Letters /FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 234 August/September 2013

Disabled and still fighting

As someone who is registered as partially sighted, and long-term unemployed, I have great sympathy with the thousands of disabled people made redundant from the Remploy factories in Britain. This scurrilous government closed the fifty-odd factories set up in 1944 to provide sheltered employment for damaged and disabled ex-service personnel returning from the war. With service personnel now returning from war zones all across the world, many losing their jobs and suffering the problems connected with war and redundancy, these places will be desperately needed in the future.

Despite government claims that Remploy workers would get jobs in the private sector, most have not and probably will not. Remploy provided gainful employment for many disabled people. It was a lifeline for many.

Despite my disability I spent 20 years in heavy engineering at the same company in Lincoln until Thatcher’s government came along. The company closed and I lost my job.

I thought perhaps I might have had a job for life, my own little house, and very little debt. Like many others I now have no job, huge debts and last year my wife and I faced eviction from our home – it was touch and go whether we ended up out on the street. When our endowment mortgage matured this year, we found it left us several thousand pounds short and the future looked bleak. Luckily we were able to pay it back but times are savagely tough.

Certainly most of our problems are exacerbated by this government, forcing many to live on the bread line – not that I have faith in any of the main political parties. However, like your paper I will continue to fight the system. I currently wear with pride my 26 July Movement T-shirt, given to me by comrades in socialist Cuba. Socialism is the only answer – we need to get out on the streets like the people of north Africa and confront the forces of reaction.

Robert Redford

Lincoln


 

Don’t give up the fight for justice

I really enjoyed reading FRFI 233 and Nicki Jameson’s well-written article about prisoners’ rights, as well as Helen Yaffe’s report on former Black Panther Assata Shakur. My heart goes out to Assata and I salute her for her continuing solidarity with other people and the price she is still paying for it. Although I have never been in direct contact with Assata, I’ve been a good friend of Sundiata Accoli, who is still serving time in the state of Pennsylvania, US and who was arrested at the same time as Assata.

In October last year, I was deported from England after spending 26 years, ten months and eight days as a hostage of the state. My solicitor and barrister have been fighting my case with the help of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. I feel confident that I’ll receive justice but no amount of money can ever compensate me for those lost years.

My thanks also go to FRFI for your ongoing help and support, and hopefully sooner rather than later we can all be travelling on that victory train. I also understand that I’m not the only person to have been wrongfully convicted on fabricated evidence and my advice to all those who’ve suffered such miscarriages of justice is to keep fighting and don’t give up! I’ll be happy to help and support with letters from Finland, where I am now, if others want to write to me.

PETER HAKALA

Mikkeli, Finland


 

Still detained under a Nazi law

Thanks to all readers and supporters who make it possible for prisoners like me to read FRFI. It is such an important voice, particularly in the times we live in at the moment.

I have finished my sentence of 16 years and nine months, but the German state is keeping me in prison for a so-called ‘preventive detention’ (PD) period of ten years. The PD was introduced in 1933 by the Nazis; in 1952 the Supreme Court of Eastern Germany outlawed the PD as a ‘specifically fascist’ law. But the courts in West Germany never get a guilty conscience, so they continue to use this Nazi law, with no sign that it will end.

Down with preventive detention! A clenched fist salute,

THOMAS MEYER-FALK

(www.freedom-for-thomas.de)

Buchsal, Germany


 

Mental torture at Woodhill CSC

The Close Supervision Centre system currently holds around 40 prisoners, 16 of whom are held at HMP Woodhill. Of these 16, only five of us have never been resident at, rejected from or are currently being referred to a mental health hospital, that I know of.

How can the prison system justify the detention of prisoners within the most oppressive conditions in the system when so many of them are suffering from severe mental health issues? And how can it be deemed lawful to force the few of us who have not yet lost our minds under these tortuous conditions, to mix with prisoners who are so mentally ill that they cannot be kept within the prison environment?

Where are all the mental health campaigners? How can such a blatant disregard for the care of the most vulnerable minds in prison be ignored? This is an issue which has gone unchecked for years, resulting in self-harm, suicide attempts and irreparable damage. An example of this is Lee Foye, who severed both his ears at Woodhill CSC in 2011. After being accepted into Rampton Hospital and once a full assessment of his mental health had been completed, he was able to come off all his anti-psychotic medication as it turned out he was ‘suffering from environmental stress at Woodhill’. How many of us will have to go the way of Foye before anyone begins to take notice?

KEVAN THAKRAR

now at HMP Manchester

 

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