy was shown throughout) but because of previous political convictions. This meant that their defence would be weakened by, for example, not being able to present ‘character evidence’ to the court. The CPS relied on the jury being ignorant and prejudiced – a strategy which clearly worked. Two years after their arrests and following a 17-day trial, seven were convicted and four acquitted. Six of those convicted were sentenced to 15-21 months’ immediate imprisonment; the seventh was given a suspended sentence. After the trial, Judge Blacksell said he would be recommending Detective Inspector Blackburn for a commendation – presumably for making the country safer for racists and fascists.
One working day before the second trial, charges against two more defendants were dropped, leaving nine to face Trafford and Blacksell on 12 September. During the three-week trial in which Trafford tried to label the racists of ‘Blood and Honour’ and the anti-fascists as two sides of the same coin, no conspiracy evidence was presented. Defence barristers put the events into their political and historical context, one barrister saying that the jury should not only be acquitting the defendants, but thanking them for being prepared to confront organised fascism. Further highlighting the ridiculous imprisonment of the six activists in the first trial, the jury acquitted all nine defendants.
FRFI congratulates all those who were acquitted and sends our solidarity to the imprisoned activists. Please show your support by sending cards and letters to:
Ravinder Gill A5770CE,
Norfolk, IP25 6RL
Andy Baker A5768CE,
Suffolk CR8 9YG
Sean Cregan A5769CE,
Surrey GU24 9EX
Phil De Souza A5766CE,
HMP Elmley, Eastchurch,
Kent ME12 4AY
Austen Jackson A5729CE,
Stocken Hall Road,
Oakham LE15 7RD
(The sixth prisoner Thomas Blak has been released and deported to Denmark.)
Irish POW solidarity with GDC
We the undersigned Irish Political Prisoners currently incarcerated at Portlaoise gaol, Ireland wish to express our support and solidarity with the work of the Glasgow Defence Campaign.
We also take this opportunity to condemn the ongoing politically motivated police harassment and arrests of FRFI members and supporters.
Gareth BYRNE, Patrick Wall, Eugene Kelly and 48 others
(full list at http://tinyurl.com/d9cbbk4)
Impressed by FRFI
Hi comrades, this is Mike Prysner from the Party for Socialism and Liberation here in the United States. Just wanted to applaud your recent article on Libya, and your work as a whole.
When I was in the UK recently, I got every socialist newspaper I could find, and yours was by far the best. You all continue to impress. Keep up the great work!
Mike Prysner is a US army veteran who fought in Iraq and who came to Britain on a speaking tour against the war.
Mumia Abu Jamal – 30 years of injustice
On 9 December, it will be 30 years since former Black Panther and radical journalist Mumia Abu Jamal was framed for the killing of a white police officer in Philadelphia. For most of that time he has been on Death Row. However, after years of living in the shadow of death, in October the US Supreme Court upheld the ruling of a lower court that the death penalty imposed on Mumia was unconstitutional. This ruling brings to an end nearly 30 years of legal arguments over the validity of the original sentencing by a rigged jury, presided over by an overtly racist judge. While this is undoubtedly a victory – and, as Mumia has said, you take your victories where you can – this judgment does not in any sense represent justice for Mumia, who now faces spending the rest of his life in prison, having exhausted all possibilities of appeal. This is despite it now being clear that the original trial was a travesty: crucial ballistic evidence was withheld from the court, eye witnesses lied and the real killer has signed an affidavit admitting he shot Officer Faulkner. Mumia was framed by a racist, vindictive state that has tried for 30 years to silence a man known as ‘the voice of the voiceless’ for his implacable commitment to speaking out against racism, oppression and imperialism. Only a political movement in solidarity with Mumia can now force the US to release him. Events are being held worldwide on 9 December. In London, supporters will be marching at 5pm from Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. There will also be a fund-raising social at The Jam in Brixton, south London, with live music and a film showing from 4pm on Sunday 11 December. The struggle to free Mumia continues.
Stitched up in prison
I recently had the opportunity to get shown around Barlinnie prison as part of a sociology research trip. Staff explained the regular occurrence of violent and serious attacks. We were told that in fact a stabbing had occurred the day before our visit, but that this didn’t constitute anything other than ‘a fairly normal day’. Governmental policy stipulates that an assault is regarded as serious when the victim requires four stitches or more. I was shocked to hear that, under pressure to perform to targets and to keep figures for such assaults down, when the victim is taken to the medical unit there will usually be a prison officer encouraging the nurse that only three stitches are necessary.
