Letters /FRFI 223 Oct/Nov 2011

FRFI 223 October/November 2011

Gibson Inquiry – cover-up for British complicity with torture

Over the years, allegations of complicity with torture have been made against Britain, based on the accounts of their accusers. Not surprisingly, new allegations have surfaced, this time in Libya. In this case, the evidence not only includes the victims’ accounts, but top secret documents detailing the activities between Libya and MI6.

In response to this expose, Prime Minister David Cameron has come out in defence of the agencies, reminding people of the difficult times we are in. He has, however, indicated that these new allegations will be examined by the Gibson Inquiry.

The sudden appearance of these documents seems to have surprised everybody, including the Prime Minister. But the surprise is not that these documents show Britain’s complicity with torture but that it should have come to everyone’s attention. Such documents have existed for a long time, but only a few have been privy to them as they reside under the much misused category of ‘National Security’.

The current government is quick to point out that all these alleged events occurred under the tenure of the previous regime. They have also stated that they will investigate allegations made against the intelligence agency. So far their attempts have been woeful.

The inquiry set up to investigate allegations of involvement in rendition by the British intelligence agencies is known as the Gibson Inquiry. Sir Peter Gibson, who is heading it, was himself the intelligence services commissioner responsible for reviewing the activities of the Home Secretary and the intelligence services between 2006 and 2011. As he is to investigate the very organisation he was watching over, there is a conflict of interest.

Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, has criticised the inquiry for taking a series of wrong turnings and said that Sir Peter’s early decisions do not inspire confidence. The inquiry itself is being boycotted by solicitors and human rights organisations.

If the previous government is guilty of allowing MI6 to partake in torture, then the current government will be guilty of suppressing the evidence. The government will continue to plead ignorance, the judge will decide they have no case to answer and the intelligence services will go on spouting the same nonsense about non-complicity.

 

RANGZIEB AHMED A6326AC

HMP Full Sutton, Moor Lane, York YO41 IPS


 

The Deputy Warden of Woodhill...

There is a Clint Eastwood film called Escape from Alcatraz that many prisoners can relate to. A few scenes stand out to me...

The Warden, not liking the artwork from a prisoner, gives the order that his painting privileges be removed. The Deputy Warden, who receives the order, questions what he should tell the prisoner is the reason for this and is told he is the Deputy Warden so make something up.

As the prisoner has his paintings and materials removed from his cell, he says in a very hurt tone ‘but paintings are all I have’. The prisoner is then unable to cope and chops off his fingers at the first opportunity.

The film, which was made in 1979, is a prime illustration of the detrimental impact of the Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme. Prisoners throughout England are subjected to this level of control, but none more so than those in the Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) which are this country’s Supermaxs.  In the CSCs most privileges are removed and human rights along with them. Apparently it is a privilege to do such things as shower in privacy or out of the sight of female staff, or to receive confidential medical treatment, which CSC prisoners are no longer entitled to.

The new restrictions I face are a ban on my mother’s phone number and home number and the need to book all phonecalls in advance and have every call subject to line monitoring, including legal calls. The reason the ‘Deputy Warden’ gave me is that I ‘may’ have contravened the regulations around the use of the telephone. Upon complaint, I am told a bit more – prisoners are not permitted to use the telephone for the disclosure of information intended for publication which may identify staff.

So now on top of the fact that I have hardly any time out of my cell I now struggle to maintain ties with family and legal advisers. With all this spare time do you think I will expose more or less corruption?

Also, thank you to anyone who has written to me. It has been greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, the Deputy Warden has been returning my mail to sender, claiming I am no longer located here or just failing to post my response. So if you haven’t heard back from me, please write again. I do respond to all my mail.

Please check out my website for more information on my current prison conditions: www.justiceforkev.webs.com

Kevan Thakrar A4907AE

HMP WOODHILL (CSC),

Tattenhoe Street,

Milton Keynes, MK14 4DA


 

Working class youth bear brunt of Scottish cuts

Youth unemployment in Scotland has increased by 10% over the past year, with around 46,300 people aged between 16 and 24 currently on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), according to the Scottish Herald (15 September 2011). This excludes those not in education or claiming JSA, a figure estimated by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion to be 238,000 across the UK.  It is in this climate that the Scottish government has announced a budget which will cut  £74m from colleges by 2014/15, further reducing college staff after 1,000 jobs were lost last year following a 10% cut in funding (Scottish Herald 22 September 2011). This will lead to the closure of courses, larger class sizes and ultimately fewer college places, despite government assurances to protect these for school leavers and unemployed youth. Funding to universities is to increase slightly. I myself went to college after leaving school at 16 and failing to find a job – this gave me a chance to find my feet and I am now in university. The cutbacks are denying the present and upcoming generations the same chances and condemning them to a life on the dole. We must fight back for them and for ourselves!

 

DOMINIC MULGREW

Govanhill, Glasgow


 

NHS: calculating profit and loss

Following on from the review on the privatisation of health care on FRFI online (http://tinyurl.com/

3jc8tnt), comrades may be interested in this article article (www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n18/james-meek/its-already-happened) from the current edition of London Review of Books. Note how the journalist has no problem (unlike the left) locating the current Coalition attack as a  continuation of the Labour government’s policies throughout their term in office.

I found the article particularly useful in understanding how surgeons are calculating the profits and losses of specific surgical procedures. The article quotes Martyn Porter, a senior surgeon:‘“The case we’re doing this morning, we’re going to make a loss of about £5,000. The private sector wouldn’t do it,” he said. “How do we deal with that? Some procedures the ebitda is about 8 per cent. If you make an ebitda of 12 per cent you’re making a real profit.” You expect medical jargon from surgeons, but I was surprised to hear the word “ebitda” from Porter. It’s an accountancy term meaning ‘earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation.’

