Letters / 228 Aug/Sep 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012

Racism in Lincolnshire

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! received this email from Lillian Madden, whose parents were Jamaican immigrants, documenting her fight against racism in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. Racist oppression is endemic in Lincolnshire: local agribusiness depends on the ruthless exploitation of immigrant labour from Portugal and more recently Eastern Europe. It is estimated that a dozen or so gangmasters hold 70-80,000 immigrant workers in thrall, forcing them to live in appalling accommodation and paying them a pittance. In Boston there have been two attempts to organise anti-immigrant marches; in Gainsborough itself an EDL supporter was jailed for three months for having 17 anti-Muslim posters in his windows.

‘I am sending you this email hoping that you would publish my story because I have tried to go to The Voice newspaper and they have been ignoring my emails.

For the past eight years my teenage daughter, who is now 18, and I have been subjected to direct racism, physical assault on two occasions, and neighbour abuse and harassment from people and the police in Gainsborough where I used to live and where I had been brought up as a young child.

In 2003 my daughter and I went to live in Gainsborough to stay with my father. However, as soon as we moved in, we suffered constant racism and physical and verbal abuse. This included a police officer who made a racist comment and who said laughingly said that being called a ‘nigger’ is no worse than being called a pig. His colleague asked ‘what are you doing here anyway?’.

In 2005 I made an official complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), as a result of which a police officer was disciplined and another police officer was given ‘words of warning’. Although I believed the Lincolnshire police to be institutionally racist this was not acknowledged in the IPCC report. The Lincolnshire police did not have a Hate Crime Policy until I made the complaint.

I also made a complaint in 2006 and 2011 because my daughter and I were still being subjected to racism. On 14 June and 24 August 2011 I had bricks thrown through my windows which just missed my head. The police said that I was exaggerating and they wrote a letter stating that they could not protect me. I decided to flee my family home with my daughter because we were not safe. The police knew who the perpetrator had been because they told me and my family that they had caught him with evidence on him. However the next day he was released because he had a alibi.

There have been numerous racial incidents against my daughter and I which I have documented in a diary and I have newspaper articles regarding the severity of problems my family have been subjected to. However the police and the local MP, Tory Edward Leigh, and local LibDem councillors Pat O’Connor and Mark Binns choose to ignore what is going on in this racist and bigoted town.

I am still trying to pursue action against the police because I believe my daughter and I should receive justice after losing the human right to our home which has been in the family since the 1960s. My parents who are Jamaican came to the United Kingdom to work hard and support our family. I and my daughter, both of us born in this racist country, have, like many black people, lost all faith in the justice system.’


Action against Atos in Glasgow

As the war on welfare intensifies it is the poor, sick and disabled, the people on the front line of the cuts, who are being forced to fight back. Increasing public awareness of the Coalition’s punitive Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is opening up new possibilities for resistance.

The company hired by the government on a contract worth over £100m to carry out the WCA, private French multinational Atos Healthcare, has had its test centres picketed and occupied. On 29 June Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Glasgow united with the Black Triangle Disability Rights Campaign, the Accord Campaign and the Merrylee Matters Campaign, to successfully picket an Atos centre – the first in a series of monthly pickets. A planning meeting ‘War on welfare: time for action!’ was held on 27 June. In this ongoing struggle it is vital to remember that it was a Labour government which first introduced the WCA and hired the services of Atos in 2008. Founding member of the Black Triangle campaign John McArdle pointed out that the Labour Party is as much if not more our ‘class enemy’ as the ConDem government.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has condemned the WCA and called for its immediate removal. This is welcome but will not be enough to mount a real challenge to the ruling class agenda. Resistance must be built from the street level up involving and in solidarity with the claimants under attack.

Thousands of claimants have been driven into deeper sickness, poverty, suicide or death by the WCA. All those who have been or know someone who has been targeted need to unite and to resist. 40% of claimants who appeal against Atos decisions are successful, rising to 70% for those who take up legal representation.

In addition, in July the minister for disabled people, Maria Miller, announced the closure of 27 of 54 Remploy factories which help provide jobs for people with disabilities. With all 54 factories expected to be shut down in the long term around 2,800 jobs will be lost. It is the duty of all progressive people to unite around the banner of the Remploy workers and incapacity benefit claimants for welfare, disability, employment and ultimately human rights. Future plans for anti-Atos work in Glasgow are currently being put in place and a Facebook page has been set up,‘Glasgow Against Atos’. To get involved contact 07734 348 065 or send a facebook message.

