Wednesday, September 28, 2011

6000 CA prisoners strike - State threatens punishment

We just received word that CDCR is reporting that 6000 prisoners throughout the system went on hunger strike on Monday. CDCR is sending memos to prisoners, attached, which threaten punishment for participation in a hunger strike.


Carol Strickman
Staff Attorney
Legal Services for Prisoners With Children


Lesson from South Africa: Support the political prisoners

Last week, I discussed with Ghadija Vallie the lessons learned from resistance in apartheid South Africa, particularly involving political prisoners. Ghadija coordinated the Western Cape Relief Fund that supported prisoners on Robben Island, a maximum security prison for political prisoners in apartheid South Africa. Vallie also worked with most prisons in the Western Cape province and visited political prisoners on death row.

Ghadija Vallie (Adri Nieuwhof)

The Western Cape Relief Fund (WCRF) was founded in 1985 when the apartheid regime once again declared a State of Emergency. Ghadija acted as a coordinator between lawyers, detained persons and their families, NGOs and donors. People of diverse backgrounds who were committed to the resistance joined forces to build the WCRF from scratch. The European Community supported the work of the WCRF through the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. I was involved in providing this support.

South Africa persecuted anti-apartheid activists under section 29 of the Internal Security Act. Ghadija tells me: “Normally the South African forces came during the night while people were asleep, when they are the most vulnerable. They would be taken from their homes and detained. People could disappear without a trace. They could be held in solitary confinement, were tortured. Then after months, people could suddenly appear in court or were traced in a hospital.”

The detention-related practices in apartheid South Africa under section 29 are similar to Israel’s practice of administrative detention. The WCRF was founded to meet the needs of detainees held under section 29. The climate changed when the State of Emergency was declared in July 1985. “We decided to serve these prisoners as well. If possible, the WCRF would pay for the bail of activists who were awaiting trial. The fund evolved into an organization that served all political prisoners and their families.”

I showed Vallie letters I received from Palestinian prisoners, including a letter from Ali. He wrote: “I was surprised when I got your letter, because it didn’t take a long time as the ‘prison time’, where is no value for time. (..) I became 46 years old and 23 years of my life I’m in prison, so I am enough experienced.(..) Today, we live with eight prisoners in cells of about 20 square meters. The cell includes a bathroom and shower. We have to stay in the cell 20 hours a day. We eat, sleep, watch television, study, have a bath, …all in the same cell. But all those years, hope still exists.”

Vallie comments: “Why do we keep talking about Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison. Why don’t we speak about the Palestinian political prisoners who are also spending so many years in jail?”

I asked Vallie about campaigns in support of the South African political prisoners. She explained that there was an ongoing “Release the Detainees Campaign”. “Our political leaders from inside and outside South Africa gave directions for the campaigns. We called for the release of our leaders since the 1950s. Prisoners went on hunger strike. It is important that prisoners know that they are not forgotten. We did a lot of work for women and child prisoners; they are more vulnerable.”

Hunger strikes have also been used by Palestinian prisoners to protest against Israel’s prison regime. Ali wrote me about the hunger strike in 1992: “At that time we were 13,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. 20 days we did not eat or drink anything except water. One of my friends from Jerusalem died at the last day of the strike. Our demands were to improve our life conditions in prisons, such as studying at open university (to be paid for by our families). The food was so bad we demanded to improve it and to raise the amount of it because it was not enough for us. For example, I was suffering from malnutrition. I still suffer from its consequences.”

Vallie thinks that support by South Africans in exile for resistance differed from that of Palestinians today. For example, exiled ANC members protested in front of South African embassies. Kader Asmal, who died this year, played a key role in the International Defence and Aid Fund that raised financial support for the political prisoners, tells Vallie.

She continues: “Sometimes activities just happened. For example, when former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son went missing in the desert during the Paris-Dakar rally in 1982, Thatcher asked people to pray for him. At that time, women with relatives in detention or awaiting trial held a meeting in Cape Town. One woman said: ‘Thatcher is crying for one child, but we are crying for a nation of children who are held in prison.’ On the spot we decided to march to the British embassy and deliver that message to Thatcher.”

“When family members of prisoners or ex-detainees came to my office to ask for support, we cried together. Then I would say, ‘What can you do to change it?’ And people became active, protested outside court and detention centers, informed the media, and found ways to communicate with the prisoners inside. It is so important that prisoners know that they are not forgotten. I found ways to deliver messages to prisoners on Robben Island. Some guards were helpful. I am still in touch with Christo Brand, Nelson Mandela’s prison guard who became a friend of Mandela”, says Vallie.

“The Palestinian people need to tell us how they feel which support should be given. They know, they live under oppression, they feel the pain. They must drive the vehicle to change this”, adds Vallie. “Sometimes the vehicle needs a bit of a push. International solidarity activists can assist in the pushing of the vehicle.”

This week, Palestinian prisoners announced the start of a campaign of disobedience to protest an escalating series of punitive measures taken against them by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) in recent months. Prisoners have decided to undertake a hunger strike on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of every week beginning this week. Prisoners have also declared that their campaign will include a range of other forms of disobedience, including refusal to wear prison uniforms, to participate in the daily roll call, or to cooperate with any other IPS demands. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association calls for solidarity with the striking prisoners. Let’s give the vehicle a push!

PP/POW Updates and Announcements - 27 Sept 2011

NYC ABC September 27, 2011 9:03 am


Here's the latest compilation of every other week updates. We've mailed
hard copies to David Gilbert, Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and Daniel
McGowan. Please feel free to share this link:

Free them all,


Follow us on twitter:

Post Office Box 110034
Brooklyn, New York 11211


Free all Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War!
For the Abolition of State Repression and Domination!

On the run for 41 years, hijacker traced to Portugal

By Tim Lister, CNN September 28, 2011
Click to play
Fugitive caught after 41 years
  • George Wright, 68, arrested Monday in Portuguese resort town
  • He escaped from prison in 1970 and hijacked plane to get to Algeria
  • There was no trace of him for decades afterward
  • Incident prompted screening of passengers, carry-on bags at airports

(CNN) -- He had been on the run for four decades. He escaped from prison when Richard Nixon was in the White House, joined the Black Liberation Army in Detroit, hijacked a plane and (in)famously demanded that FBI agents deliver ransom money in bathing suits. And they did.

Now, after a manhunt spanning three continents that often appeared to run cold, the FBI has finally found George Wright.

At age 68, he was living quietly in the resort of Sintra near Lisbon in Portugal when he was arrested Monday.

The United States is seeking his extradition from Portugal to serve the remainder of a 15- to 30-year sentence for murder. Portuguese judicial authorities could not be reached Tuesday for details of the extradition process.

Wright is fighting extradition, a U.S. federal agent said, and his next court appearance in Portugal is in about two weeks.

Wright's life story reads like an international crime novel. In 1962, at the age of 19, he and three associates carried out a series of robberies in New Jersey. Wright and another man shot and killed a World War II veteran in a gas station robbery in Farmingdale.

He was arrested soon afterward and, after pleading no defense, was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison. But in 1970, Wright escaped from Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey, reportedly stealing the warden's car to make his getaway.

Wright made his way to Detroit, then a hotbed of militant black politics, and joined the Black Liberation Army. (He is also reputed to have made some money during this period as a part-time model, using an alias.)

