Letters - FRFI 247 Oct/Nov 2015

Big pharma puts profits before people

On 10 August, Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to Daraprim, the standard drug for the treatment of toxoplasmosis infections, which affects immune-compromised individuals such as AIDS and cancer patients. Over 60 million people in the US alone are chronically infected with the parasite T. gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis. Daraprim only costs about $1 to produce, but just days after the acquisition, Turing CEO and former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli hiked the price up by over 5,500% from $13.50 (£8.70) to $750 per tablet.

Shkreli described this as ‘a great business decision that also benefits all of our stakeholders’. The annual cost of treatment for toxoplasmosis, could rise to between $300,000 and $630,000 per patient. This is a particularly egregious example of a widespread practice by large pharmaceutical companies for increasing sales and profits at the expense of the health of the world’s most disadvantaged people.

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Letters - FRFI 246 Aug/Sept 2015

FRFI 246 August/September2015

Labour hypocrites

While the Labour Party’s latest shameful chapter saw it refuse to oppose the Tories’ swingeing cuts to welfare last week, there was a notable amount of praise from the British left for the albeit piffling number of Labour MPs – just 48 – who did defy the whip to vote against it. However, nearly a third (17) of these noble rebel Labour MPs also voted for NATO’s genocidal bombing of Libya in 2011. They were: Diane Abbott, Debbie Abrahams, David Anderson, Geraint Davies, Mary Glindon, Helen Goodman, Helen Jones, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Sadiq Khan, David Lammy, Ian Lavery, Michael Meacher, Ian Mearns, Madeleine Moon, Grahame Morris, Teresa Pearce, and Iain Wright. Given the comings and goings since the election, only four can say they voted against both – yet even they continue to swear allegiance to this irredeemable party of warmongering racist imperialism. NATO’s bombs massacred innocent civilians in Libya and plunged the country into a brutal civil war, and manufactured the devastating migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Not only does this show that these Labour MPs don’t give a damn about the international working class, it exposes the pretence that they are willing to stand up for the British working class only as a matter of political expediency to further their own careers. It’s profoundly sickening that they receive any praise at all.

BARNABY HARRIS
South London


Home movies

The Sun’s revelation of a royal ‘home movie’ from 1933, showing Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, her sister, mother and uncle, the future King Edward VIII, in the grounds of Balmoral practising Nazi salutes, set the press and the royals in a spin. With the exception of Edward, who anyway was later to prove unreliable by marrying a divorcee, let alone being chummy with the Nazi leadership, the commentators were all anxious to reassure the British public that the future Queen, aged seven, and her relations either didn’t know what they were doing, or it was 1933 and the fascists had hardly got going. After all, they said, the royal family subsequently showed their true mettle by patriotically remaining in London during the war and leading the nation to victory.

What they all failed to mention was the fact that the key feature of fascism, in both Italy and Germany, that was admired by wide sections of the ruling class, including the royal family, was its systematic attacks on and destruction of working class organisations and left-wing leaders. By 1933 this was well established. The ruling class had good reason to fear the potential threat to their privileges from the working class following the First World War, the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution and the upsurge in socialist struggle across Europe in response to the capitalist crisis. The ruling class regarded fascism as the vanguard in their struggle to protect themselves and to destroy socialism. Patriotic they may have become, but anti-fascist they never were and never will be.

Finally we are offered the excuse that the royals were and are understandably aggrieved by the killing of their Romanov cousins by the Bolsheviks. Unfortunately the truth is that the royal family were instrumental in ensuring that the Romanovs were denied asylum in Britain after the revolution, out of fear that the British working class might choose socialism. A brave lot, the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas (who changed their name to Windsor)!

CATHERINE STALLARD
London


Trauma and resistance in Gaza

I attended a reportback by David Harrold, from the Palestine Trauma Centre (PTC), of his visit to Gaza in April 2015. His eyewitness account, entitled ‘Grief and joy in Gaza’ was presented at a Stop the War meeting in Battersea, south London. The PTC works with traumatised Palestinian children and their families. 125,000 Palestinian children now need direct psychological intervention, having lost homes and/or siblings and parents. His visit took place eight months after Israel’s latest imperialist onslaught on the Palestinian people when Israeli forces killed 2,199 Palestinians including nearly 500 children. 3,374 children were wounded, with more than 1,000 left permanently disabled.