DOMINIC MULGREW

Glasgow, Scotland


Remember Peter Norman

The usual cropping of the photograph of Tommy Smith and John Carlos’ Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics regrettably always leaves out the third man on the podium, who supported their anti-racist demonstration – Peter Norman. This white Australian, who wore the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights on the stand, was in with the plan for the protest and he suffered, like Smith and Carlos, for his political courage. He was an Australian 200m champion in 1966 and broke world records during the heats of the 1968 Games. From a poor background, having to borrow running shoes to compete, he was left out of Australia’s squad for the next Olympics despite qualifying 13 times over. He was not invited to participate in a VIP lap of honour at the 2000 Games in Sydney. As a teacher of physical education in Melbourne he was a union activist and addressed rallies of striking dock workers there. His nephew Matt Norman made a movie of his brave uncle and comrades and friends Carlos and Smith, called appropriately Salute!, which was released successfully in 2008. Peter Norman died in 2006. We salute you!

MICHAEL MCGREGOR

Dundee, Scotland


Desperate protest at Woodhill CSC

Constant lock-down whilst prison officers are paid to sit drinking tea, eating cakes and watching TV has finally led to protest by prisoners housed in the brutal Woodhill Close Supervision Centre (CSC) in Milton Keynes.

No access to phones, showers, time outside, in-cell electricity switched off, mail not being delivered and the unit governor refusing to do anything about it has resulted in seven out of the 16 cells being seriously damaged. Prisoners took to smashing their cells in frustration as the officers sat back, knowing it would create more work hours for them and more pay. The wing was flooded several times until water was turned off and prisoners left to go thirsty. Then the fires started...

Prison cells are very confined spaces with little ventilation, so setting a fire inside can be extremely dangerous, especially when the cell has no call system for alerting staff, as it was smashed days before. Normal practice would be to remove the prisoner from the cell of the fire, but not at Woodhill CSC. A small hole big enough only for the fire hose to fit is opened in the cell door, then the cell is flooded, with the prisoner and his belongings left drenched. Prisoners are then left in these wet cells full of smoke as a punishment. For one prisoner it was different. During the protest he attempted suicide by means of a cell fire, having first barricaded his cell. This was the second time in two months that he had done this and he had to be dragged from the cell semi-conscious. Prison staff then callously carried him to the top of the stairs, stood him up and left him to fall. In less than 24 hours he was transferred before he could make a complaint.

The cells have now been repaired and the prisoners all blamed for the events, but at least three of the victims of the Woodhill CSC managed to get a transfer as a result of the

protest.

Woodhill CSC prisoner


Socialist footsteps

I was very touched to read the letter from Michael in Dundee about his father in FRFI 227. Those parts of the struggle he mentions in Ireland and South Africa and the big rally at the Pier Head in Liverpool and the visits to the Soviet Union and Cuba were like retracing my own footsteps and those of my family. And as a small act of solidarity with Michael’s dad, Gerry, I am enclosing a cheque of £50 towards the FRFI Fighting Fund. Please let Michael know how much his letter was appreciated.

GARRY DEARDEN

Essex


FRFI: what a socialist newspaper should be

I want to tell you how informative and instructive I’ve found your newspaper FRFI. I was sent the April/May and June/July editions and have been reading them article by article. Look at the difference between your newspaper and the newspaper and magazine published by the Socialist Party. Yours is a proper newspaper – theirs is just a recruitment sheet. Yours is an exemplary publication. I am just impressed with your clear thinking. You make absolute sense to me. I feel sick after reading one edition of The Socialist. Sick of hearing about the Socialist Party. They ram themselves down your throat. Your publication tells the truth. And that is what socialism is all about or should be.

Your positions on Cuba and Venezuela reflect my own thinking. My heart is compassionate and I am coherent and comprehensive in my thinking. I like to look at the world as a whole. Much of my thinking came out of the USSR. I am opposed to America and its criminal practices. They are the biggest terrorist force in the world. There is no depth to which this dead-hearted monster won’t stoop.

I like the practical and ordinary nature of your newspaper. It is giving people ideas. It is helpful and detailed and open minded. It is original news reporting. We need information because the official sources of news are not trustworthy. The truth is being blacked out. We can’t trust their newspapers or television channels or the government or the official opposition. The enemy relies on a system of permanent lies. Everything they tell us is garbled and cannot in any way illuminate the actual state of affairs. The press is used to cover up their illegal activities. The police are not directed to investigate the real criminals in our society. They are directed to intimidate and harass and bully and persecute and prosecute the people through all possible avenues. We are being criminalised whilst the mass murderers are knighted and live in golden palaces. The police are part of the looting system since they ensure it can be left to do as it wishes without any interference. We can’t separate the police from the looting and mass murdering rich.