On July 31, 1972, Wright and four other members of the Black Liberation Army went to Detroit airport and boarded Delta Flight 841 for Miami. Wright was dressed as a priest and carried a handgun in a hollowed-out Bible.

Airport security was different in those days. Various Palestinian groups were hijacking planes regularly, as were individuals keen to go to Cuba. Altogether, the U.S. Department of Transportation recorded 364 hijackings worldwide between 1968 and 1972: more than one a week on average.

The hijackers of Delta 841 -- three men and two women accompanied by three children -- seized the plane as it approached Miami. The FBI says "subsequent investigation identified Wright as one of the hijackers."

Once on the ground, the hijackers demanded that FBI agents dressed only in bathing suits deliver $1 million ransom to the plane. They wanted to be sure the agents were not carrying guns. The money was duly delivered by the scantily clad agents.

The hijackers allowed the 88 passengers off but kept the flight crew on board and ordered that the plane fly to Boston. With the addition of an extra navigator (wearing swim trunks and a shirt), the DC-8 was refueled there and flew on to Algiers.

Algeria in the early 1970s was run by a hard-line socialist government that was no friend of the United States and allowed various dissidents, militants and alleged terrorists to take sanctuary there. A leading member of the Black Panthers, Eldridge Cleaver, had been welcomed as a political refugee there in 1968 after jumping bail in California.

The Algerian government confiscated and returned the $1 million in ransom money to the U.S., but Wright and his associates melted away. Some of the hijackers were arrested in Paris in 1976, but for decades, there was no trace of Wright.

Then, nine years ago, a fugitive investigator with the New Jersey Department of Corrections working with the U.S. Marshals Service got a lead. Officials won't comment on reports that Wright had begun to contact relatives in the United States.

Juan Mattos, U.S. marshal for the District of New Jersey, said: "Over the course of nine years, their tenacious resolve has proven to be very powerful in seeking justice and closure for the victims."

And in a press release Tuesday, Michael Ward of the FBI's Newark Division said the case should "serve notice that the FBI's determination in pursuing subjects will not diminish over time or distance."

At the time of the hijacking, there was limited screening of passengers at U.S. airports. This screening system did not require every passenger to be examined, only those who met a profile established by the Federal Aviation Administration.

After the Algiers flight and several hijackings that turned violent, the Nixon administration instructed the FAA to adopt emergency regulations to improve screening. At the end of 1972, the FAA ordered airports to ensure that all passengers and their carry-on baggage be inspected before boarding.

Call to Action: Support Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike!

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons issued a statement on Sunday, September 25, 2011, stating that they plan to begin an open-ended hunger strike on September 27, 2011, demanding an end to the isolation of Ahmad Sa'adat, an end to isolation for all Palestinian political prisoners, and an end to the policies of repression and humiliation against visitors to the prisoners, including denial of family visits and visitors being stopped, searched and impeded at Israeli occupation checkpoints. The prisoners are also demanding an end to abuse and humiliation of prisoners while they are transferred from one prison to another.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat stands in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike and calls for people around the world to join their voices to the prisoners' call for justice.

Ahmad Sa'adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a Palestinian national leader, has been imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces since his kidnapping in March 13, 2006. He was abducted in a violent Israeli military raid from a Palestinian Authority prison where he had been unjustly held without charge or trial for over four years under U.S. and British guard. He has been in isolation for over two years following his calls for resistance to the Israeli assault on Gaza in winter 2009. (Learn more about Ahmad Sa'adat here.)

The prisoners' statement follows:

"We, the comrades of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Zionist prisons and detention centers, declare to the steadfast, struggling brave masses of the Palestinian people and to all free people in the world:

We announce that we will begin an open-ended hunger strike on Tuesday morning, September 27, 2011, in response to the official policies of the Zionist government and its fascist prison administration. We demand our rights and our dignity, as we struggle for the victory of our values and ideals.

Our goals for this hunger strike:

1. End the solitary confinement and isolation of our comrade, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the PLO Central Council, Ahmad Sa'adat, Abu Ghassan.

2. End the policy of isolation for all prisoners;

3. End the policy of systematic humiliation by the occupation army against the Palestinian people at checkpoints and crossings, particularly targeting visitors to prisons, and end the arbitrary denial of visits to the prisoners, especially the prisoners from the Gaza Strip. End the humiliation and abuse of prisoners during transfer.

The principles of our revolution include the rejection of all forms of injustice, and for us to struggle and confront the occupier in all areas and places in our own manner. Accordingly, we call upon all of the Palestinian and Arab people, political forces and institutions, human rights and civil society organizations, to raise their voices for us, so that we do not become easy prey for a vicious occupier. We promise to all of our people, and to the legacy of the martyrs of Palestine, that we will continue on our path until victory.

Great glory to the martyrs ...
Victory to the revolution ...
Victory is inevitable."


1. Picket, protest or call the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners.

2. Distribute the free downloadable Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat flyer in your community at local events.

3. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that the Israelis ensure that Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners are freed from punitive isolation. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa'adat.

4. Email the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat at with announcements, reports and information about your local events, activities and flyer distributions.

Troy Anthony Davis and Useless Leadership

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

The grotesque spectacle of Georgia’s final execution of Troy Davis may have been politically useful to the pretenders to the mantel of Black leadership, but in the end the misleadership class proved useless to Troy. “My last words would have been to spread out, break those ranks and let Sharpton, Barack and Jealous know, no more show time for you and the God you keep praising as all ‘capable’ when he can’t keep me from the poison.”

Troy Anthony Davis and Useless Leadership

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

Amy Goodman used his death like CNN used Desert Storm.”

Not long after the 4-hour additional torture imposed on Davis by the Supreme Court, and after the final word came that Troy was dead, I got a phone call from an angry friend. He began by asking, “what is the value in electing or investing support for a leadership that cannot stop even this? What is the value in investing support behind these so-called ‘movements’ that benefit useless leadership more than the people they claim to be moving for?” And then he said, “Troy was definitely a better man than me.”

Word?” I asked. “That’s my word,” he said. He took a breath to calm himself and went on. “First of all, his last words were praise to his supporters and all those gathered around the world. Then he had words of encouragement for the family of the cop he didn’t kill. No way man. I would have been of no use.” That line struck me. “What do you mean, ‘no use’?” I asked. “Everyone knows he didn’t do it,” he went on. “Everyone knows it and yet they all use him while he dies in convenient fashion.” “Convenient fashion? That’s deep my man,” I said. “Did you watch the coverage on Democracy Now! last night?” he asked. “Every minute,” I said. “Then you know what I mean. The cop’s family got polite support from a man from whom they gained closure, the activists got praise from a man they were too soft to save, and Amy Goodman’s people got love for doing what they should have been doing for at least 10 years.”

You saw their coverage right?” “Yes,” I said. “Then you noticed how it is on the night Troy is killed that they gave more attention to his case than during the entire 20 years of his incarceration. And how often do they talk about the associated issues of mass Black imprisonment?” “Ok,” I said. But he went on, increasingly angered, “What you saw was spectacle. Amy Goodman used his death like CNN used Desert Storm, you heard her say, ‘and we are the only ones here covering the moment.’ Just like CNN she was locking up 10 more years of support from the Left as the major media.” “She didn’t do some good with coverage?” I asked, sounding like the people I usually refer to as soft. “Whatever good she did was useless to Troy and the rest of us. And look what she did the next day; went right back to her real top stories, Israel and Palestine and mainstream journalist book writers.”

Make them storm trooper cops need that gear they brought to the rally.”

