- Created: Tuesday, 06 March 2012 11:31
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.
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
Into the ASU dungeon I am thrown
For the alleged ‘criminal conspiracy’
Not to eat
With the guards’ unnatural obsession with
This gives them licence to repress us
With institutional impunity
To the point where it seems to affect their
I’ve lived with their hypocrisy and the
Until I had to finally say ‘enough is enough’
End this prolonged isolation
Now I’m confined to Administrative
I only leave my cell to shower
No yard, No fresh air
All of this because I opposed being
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.
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.
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.
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...
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!
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
Socialists for Republic