Elijah Traven

Hull

Letters / FRFI 227 June/July 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012

LETTERS

An appreciation of my father Gerry 1934-2012

My father Gerry, who died this May, was a Scot of Irish origin, like so many of us here. His Uncle Peter became a member of Sinn Fein in Dundee, having learned of Irish history from the Molly Malones of Dublin town when he was stationed there with the British army in 1919.

My dad was never formally politically active himself, but he understood justice and was prepared to stand up for it. As a young lad, my friends and I were  stopped and threatened by the police for an alleged break-in at a nearby factory. We were all quite badly shaken up. My father took them on by complaining and soon we had inspectors coming up to the house to take statements. They were nice as pie with my folks around but once, they arrived with just me in the house and like the sneaks and bullies that they are, tried to intimidate me into dropping the complaints. My father was furious and went on to challenge this behaviour as well.

He along with my mum and aunty and uncle came down to the RCG’s very first Free Speech Rally in the City Square which was called in response to police arrests and loyalist threats against Irish Hunger Strike solidarity campaigners in 1981.

I still see him bawling at the TV as the BBC News showed British soldiers and police trying to drive the Irish people off their own streets with hundreds of plastic bullets fired during the massive funeral of hunger striker Joe McDonnell. I see him in the front row with my folks as Albertina Sisulu addressed a large public meeting in the city to build support for the struggle against racist apartheid. At Zimbabwe’s liberation he joked about going to greet ‘Uncle Bob’ Mugabe. I see him joining hundreds of thousands of his own generation on the huge protest march against Margaret Thatcher in Liverpool in the early 1980s.

He was a shop steward in NALGO, the local government union, but despite overtures he never went near the Labour Party or succumbed to the culture of drinking and dining available to union reps. He knew about corruption too.

He and my mum were lucky enough to visit the Soviet Union in 1989 and were on their way to Cuba the following year. Like Che Guevara, my Dad’s granny was a Lynch, and in the 1950s he owned the same model of motorcycle as Che had when he toured Latin America – a Norton 500 ES! There’s a photo of me perched on it in 1958.

Of course there’s a price to pay for hearing out these wee stories of which I am very proud – but my generous dad’ll stand his round as ever! Here’s a pledge for £1,000 toward the Fighting Fund.

Venceremos!

Michael

Dundee


 

Solidarity with Gaza

‘You can’t go, you’re too young.’ I was 12 years old when, in August 2010,  my father first told me that there was a possibility of him going to Gaza with a solidarity convoy. All sorts of questions started going through my head. Would he ever come back? Would the Israelis detain him like they always detained people on the news? Well, I was only going to find out one way – by going with him. Obviously that was never going to be easy – as soon as word got round that I was going chaos erupted. My mum, uncles and most of my family’s friends were all against me going. But what can I say, I was a stubborn kid and when I look back now I’m grateful I was.

As soon as we had reached Al Arish city, where we would go to the sea port and collect all our ambulances and equipment from our ship, we were surrounded by Egyptian police. They claimed to be ‘protecting’ us from thugs –  only later did we realise that they were the thugs. They came to our hotel in the middle of the night, banging with their metal rods everything in their way. They stole all of our possessions, our cameras, money and most of our clothes. In the morning we gathered what was left of our belongings, collected our goods from the port and left for the Rafah border.

Once reaching the border the Egyptian forces told us that we weren’t going through no matter how long we stayed. After seven hours in the scorching sun I saw my father get dragged away by an officer – just as I was about to scream a hand was clamped over my mouth and I was dragged away as well. After struggling I found there was no use and let darkness take over me. I woke up to find myself tied to a chair and facing two officers. To say they interrogated me would be an understatement. What shocked me the most was when the officer handed me an empty gun and a couple of bullets and asked me to put the bullets in the gun. I told him I couldn’t. Then he asked me if I knew how to shoot. I told him no. 10 hours passed and the officers finally let me go and pass through the border along with the rest of the convoy.

When we entered Gaza it was as if we had walked into our own homes and were being greeted by  our own family. The elders chanted for us, the women showered us with flowers, children ran up to us with sweets and the teenagers lifted us up on their shoulders and took us to the streets. And to be honest, if going through 20 hours of being detained and getting beaten up by the Egyptian police is what it takes to stay another minute in Gaza, then without any doubt I’d go through it all over again.