But that wouldn’t have worked with me,” he went on. “Because I would have used my last words to tell them to go home, go back to the stories you prefer. I don’t want to become a fund-raiser for you. You didn’t tell my story enough or in ways to get your audience to get me out, I am about to die anyway, so to me, you are useless.” “In fact,” he said, with even more venom in his voice, “I would have told everyone gathered out front, everyone listening to whatever media was covering me, that they should go become a problem, the kind of problem that keeps me alive or gets me out. Make them storm trooper cops need that gear they brought to the rally. Tell them that I won’t be the only one to transition tonight. But don’t use me to add to your phony activist credentials. If indeed we are ‘all Troy Davis’ then we all should be prepared to die tonight.”

He noticed that my silent discomfort. He sensed my fear of my own politics. But he was angry and relentless. “My last words would have been to spread out, break those ranks and let Sharpton, Brock and Jealous know, no more show time for you and the God you keep praising as all ‘capable’ when he can’t keep me from the poison. Your God is useless. We don’t praise the same one, if we praise one at all. My God wouldn’t let me and mine suffer while others use that suffering to enrich and reposition themselves.” “I feel you,” I said. “And it was even more infuriating to listen to them apologize for Obama’s inability to inter…” I could not even finish the sentence.

Obama’s uselessness was so evident and emblematic” he interrupted. “A Black president, a Black attorney general, a Black supreme court justice, two Black men on the Georgia parole board, all the Black civil rights glitterati and still nothing could be done. It is final proof, if we still needed it, of the uselessness of what is called ‘leadership’.”

I agree but only wish I had the courage to say it myself.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. On the web go to

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore and is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Bolivia president suspends construction of highway

By JUAN KARITA - Associated Press Sept. 26, 2011

RURRENABAQUE, Bolivia — Bolivia's president late Monday suspended a
planned Amazon highway that has sparked clashes between police and Indians
who say the road would despoil a nature preserve that is home to thousands
of natives.

President Evo Morales also distanced himself from the decision to break up
a protest march Sunday. His announcement came hours after police released
hundreds of activists when mobs of local people blocked roads and an
airport to prevent the detainees from being taken out of the area.

"We repudiate the excesses yesterday at the march," Morales said, adding
that a high-level commission including international representatives
should be formed to investigate the crackdown.

Hours earlier, Defense Minister Cecilia Chacon resigned in protest over
the police action against opponents of the highway, who include not just
local indigenous peoples but also Bolivia's main highlands Indian

In a brief televised address Monday night, Morales announced that he was
suspending the highway project and would let the two affected regions
decide whether to proceed with the Brazil-financed road. He offered no
specifics, but on Sunday he said that a referendum on the road could be
held in the two affected regions, Cochabamba and Beni.

The proposed 190-mile (300-kilometer) highway would connect Brazil with
Pacific ports in Chile and Peru. Plans called for it to cross Bolivia's
600-square-mile (12,000-square-kilometer) Isiboro-Secure Indigenous
Territory National Park, which is home to 15,000 indigenous people who
live off hunting, fishing, gathering native fruits and subsistence

The residents fear an influx of settlers would destroy their habitat,
felling trees and polluting rivers. Environmentalists say the road would
mostly benefit Brazilian commercial interests such as timber exporters
while endangering a pristine nature preserve.

Police used tear gas and truncheons to break up a march Sunday by some
1,000 protesters who were marching to La Paz, the national capital
Bolivia's highlands.

Officers detained the protesters and loaded them onto buses planning to
drive them back to the eastern lowlands provincial capital of Trinidad,
where the march began in mid-August.

But hundreds of people lit bonfires on the roadway, forcing authorities to
detour to the airport in the Amazon town of Rurrenabaque. Residents of the
town, however, had blocked the runway with barricades.

Authorities then backed down and let the detainees go.

"Given the attack by hundreds of people, the police pulled back to avoid
confrontations," Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti said at a news
conference in La Paz before the president made his comments.

Bolivia's national ombudsman, Rolando Villena, told Erbol radio "there was
excessive use of force" by police. Protest leaders claimed a child was
killed and other protesters, including children, were missing. Bolivia's
Roman Catholic Church issued a communique saying a child had died but
offered no details.

Llorenti denied that police used excessive force, saying officers acted
Sunday only to "evacuate the marchers to guarantee their safety and
protect them from physical harm" because pro-government groups were
approaching to stop the march.

Vehement opposition to the road has been a dilemma for Morales, an Aymara
Indian whose support for the highway has alienated many of the indigenous
Bolivians whose support was crucial to his landslide re-election in 2009.

Morales, a coca growers union leader who is the first indigenous president
of a country where more than two in three people are Indians, has been a
passionate leader of the campaign to curb global warming.

But he has been less of an environmentalist at home, and insists the
highway is essential to strengthening Bolivia's economy.

Analysts have noted that Cochabamba, one of the regions that would be
affected by the proposed highway, is home to the coca growers who still
work with Morales and are in favor of the highway.

The crisis has hurt the president, whose popularity fell to 37 percent
this month, its second-lowest level since he was first elected in 2006.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Support the Hunger Strikers

Call Secretary of the CDCR & your representatives and urge them to 
negotiate with the prisoners and honor their demands!

Matthew Cate: (916) 323-6001

Governor Jerry Brown: (916) 445-2841

CDCR Public Affairs Office: (916) 445-4950

Sample Script:

“Hi my name is ____ and I live in California. I'm calling about the
statewide prisoner hunger strike that began at Pelican Bay.

I support the prisoners & their reasonable "five core demands."

I urge the CDCR to negotiate with the prisoners immediately & in good
faith. Thank you."

Flyers to support the hunger strikers

September 26, 2011 South Brooklyn ABCF

Flyers to support the hunger strikers available for download. Use these to mobilize support for the hunger strike in your area. Customize as needed. . . .

Longer booklet to be used for educating and mobilizing the general public about the hunger strike:

hunger strike leaflet 1

Flyer linking California prison hunger strike to conditions in New York State prisons:


Short front-and-back half-sheet flyer to remind people to make phone calls in support of the strikers:


Note that these materials were not necessarily authored by South Brooklyn ABCF or the ABCF at all, and have not necessarily been approved by the striking prisoners themselves. This is a compilation of outreach resouces to assist organizers while prisoner lives are on the line.

More info about the hunger strike:

Open Letter on Conditions at Clinton Correctional

September 26, 2011 South Brooklyn ABCF


Clinton Correctional Facility

PO Box 2001

Dannemora, NY 12929

September 1, 2011


United States Attorney General

Department of Justice

Constitution & 10th St.

N.W., Washington DC 20530

Dear Honorable Eric Holder:

We the undersigned, are writing to you in our Official Capacity as the Inmate Liaison Committee (hereinafter “ILC”) on behalf of the Inmate Population here at Clinton Correctional Facility about the escalating potential for a major riot, due to the wide range of patterns of abuse by staff on Inmates. There continues to be an ongoing epidemic here where Security Staffs are very abusive towards Inmates, both verbally and physically. This matter has been continuously addressed to the Administration through either the Inmate Grievance and/or ILC. However, the Administration has neglected to take any action, namely, disciplinary or otherwise with regard to these matters.