Harrold spoke of the Palestinian people ‘living in an abusive relationship’ with the Zionist Israeli state. He quotes Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Ariel Sharon, who said ‘the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not make them die of hunger’, and spoke of Israel’s infamous ‘Dahiya doctrine’ which sets out to ‘destroy the community’s infrastructure to immerse people in the problem of survival, making resistance impossible’.

He showed a photograph of the yellow flags of Fatah and the green flags of Hamas together in Gaza which reminded me that in April 2014 Israel became very angry at the reconciliation deal agreed between Fatah and Hamas, and threatened to withhold tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Was the offensive against Gaza last year an Israeli attempt to sabotage the deal, to isolate Hamas and punish Fatah for the rapprochement? Fatah entered the conflict in July 2014 with missiles launched against Israel in the West Bank. Amin Maqboul, Secretary-General of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council said Palestinians were united against the Israeli assault: ‘We all know that the main Israeli goal has been to break up the national unity reconciliation. We will respond by strengthening our unity and reconciliation’ (Palestine Pulse, 10 July 2014).

Harrold went on to speak of therapy linked to resistance, quoting from the work of the revolutionary and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon: ‘His glance no longer shrivels me up nor freezes me and his voice no longer turns me into stone’. Harrold himself speaks of catharsis which echoes Fanon’s words in The Wretched of the Earth: ‘At the level of individuals, violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect’.

STEPHANUS
London


Free Steve Kaczynski!

We are writing to highlight the plight of Steve Kaczynski. He is a Scottish national who is currently in prison in Istanbul. In Turkey, as in many imperialist countries, political policing and the silencing of political opinion have become the norm. The sole reason why political activists like Stephen Kaczynski are arrested and kept in isolation is because of their work highlighting social injustice against the rights of women, workers, the poor and the oppressed. Stephen has a particular interest in Turkey, has participated in several International Symposiums against Prison Isolation, and has reported on the death fast protests in Turkish F-type prisons, during which 122 individuals died. Steve is a prolific writer and has written numerous articles and books, including one recounting the story of a father whose two daughters died in prison on death fast.

On 2 April 2015, the Turkish police and army terrorised the local community and attempted to disrupt an annual anti-imperialist conference that was being held at the Idil cultural centre. Steve and musicians from the band Grup Yorum were arrested, detained and tortured; Steve remains interned, in solitary confinement without charge. He is currently on hunger strike in protest at being held in harsh conditions, in isolation 23 hours a day, not being allowed to have any reading material, and being denied many of his visits.

Steve is a dedicated, progressive thinker and for decades has been a close friend to the struggle for national liberation in Ireland, and to workers’ struggles in Scotland, Wales, England and internationally. Steve has not committed any offence and we demand that he is released immediately.

The Committee for Freedom for Steve Kaczynski is organising regular demonstrations outside the Turkish embassy in London every Wednesday at 12 noon. Supporters are encouraged to attend, as well as to write letters of protest to the Ministry of Justice in Ankara: 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; telephone 90 (0312) 417 77 70; fax 90 (0312) 419 33 70; email ıThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please also support Steve by writing letters and cards to: Steve Shaw Kaczynski, Maltepe 3 No.lu Hapishanesi, Yabancılar bölümü Büyük Bakkal Köy Mah, Yakacık Yolu Üzeri, No 13 Maltepe, Istanbul, Turkey.

CINAED DECANNTUN
Committee for Freedom for Steve Kaczynski


Justice for Sheku Bayoh!