‘“Last year we did about 1,400 hip replacements,” he said. “The worrying thing for us is we lost a million pounds doing that. What we worked out is that our length of stay [the time patients spend in hospital after an operation] was six days. If we can get it down to five days we break even and if it’s four, we make a million pound profit.” I felt as if I’d somehow jumped forwards in time. Lansley has not yet, supposedly, shaken up the NHS. He’d barely been in power a year when I talked to Porter. But here was a leading surgeon in an NHS hospital, about to perform a challenging operation on an NHS patient, telling me exactly how much money the hospital was going to lose by operating on her, and chatting easily about profit and loss, as if he’d been living in Lansleyworld for years. Had the NHS been privatised one day while I was sleeping?’

It will come as little surprise to regular readers of FRFI ‘Health matters’ articles.

 

Paul Mallon

Glasgow


 

Spanish state persecutes Basque nationalists

On 16 September, the Spanish National Court sentenced five Basque nationalists to prison terms of between eight and ten years, charging them with belonging to ETA and trying to reform a banned organisation. One of those receiving a ten-year sentence was Rafa Diez, former general secretary of the Basque Abertzale Left trade union (LAB). LAB has issued a statement condemning the judgment. We condemn the Spanish state for continuing to place shackles on the open, democratic process. Partisan and electoral interests have been prioritised by the PSOE (main Spanish social democratic party) and the PP (main Spanish conservative and right-wing party) and once again the wishes of the majority of the Basque people have been disrespected and dismissed.

LAB demands the freeing of Rafa Diez and his comrades and calls on the Basque people, the Basque working class, to give a firm and democratic response to this political sentencing, which is a direct attack on the process opened up in the Basque Country for the resolution of the current political conflict. We urge the Basque people to take part in demonstrations and for trade union branches and organisations internationally to express their solidarity with the condemned. Messages can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

basque abertzale left


 

Parole knock-back leads to 32nd year inside

I’m writing to inform you that I have moved again, so that you don’t send FRFI to my previous prison, and that my case is now being examined by Bristol University Innocence Project, after my rejection by the CCRC last year. It’s at the initial stage, but I will update you with any developments.

I also received another 18 month parole knock-back that takes me into my 32nd year [of imprisonment]. I expect to be rejected again next year, when the tenth review is due to take place.

I am otherwise fine, despite being back at the prison where this injustice began.

RAY GILBERT A6806AJ

HMP Risley,

Warrington Road,

Warrington WA3 6BP


 

Justice for Terry Allen

Thank you so much for the write-up you gave me in the August/September issue of FRFI (Letters, FRFI 222). I guess it must have touched a sensitive spot, because I heard from my solicitor today that we don’t have to pay a penny towards DNA testing as she’s been granted a full legal aid certificate for all the DNA testing that is to be done, so she’s not stopping at one any more. Yippee!

Thank you, FRFI, for all the support you have given me over the years. It has been one very long road.

 

TERENCE ALLEN  A6119AD

HMP Leyhill, Wotton-under-Edge, Bristol GL1Z 8BT


 

More Marxism-Leninism, please

In FRFI 222, I really liked the new style for the Editorial, just inside the front page. Also Steve Palmer’s article on the US Civil War was very interesting: it would be great to have more historical and educational articles in future, especially on Marxism and the works of Lenin, putting current events into context.

JON KEMPSTER

East London

Letters / FRFI 222 Aug/Sep 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 222 August/September 2011

Bradford 12: the right to self-defence

The article remembering the 30th anniversary of the Bradford 12 (FRFI 221) was very welcome. It is important that new generations learn about their historic victory that affirmed the right of self-defence for communities under racist attack.

As a former resident of Bradford, campaigner for the 12 and FRFI correspondent, I feel I need to address some of the inaccuracies in the article.

The Bradford 12 were not ‘members and supporters’ of the Asian Youth Movement, but belonged to an organisation called the United Black Youth League. Their banner is actually shown in the photo accompanying the article.

The articles states that the victory was achieved by the organisation of an ‘inclusive and non-sectarian defence campaign’.

When the Bradford 12 were arrested and remanded on the serious charges of conspiracy, there was a tremendous outpouring of support for them and a huge public meeting was held in an Asian cinema in the city. Many people wanted to get involved and be active in defending them. This energy was unfortunately lost in the weeks after the arrests.

A strong defence campaign was built with great difficulty. Various groups wished to control the campaign and indeed would not participate at all unless they could do so. There were few open meetings for people to attend and actions that would have sustained momentum and participation such as pickets, leafleting and demonstrations were opposed or poorly organised. There was such little sustained campaigning activity while the prisoners were on remand, that Tariq Mehmood was forced to write from his cell demanding unity and a broad-based campaign.

It is simply not true to say that the Bradford 12 campaign had ‘no truck with opportunists and trimmers’, who aimed to ‘confine the anger of the people.’ The reality was that anyone involved at that time had a constant struggle against opportunists and sectarians and it took literally months for a national demonstration to be called.

The campaign that was eventually built was indeed crucial to the victory, but the first rate legal defence was also a huge factor. Legal representatives included Gareth Peirce, Michael Mansfield and Geoffrey Roberston.

It is a shame that the article ended with an earlier quote from Manjit Singh of the Asian Youth Movement. Manjit Singh, also known as Marsha Singh, was one of the biggest blocks to building the Bradford 12 defence campaign and opposed at every stage open, democratic and participatory meetings. He joined the Labour Party in the 1980s and in 1997 became the Labour MP for Bradford West. His voting record shows he supported more restrictions on those seeking asylum, opposed an inquiry into the Iraq war and was in favour of Labour’s anti-terrorism measures.

Bill Bolloten


Response: self defence is no offence

Bill Bolloten’s letter is a most welcome addition to the historical record. He played a central role in the defence campaign and was arrested himself at a street meeting in March 1982 on the charge of ‘blemishing the peace’ while petitioning for the Bradford 12 (FRFI 17, March 1982).