Upon Mr. Thomas LaValley becoming Superintendent of Clinton Correctional Facility, there has been an escalation of antagonism, provocation, verbal abuse, assaults, and even murder of Inmates by the Correction Officials. See Strickland’s murder as well as the other Inmate that was murdered in I.C.P. Special Housing Unit, “D-Block.” Also, while they were killing Strickland in UF-Housing Unit, another group of officers was physically assaulting Thomas Murphy, #83A0818 on October 3, 2010. Not long after, Inmates were still being severely physically assaulted at the Hospitals’ special beating room on the first floor.

Supt. LaValley has a historical pattern of entertaining an attitude of indifference toward Correctional Officials assaulting inmates without provocation. Upon information and belief, Supt. LaValley has had numerous civil lawsuits lodged against him involving assaults against Inmates throughout his entire career as a Corrections Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain, which is now the conduct of his Corrections Officers here at Clinton Correctional Facility.

Moreover, even the institutional records would show while Mr. LaValley was First Deputy Superintendant at Clinton Correctional Facility and when he became the Supt., each and every time, the ILC Committee expressed concern and requested an investigation into said incidents, requested by the General Inmate Population, and the facility Executive Team’s response is always (by way of official policy) that said investigations are being conducted and that said assaults by Corrections Officials toward inmates is not tolerated; however, often shortly following such meetings and assurances by the Fac. Executive Team, another incident involving an officer assaulting an Inmate would occur, as if to say that our complaints and concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

Furthermore, what the facility’s investigative findings often conclude, is that it was the Inmate’s fault or that the Inmate was in possession of contraband of some kind and upon said officers attempting to retrieve said contraband, the Inmate resisted, thus, requiring the use of force by Staff. It’s always the same pattern of reports of an incident fabricated on the ILC representative, should he dare to expresss his concern to the Executive Teams.

In addition, as if by way of conspiratorial design with an intent and a means to justify the Facility’s diabolical ends, the Facility’s assigned orientation Sergeant psychologically prepares newly arrived Inmates to engage in violent behavior. The orientation Sergeant tells each Inmate during his interview the following official policy of the facility’s, namely: “Don’t put your hands on any of my officers or staff, because we are all family members and that we will beat you down ’til you’ll wish you were dead. If you have problems or beef with another Inmate, you are to take care of your problem and beef in the yard and nowhere else— Do you understand?” This is usually emphasized following a few prior personal questions (i.e. Do you have any enemies? How much time are you doing or what is your sentence? D.O.B.? etc.).

By conducting this orientation interview by the Sergeant in this manner and, by telling the Inmate to commit violence on another inmate in the yard, only gives the inmate the clear impression that such violence/assault occurs in the yard. In addition, by encouraging the inmates to commit violence in the North Yard, such violence is deemed to be enough provocation necessary for the officers assigned to the perimeter towers to resort to using their firearms in a hasty attempt to quell the violence. By way of example, during the ILC meeting with the Facility Executive Team and in the presence of Acting Deputy Superintendent/Dept. Supt. Program and Capt. S. M. Lacy, the ILC was conducting an inquiry into the 8-19-11 incident which occured in the North Yard involving approximately 15 inmates and resulted in the Tower Officials using their AR-15 Semi-Automatic rifles. When the ILC questioned the abuse by the officials toward the inmates as a while in the yard following the containment and control of the situation, Capt. Lacy’s response was that verbatim, “He need to send his officers to the target range for practicing their shooting skills, because the officers that were shooting missed their targets. They should have killed at least 2 or 3 inmates!”

Now, upon hearing this remark by Cap. Lacy, the entire ILC committee firmly requested that video surveillance camera be installed through out the entire facility. And, although Capt. Lacy rejected the proposal to install cameras, Acting Superintendent Keyssor did agree to present the ILC’s request to have cameras installed, to the Prison Commissioner of DOCS.

Finally, it is the entire Inmate Population’s belief, as well as the ILC’s belief that the orientation Sergeant’s direct instruction for inmates to commit violence in the North Yard, the officials daily abuse, harassment and assaults toward the inmate population, is being practiced on a daily basis solely as a justification to enhance or otherwise bolster the need for additional employment of Corrections Officers and as a political ploy and argument against further Correction Officials being layed-off.

WHEREFOR, the ILC Committee is requesting an independent and impartial investigation into all of the references made herein concerning such violations by the Corrections Officials involving assault, verbal abuse, killing intimidation in a variety of ways toward the Inmate General Population; the officials have even encouraged and promoted inmates to assault other targeted Inmates on the officers’ behalf.

Dated: Sept 1 2011

Dannemora, New York.

Respectfully submitted,

[five signatures]

cc: File/ILC Committee

Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo

New York State Governor

Hon. Brian Fischer

NYS Prison Commissionern

United States Secretary General

Human Rights Watch Prison Project

Tarvis Smiley


United States Senate

Judiciary Chairman

Nationwide condemnation of Irvine 11 convictions by student and activist groups

Immediately following the convictions of the Irvine 11 students last Friday, student and activism groups across the US have condemned the guilty verdicts while pledging to stand in solidarity with the Irvine 11, defend free speech and protect the right to dissent.

More than 30 Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) university chapters nationwide signed onto a pledge over the weekend that stated, in full:

We join our voices with the unjustly charged and convicted Irvine 11, who dared to draw attention to Israel’s war crimes. Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackauckus, has punished students who care about the world enough to try to change it. The 11 students refused to remain silent when Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren spoke at the University of California, Irvine in February 2010. Their brief outbursts, at best representing protected First Amendment speech and at worst harmless civil disobedience, have led to McCarthyistic misdemeanor charges. On September 23, 2011, an Orange Country jury found them “guilty.”

We unequivocally condemn these charges, which unfairly single out and criminalize Muslim students who chose to exercise their First Amendment right to speak out against Israel’s human rights abuses. Had the speaker not been Israeli, had the issue not been Palestine, had the students not been Muslim, these charges never would have been pursued. Rather, these charges reflect a climate of Islamophobia and an irrational exceptionalism for Israel when it comes to free speech. The charges chill the free exchange of ideas and students’ right to protest at universities nationwide.

It is our right and duty to speak out against Israel’s egregious violations of international law and Palestinian rights. The American government gives Israel over three billion dollars a year in military aid and is therefore directly responsible for Israel’s actions. We are troubled by the increased suppression of student voices in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Student groups around the country continue to be targeted for their criticisms of Israeli governmental policies. University administrators find themselves under intense pressure from the Israel Lobby when pro-Palestine events occur on campus. It comes in the form of public smearing, alumni pressure, and frivolous lawsuits, as well as U.S. Department of Education investigations that seek to classify criticism of Israel as a violation of students’ civil rights. But it is the criminal prosecution of the Irvine 11 and the silencing of student activists everywhere that violate our civil rights.

It is inconceivable to suggest that Ambassador Oren, who has published four opinion-editorials in the New York Times alone and can easily command the attention of newspapers and television crews, has been denied a voice. On the other hand, it is routine for Palestinians to be silenced by the military and government that he represents without any media attention. The Irvine 11 shed light on the Palestinian voices constantly excluded from the media and public discourse.

To the Irvine 11: you are not alone. Like Dr. King wrote of his own unjust verdict, this week in September, the court convicted more than just you; it convicted every student dedicated to upholding human rights and ending injustice. We commend you for your courage and moral clarity. We know that the Irvine 11 are convicted criminals — but we are proud of their crime.