On 3 May, 31-year-old Sheku Bayoh, who was originally from Sierra Leone, was violently arrested and died in Kircaldy it

the custody of the national police force, Police Scotland which was formed two years ago. Up to nine officers were involved in the arrest and used batons, CS gas and pepper spray, leg restraints and handcuffs against Sheku. As doctors and nurses struggled to revive him at Victoria Hospital, officers refused to remove handcuffs and leg restraints.

There have been 11 deaths in the custody of Police Scotland since it was formed.

On 7 June RCG supporters attended the funeral march, passing where Sheku was arrested and stopping outside the local police station. At the press conference which followed we heard details of the police operation of lies and attempts to smear and to intimidate the family into silence. Meanwhile the officers involved refused to release their notebooks or speak to the Scottish investigatory body, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) for a month after Sheku’s death. RCG supporters attended the launch of the Sheku Bayoh campaign on 25 July in Glasgow.

What then has been the Scottish SNP government’s response to this racist killing? Scottish justice secretary Michael Matheson stated he will not intervene in the police investigation into Sheku’s death and has rejected calls for PIRC to be given new statutory powers which would allow them to compel officer witnesses to be interviewed.

DOMINIC MULGREW
Glasgow

Support the campaign by liking the facebook page Justice For Sheku Ahmed Tejan Bayoh and donating to the campaign at Bank of Scotland: Sort code 80-47-68, Account number 10897861

Full IBAN: GB34 BOFS 8047 6810 8978 61


Strangeways: from book to film

The article about my book (Life in Strangeways: from riot to redemption) in FRFI 245 is truly appreciated. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of the book’s content and the prison system’s ways. It’s something I cannot forget and anything that exposes it is good. The book is now going to be turned into a film! That will be good.

ALAN LORD
Manchester

A message from Steve Kazcynski to FRFI

14 July 2015

I was recently sent no 245 of FRFI. I am currently in Maltepe No 3 L-type prison in Istanbul.  I was charged with membership of the DHKP-C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front) in early April and have been here since. I have been in isolation conditions so profound that for example I only learned the result of the UK General Election 10 days after it happened.  FRFI’s detailed analysis of the election was therefore particularly welcome.

I am currently on the 19th day of a hunger strike.  Friends have been sending me books and magazines but the prison administration’s ‘education commission’ has withheld some of them on the grounds they are considered harmful.  I have appealed against these rulings and on July 8 my appeal in relation to three of the magazines (‘Yuruyus’ or ‘March’ – a socialist weekly in Turkey) was accepted by a court. It is not clear at the moment of writing if these magazines will actually be given to me.

I have on occasion bought FRFI on demonstrations and I like its clear anti-imperialist stance. Its contempt for the Labour Party is also attractive to me. The LP’s near obliteration in Scotland was particularly well deserved.

Revolutionary Greetings

STEVE KAZCYNSKI

Maltepe 3 No.lu Hapishanesi

Yabancýlar bölümü Büyük Bakkal Köy Mah
Yakacýk Yolu Üzeri, No 13 Maltepe 

Istanbul, Turkey

Steve Kaczynski is a British citizen imprisoned in a Turkish prison. The Revolutionary Communist Group is supporting the campaign for his release. For more information about urgent action in support of  Steve email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or  Facebook Stephen Kaczynski at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010119271355&fref=ts

LETTERS - FRFI 245 Jun/Jul 2015

A lesson in British ‘justice’

Kevan Thakrar’s parents had asked Manchester RCG to help organise a solidarity protest at the Crown Court in Manchester on 22 May when he was scheduled to appear for a pre-trial legal hearing. We produced a leaflet before the event and publicised it on social media, as did local activists from the Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association (JENGbA) group.

On the day, around 15 supporters attended the short court hearing, which was like an educational in the corrupt nature of the British ‘justice system’. Kevan has been accused of ‘common assault’ against a prison officer in Strangeways (see letter in FRFI 244). This is the latest chapter in the prison service’s vindictive harassment of him. The CPS firstly said they didn’t want to proceed with the case but the Prison Officers Association demanded it be heard.