Bill is right to draw attention to the first rate legal defence that the case attracted and the names of Helena Kennedy, barrister for Saeed Hussain, and Leeds solicitor Ruth Bundey should be added to his list.

On the matter of organisations, it is true that the photo in FRFI 221 shows the banner of the United Black Youth League (UBYL). This was a breakaway group from the Asian Youth Movement (AYM) but whether all the defendants in the Bradford 12 case were members is not certain, nor are the political affiliations of the 68 young Asian men arrested at the same time. Nevertheless it was an error not to identify the UBYL.

I was unaware that Manjit Singh of the Bradford 12 Campaign is today Marsha Singh, MP for Bradford West. Bill does FRFI readers a service in drawing attention to this Labour MP’s record of grovelling conformity to Labour’s racist and imperialist record in government.

While accepting Bill’s clarifications, it remains politically important to state that the defence campaign had ‘no truck with opportunists and trimmers’. It is true that the campaign was subject to the usual sectarian bickering over leadership, even to the point of nearly destroying any action, which is the historic record of the British so-called ‘left’. Nevertheless the significance of the Bradford 12 campaign is that it could only be supported on the grounds of the right to self-defence. This was not a campaign about a miscarriage of justice, like the Guildford 4 or the Birmingham Six. It was not a campaign mourning the killing by police or prison guards of innocent victims, like Roger Sylvester. Supporters could not rally around banners proclaiming ‘The Bradford 12 are innocent – Free them now’. The opportunists and trimmers could not dilute the facts of the case, that the accused had met together to plan and carry out making 38 petrol bombs which were later found hidden in the grounds of a Bradford hospital with the fingerprints of two of the 12 defendants on them. Campaigners had to accept the view that resistance to state and racist attacks includes a whole range of political actions not limited to the confines of peaceful protest, the trade unions or the Labour Party.

How different was this determination to fight back to the farce acted out in September 1978 by the Anti-Nazi League when it led 80,000 people away from Hyde Park to a festival in Brixton, in full knowledge that the same day the National Front was marching in the East End of London under the protection of 5,000 police. The call for help from the Hackney and Tower Hamlet’s Defence Committee and the community of Brick Lane was rejected because the International Marxist Group and Socialist Workers’ Party did not want violence: ‘such a movement on the empty streets of London facing 8,000 police might not have broken through and beaten the Nazi marchers’ (Socialist Worker 30 September 78). These cowards chose to make common cause with Tony Benn (Labour cabinet minister) and Sid Bidwell (MP for Southall) rather than Asian people being assaulted by the police. ‘After all, the fact that a Labour Cabinet minister and a major trade union leader are speaking at Hyde Park is not an unimportant fact’ (Socialist Challenge 21 September 1978). This was the opportunism and trimming that characterised the British left at that time and that still today puts the interests of the British Labour Party before those of the most oppressed.

Today the English Defence League and British National Party, encouraged by the war chauvinism of consecutive British governments, threaten communities with violence. A raft of new laws on terrorism combined with the Prevent Strategy and undercover surveillance suppress and control opposition. It is under these circumstances that we remember and celebrate the victory of the Bradford 12 who against great odds showed how necessary is the fight for justice.

Susan Davidson


Support Terry Allen

For over three years I have been waiting for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to authorise an essential DNA test – and I am still waiting.

I have been in prison now for 26 years. For 23 of those years, I was told that all the forensic evidence relating to my case had been destroyed on police orders in November 1985. I was ready to go back to the appeal court in March 2008, when suddenly my missing forensic samples were ‘found’.

To date only one DNA test has taken place, and that was over two years ago, but the CCRC refused to give my solicitor the results on the basis that it needed to be confirmed by a second DNA test – which we’re still waiting for them to authorise!

DNA tests will enable the capture of three known killers, whom I can name, who left their DNA behind, and possibly another two. Those bastards have had 26 years of freedom they should never have had. Can you help embarrass the CCRC into allowing the second DNA test to go ahead?

TERRY ALLEN (A6119AD)

HMP Leyhill

To support Terry, write to Criminal Cases Review Commission, 5 St Philip’s Place, Birmingham, B3 2PW or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or tel: 0121 233 1473

Torture inquiry boycott


As you will know, my appeal against conviction was refused, with two points of law about complicity with torture being referred to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court did not give me leave to appeal, so I am taking my case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Regarding the ‘independent’ inquiry which David Cameron announced [into British complicity with illegal rendition and torture] all the detainees and human rights organisations will most probably boycott it. This is because the inquiry will not be conducted according to international law and there are a lot of things they want to cover up by doing them in private.

Thank you for your support.

RANGZIEB AHMED (A6326AC)

HMP Full Sutton


Fight for real collective action

The headline on the Socialist Worker newspaper of 9 July read: 30 June strikes across Britain: This is just the start – now we need a general strike. If you are someone who has just lost their job, or are part of a service that is being cut, or know that anyone who leaves your work place will have their post frozen, or if you have lost benefits or if you know that your union is more interested in negotiating decent terms for those taking voluntary redundancy rather than fighting to save the job –  then that headline would make you laugh out loud. The SWP is living in a fantasy world. What we need to do is to oppose the individualism that pervades our society and fight for collective action in all workplaces, so that no jobs and no services are lost without a fightback.

Megan Lapujole

East London


Control units in the US

I read Nicki Jameson’s article on Muslim prisoners in Britain (FRFI 221) with interest. The US is doing much the same here with the units at Marion and Terre Haute, and the ADX prison in Florence, Colorado. We are not even sure how many US secret prisons overseas there are where the conditions are reported to be even worse. The US began control units in an experiment on the activists of my generation. That exploded into isolation units, largely for the mentally ill, via Supermax Prisons. The federal government then subsidised the building of isolation units (pre 9/11) known as Security Threat Group Management Units, which were for purported gang members. The latest are the Communications Management Units which are for those of the Islamic faith. They are now ‘integrating’ them racially with imprisoned Environmental Liberation Front people (who have little grounding in revolutionary politics).