LAYLA ADAM

Glasgow


 

Destructive apathy

What is apathy? The meaning of apathy from the dictionary is a lack of interest or energy. We the working class see apathy manifest itself through a distinct lack of interest in the way that our country is run by our elected representatives. This is not something that happened overnight; it is something that has happened over time through constantly being let down by the politicians that claim to represent us, the majority of Britain – the working class. Just a few weeks ago, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was still pushing ahead with the aggressive cuts campaign/attack on the working class, slashing disability living allowance for thousands of the most vulnerable people in our country, and all the time telling us we are all in this together. At the same time, his father was eyeing up a £19,000 Fornasetti Architettura Trumeau writing bureau (a desk to you or me). Are we really all in this together, Mr Osborne?

The signs of apathy are there for everyone to see, proven in the turnout for the general elections which reached its peak in 1950 with 83.3% turn out and never since 1951 has the turn out reached above 80%, steadily declining through the years with a few peaks and troughs along the way, ultimately resulting in a miserable 65.1% turnout in 2010. Just as apathy did not appear overnight, it will not disappear overnight. In fact it may never disappear unless we the working class come together and stand up for what we believe to be right and organise. Only then will we find the antidote to the apathy poison that is destroying our societies.

DANNY M

Biggar, Scotland


 

Indian freedom fighters

I congratulate FRFI for publishing the letter from the comrades of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The CPI (M) are genuine freedom fighters struggling for the well-being of the downtrodden and oppressed.

Maybe one day we could found a sister organisation in Scotland.

JAMES HAGGERTY

Glasgow


 

Deportation won’t stop

fight for justice

I thank you all at FRFI for your ongoing loyal support. On 25 April I was given a formal written notification from the Ministry of Justice that I will be one of the foreign national prisoners who will be deported back to my native country.

This new legislation could come into effect as early as May. I received my life sentence in 1987 and my tariff expired in 1996. According to the Ministry of Justice letter, if a person has served their tariff, even if the Parole Board refuses the prisoner’s release, the Ministry has been given the authority to overrule the Parole Board and deport the prisoner.

As you know, I have been fighting for truth and justice in my case and I will continue to do so when I am deported back to my native Finland. I have served over 26 years on falsified and fabricated police evidence. The forensic experts could not find any evidence against me. I am most certainly not the only innocent person convicted on false police evidence, but I am a fighter and a survivor and trust that with my good legal team’s help I am a winner and in due course will be on the victory train with all my helpers and supporters!

If I am deported I will remain in touch from Finland. I welcome letters from supporters and from others wrongfully convicted.

PETER HAKALA A3960AE

HMP Wakefield, 5 Love Lane

Wakefield WF2 9AG

Letters /FRFI 226 Apr/May 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 226 April/May 2012

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is an underground guerilla party in India, well-known for its fight for the rights of tribes in the forest belt around central India, especially in the states of Chattisgharh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharastra and West Bengal. Their objective is the revolutionary overthrow of the Indian government. They are often referred to as Naxalites in reference to the Naxalbari insurrection conducted by radical Maoists in West Bengal in 1967. In 2006, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh branded the CPI (M) ‘the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced’ by the country. In 2009 the party became a proscribed organisation.


Condemn arrests and torture of Maoist activists in India

In February 2012, the police arrested activists of our Party, including senior cadre from Kolkata and Mumbai. On the specific intelligence provided by the murderous APSIB, joint forces of police and STF of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal raided the shelters of our comrades in Kolkata and Mumbai suburbs and arrested at least nine comrades including two women comrades. Comrades Sadanala Ramakrishna, Deepak Kumar Pargania, Sukumar Mandal, Bapi Mudi and Sambhu Charan were arrested from Kolkata while Comrades Dinesh Wankhede, Aasimkumar Bhattacharya, Suman Gawde and Paru Patel were picked up from Thane in Maharashtra. Comrade Sadanala Ramakrishna is 62 and has suffered from serious health problems for many years. A revolutionary for more than four decades, Comrade Ramakrishna sacrificed his bright life for the cause of liberation of the downtrodden. Both the two women comrades arrested have been undergoing medical treatment for some time.

The police forces, known for the worst kind of cruelty, have been torturing these comrades mentally and physically while in custody. They have foisted several false cases against these comrades to ensure they languish behind the bars forever.