Harvard University’s Palestine Solidarity Committee posted a similar press release that stated:

The Irvine 11 should be commended for confronting Oren’s propaganda effort to whitewash Israel’s criminal actions and policies in front of college audiences. Instead, they have been unjustly punished for constitutionally-protected dissent that is a routine part of student activism, including here at Harvard.

On November 23, 2009, Harvard students also staged a walk-out of a speech by Oren at the Harvard Kennedy School. Last year, AIDS activists from Harvard and other colleges heckled and interrupted President Obama while he spoke in Boston. In neither case were students punished for exercising their right to protest.

… We call on students to support the Irvine 11 as they move ahead in appealing this unjust verdict. Further, we call on students to redouble their Palestine solidarity efforts. This attack only reinforces the urgency of continuing to organize in support of equality, justice and freedom for Palestinians and all oppressed peoples.

Meanwhile, interfaith organizations say they continue their committment to solidarity and support of the Irvine 11 and the right to free speech for everyone.

Jewish Voice for Peace posted its statement over the weekend, which read, in part:

This is a shameful day for the legal system and the Jewish communal leaders who actively supported this unfair railroading of young Muslim students and unprecedented attack on everyone’s right to free speech. How can it be that the Israeli ambassador enjoys more rights in the United States than do young Muslim citizens?

We hope this prompts some real soul searching among those who actively supported the case against the Irvine students simply because they didn’t like what the students had to say about Israel’s human rights record.

The principle of free expression for even unpopular speech, as it applies to all people, is fundamental to democracy. And it is never, ever OK to allow or support the unjust targeting of a minority group — which is what happened here. And frankly, as a religious and ethnic minority who was once a largely young immigrant population, Jews of all people should understand the need to protect minority rights.

And J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles/Orange County, had this to say about the convictions and the need for interfaith solidarity:

Obviously in light of the Irvine 11 verdicts there is an immediate need for improved listening to one another across faith traditions and reaching a new place of mutual respect. Today I am calling upon fellow Orange County bishops, rabbis, and Islamic leaders to come together immediately in renewed solidarity to address the issues and injustices raised in relation to these verdicts. Our Episcopal congregations will also increase participation in the Shura Council’s Open Mosque Day on October 16 to demonstrate our understanding that Islam is at its core a religion of peace within our shared Abrahamic tradition, and deserving of equal protection under First Amendment freedoms.

For more on the Irvine 11 solidarity campaign, visit the Stand With the Eleven website at

National SJP Statement on the Irvine 11

We Stand With the Irvine 11

“Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a
somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but
I was proud of my crime. It was the crime of joining my people in a nonviolent
protest against injustice.“
-Martin Luther King, Jr. (Case No. 7399, convicted of “violating the state (of
Alabama)’s anti-boycott law,” March 22, 1956, from Stride Toward Freedom: the
Montgomery Story.)
We join our voices with the unjustly charged and convicted Irvine 11, who dared to
draw attention to Israel’s war crimes. Orange County District Attorney, Tony
Rackauckus, has punished students who care about the world enough to try to change
it. The 11 students refused to remain silent when Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren
spoke at the University of California, Irvine in February 2010. Their brief
outbursts, at best representing protected First Amendment speech and at worst
harmless civil disobedience, have led to McCarthyistic misdemeanor charges. On
September 23, 2011, an Orange Country jury found them “guilty.”
We unequivocally condemn these charges, which unfairly single out and criminalize
Muslim students who chose to exercise their First Amendment right to speak out
against Israel’s human rights abuses. Had the speaker not been Israeli, had the
issue not been Palestine, had the students not been Muslim, these charges never
would have been pursued. Rather, these charges reflect a climate of Islamophobia and
an irrational exceptionalism for Israel when it comes to free speech. The charges
chill the free exchange of ideas and students’ right to protest at universities
It is our right and duty to speak out against Israel’s egregious violations of
international law and Palestinian rights. The American government gives Israel over
three billion dollars a year in military aid and is therefore directly responsible
for Israel’s actions. We are troubled by the increased suppression of student voices
in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Student groups around the
country continue to be targeted for their criticisms of Israeli governmental
policies. University administrators find themselves under intense pressure from the
Israel Lobby when pro-Palestine events occur on campus. It comes in the form of
public smearing, alumni pressure, and frivolous lawsuits, as well as U.S. Department
of Education investigations that seek to classify criticism of Israel as a violation
of students’ civil rights. But it is the criminal prosecution of the Irvine 11 and
the silencing of student activists everywhere that violate our civil rights.
It is inconceivable to suggest that Ambassador Oren, who has published four
opinion-editorials in the New York Times alone and can easily command the attention
of newspapers and television crews, has been denied a voice. On the other hand, it
is routine for Palestinians to be silenced by the military and government that he
represents without any media attention. The Irvine 11 shed light on the Palestinian
voices constantly excluded from the media and public discourse.
To the Irvine 11: you are not alone. Like Dr. King wrote of his own unjust verdict,
this week in September, the court convicted more than just you; it convicted every
student dedicated to upholding human rights and ending injustice. We commend you for
your courage and moral clarity. We know that the Irvine 11 are convicted
criminals—but we are proud of their crime.
“…Instead of stopping the movement, the opposition’s tactics had only served to give
it greater momentum, and to draw us closer together. What the opposition failed to
see was that our mutual sufferings had wrapped us all in a single garment of
destiny. What happened to one happened to all.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Signatories (Add your group here)
National SJP Coordinating Committee
American University SJP
Arizona State University SJP
Benedictine University SJP
Boston University SJP
Brandeis SJP
Brandeis JVP
Brown University SJP
Cornell SJP
DePaul University SJP
Hunter College SJP
Illinois Institute of Technology SJP
Loyola University MESA
Northwestern University SJP
Ohio State University SJP
San Diego State University SJP
School of the Art Institute Chicago SJP
St. Xavier University SJP
Temple University SJP
University of California – Los Angeles SJP
University of California – San Diego SJP
University of Chicago SJP
University of New Mexico SJP
University of Pittsburgh SJP
University of Southern California SJP

Charlotte L. Kates

Bolivian police break up anti-highway march

Sept. 25, 2011 Associated Press

YUCUMO, Bolivia — Bolivian police used tear gas and truncheons to break up
a march Sunday by hundreds of indigenous activists protesting plans to
build a highway they say will despoil a vast Amazon nature preserve.

Police arrested the march's leaders, hauling them away in buses. Bolivia's
national ombudsman, Rolando Villena told Erbol radio "there was excess use
of force" by police in "violating the rights of the Indians in the

The U.N.'s representative in Bolivia, Yoriko Yasukawa, called on the
government to rely on dialogue.

Witnesses including an Associated Press photographer saw about 500 police
surround protesters, including woman and children, just before dusk Sunday
and set upon them with gas and clubs.

The government had no immediate statement on the crackdown but police
officers on the scene told the AP that there were injuries on both sides,
including police struck by rocks.

About 1,000 marchers opposed to the highway had departed the eastern
lowlands provincial capital of Trinidad in mid-August and were nearing La
Paz, the capital.

The police action came a day after protesters armed with bows and arrows
briefly detained Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, forcing him to march
with them to protect them from police and from pro-government

Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti accused the protesters of "kidnapping"

President Evo Morales, this poor landlocked nation's first indigenous
president, has insisted the highway is necessary for development but on
Sunday said he would submit the highway's fate to a regional referendum.

Morales' stubborn backing of the highway has alienated many of the core
supporters who ensured his December 2009 landslide re-election by
insisting on the 190-mile (300-kilometer) Brazil-financed highway.