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Letters / FRFI 244 Apr/May 2015

Solidarity with Kevan Thakrar

Thank you to everyone who turned out to demonstrate in my support in London outside Prison Service headquarters on 16 February and to all those who helped create the banners, flyers and advertised the event.

Since then there have been significant developments. Firstly, the attempt to have me sectioned under the Mental Health Act failed. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is not something which a person can be sectioned for, so the psychiatrist refused to do the dirty work of the Close Supervision Centre Management Committee (CSCMC) and refer me to hospital.

Transfer to HMP Full Sutton segregation unit turned out to be their next attack. Greeted by a full riot squad on arrival, my treatment was never going to be good, but even I was shocked at the audacity of these discriminators who stormed my cell while I was praying, to assault me and provoke a reaction. Fortunately I did not fall into their trap; however this has only led to me being subjected to a continued and increasing level of harassment.

The problem for the CSCMC is this: I have a psychological report which stipulates that I should be returned to normal location as after five years on the CSC I do not need to remain under these conditions. It goes on to say that keeping me in these environments is exacerbating my PTSD, which is disability discrimination in violation of the Equality Act. The CSCMC does not want me ever to be able to return to normal location, hence their failed attempt to have me sectioned, but they know that with this report any judge in the country will rule against them if they fail to progress me.

As they are unable to get me out of their jurisdiction, their core aim is to provoke an incident to justify my CSC status. At the same time they subject me to treatment intended to worsen my mental health in the hope of facilitating my transfer to a hospital.

They have now informed me of their intention to allocate me to the Exceptional Risk Unit in HMP Wakefield. This is the very end of the line, indefinite isolation, nobody ever leaves, except those who die of old age. During my 13-day stay at Wakefield seg back in 2010, almost the whole first week I was starved, and not a day went by without some kind of threat being made by the officers there, including extreme racial abuse.

Targeting me through the courts, I must be the only prisoner in history facing prosecution for common assault, which stems from a false allegation by an officer by the way. Wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money attempting to force through a wrongful conviction to dirty my record and bolster their other schemes, they have recruited Manchester police and the CPS to help. With legal argument due to take place on 22 May at Manchester Crown Court regarding the validity of this case, only time will tell if this prosecution actually proceeds.

I need your support now more than ever. A protest is being organised outside Manchester Crown Court on 22 May and I ask for all those who can to please attend. Maybe I will hear you if you shout loud enough!

I really am in a desperate situation and the only real way out is with your support. We can stand together against this abuse and cause it to change for me and all the others who follow. The CSC system has been allowed to operate in secrecy since its creation in 1998, sending many prisoners insane. The time has come to put a stop to the ordeal. The protest on 22 May is the first real step in achieving this. I hope to see you there.

Kevan Thakrar A4907AE

HMP Full Sutton

Since writing this Kevan has been moved to HMP Wakefield, 5 Love Lane, Wakefield, WF2 9AG

www.justiceforkevan.com


HMP Frankland: bloody-minded, petty and bureaucratic

Following a recent ruling on sending books to prisoners, FRFI sought to send a copy of our Larkin publication Labour: a party fit for imperialism to Rangzieb Ahmed. In its latest act of spiteful harassment, the prison has withheld the book. We reprint their latest reply to our continuing protest over this issue.

Thank you for your letter of 5 March 2015. I would like to make the following observations. The book you refer to, Labour: a party fit for imperialism, was sent into the prison prior to the introduction of the new rules regarding the possession of books and the changes to the IEP [privileges] Scheme. Therefore, the book has been dealt with under the relevant procedures at that time which means it will be held in Mr Ahmed’s stored property until he is released or he applies to send it out of the establishment.

As stated in your letter, amendments were made to the Prison Service Instruction which came into effect on 31 January 2015. Family and friends are now allowed to order books on behalf of prisoners which are sent directly to the prison. However, these must be from one of the four approved suppliers which are Blackwells, Foyles, Waterstones, and WH Smith.

If there are any exceptional reasons, the Governor may allow friends and family to send books in direct, but only if it is considered appropriate for the situation.