These arrests are part of Operation Green Hunt (OGH ie the ‘War on the People’) underway since 2009. The comprador ruling classes, in connivance with their imperialist masters, particularly with the US imperialists, have unleashed this brutal war of suppression in the poorest parts of India so that their neoliberal policies of plunder of resources can be unhindered. They are particularly targeting the revolutionary leadership and eliminating it. As the Pentagon itself claimed recently, the US Special Forces are not only actively involved, but also assisting their Indian counterparts on the ground in the counter-insurgency operations. This fact also shows us that the US has been sponsoring the ongoing OGH, making values such as freedom, independence, and the sovereignty of our country a joke. The exploiting rulers of our country are day-dreaming if they think this movement can be suppressed by wiping out its leadership.

The revolutionary movement cannot be crushed by arrests and murders. The bars of the dungeons cannot prevent revolutionary ideas from spreading among the masses. The CC of CPI (Maoist) strongly condemns these arrests and inhumane torture being inflicted on our comrades. We demand their immediate and unconditional release, as well as that of all of the political prisoners languishing in various jails in all corners of our land. We also demand the dropping of the false cases foisted against these comrades.

Statement from the Communist Party of India (Maoist) Central Committee, 2 March


A beginner’s guide to surviving prison

I read with interest your FRFI 225 about the legal repercussions for those involved in the August unrest. Taking my own history into consideration, I am not in a position to preach about such things. I do however think they were naïve to expect to be judged purely on the basis of individual actions rather than in the overall context of those actions. The harsh sentences are clearly intended as a deterrent to others. ‘They hate whom they fear’, as the Roman poet Quintus Ennius put it. I am glad that FRFI is educating people about this reality.

To those imprisoned, either awaiting trial or convicted, if this is your first time inside, I know it can initially be a shocking experience. The first few days are the most overwhelming. As the weeks and months pass, you will get used to it. ‘No one who has not sat in prison knows what the state is like’, said Leon Tolstoy. Although at first it may seem that you have been stripped of everything that defined your identity, remember that you still have responsibilities to yourself, your family and your ideals. You will need to develop a confident and cautious mentality, without pretending to be something you are not. But equally, you do not need to reveal everything about yourself, or try to control a situation through unnecessary aggression – it just attracts trouble. Avoid active drug users and dealers – a lot of violence and theft is obviously connected to drugs. Choose your associates wisely. You will undoubtedly meet many selfish arseholes in prison, but you will also find some genuinely solid and interesting characters. Prison can give you a more complete understanding of how society functions. If you have a release date, focus on the bigger picture. Try to spend your time productively - use the library, education department and gym (if possible). Develop an exercise routine. These things will help keep you in a positive mindset. ‘It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can!’ (Sydney Smith).

MA Cooper

A5920AL, HMP Whitemoor


Activists prevent council house sell-off

On 13 February, a group of activists prevented the Labour-run Lewisham Council in southeast London from auctioning off five council properties and are in the process of renovating them so that local homeless families can move in. On 3 March the first family – Azad Khan and Nashima Begum and their two young children moved into a three-bedroom house in New Cross, after being on the housing list for four years.

Lewisham has 17,000 people on its housing waiting list, with 350 families living in hostels and 1,000 in temporary accommodation. Yet it has 2,000 empty residential properties. Five were recently earmarked for a bargain-basement auction, with a starting price of £140,000.

So Lewisham People Before Profit went along to the Open Day and then refused to leave. Since then, they’ve been painting and decorating, checking the safety of gas and electricity supplies and in some cases installing new bathrooms and kitchens, with support from the local community. The council argues that the houses were never ‘purpose-built’ residential accommodation; that is a lie. I visited the house at Angus Street and while it was most recently used as a day nursery, it’s clearly a family house, with a garden, in a row of terraced houses. Ray Woolford, housing adviser to the campaign, says it cost just £1,000 to renovate the house – compared to the £40,000 a year spent to house each homeless family in inadequate and cramped temporary accommodation.

The organisation hopes the council will agree tenancies for the houses. Azad Khan told Lewisham New Shopper: ‘I am aware of the risk and that we do not have a tenancy agreement, but it is a risk worth taking as this is exactly what we need. I’m hopeful the council won’t chuck me out on the street with my young children.’ For more information about how you can support the occupation, visit http://www.peoplebeforeprofit. org.uk/lewisham/lewisham-pbp-news/99-defend-council-housing

While homeless soars, there are 5,000 residential council properties lying empty in London alone. It’s time for more people to follow the Lewisham lead.