BONNIE KERNESS

American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch Project

Letters / FRFI 221 June/July 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 221 June/July 2011

Police ‘pre-Royal Wedding’ harassment

I was shocked to be arrested at 7am on 25 April by eight Territorial Support Group officers and, I believe, two detectives at my home in London for alleged ‘violent disorder’ during the TUC demo on 26 March. Initially the police failed to identify themselves, they just hammered on the door. They also failed to produce a search warrant when requested by both myself and my girlfriend. Only as they were leaving the property was my girlfriend given the warrant after much argument.

The search was very detailed, even though the warrant only mentioned items of clothing to be taken. They rifled through documents and even my girlfriend’s make-up. They removed a respirator, scarf, laptop and two rucksacks. I was taken to the local police station where I was told they were going to make the whole process as difficult as they could for me as there was a ‘marker’ on my file stating I’d made previous complaints about the police.

 

I was a bit worried about what they meant by that. The duty sergeant ordered a strip-search in the only cell with no cameras. I refused to leave the relative safety of the front desk. She understood my concern and I was strip-searched in a standard cell covered by CCTV and given white overalls to wear as if it were a forensic investigation. I was then examined by a doctor for a ‘full body map’ to see if I had any injuries; thankfully there were none.

I was interviewed by the two detectives and shown poor quality footage of the TUC demo where some masked protesters threw a traffic cone at a police van – it could have been anyone. The only reason I could see for my arrest was my previous peaceful involvement in other protests, making it unlawful and unjustified.

I was charged and released at 1.30pm, and all my possessions seized earlier were returned. I was bailed to report to the police station on 9 May and not to enter the City of Westminster. I had a bus booked for Scotland later in the day specifically to avoid the Royal Wedding, which I almost missed due to this unnecessary police action.

On my return to London my lawyer informed me that the violent disorder charge had been dropped and no further action was being taken. I will of course be taking further legal advice and live in fear of the next unfounded police sortie.

Harvie Brown

London


 

Police state in Ireland

While the Queen of England was visiting Dublin, I carried and waved the Irish tricolour, our national flag, at a demonstration. This was deemed a ‘crime’ by the Gardai. I was assaulted by the police, handcuffed and taken away in a police van.

Later that night I appeared in court charged under the Public Order Act, sections 6 and 8. I was effectively denied bail as the judge demanded €300 cash bail. I was to sign on three times a week at a Garda barracks and would be banned from entering the city boundaries between Dublin 1 and Dublin 8.

My solicitor pointed out that I was being illegally detained. I was held for approximately 30 hours before being released and appeared in court on 24 May. The case is continuing.

DERMOT

Ireland


 

Media cover-up for racist attacks on Celtic FC

I have been deeply disgusted by the mainstream?media’s coverage of the recent racist abuse?directed?at?Neil Lennon, manager of Celtic Football Club, and their clear political attacks on Celtic FC supporters. Not only have they tried to disguise the blatant?anti-Irish racism directed at Neil Lennon,?they have also described many?of the political songs?sung by?sections of Celtic supporters as sectarian. Nowhere has this been more evident than during?the?BBC’s coverage of the Scottish Cup Final when at half-time Sportscene host Rob Maclean?told the millions of viewers watching that ‘the Celtic supporters have been singing sectarian songs during the first half’. He must have been referring to ‘Boys of the Old Brigade’, an Irish rebel song which does not once mention religion. Funnily enough, just two months ago during a CIS Cup Final, thousands of Rangers FC fans could clearly be heard singing ‘Oh no, Pope of Rome, no chapels to sadden my eyes/No nuns and no priests and no rosary beads’. This could be heard loud and clear, and again Maclean was on duty that day, but didn’t utter a word about that. It is plain to see that the BBC will continue to distort and completely deny the truth. I would advise all to lodge a complaint against the BBC bigots. It is not sectarianism, it is anti-Irish racism.

CONNOR RILEY

Glasgow


 

Anti-imperialist activity in Dorset

I enclose money for ten copies of the pamphlet and 25 copies of the June/July issue of FRFI. Thanks for two excellent issues – it is helping several good comrades to coalesce and encouraging me to study more thoroughly.

There’s been quite a lot of activity here, with meetings and films on Palestine in Sherbourne and Dorchester – over 100 people attended the Dorchester event. There was a debate in Ilminster about Libya – the vote went against the war. 250 people rallied against the EDL in Weymouth, where the fascists had about 90, mainly elderly skinheads. The anti-fascist rally was good, with an open microphone. Films in Bridport, organised by anarchists, the IWW and us alongside some non-aligned people have been good – we screened the World According to Monsanto, a French film, for 45 people last Sunday week; the previous month it was Battle of Algiers to an audience of approximately 30.

JOHN BURBIDGE

Sherbourne


 

FRFI censored

I am currently at HMP Long Lartin. I was receiving your paper at HMP Belmarsh, then I was moved to HMP?Manchester aka Strangeways in October 2009, where they did not allow me to have the papers you had sent me. My solicitors Birnberg Peirce and Partners wrote to them and after months of delaying tactics they said, in a letter dated 11 May 2010, that I would be allowed to have the paper. Two days later I was moved to Long Lartin.

I’ve just read the April/May 2011 FRFI which states that there is still a blanket ban at Manchester prison. This is interesting as it seems that my legal team and I were deceived and they probably only wrote that I?could have the paper as they knew I would be shipped out in a couple of days.

I will be taking HMP?Manchester to court for a number of issues, including not allowing me to have FRFI while I?was there. If anyone has any evidence or information that shows that HMP?Manchester is still not allowing prisoners to have FRFI since May 2010 please pass it on to my solicitor Daniel Guedalla at Birnberg Peirce.

I would like to thank you for your excellent paper and the hard work you do to fight for justice and freedom, against discrimination and to give a voice to the voiceless.