Environmentalists say the highway, which will connect Brazil with Pacific
ports in Chile and Peru, will mostly benefit Brazilian commercial
interests such as logging exporters while endangering a pristine,
600-square-mile (12,000-square-kilometer) nature preserve.

The Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory National Park is home to 15,000
natives, who live off hunting, fishing, gathering native fruits, and
subsistence farming.

The natives fear an influx of settlers will destroy rich natural
habitats,felling trees and polluting rivers.

The road is to be built with a $415 million loan from Brazil's national
development bank, and a Brazilian company, OAS, has the green light to
begin toppling trees.

Edwin Alvarado, spokesman for Bolivia's Environmental Defense League, or
LIDEMA, has called the highway a pretext for eventual oil exploration in
the rain forest.

Under a 2009 constitution championed by Morales, the country's indigenous
groups must be consulted in advance about any projects that might affect
their traditional lands.

The law does not give them veto power, however.


Associated Press writer Frank Bajak contributed to this report from Lima,

Voices from Solitary: The “Life Negating Emptiness” of the Pelican Bay SHU

September 25, 2011 Solitary watch
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

In 2008 Hector Gallegos won second prize in the essay category in PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Contest with his powerful account of life in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. What follows is a long excerpt from his essay, entitled “Species of a Lesser God”; the full piece can be read on PEN’s website.

Indelibly etched in the canyons of memory I can remember being herded onto the Grey Gooses as these prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. The solemn procession of prisoners wore a somber ghostly mask; one by one waist-chained, handcuffed and shackled we stepped into the belly of the Grey Goose. I cannot quite describe with any degree of accuracy, the feeling that settled over me prior to boarding, but there was an ominous silence which hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a wickedly vicious storm. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life like a savage moving monsoon. Indeed, a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to knew in the life negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison…

The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension which lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101 the trance inducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred, tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Groose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far.

The restless dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under, and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans, mountains and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. Looking around me I found not to be alone in this realization, for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts, but no one dare speak of them.

What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts, a vacuum of uncertainty, sealed off from every thing and every one. A place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness, boredom and, in some cases, the lunacy of a previous occupant. It’s a world of its own where, for most, refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber.

There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. A foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. Eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness. Eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God.

This is where my writings began. Borne of a burning need to find meaning during one of the darkest periods in my life. That this took place within the confines of the most depraved, isolated and suffocating prison units in California, did much to determine my present view of the world, perception of self and that of the human condition as a whole. It was a period in time which would ultimately lead me through the loneliest corridors of my soul, across the coldest expanses of relived personal tragedy and finally back to the fulcrum in which this paradox is precariously balanced.

It is within this balance between the suffering of existence and the reality of living where I found a powerful hidden truth that gave way to a deeper meaning to life. I say this with a deep rooted conviction because I have come face to face with what has been said are among man’s greatest fears; the fear of death, fear of the dark and fear of being alone. Before I continue, however, I wish to briefly define what is meant by this writer in having faced the fears mentioned above, so that the intended meaning is not lost on the reader. It further provides a basis from where the imagination is better able to perceive the underlying message which yearns so strongly and with such passion to express itself. It’s an account that not only wants, but needs to be told.

In any case, when I speak of having faced the fear of death, I do not mean DEATH as in the clinical sense of the word, but rather of two aspects of the one thing; both of which are essential to the phenomenon of death. One being symbolic of death as in the “then and there” physical presence, and the other of a physic-psychological color. The prisoner who has given it some thought, in particular the ones confined in extremely isolated conditions such as those found in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) of Pelican Bay State Prison, soon finds himself faced with a terribly frightening reality. That, with the exception of a few loving family members, or maybe a dear friend, he no longer exists to the outside world. The only thing that remains of him out there are memories, and the love for him vigilantly kept in the sanctity of the hearts and minds of his family. As such, in a world beyond prison walls, one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. The point is nailed home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell, year after year. He longs for what is passing him by, knowing he can never be a part of it. It is as if he has died and observes this from a reality, which indeed perhaps only the dead would understand.

Another aspect of the symbolism of death experienced by a prisoner is when he discerns, by the mere fact of his incarceration he has killed the “Him” that should have been, the lover he wishes to be, the father he cannot be, the son he failed to be and the person he never grew into. He has, in essence, killed, at least for the duration of his confinement, that greater part of himself. In this sense and for the time being he may well be dead, for he cannot live up to the expectations of what he should have been. The prisoner lives on the dark side of the moon. He is tormented by two worlds, the one he lives in and the one he left behind; caught in sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and Hell.

In regard to the physic-psychological aspect of death. What is meant here is the collective summation of the effects isolation has on a person subjected to a prolonged period of sensory deprivation. Here a prisoner is no longer able to experience what is inherent in human life—the touch of another human being! I speak of a place where one is stripped of not only his freedom but of his association with other human beings and of his personal sense of purpose and awareness. Where common compassion, pity and human decency are virtually unheard of. And when man is deprived of the qualities which make him human, for a lengthy amount of time, he is gradually and unwittingly transformed into a creature of sorts and will respond in kind. Then there are those who will give way to perhaps the saddest, cruelest death a man can suffer; “death of the mind and will to resist”. An individual’s sense of self worth is quietly and maliciously gnawed away at by monotony and emptiness. Death by attrition slow, sure, and maddeningly relentless.

I can describe what I just have with such clarity because I gave witness to it in the catacombs of Pelican Bay. And like any experience that cannot be wholly understood by mere observation; “I lived it!” I, like the countless others whose misfortune it was, and continues to be in the SHU, know how cold and terrifying it is to be in the suffocating grip of oblivion. An oblivion I came to terms with only because I was bullied into it by a brutal reality. But what’s unsettling about this acceptance is the realization that within this oblivion my thoughts alone confined my existence. For in the face of such emptiness I had nothing by which to measure it. Questions such as, “Why do I continue to forge on?” would pound away at me. “For what purpose?” And most of all, “Who or what have I become?” It was then when I was cast under the unbearable light of conscious being. I was forced into it. The isolation in the SHU demanded that I ponder my situation, otherwise I would have surely drowned in its paralyzing numbness, living out a slow death. Even as I write this account, I wonder if my writings are not merely the ravings of a mad man, perhaps I am already submerged in the numbness.

To question one’s own sanity and existence is a disquieting discourse, because when the questions are posed, initially there are no viable answers. One shouts out these questions in the seemingly empty canyons of thought, only to be reciprocated with haunting echoes of the same questions. To realize this is to recognize the pressing need for meaning in one’s life. Here in prison one must travel through the crucibles of self-examination and through all of its fires to arrive at the answers. In doing this one must first learn to confront his fears, whether they be death, darkness or loneliness, before he is able to move on in search of his own life’s meaning. It is here in this gulag of concrete, steel and misery where I came to learn the subtle difference between existing and living. This self discovery came by way of learning what it feels like spending countless hours in the icy grip of loneliness. Through this experience I am able to understand why so many people are so utterly afraid of being alone—a piece of knowledge attached to the price of bitterness.

My personal experience is not just a poignant account of human misery in solitary confinement, but also of a collective experience of what prison life entails. I believe it gives the reader a penetrating insight into the human condition as a whole. It’s through my personal writings that I seek to reach out. Not only for myself but for those others whom are still struggling to find a rational context for it all…

Mass grave found in Libya with remains of 1,270

Sept. 25, 2011 Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya — Libyan revolutionary authorities say they have discovered a mass grave containing the remains of 1,270 inmates killed by the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in a 1996 prison massacre.