Cat Wiener

South London


Withholding of publications – FRFI

Thank you for your letter dated 9 December 2011. I apologise for the delay in responding to you but it has taken some time to conclude my enquiries into this matter.

I am sorry that there have been problems with prisoners receiving your publication and confirm that there appears to have been a misunderstanding by staff which led to your publication either being withheld or returned to you. Offenders at HMP Manchester are encouraged to raise a newspaper order form, which is then forwarded to our approved supplier for processing. When it occurs that a publication is requested which is not ordinarily stocked at newsagents then this will be allowed to be sent direct from the publishers to the Correspondence Department and all staff have now been made aware of this.

In your letter you have stated that A6060AL Mr Nevers, a current offender, had a copy of your publication stopped. I can confirm that this was indeed the case and it was stopped because it had not been sent via the official supplier. I can only apologise for this oversight and confirm that steps are being taken to reunite Mr Nevers with his newspaper.

In conclusion, I can confirm that there should be no further interference with your publication.

RW Vince, Governor

HMP Manchester

Letters / FRFI 225 Feb/Mar 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 225 February/March 2012

Pelican Bay: diary of a hunger strike

10 October 2011

Just sitting here, attempting to endure these harsh conditions that myself and ten other prisoners are being put through, thinking about how crazy the warden of ‘Skeleton Bay’ is – he came onto the tier to speak to each of us on Wednesday 5 October and said we could go back to our Secure Housing Unit (SHU) cells if we’d eat. Well, GD Lewis, warden of Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), got his answer: today is 10 October and the hunger strikers are still here – living on water.

For over 20 years I’ve lived in extreme isolated solitary confinement; through years of deprivation and sensory disorientation. For all those years – no phone calls, no photos taken, no contact visits. This is cruel and unusual torture. The SHU is attacking and destroying the basis of our humanity through sensory deprivation. The SHU causes a physical and psychological trauma whose end result is a hammer blow to the mind and body. The construction of such a system cannot be considered anything other than an institutional system of cruelty and torture – a systematic attack on SHU prisoners’ human stimuli.

So I decided to join the battle as I have no choice but to struggle against the torture. I have not eaten solid food since 25 September. So far I’ve lost over 25 pounds. This battle is essential as a means to bring attention to the seriousness of the inhumanity PBSP-SHU prisoners are suffering every day. ‘Gang debriefing’, no phone calls, no photos, no contact visits, no sunshine, no raincoats, small portions of food, lack of proper radio stations and TV channels, kiddie movies, inhumane guards – all these are just symptoms of the problems but the real problem is the SHU itself. The California Department of Corrections and Repressions’ willingness to lie knows no bounds. Two Ombudsmen, Gina Weiss and Sarah Malone, have come to our cells acting as though they had our best interests in mind, all the while cajoling us to eat. Ms Weiss made the statement: ‘It’s ironic that we’re trying to save lives.’ WTF! We’ve been in administrative segregation for 12 days now without receiving one single document, 114D or 115 rule infraction to state why we were placed here.

All prisoners have to fight back with our bodies – for however long it takes our voices will be our bodies and we are speaking out loudly enough to focus Governor Jerry Brown’s attention on the hunger strike. We need supporters to make sure he hears our bodies’ cries for justice and fair and humane treatment. Tell him to end the torture at Pelican Bay SHU. Our lead negotiators – two female attorneys – have been accused of ‘aiding and abetting’ the hunger strikers.

What a travesty of justice that is. Phone, fax, email or write to Governor Jerry Brown and express your displeasure at how he is running his state – California is moving in the direction of a fascist state.

27 December 2011

I was moved back to the SHU on 13 October 2011, to my same cell D4-107. My property was destroyed and stolen by the guard who packed my stuff. I have written him up. I’d like to be placed on your mailing list. Meantime, we are still awaiting ‘results’ from the hunger strike. Asante.

In struggle,

Paul Sangu Jones PBSP-ASU-HZ

PO Box 7500/B24077, Crescent City, CA 95532, US

From SHU to ASU

 

In a cell where they won’t give me a book

I sit in a darkened room

Now that I have refused their food

The guards swoop like vultures

They swarm around me like flies

Because my peaceful hunger strike

‘Disturbs them’

Into the ASU dungeon I am thrown

For the alleged ‘criminal conspiracy’

Not to eat

With the guards’ unnatural obsession with

‘Gang activities’

This gives them licence to repress us

With institutional impunity

To the point where it seems to affect their

Sanity

I’ve lived with their hypocrisy and the

Twisted lies

Until I had to finally say ‘enough is enough’

End this prolonged isolation

Now I’m confined to Administrative

Segregation

I only leave my cell to shower

No yard, No fresh air

All of this because I opposed being

Tortured

I sit in starved rebellion.