AHMED ALI A2037AF

HMP Long Lartin


 

Abuse and assault under Close Supervision

I write to relate my personal experience of Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) and the torture I have been subjected to in prisons.

After officers sustained injuries at HMP Frankland in March 2010, only a sick individual could imagine the level of violence I sustained. This carried on at HMP Wakefield where I spent 13 days of extreme racial, physical and sexual abuse. After I reported this, I was quickly moved to Woodhill CSC. Psychological torture is extremely painful and, some may say, worse than the physical kind.  Orders are barked and failure to jump high enough leads to further abuse and, often, assault. I have on several occasions not jumped at all, like the time I was ordered to move my toothbrush from one clearly visible point in the cell to another, this resulted in no exercise, shower, phone call, food, library, nothing – behavioural modification skills these ex-army prison officers learned out in Afghanistan, Iraq and other wars.

From all the abuse I have suffered from prison staff, I now have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), resulting in severe anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and constant fear. I have gone through such bad spells that I have been unable to leave my bed for days, as well as having attempted to take my own life on five occasions in the last ten months.

I am told I require a clinical psychologist to treat my PTSD but ‘none are available’. I therefore have to live an unbearable life, just waiting for the day I am forced to end it, or the staff do it for me and cover it up to make it appear to be a suicide. Either way, I am struggling and need some serious support.

The worst thing is that I am innocent of the crime which I have been imprisoned for in the first place. This resulted in a life sentence of 35 years and I am almost four years into it.

I have been the victim of an unprovoked attack by officers while at HMP Woodhill, resulting in a fractured wrist and six hours in Special Accommodation. I then received a nicking for ‘attempting to commit an assault’ as well as having my unlock level increased and ALL privileges removed.  It’s not the first time this has  happened.

KEVAN THAKRAR A4907AE

HMP WOODHILL, Tattenhoe Street, Milton Keynes, MK14 4DA

(see http://justiceforkev.webs. com)

Anyone with information which might assist me against the charges I face in relation to HMP Frankland should contact my solicitor, Marie Bourke at Bark and Co solicitors, Bridewell Court, 14 New Bridge Street, London EC4V 6AE. I am especially interested in anyone who has taken a civil claim against Frankland or sustained abuse by staff there.


 

Berlin: authorities collaborate with Neo-Nazis

On 14 May 2011 Berlin witnessed an unprecedented example of collaboration between the Neo-Nazis and the authorities of the department for demonstrations and the local council. The authorities had permitted a Neo-Nazi march to start midday on Saturday but kept it secret from the public. One of the Neo-Nazis revealed the details on the internet just hours before it was due to start, so it was possible to organise a counter-demonstration. Against 100 followers of the Neo-Nazi Freier Kameradschaften (Free Comradeship organisation) and members of NPD (National Party of Germany), there were 800 people organised to physically prevent the march. The 500-strong police force present brutally attacked the anti-fascist demonstrators with pepper spray and truncheons. However, they failed to disperse the protesters and the Neo-Nazis declared their event as finished. But nevertheless then Neo-Nazis ‘broke through’ the police kettle and savagely attacked the counter-demonstrators and passers-by. Four people were reported as injured.

The behavior of the authorities and the police showed clearly for the first time the pact between the Neo-Nazis and the police to prevent any kind of anti-fascist protest before it even starts. How else was it possible for the Neo-Nazis so easily to avoid police cordons? And after the attacks to the counter-demonstrators, the police just sent the fascists back to their meeting point rather than arresting them! This event clearly shows that not just the Neo-Nazis but the state police must be considered as an enemy force against any kind of progressive movement.

ANDREAS MEINHOF

Berlin


 

Unity needed against fascism

It was nice to read your article [on the joint resistance by the RCG and Socialist Party to EDL attempts at intimidation in Newcastle, FRFI 220]. As a Socialist Party member, I am proud that you supported us and likewise we did the same.

We may have our political differences, but at least we know who the enemy is!

PAUL

via email


 

Up the virtual garden path

Andrea Hill, the £218,000 a year Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council is on ‘gardening leave’ –the euphemism for employees who have been sacked or are leaving and have been instructed to stay away from work while remaining on the pay-roll.

Under the government’s New Strategic Directive to downsize the responsibilities of local councils, Andrea Hill led an initiative to promote a ‘virtual council’. The plan was to outsource all services to local social enterprises, charities and staff-mutuals (consortia of employees). Her plan collapsed under massive cuts to the local services budget, together with the need to observe legal requirements for statutory services to disabled people, children and others in need. Similar attempted transfers of local council duties by Bury and Brighton & Hove Council have crashed to a halt.

The lesson is that the civilising infrastructure of even a capitalist society cannot rely on the whims of some and the profits of others. There is no substitute for the democratic control of our services and that is what we must fight for.

SUSAN DAVIDSON

North London


 

Letters / FRFI 220 April/May 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011

British complicity with torture

Thank you for the newspaper – I received it in the end! Please thank all who are involved with FRFI, they do an amazing job.

You will have heard that I lost my appeal against conviction, although to be frank I never thought we’d end up with an honest judgment. It’s to be expected, especially in politically motivated cases, such as the Birmingham Six. This government will do anything to hide its crimes against its own citizens. I knew that M15 would not allow the judges to speak the truth. But we must stay strong. I have been allowed to appeal.

With regards to the public inquiry [on torture], the government is looking for a whitewash. There was a report published by Human Rights Watch in November last year called Cruel Britannia: British complicity in the torture and ill-treatment of terror suspects in Pakistan. In it, Pakistani security services admit that the accounts of the victims are true and the British government was pressing them for results. This was further proved by a programme by Peter Taylor, The secret war on terror, broadcast on BBC2 in March, where President Musharraf was very bold with his words.

RANGZIEB AHMED A6326AC

HMP Full Sutton


Support the Maghaberry POWs!