Ms A Peters, CTU

HMP Frankland, Brasside, Durham DH1 5YD


Alienated call centre labour

I am working in a call centre in Manchester. I was surprised how call centre life is similar all over the world – I am not originally from Britain. Call centre workers are in the worst category in terms of human and workers’ rights.

This business has a dividi et impera lex (divide and rule policy): in our case workers from the EU earn less than UK workers. There is an unpleasant tension among workers, that keeps us quiet. Women are in a minority in supervisor or manager positions (and even in number of agents at the phones). In addition:

• We get no sickness pay.

• We cannot go to the toilet whenever we need to and have a maximum of 10 mins ‘loos and brews’. Breaks are strict and are totally at the will of the company.

• If we ask for holidays (or extra days off) we are obliged to give a satisfactory reason. I personally do not feel comfortable sharing my private life with people I work with.

• We won’t get our bonuses if we’re late by even one minute.

The contract I signed is designed in such a way that I can be sacked at any time and have very little chance to go against it.

I think call centre workers represent modern alienated labour as our natural biological time cannot be scheduled by a computer and we are pressed to answer the calls without interruption, one call after the other without even time to finish writing the report of the previous call.

I am writing this as I would like to gather as many people as possible to think about action to pressure the companies through a campaign, union or a lawyer/counsellor. In my case being ignorant of the law as a foreigner is a great advantage for the company.

Please get in touch with FRFI if you want to help start a campaign.

Nylde

Manchester


Newham Council locks down community centre

In December 2014, with no warning, the Upton Community Association in east London was closed by Newham Labour Council. When children arrived for nursery they found it padlocked shut. After 33 years, the 28 user groups – involving around 9,000 people in total, mainly from the Gujarati community, were left out in the cold. No MPs or councillors, nor Mayor Robin Wales have cooperated with the user groups since the closure that left many people without the services they relied on. See Facebook Save Upton Centre.

I am a volunteer at Upton Centre in Newham, and our community needs help and support to reopen our centre which many people used to use. The council forcefully locked us out of the temple and deities have been taken away from us that we used for prayers and ceremonial rituals; the closure has affected the health and quality of life of many elderly members of the community.

I feel Newham Labour Party has marginalised and discriminated against local Hindus. No warning had been given and while the stated reason for the closure is heating issues, the other half of the building, used by the One Love Centre who share the same utilities, remains operative.

As just one example, my sister Laxmi studied very hard for her GCSEs in languages but now cannot sit her exam in 2015 because it is too late for Ofsted to certify an alternative centre.

Hitesh Varsani

As you may be aware, our Upton Centre has been closed down, and we are doing everything to keep it open including protests, petitions and a campaign. The centre has been part of our community for over 30 years, and we can’t just see it closed now. We can’t let the centre go without a fight. The centre is like our second home, we can go there and take part in classes and activities. I have used that centre since I was a little girl for Gujarati classes and cultural Indian dancing, it is home to me. We need your support in helping us keep the centre open. 

I am extremely disappointed in the fact that the local MPs did not turn up to the meeting about the centre. No warnings or notes were given to us to let us know. It was a disappointment that our local MPs weren’t there to support us. I would like a written and public apology to our community from the MPs to explain why they were not able to attend the meeting. 

Pooja Pindoria


Estate agents: your new neighbourhood friend

Estate agents are the shopfront of landlords and property developers. Their offices now dominate high streets in many areas of London considered ripe for rent rises. They are now also posing as life-style choices and friends of the locality. In North London, Greene & Co have delivered tea-towels and brightly-coloured invitations to local homes to celebrate a ‘Bake-Off and Tea Party’ – a day of ‘fun and food’ in the local community together with Kentish Town Community Centre.

This is an insult to the growing housing struggles and the increasing use of food banks in an area where the working class is being priced out of existence.

MT Holmes

North London

Good news!

Just a quick note to say THANK YOU for sending the newspaper, it was great to get info from the outside world that was political and not the bloomin’ TV news!

Em Sheppard A73720J

HMP Send


Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 244 April/May 2015