Friday, August 20, 2010

International Prisoner Justice Day

Black and Pink was interviewed for a queer perspective on International Prisoner Justice Day. Check out the interview on Radio 4 All’s site HERE.

A little history of the International Prisoner Justice Day from –
“This is a call out for solidarity on August 10th, International Prisoner Justice Day.

This date has become a marking point for prison struggle across the world. Often times with anarchists specifically it is seen a point of recuperation within the North American context due to it’s focus on setting demands and requesting reforms. However, some anarchist living within Southern Ontario have taken some time to reassess the origins of this date and are calling out all prisoners, anarchists and disposed persyns to act in tandem with our desires and further our struggles in solidarity.

August 10th became a memorable date for prisoners across the world beginning in 1974 when inmate Edward Nolan bled to death at Millhaven* Maximum Security Prison in Bath, Ontario. He allegedly slit his veins from elbow to wrist after not being transferred from isolation into general population despite his approval for transfer. The following year inmates at Millhaven organized a day-long work strike in memory of Edward which ended with almost all of them facing solitary, some of which were still in the hole a year after the strike.

(*Millhaven Maximum was originally built in 1971 to replace the Kingston Penitentiary, both of which are in full operation to this day. It was built with high tech security systems, surveillance cameras in every cell and electronic consoles capable of opening one or all of it’s doors from a control room. It was rumors of the construction of this prison and it’s increased security that incited a four-day prison riot at the Kingston Pen in 1971. Because of this riot, prisoners were prematurely moved into the Millhaven Facility, which had yet to have been completed. Here prisoners were on lockdown for the majority of the time until the prison was completed.)

On May 21st, 1976, in the same facility, Robert Lander died in his cell from a heart attack. Robert had just been transferred from another prison in attempt to preemptively suppress the outcomes of a prisoner’s strike which Lander had been involved in organizing. He had spent the evening calling for medical attention and in the morning he was found dead in his cell with a note demanding attention from a doctor.

On the 10th of August of that year, the prisoners of Millhaven staged a one-day hunger strike in remembrance of their fallen comrades. Here is a reprint of the statement, which was released by the prisoners:
‘On August 10th, 1976, the Prisoners of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison will stage a one day hunger strike in remembrance of our two fallen comrades, EDWARD NALON and ROBERT LANDERS, who died in Millhaven segregation (solitary confinement) on August 10th, 1974 and May 21st, 1976, respectively; and in remembrance of all our fellow comrades and brothers and sisters from prisons across the country who died in the hands of an apathetic prison system and its people.

Furthermore, it is a protest against the Millhaven Administration, the Canadian Penitentiary Service, and the Members of Parliament for their continued indifference to the recommendation of the Inquest Jury made at the inquest into Edward Nalon´s death. The recommendations concerned Emergency First Aid Procedure; medical and psychiatric treatment for solitary confinement prisoners and that the emergency signal systems in the cells and the time clock which assures regularity in range patrols be made functional and that steps be taken to provide that they remain functional. None of these recommendations were enacted by the above mentioned authorities.
We protest against the continuous inhumane use of solitary confinement (segregation) and the repeated whitewashing by spineless individuals in the Government who are forever having inquiries into the use of solitary and its effects on a person´s mental and physical state and then hide the real facts of its use from the people.
We call upon our Brothers and Sisters from all prisons across the country, and upon all concerned peoples of Canada, to give their support to our one day hunger strike in remembrance of our comrades and to UNITE AS ONE VOICE IN OUR STRUGGLE for better understanding…compassion and EQUAL JUSTICE FOR ALL.


Jack McNeil & Howard Brown
For the Prisoners of Millhaven’”

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