In February the Maghaberry POWs went on protest against the prison administration for continual strip-searches and reneging on its commitment to introduce electronic scanning equipment. The POWs refused to comply with strip-searches in a bid to force the prison administration to deliver on its promise, made in August 2010.

On the 15 March two Republican POWs – Kevin Barry Nolan and Gerard McManus – were both subjected to two forced strip-searches each when leaving and returning to the prison. They both suffered injuries to their wrists, arms and bodies. Eight riot squad officers forced them to the ground using riot shields and twisted their wrists to hold them to the ground as they forcibly removed all their clothing.

Another tactic used by the prison officers to break prisoners is sleep deprivation.Wardens are opening the hatches on the cells and shouting through numerous times every night in what appears to be an attempt to aggravate the POWs through sleep deprivation.

Support the POWs on protest in any way possible. The men and women of 1980-81 had tremendous support from the public. These men are no different; they are Irish political prisoners being brutalised by a British prison system which seeks to break them both mentally and physically. Do not allow these men to be forgotten. Do not allow the British government to triumph.

JOHN BRADY SOCIETY

Scotland


Student accommodation rip-off

Companies running student halls are ripping off university students. I’m in my second year of a film and media degree at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). During my first year I lived in shared accommodation at Mill Point halls, which is run by the Liberty Living company. We were given what we thought was a good deal at the time, with bills included in the rent and only having to pay £100 deposit. But since leaving the halls, my former flatmates and I have been hounded by Liberty Living for money we shouldn’t owe.

After we moved out Liberty gave us maintenance bills of around £150 each; my friend got a £400 bill! We had left the flat in a good state of repair and cleaned hard to avoid giving them any excuse to impose charges. All of us complained immediately but our complaints were ignored for months and the charges remained. When I gave them an angry phone call, their response was to send a detailed account showing what we supposedly owed – including hundreds of pounds for painting and decorating, new carpets  and all sorts of things we shouldn’t have been responsible for. We were also told that our £100 deposit was non-refundable.

As if that wasn’t enough, the university has used our dispute with Liberty to deny us access to facilities and severely jeopardise our studies. MMU has disabled my library card and I have been blocked from accessing the uni intranet, stopped from getting key information at a time of year when work is due in. I can’t believe that a university can be run like a business to attack students rather than help us when private firms are after what little money we have. Fees are set to rise and it seems like the universities are on the side of the rich.

This kind of abuse by companies that run halls seems widespread. Mill Point halls are becoming notorious for ripping students off. But many students just pay, particularly those with parents who can. They are often bullied into it as the university and private company gang up on them.

Liberty have knocked back my appeal against these charges and things are difficult. If it wasn’t for the small bursary I am entitled to I wouldn’t even be able to pay rent. Others have been refused their bursaries because of Liberty’s fees. I can’t pay these charges and I won’t. If more students do the same these cheats would have a real problem on their hands.

JORDANE NIGHTINGALE

Manchester


Germany’s Nazi law

Every issue of FRFI is an inspiration for English-speaking prisoners here in Bruchsal, a prison in Germany. Thanks to FRFI and everyone who helps to ensure that the newspaper can be sent to inmates. Currently we’re having a discussion in Germany about the the categorisation of ‘dangerous inmates’, because the European Court of Human Rights has found Germany guilty on a number of occasions of violating human rights law. The German courts make use of a Nazi law of ‘Preventive Detention’, dating from 1933, to hold people behind bars despite having completed their ‘regular’ sentences. I think it says a lot about a society that it still relies on a law introduced by Hitler and Goebbels!

THOMAS MEYER-FALK

www.freedom-for-thomas.de


Workers should control banks

Congratulations on highlighting the arrogance of the ConDem junta and its failure to take on the banks (FRFI 219, February/March).

It is obscene that ordinary workers have to suffer the cuts caused by the financial meltdown. Public services are suffering already. Why should we suffer when it was the banks that caused the crisis? Yet, as the money in our pockets disappears, the City lines its pockets with grotesque bonus payouts.

We need not only to tax these bonuses and bank profits more heavily, but also elect ordinary workers and customers to the board that runs each bank. We need more democracy in the banking system. Workers need to be in control.

GRAEME KEMP

(by email)


HMP Wakefield harassment

Many thanks to all of you for your ongoing help and support from the bottom of my heart.  My thanks also go to all my loyal supporters who have not let me down. I was wrongfully convicted over 24 years ago on fabricated evidence. Presently my legal team has contacted a linguistic expert to test three statements, one which I made and two which were fabricated. Now I am hoping that sooner rather than later all my supporters can be on my victory train celebrating justice day.

As a hostage in a foreign country, living in a dungeon, each day has its own difficulties. Some time ago HMP Wakefield stopped me receiving copies of newspapers. I took the matter to the prison and probation ombudsman and my complaint against the prison was upheld. Yesterday, I was informed by prison officers that I am no longer allowed to correspond with my long-standing supporter and friend Dr George Coombs because of some artwork I have on a website which I was told is making a profit. I have contacted the ombudsman and my solicitor about this. The prison authorities have not given me anything in writing, simply told me I can’t correspond with him because of the paintings. Please note my artwork is internationally known and I posted it all out from the prison using legal channels. There is no basis for what HMP Wakefield is saying. They are just harassing me because the ombudsman upheld my earlier complaint.

The prison is certainly in contravention of the Human Rights Convention article 10 – freedom of expression; article 8 – right to a private life; article 6 – right to prove your innocence. Dr Coombs, my solicitor and my barrister are working to defend my legal rights. No justice – no peace.

PETER HAKALA A3960AE

HMP Wakefield

Letters / FRFI 219 Feb / Mar 2011

FRFI 219 February / March 2011

Kettling students

As one of the thousands of students who took to the streets on 9 December to defend my right to education, I witnessed first-hand the aggressive and inflammatory tactics of the Metropolitan Police.