The site was found near Tripoli's Abu Salim prison, where the victims were killed on June 26, 1996, after protesting conditions at the facility.

The announcement was made Sunday by Dr. Ibrahim Abu Sahima of the government committee overseeing the search for victims of the former regime.

He says investigators found the grave two weeks ago after getting information from captured regime officials and witnesses.

Officials will ask for international assistance in identifying the remains.

Hunger Strike For Vegan Prisoner Reinstated; Please Call

Sept. 23, 2011 Infoshop News

Manuel Salas has reinstated his hunger strike as the Waupun prison has
apparently been refusing to honor vegan food requests for another inmate.
Please call Waupun Correctional Institution Warden William Pollard at
(920) 324-5571 and tell him as a friend of Manuel Salas #504212, you are
aware of his hunger strike and that you are making sure that requests for
vegan food be honored as required, as it is a legal right.

About Manuel

My name is Manuel C. Salas; I was born in Virginia but later moved to
Wisconsin and lived in Texas. I’m a 25-year-old vegan polticized prisoner
and animal rights activist. A few months before my 19th birthday I was
arrested for arson (unrelated to my animal rights activism). I was given
12 years, 6 in/6 out, but I got my time pushed back for a number of
reasons. I was facing 2 “baiter” cases out of a prisoner protest but they
later got dropped due to the fact I took a plea deal for the other
protests I kicked off for vegan food. I get sentenced in October 2011 but
I do not know how much time I’m going to get for that.

I became interested in animal rights when I was about 15. I became
vegetarian off and on from about age 16. At 15 I started volunteering at
shelters for battered and abused animals and also worked with some groups
that rescue and rehabilitate injured animals. I also began attending fur
protests and anti-hunting protests. At about 18 I became vegan.

I have been locked up in Wisconsin since 2005, moved to Wisconsin Prison
in 2006 and have been locked up since. I have been fighting for vegan food
and animal rights any way I can. The vegan food is not nutritionally
adequate and I protested the food asking for better quality meals and was
instead moved to Waupun Correctional Institution which did not provide
vegan meals. I then went on a hunger strike to gain access to vegan meals
and won. I’m now working again to improve the quality of the vegan meals
in prison.

In addition to animal rights work I’m also working to raise awareness
around HIV/AIDS and to improve the level of care for those who have AIDS
and are imprisoned. I do not have HIV/AIDS but my brother is HIV positive
and in Wisconsin Prison where he faces harrasment and inadequate health
care. Because of it I try and help when I can.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Letter from a prisoner in Pelican Bay SHU

[Note: Letter typed in full. All ellipses were in the
original. Only changes made were correction of clear misspellings.]

Letter from a prisoner in Pelican Bay SHU
(postmarked June 13, 2011)

Hello, my name is [withheld]. I live in Pelican Bay SHU and was
recently denied for my inactive review for a single source which was
my name and number in someone else's address book...

This entire review process is a complete sham, the only way for me to
be able to see the mainline is to become an informant.

The active/inactive process is truly a house of cards and I honestly
believe the courts fully understand this, which is why they honestly
fear intervening because the validation program would crumble...

So these words are written with a clear and focused mind on the task
ahead. There's been months of soul searching, real personal tug of
wars but ultimately it's brought about my decision to hunger strike.

With a tear in my eye I can/do look back over my life and fully
realizing the tremendous amount of pain and damage I've caused my
family and friends as a youth.

My story was a violence fueled path of sheer destruction and for all
of those I hurt, I do take full ownership of...

If turning back the hands of Ole Father Time was a reality I'd be in
line to heal those who were hurt...

Though standing before you today is no boy but rather a 37 year old
man who believes with his maturity came truth of/in himself which
ultimately led to his integrity and honor as a man.

Whereas I've been in Ad/Seg and SHU for merely 8 years, all around I
can clearly see my future in cells aside and below me, 10 years, 16
years, 22 years...

In the quietness of my mind I am struck by the immense task of
adjusting my mind and body to these extreme isolation realities
decade after decade without going insane...

It's not too promising when year after year all I see is the effect
of these extreme conditions of deprivation crushing once prideful and
courageous men into shells of their former selves...

I do pray to the gods above that they allow my spirit and soul to
burn bright and to endure.

So the past, present, and future. Our litigations they have
failed. The state and federal courts are unwilling to call this
prolonged isolation and legalized psychological torture, just that, torture!

Because when a man walks into that debriefing room he's been totally
broken, broken to the point of saying anything for one sole purpose
to stop the pain and if that's not a confession under extreme
pressure and torture then I don't know what is...

Every avenue has been taken to get out of here with my pride,
dignity, and honor in hand. I've tried the institution appeals, a
total joke and as I stated earlier the courts refuse to make any
substantive changes and without that CDC will continue to justify
keeping me and the rest in these extreme conditions of isolation for
the mere fact that we are labelled as gang members and simply refuse
to become informants and debrief...

So in with the realization of the fact that the courts will allow
me/us to die here there's been long thought as to how to peacefully
resist this prolonged psychological torture. The collective
conclusion is that the only means left available to us is to go on a
serious hunger strike.

I volunteered to give all that I have for myself, my family and those
who know and respect me.

I in no way, shape or form am I suicidal nor do I wish to harm myself
in anyway. But the facts are that CDC has drawn a hard line in the
sand and the only way from underneath these conditions are to debrief
or die. I wish to do neither.
I can't articulate exactly how badly I want to hug my mother or speak
to my father over the phone or send them a yearly photo of their
son. But it's huge!

Instead I am limited to maintaining my relationships with family
through the mail and IGI has always viewed I/M [inmate] mail as a key
component in the debriefing policy in where they are able to put
pressure on relationships in the hopes of breaking them up and
further isolating us with the hope we choose to debrief.

I choose to stand defiant, I stand tall and always silent and I
exercise my option to fully protest via hunger strike.
I will not become just another broken faceless soul forced to become
a confidential informant for CDC to relieve this burden only to
burden someone else...

I hunger strike with the hope of gaining some form of relief so the
next load of men, young and old, won't have to be broken down, drove
insane or killed to find relief...

I must end with a word for my beautiful family. I love them all and
have learned many valuable lessons of respect, understanding, duty,
and integrity by their stellar examples. They truly are my rock in
dark times and I love them all.

Respectfully written,
[name withheld]

Damages for my unjust 'terror' arrest

A book available in the library called 'Al-Qaeda Training Manual' led to a
student being arrested and incarcerated.

Sept. 21, 2011 by Rizwaan Sabir Al Jazeera

Over three years ago, when I was a Masters student at the University of
Nottingham, I did not imagine I would be writing an article for Al
Jazeera. Let alone one in which I would be explaining to its readers that
I had been successful in holding the police to account, for falsely
imprisoning me in solitary confinement for seven days as a suspected

Only weeks before the trial was to begin, the police - desperate to
prevent embarrassment and criticism - settled the case out of court. They
paid me £20,000 ($31,000) in compensation, all of my legal expenses and
removed all the incorrect (and unnecessary) information that they held on
my intelligence file. Documentation that stated I was a “convicted”
terrorist, that I wore a black hoody with the words "Free Palestine"
written on it and had an "attitude" toward the police. The police also
issued an apology for a stop and search that I was unlawfully subjected to
under the Terrorism Act 2000 and accepted that I was not a terrorist.