In October 2011, the prisoners ended the hunger strike, their second, after three weeks. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation say they will review every Security Housing Unit prisoner whose SHU sentence is related to alleged gang activities. This was a key demand of the hunger strikers. One hunger striker suffered a heart attack and died over the course of the hunger strikes; others were denied medication for different conditions.


Justice for Rangzieb Ahmed, tortured on behalf of the British state

I lodged my case at the European Court of Human Rights on 23 December 2011. I also started civil proceedings on 16 January 2012 at the High Court of Justice in Britain against the following:

• The director general of MI5

• The director general of MI6

•The Foreign and Commonwealth Office

• The Home Office

• The Attorney General

• The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.

You will all by now have heard that in the case of Binyam Mohamed and another unnamed individual, no charges were brought against the secret service agents due to insufficient evidence. I am not surprised by this decision. The British police will never properly investigate British complicity in torture and they are just playing a part in the cover-up to deceive the public. As for the public inquiry [now abandoned] into complicity with torture, nobody was prepared to participate in it because it was clear it wasn’t serious about getting at the truth. The British government needs to set up a different institution to reach the truth. The public needs to know what actually happened and the people responsible need to face justice. Britain preaches to the world about the rule of law and justice so I think it’s well overdue that they should practise what they preach.

RANGZIEB AHMED A6326AC

HMP Full Sutton,York YO41 1PS


Wakefield censors FRFI

An FRFI was sent to me at this establishment. I signed for it the weekend of 3/4 December 2011 and was subsequently told it was not for issue. Governor J Fisher wrote: ‘Security decision – inappropriate content’, ‘As above, not for issue’. I would like you to look into it as a matter of urgency on my behalf. I have had previous problems at Wakefield as you are aware – you were instrumental in getting some FRFIs that had been stopped issued to me a couple of years ago. I am not the only inmate whose copies of FRFI have been stopped.

LESLIE MALCOLM

HMP Wakefield

Thank you for your Christmas card. Pleased be advised that  the December/January issue of  FRFI was stopped in this prison on the following grounds: ‘Security decision – inappropriate content’, signed by the security governor on 9 December 2011. Will you please respond appropriately to what looks like yet another breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


 

JON KEELER

HMP Wakefield

FRFI takes all attempts to ban our newspaper very seriously and has repeatedly compelled the Prison Service to back down on such censorship attempts. Please write letters of protest about the banning of FRFI to Governor Susan Howard, HMP Wakefield, 5 Love Lane, Wakefield WF2 9AG


Raise a glass to 2012

’Tis the season to be jolly!

Wallow not in melancholy!

Rejoice in the solstice bringing light!

Banish dark of corporate night!

Foster struggle by ninety-nine

So we, the people, can be fine!

May your Winter Solstice season, individually and collectively, be much better than my doggerel. May you all have plenty of cause to celebrate and may that cause wax in the coming year. On this side of the puddle, it has not been a stellar year for the left but, sez I, raise a glass anyway – it’s always got something in it! I’m looking forward to another year of FRFI and fighting the good fight.

The future holds promise.

BILL DUNNE #10916-080

USP Pollock, PO Box 2099, Pollock, LA 71467, US


Determined struggle needed

It was encouraging to read about the Occupy LSX protest against the excesses of the City of London (FRFI 224). The year ahead looks like being pretty bleak for ordinary working people. We need a determined struggle for a better world more than ever.

That means keeping up the pressure for change in society. It means refusing to accept conventional ‘wisdom’ on how to deal with the deficit. This is the belief that says that inevitably ordinary people will have to pay to reduce the deficit. We should reject Tory and Lib Dem claims that Labour were to blame for our debts by investing in public services.

We need to grow our way out of the recession, not cut back. And that means fighting, like we did on 30 November last year.

GRAEME KEMP

via email


Thank you

Thank you for sending FRFI over the years. Myself and the others look forward to it. The reports in your paper are always qualified with named sources – which is a whole lot more than any typical broadsheet.

FRFI is an excellent paper and if I get out I for one will continue to read it.