After the first peaceful few hours at Parliament Square, the news that the Bill had been passed by a narrow majority slowly rippled through the crowd, and it was shortly after this that a member of the riot police told my friends and I that nobody was getting out – even a heavily-pregnant woman was refused.

The police had now created a situation in which thousands of cold, hungry, angry students – whose futures had just been clouded with uncertainty due to the scrapping of EMA and the raising of tuition fees – were kept in a very confined space, despite the dejected majority simply wanting to go home at this point. The police knew that this would lead to violence and rioting, which would allow the media to brand us as feral youth, and ultimately lead to an increase in their power: creating a situation in which they could without reproof legitimately consider borrowing water cannons from the North of Ireland to control us in the future.

This tactic was most blatantly obvious when the Treasury was being attacked. As its windows were broken, about 20 feet away stood at least 100 riot police, watching passively, while scores of cameras competed eagerly for the best shot.

At 9.30 that night, we were finally allowed out of Parliament Square, but our freedom was short-lived and we found ourselves kettled on Westminster Bridge. Two hours later we were finally allowed to go home, having been taught a clear message by the police of the consequences of exercising our right to protest.

Niamh McIntyre (aged 15)

North London


Tower Hamlets learning mentors face cuts

The government’s commitment to families from disadvantaged backgrounds is spurious and Cameron’s ‘big society’ is a sham. This is shown by the fact that learning mentors and school home support workers, who work in schools helping children and parents from economically deprived backgrounds, are facing an increasingly precarious employment situation. This comes directly after a project called Excellence in the Cities (which funded learning mentor posts in Tower Hamlets, east London) has had its funding cut.

Learning mentors work alongside children and families to raise school attendance and attainment by acting as an advocate, friend and source of advice to families who are experiencing difficulties due to poverty, disadvantage and violence. Removing learning mentors from schools will have a negative effect on the very families who are vulnerable to the increasingly bleak employment situation and draconian benefit cuts.

People need to be prepared – any letter sent to employees about  ‘proposed restructuring’ and ‘consultation’ is nearly always an attempt to get rid of staff –  and people should be wary of this.  Pressure needs to be put on employers to offer job shares and to employ people on a part-time basis rather than make staff redundant.

I am glad that FRFI supports the struggle for full employment and free education for all. Keep up the good work.

Ayesha Taylor

School-Home Support Worker/Learning Mentor


Imperialist usury in Brazil

Over the years, I have found Alvaro Michaels’ articles on Latin America a delight to read. They are insightful and educative, anti-imperialist to the core. However, in the latest issue of FRFI, his article contains a puzzling comment. He stated: ‘Brazil cannot prevent the continued imposition of usury imperialism on top of the scheme of direct investments.’ (‘Brazil: accelerating exploitation’, FRFI 218)

It is not clear what Comrade Michaels means by ‘direct investments’. Does he have in mind productive investments or some other form of investments? The British imperialists’ use of the term ‘direct investments’ is highly unsatisfactory. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), any British company that holds a certain percentage of shares in an overseas company is a direct foreign investor. This gives the false impression that British banks, decidedly usurious institutions, engage in productive investments when they open up branches in the Third World, or when they hold shares in overseas companies that are tied to, or have their origin in, usury capital. And besides, it is misleading for Michaels to counterpose a type of imperialism (in this instance, usury imperialism) to a form of capital (so-called ‘direct investments’).

In his analysis of imperialism, Lenin drew the distinction between different imperialist types. For example, he wrote: ‘Unlike British colonial imperialism, French imperialism might be termed usury imperialism. In the case of Germany, we have a third type; colonies are inconsiderable, and German capital invested abroad is divided most evenly between Europe and America.’ (Vol 22 p243) (As an industrially powerful country that plundered others without colonising them, the USA was a prime example of the ‘third type’. (See Vol 31 p448))

In my work Modern-day Kautskyism, I explained how and why Britain underwent the transition from colonial imperialism to usury imperialism. (See www.rosclar.webspace.virgin

media.com) Rather than counterpose a type of imperialism to a form of capital, Michaels should have explained that the imperialists’ so-called ‘direct investments’ in the Third World are indissolubly bound up with the imperialists’ usurious activities.

None of the above detracts from the undoubted merits of Alvaro Michaels’ article. Instead of his puzzling comment, he could simply have written: ‘Despite Brazil’s industrial growth, the country has not escaped the clutches of the imperialist usurers.’ Whether or not it is correct to characterise the European Union, Japan and the US as usury imperialist types is another question.

Alec Abbott

London


Response to Alec Abbott

Comrade Abbott’s sharp eye helps us all. The sentence was intended to read ‘Brazil cannot prevent the continued imposition of usury capital on top of the scheme of direct investments’. The spoiled aim of the sentence had been to indicate the growing proportion of money flooding into Brazil in the form of usury capital which searches directly for interest, discount and fee opportunities, rather than directly industrial, commercial and merchanting prospects. The imperialist extension of its banking infrastructure into weaker economies promotes the former by fraternising, bullying and finally merging with the latter’s forms of capital.

Abbott is quite right then to draw out the further question of what is meant by ‘direct investment’.  The reporting language used by imperialism does indeed obscure its actions. The?OECD Benchmark Definition of Foreign Direct Investment?(4th edition, 2008) provides the global standard for bourgeois direct investment statistics, and so for the ONS. Thus the UN and its bodies have accepted a 10% foreign shareholding as the point at which such paper claims magically become ‘foreign direct investment’, seemingly  a helping hand in ‘development’, and not what it is, an anonymous stranglehold on existing sources of wealth by money owners uninterested in anything other than the profit-pumping business.

The task of a short news item on Brazil cannot be to discuss the complex intertwining of the different circuits of industrial, bank, merchant and other forms of capital, but it is well that readers and contributors to FRFI are constantly alert to the contrast between an exact scientific socialist presentation of the class struggle and the deceptive slang used by those reconciled to imperialism.