In the repressive state institution of prison, inmates stop being people and disturbingly become mere targets. Although staff agreed that the prison was moving towards a more rehabilitative ideal, the sheer punitiviness of the prison regime was clearly seen from the oppressive exertion of power over prisoners and the discipline and surveillance they endure every waking second. We must stand in solidarity with these prisoners whose basic human rights are being abused and whose calls for justice remain unheard.
Self determination for Balochistan
I write to draw your attention to the appalling repression meted out to Balochistan, a vast dry country in central Asia, divided and occupied by Pakistan and Iran. Some 13 million Balochis suffer Pakistani rule whilst three million endure the brutality of Iranian occupation.
The use of violence to suppress demands for self determination in Balochistan has reached grotesque levels. A broad movement is in formation to fight against the division of the country and kidnappings, torture and murder by the occupying countries.
After the British invaded the country in November 1839, they drew two arbitrary lines, dividing Balochistan between Persia, Afghanistan and a British-controlled zone.
During the 1930s the western part of Balochistan was illegally annexed to the newly established country of Iran. Eastern Balochistan managed to regain independence from Britain in August 1947 for a few months until in March 1948 the army of the British Dominion of Pakistan invaded Eastern Balochistan. Resistance to this occupation by the Baloch people has never stopped. As a result, Pakistan has carried out five major military operations in the region and since 2000 there has been continuous military repression.
Between 1973-77 over 90,000 Pakistani troops were involved in a full fledged war against Baloch partisans supported by 30 US Cobra attack helicopters supplied by the Shah of Iran. Thousands of the Baloch were displaced, imprisoned, tortured and at least 15,000 were killed during this conflict. Pakistan has also conducted six nuclear tests in Balochistan.
More than 10,000 Baloch intellectuals, political workers, journalists, teachers, university professors, students, writers, poets, musicians, and political leaders have been abducted by Pakistani security forces since the start of the 2000 operation, and have disappeared. Among the disappeared are 168 children. The mutilated bodies of more than 230 victims have been dumped in Balochistan since June 2010.
The state of affairs in Iranian-occupied Balochistan is also equally gruesome. During the first two years of its existence, the Islamic regime of Iran imprisoned, tortured, killed and forced into exile the vast majority of Baloch political and human rights activists. Following that they simply crushed any sign of dissent in Balochistan. Between 2004 and 2009 Iran executed 1,481 Balochis.
To end this terror the Baloch people demand the right to self determination.
If you fight against the state, if you fight for a better world, for freedom, there is a chance that you will get thrown into the cage – the place where I have been for over 15 years now, in the infernal regions, kept in isolation for security reasons for more than ten of those years. I was arrested in 1996 and only released into the general prison population in 2007.
I was arrested after a bank robbery to raise money for left-wing projects. I was sentenced to 11 years and six months, a preventive detention (PD), based on a Nazi law from 1933 which permits the state to keep me in custody for a lifetime as long as they believe I am a ‘threat to public safety’. Because I refuse to cooperate with the state or to accept forced labour, in 2009 a parole court saw no reason to release me. In 2013 my sentence will be completed and I will be transferred to another maximum security prison for the PD (which should have begun in 2008, but I got another five and a half years for ‘insulting judges, politicians and prison staff’!)
No one was killed or injured by me (the hostages in the bank may have been traumatised, but that was 15 years ago now). I don’t know how long the state will keep me in its cages, but there is no way for me to ‘cooperate’ with them – not with the prison staff, the courts, the psychologists or anyone else from the state.
I’m sure there is little chance that the courts will set me free in the next five years, but if there were a strong movement outside, it might persuade the governor to throw me out of the cage. So I’d appreciate it if you could write letters and emails to the governor: Ministerpraesident Mr Kretschmann, Staatministerium, Richard Wagner Str 15, D-70184, Stuttgart, Germany, fax: 00 49 711 2153 340 email: poststelle@stm. bwl.de and request him to release me.
c/o JVA-Zelle 3113, Schoenbornstr 32,