DERMOT DONOVAN A2665AA

HMP Swaleside, Kent ME12 4AX


Scottish independence – the first step towards a socialist republic

The Scottish Parliament has set autumn 2014 as the date for the long-awaited Referendum on Scotland’s independence and break from the imperialist British state.

With an independent Scotland now possibly within the grasp of the people, do we want it??Can Scotland go it alone, and could it be a step forward towards a socialist republic of Scotland? In my view, yes, on all three counts.

According to a Times report, Scotland without oil is in surplus. The most recent Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland figures – without oil and gas revenues – demonstrate that Scottish public finances ran a current budget surplus in each of the three years to 2007- 08, totalling £2.3bn. In comparison the UK ran a budget deficit in each of those years totalling £24bn.

Scotland is also a world leader in natural energy resources, through our wind power, which will create more revenue and development than oil and gas in the future.

We as a nation could also provide enough renewable energy to supply a quarter of Europe. Currently it costs the Scottish people £32m a day to be in the UK union in oil and gas revenues alone. In an independent Scotland, this could be put back into the country.

As can be seen, Scotland as a nation could support itself alone. After the break up of the state, we as communists must arise and unite in the face of a capitalist, big business-orientated government such as the Scottish National Party. All public services such as energy and transport must be renationalised. The same goes for the banking institutions.

We must ensure that a socialist government is put in place by whatever means at our disposal.

As? communists we must come together and educate the people and let them be organised in such a way workers’ committees spring up in every locality.

Will it be easy? Probably not, but the working class must receive the education it needs in order to make this happen – it can be done! So comrades, let us unite, break British imperialism, bring forth an independent state and then take our first steps towards a socialist workers’ Republic of Scotland...

DPR Young

Angus, Scotland


Solidarity with Greek steelworkers

Part of a solidarity statement issued by Trade Union International of Metal and Mining of the World Federation of Trade Unions, based in the Basque Country,  in solidarity with Greek steelworkers at Helliniki Halivourgia:

The workers are fighting in an exemplary fashion because they refuse to accept the regressive conditions and cutbacks imposed by the owners of the company, such as a 40% cut in wages and reduction in paid hours. The director is also trying to impose unpaid overtime and flexible working and to eliminate workplace safety rights, despite a high rate of accidents at this company.

Faced with the unacceptable, the 400 workers at the steelworks declared an indefinite strike at the end of October 2011. To date, 50 of them have been sacked.

We demand the immediate reinstatement of the sacked workers, the maintenance of an eight-hour working day, without part-time work hours or enforced flexitime, and no reduction in salaries. The struggle of the Helliniki Halivourgia steel workers is a struggle for the rights of all Greek and European workers as increasingly businesses use the pretext of the capitalist ‘crisis’ to lay off workers and impose cutbacks. Messages of solidarity to the Greek comrades can be sent to our email address and we will forward them.

Support the struggle of the Greek working class! Solidarity with the Greek steelworkers!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Royal parasites

Proposals to build a new royal yacht angered many at a time of great hardship. It shows the utter contempt of the Coalition towards us, rewarding not just the 1% but also one parasitical family, while attacking the 99%.

The anti-cuts movement and Republicans must work together to say that not only is the monarchy completely corrupt and undemocratic , it is also unaffordable. With yacht-gate and the Jubilee just months away, why are we spending so much to preserve the position of one of the richest families in the world?

We invite you all to a conference to organise resistance to the monarchy, its power and privilege,   on 21 April in Manchester. Details at www.socialistsfor republic.wordpress.com

Phil Wilson

Socialists for Republic

Letters/ FRFI 224 Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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

Ravi Gill

HMP Wayland


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,

HMP Wayland,

Griston,

Thetford,

Norfolk, IP25 6RL

 

Andy Baker A5768CE,

HMP Highpoint,

Stradishall,

Newmarket,

Suffolk CR8 9YG

 

Sean Cregan A5769CE,

HMP Coldingley,

Shaftesbury Road,

Bisley,

Surrey GU24 9EX

 

Phil De Souza A5766CE,

HMP Elmley, Eastchurch,

Sheerness,

Kent ME12 4AY

 

Austen Jackson A5729CE,

HMP Stocken,

Stocken Hall Road,

Stretton,

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

Los Angeles

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.

CAT?WIENER

South London


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.

LOUISE GARRELL

Glasgow


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.

MURID

London


Freedom now

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.

Thomas Meyer-Falk

c/o JVA-Zelle 3113, Schoenbornstr 32,

D-76646 Bruchsal,

Germany