Alvaro Michaels


Rangzieb Ahmed – harassment continues

The harassment of Rangzieb Ahmed by prison staff at HMP Full Sutton continues, with his mail, in particular, being tampered with and frequently going astray. The most recent letter he sent FRFI had been ripped open before reaching us.

Rangzieb’s appeal against his 2008 conviction on terrorism charges was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice at the beginning of December 2010. He and his co-accused, Habib Ahmed, gave evidence by videolink. Rangzieb, who was tortured in Pakistan at the behest of the British security services and Manchester police in 2005, and had three of his fingernails ripped out with pliers, argued that his original conviction was based on an abuse of due process (for a full report on the appeal, much of which was heard in camera, see www.cageprisoners. com/our-work/opinion-editorial/item /923-rangzieb-ahmed-complete-appeal-coverage). The results of the hearing are expected within the next few weeks.

The harassment of Rangzieb intensified in the run-up to his appeal; by 16 December he had made four formal complaints about his letters repeatedly, and he believes deliberately, being misdirected to a prisoner with the same surname on another wing, despite being clearly labelled with his name and prison number. By the fourth incident, after complaining to the wing officer and seeing no improvement, he wrote on 22 November: ‘I feel victimised and bullied... I feel aggrieved. This must stop happening - it has been happening too often’. A senior officer admitted that staff on Rangzieb’s wing had indeed been interfering with his mail: ‘Your letter was sent to the correct wing by the censors’ department. However, for some reason, wing staff sent it to Echo Wing, crossing out the ‘A’ written on the front of the letter and putting in ‘E’...I have now instructed the censors’ department to label your correspondence file, reminding staff to be extra thorough when issuing your mail’. Rangzieb is in little doubt as to what the ‘reason’ might be. A few days later, two more items of correspondence were misdirected. Rangzieb wrote to the governor: ‘I know this is only due to my beliefs and about what I’m in for.’ He points out the seriousness of the harassment: ‘Due to the nature of my conviction and the fact that I am appealing, it concerns me that mistakes like this continually occur, especially as a lot of the time I have very sensitive information contained in my mail that only I should have access to’.

Please write to show support to Rangzieb Ahmed (A6326AC) at HMP Full Sutton, York YO41 1PS.

Cat Wiener

South London


Honorary Fellow sacked for supporting Millbank occupiers

I am a founder member of the University of Kent Law School and Kent Law Clinic and principally responsible for its international reputation as a critical law school. I was appointed an Honorary  Fellow in January 2007 as part of a settlement for breach of contract.

I was interviewed by the media after the Millbank occupation by students opposed to the rise in fees and gave unconditional support to the actions of the students. My comments appeared on the University of Kent’s Centre for Journalism website and in consequence the university demanded the article be taken down. The Centre’s director, Tim Luckhurst, refused to do so.

The university then sought to terminate the Honorary Fellowship and ordered me to remove Kent Law School as the mailing address of the National Critical Lawyers Group (NCLG) (founded in 1987 with this address, see www.nclg.org.uk). I was ordered not to associate myself in any way with Kent Law School and to leave my office with one day’s notice. Kent Law School then suspended the NCLG mailing list of over 3,000 and ordered the removal of NCLG from university internet servers.

Before the suspension, over 60 members of NCLG emailed the Vice Chancellor and Kent Law School head of department protesting strongly at my sacking – the protests came from barristers, solicitors and professors, staff and students at other law schools.

No one in Kent Law School staff and students has dared to say anything about these events, fearing the consequences, although there have been private messages of support. The university is in fascist mode, as are many other universities at this time.

I have received limited support from my union UCU, consisting of one visit to the Vice Chancellor who refused to talk. The union has failed to take any other action. The student union has a no victimisation policy but has also failed to support me, even though I was the legal adviser to the magnificent Kent occupiers who kept their occupation going from 8 December to 5 January.

UCU legal committee is meeting on 4 February to consider whether to support me legally, but this is not the best option.

I am a supporter of the RCP – now the Spiked Group – but have received no support whatsover from my former comrades; one at Kent Law School has worked actively against me. The SWP know about these events but they have so far failed to give any support. Similarly Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party and the Coalition of Resistance, including Clare Solomon, have not supported me.

The university has cancelled our booking for the NCLG bi-annual conference in March at Kent University and we have found it impossible to get a booking in London. SOAS accepted our booking then cancelled under pressure from some of their law professors. I suspect the NCLG has been blacklisted.

I would like to thank FRFI for their comradely support.

In solidarity and onwards to a better world,

Ian Grigg-Spall

Canterbury


Impressed by FRFI

I am active in Stop the War and Palestine movements locally and have been for a long time. I run a street stall periodically in Yeovil and Sherborne for the local Stop the War group and I am also a member of Unite.

I am impressed by the RCG’s progress in applying Marxism-Leninism to the problems of revolution in this country at this time. The article in FRFI 218 on the trade union movement was very good – several workers here thought it was spot-on. I am looking forward to studying your paper and would like to sell FRFI in this area.

JOHN BURBIDGE

Dorset


A selection of prisoners’ seasonal greetings...

Just want to wish you all the best for 2011. Please know I’m grateful to you all for your ongoing support. Till walls fall...

SATPAL RAM (A4442AL), HMP Garth

Let me send all of you positive, healthy and hopeful Red Season’s and New Year’s greetings. 2011 will certainly be a year of struggle. Let’s hope and keep working for some people’s victories. We recently finished issue 17 of 4SM (www.4strugglemag.org) Lots on Lebanon and Marilyn Buck. Let us know if you’re interested in getting a small bundle. Keep up your positive and important work. Amandla!

JAAN LAAMAN

USP Tucson, Arizona, US

‘We must not abandon hope while the aspiration for freedom remains.’ Season’s greetings and many thanks for the paper throughout the year.

TONY HYLAND

For the Republican prisoners on E2 landing, Portlaoise Gaol, Ireland