If you’re not familiar with what happened on May 14, 2008, you can be
forgiven for thinking that I must have done something very serious. Why
else would I be arrested in a joint police operation on suspicion of being
involved in the ‘commission, preparation or instigation of acts of
terrorism’, held in solitary confinement for seven days and subjected to
daily interrogation and questioning? The truth, however, is quite the

I was arrested (with a friend of mine, Hicham Yezza) for being in
possession of a declassified, open-source document that I had downloaded
from the US Department of Justice website to assist my upcoming PhD
research on Islamic terrorism. The document (given the title ‘Al-Qaeda
Training Manual’ by the US government to convince a jury that the people
arrested for the East Africa bombings were terrorists) is such a dangerous
document that it can be loaned through the University of Nottingham’s own
library system or purchased, even by children, in a glossy blue-cover from
high-street bookshops such as Blackwells, Waterstones and WH Smiths (who
have recently pulled it from their website).

The hysteria surrounding ‘campus radicalisation’ came to fruition when
this library book and two related academic journal articles were
discovered on my friends computer, who had kindly offered to help me with
my research proposal. The ‘dangerous’ material was reported to the
Registrar of the University of Nottingham, who, without any due-diligence
or regard for university statutes and governmental guidance, instructed
the Deputy Head of Security to call the anti-terror police. The police,
not being able to take a chance where matters of library books were
concerned stormed onto campus and arrested me and my friend as suspected

Held for 7 days in solitary confinement, we (and our family and friends)
had our lives turned upside down. On my release without charge, I
immediately knew that the legal avenue was the only way that I could clear
the label of “terrorist” that had been attached to my name.

I instructed lawyers to bring proceedings against the police for false
imprisonment and racial discrimination, and 3 years later, I can say that
the struggle against the police has ended with a victory that will show
the world that holding the police to account can be achieved. It is hard
work, exhausting and stressful, but nevertheless possible.

The police, as expected, have been spinning their loss to the press by
claiming that they have not accepted liability for my wrongful arrest and
false imprisonment. To me, and I’m sure to the public, it is abundantly
clear that if the police were innocent, they would have gone to trial and
fought their corner, not paid compensation and all of my legal fees. To
me, and I’m sure others, this is a sign of guilt.

The story does not end here though. The University of Nottingham’s spin
doctors have been busy claiming that my legal victory is a matter between
me and the police, but, as they know, it has everything to do with them.

Dr Rod Thornton’s paper - "How a student’s use of a library book became a
‘Major Islamist Plot" - forensically documents how the university
participated in a campaign of sabotage and discrimination not only against
me (even though I had been released without charge and cleared) but
against those who dared to stand with me. For example, I was recently told
by a senior civil servant at the Department for Universities (DBIS) that
the University's Registrar attempted to - via a breifing - misinform the
department regarding my arrest. Internal governmental documents that were
used by Dr Thornton in his whistle-blowing paper corroborate such a claim.
When Dr Thornton spoke up against what had happened and tried to hold the
university to account, he was subjected to disciplinary procedures and
eventually suspended by the Vice-Chancellor. He remains suspended at the
time of writing.

The allegations he makes are so serious, that only an independent, judge
led public inquiry can bring closure to this sorry saga. The university,
in its conduct over the last three years has shown that it is not capable
of impartially bringing closure to the issues Dr Thornton raises, and
because there is no public body in the whole of the United Kingdom that
has the remit (or desire) to hold the University of Nottingham to account,
only a judge led public inquiry can bring closure to this affair. Once a
public inquiry has taken place, and Dr Thornton has been reinstated, will
my name be fully vindicated.

Let my victory against the police be a clear message to the University of
Nottingham that I am here to stay and will hold them to account for their

Rizwaan Sabir is a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde where he
is researching UK and Scottish counter-terrorism policy since 9/11.

You can follow him on twitter @RizwaanSabir

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not
necessarily represent Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Are We Troy Davis? - An Ⓐnonymous Message

Farmers in China’s South Riot Over Seizure of Land

By ANDREW JACOBS The New York Times
September 23, 2011

BEIJING — Rioters in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have
besieged government buildings, attacked police officers and overturned
SWAT team vehicles during protests this week against the seizure of
farmland, said officials in Shanwei, a city that skirts the South China
Sea not far from Hong Kong.

Lufeng residents have long engaged in a battle over land.

According to a government Web site, hundreds of people on Wednesday
blocked an important highway while others mobbed the local headquarters of
the Communist Party and a police station in the city of Lufeng, injuring a
dozen officers. Some witnesses, posting anonymous accounts online, put the
number of rioters at more than 1,000.

The protests continued Friday, with farmers gathered in front of a
government building banging gongs and holding aloft signs that said “Give
us back our farmland” and “Let us continue farming,” Reuters reported.

The authorities say the violence escalated Thursday after rumors spread
that the police had killed a girl. At least four people were arrested,
including a man officials accused of instigating the crowd.

The violence was the latest outbreak of civil unrest in China fueled by
popular discontent over industrial pollution, police misconduct or illegal
land grabs that leave peasants with little or no compensation. Such “mass
incidents,” as the government calls them, have been steadily increasing in
recent years, providing party leaders with worrisome proof that official
malfeasance combined with a dysfunctional judiciary often has combustible

Last week, hundreds of residents protesting environmental contamination by
a solar panel factory in Zhejiang Province stormed the factory and
destroyed office equipment and vehicles. Weeks earlier, 12,000 people
peacefully gathered in the city of Dalian to demand the closure of a
chemical factory.

In Lufeng, the protests were just the most dramatic manifestation of a
long-running battle over land that residents say their ancestors reclaimed
from the sea. According to a local Web site, the Lufeng city government
has already sold off more than 800 acres of the property for industrial
parks and high-priced housing. The proffered compensation per acre,
villagers said, has been barely enough to buy a new bed.

“Wake up, my neighbors, if we don’t unite now, the land of our ancestors
will be sold off to the last square meter! If we don’t unite now, our
children will be homeless!” read one posting on the site.

“We will have no where to bury our parents or raise our children!”

Municipal governments, which own all land in China, largely depend on
sales of long-term property leases to fill their operating budgets. In
many cases, private real estate companies collude with officials to clear
and develop the land as quickly as possible.

The latest seized plots were sold to a developer for about $156 million,
according to The South China Morning Post, which first reported the sale
and seizure. According to the company’s Web site, the complex is to be
called “Country Garden” after the name of the developer.

“To shape a prosperous future through our conscience and social
responsibility,” is one of the company’s mottoes.

News of the demonstrations and photos and videos were quickly deleted from
the Web by censors, but a few images persisted Friday. In one,
demonstrators carried a banner that read “Give back my ancestors’
farmland.” A video lingered on overturned police vehicles, including one
with graffiti that read “running dogs,” an insult once directed at
perceived enemies of the people.

The continuing unrest could pose a threat to the political aspirations of
Wang Yang, the provincial party secretary who has partly staked his
reputation on promoting the well-being of Guangdong’s 104 million
residents and by trying to gauge the level of their happiness.

“Happiness for the people is like flowers,” Mr. Wang wrote this year. “The
party and the government shall create the proper environment for the
flowers to grow.”

The province is China’s most populous and a manufacturing powerhouse that
produces roughly one third of the country’s exports.

Mia Li contributed research.