Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 26, 2012 Statement from Leonard Peltier

Greetings my relatives,

First of all before I get into talking about anything, I want to tell
you how much I deeply appreciate your remembering all the people who
stood for what's right at the Oglala Confrontation. And I deeply want
to thank you for remembering me and the chance to express myself to
you. Each time that I am asked about putting together a comment for
any kind of event I always think to myself what if I never got to say
another thing. As you get older, that could very easily be a reality.
So I try to give a lot of thought to what I say to you and to others
and especially to any young people who might be listening to my
words. And I want to be quite honest. The words I have to say are the
teachings of our people, our elders, our medicine people and things
I've learned in life the hard way. And things I've learned in a good
way. If speaking to you in some way makes your life better or
prevents you from going to prison or being hurt or losing your land
or your culture or helps in regaining the things our people have
lost, then I feel it will be worthwhile.

I hope and pray that none of the young people will ever end up in any
prison situation. And especially end up in prison for trying to do
what is right and defending what is right. In this prison setting the
days go by oh so slowly and the months and years as I look back at
them all kind of fold into one; because every day is so much the
same. There are very few highlights and you hear of people having
nightmares in their dreams but in here the nightmare is in your
waking moments. And in your sleep you are free for a while.

I want to say how much I appreciate and respect our people for not
selling or giving up the Black Hills in South Dakota. And how much I
want to encourage all our people to remain strong and do everything
they can to regain our culture. If we are ever to be a strong people
again, that we once were, it will be because we have taken
responsibility to regain our strength. This government will never
return anything meaningful that is still of some money value to them.
This is not my opinion, it is reality and obvious to anyone who pays
attention. We must do everything we can to regain strength of
self-discipline. We must do everything we can to fully take
responsibility for our future. Our ancestors before us fought and
died and suffered for us. Each person here today is a result of
someone who in the face of death and imprisonment stood and said,
"The future of my children and my children's children and generations
to come, is worth living and dying for." We should never let those
sacrifices be in vain. The Creator of all things does not want our
death; the Creator of all things wants our life; wants us to live for
ourselves and for our children, and to protect the earth and nature
for our future generations. That is who we are.

If you feel or have come to believe that you have a calling to do a
certain thing for your people, if you prayed about it in ceremony and
you feel this is a true thing in your life, then you should educate
yourself with every part of that calling. Don't wait for it to come
to you. Go find that knowledge. Knowledge is strength - knowledge is
power - knowledge is survival - knowledge and truth comes from the
Creator and belongs to everyone. Don't worry about who said what or
who said it first or who said it last; figure out how you can use it
to better the life or yourself and our people. The movement of our
people that has existed ever since Columbus landed in the Caribbean
belongs to all our people. It needs no sanction from anyone. It
belongs to no man or no woman. It truly belongs to our people because
it is the spirit of our people saying, "We want to regain what we
lost and protect what we have for ourselves and our future generations."

Another issue I want talk about for a moment, is the issue of alcohol
and drugs, I know from personal experience that it's hard to avoid
those things when you grow up around them. I can tell you for a fact
that alcohol and drugs will not bring you the life that you want.
This world has a lot of beauty in it, a lot of joys and challenges,
and it has challenges that hurt, but meet those challenges and know
the beauty of this earth and this life. You need to be clear minded.
Traditionally our people observed nature and got their inspiration
from nature and if there is some place in nature where the wolf
polluted his brain or the elk or the eagle or any other creature, I'm
not aware of it. We need every ounce of good thinking that we have
and can get to protect our lives and our children and our culture.

And I want to tell you for a fact that boredom is a part of life, no
matter where you are, and if you get up and go find something to do
when all around you are getting drunk or using drugs, after a while
you will get better at finding things to do. And your life will be
far better. And getting depressed is a part of life, but you don't
learn how to deal with it by putting in into your body that weren't
meant to be there. That's why the creator gave us our medicines and
our ceremonies and each other, so that we could with a clear mind,
enjoy life, and protect life and rescue life where it was endangered.
If there is someone hearing this that has thought about taking their
own life, I would encourage you to rather than throw your life away,
give your life to your people. Let your life stand for something.
Don't let the sacrifices of our ancestors be for nothing.

Also I want to say, that you can do all the right things day after
day, year in and year out and still bad things can happen. But if you
have a clear mind, and have developed your own self-discipline in
knowing who you are, you can take these bad things as challenges and
use them to make yourself stronger and your people stronger and
prevent them from happening to yourself or to others that you care
about. And I want to say again, especially for the young people, that
one of the most important things you can learn that most of our
ceremonies are based on is developing your personal self-discipline.
And learning to take responsibility for yourself and your future and
taking care of your health, is the greatest gift you have on this
earth at this time. And the most important thing that would enhance
all your lives in making it stronger and better is to develop
personal relationship with the Creator. Don't let it be based on some
other person's approach to spirituality but find the things that work for you.

Our teachings have always shown us how to find our own vision through
prayer and fasting and sacrifice. These things help bring forth the
elements of our spirit and make us stronger and help us face the
challenges of life. I hope that in hearing my words some of you if
not all, will be inspired in a good way. My greatest hope is that you
will think about these things and apply them to your life as you find
the truth of them. And sometimes I know we have to return to what we
said, maybe have someone speak it to us again or read it again, but
whatever happens I sincerely pray and hope that all our lives will be
better and for the better and not just for our people but for all
people. Because our way is not just another way of life it is THE way
of life. It is life seeking life, it is life protecting life, it is
living in such a way that all things are reborn every Spring.

I'll close for now, thank you for your time, thank you for listening,
remember the sacrifices of those who lived and died for you. Remember
Joe Stuntz, and all the others who gave their lives, as I know you
do, I would love to be with you now, today, and know that in my heart
I am, in my heart I stand next to you. May the creator bless you
always in all ways.

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For July Is Now Available

June 29, 2012

Hello Friends and Comrades,

Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for July. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

Firstly, please write Justin Solondz a letter. After being extradited from China and convicted of Earth Liberation Front actions in the United States, Green Scare target Justin Solondz has been transferred to a prison in western Pennsylvania. This puts him much closer to his parents than when he was imprisoned at FDC SeaTac. Please let Justin know you’re thinking about him by sending a card or letter to:

Justin Solondz #98291-011
FCI Loretto
Post Office Box 1000
Loretto, Pennsylvania 15940

The second anniversary of the international day of solidarity with Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and other longterm anarchist prisoners has just passed. Read a report back on many of the inspiring protests here.

The Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective is proud to have just published a new piece of prisoner’s writing on unity, truce efforts, and political consciousness in US gangs. The zine, entitled What Better Time Than Now?, presents a number of interesting topics like the forming of identity through historical consciousness and revolt, the co-optation of such identity through musical and artistic forms, and the role of street gangs in the rebellions of the future.

Our lovable comrades of the Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army are embarking on a month-long tour presenting their newest production, “Donny Quixote!” The show offers a scathing critique of “green” capitalism and technologya a humorous adaptation of the story of Don Quixote. MRPA will offer two other feature performances as well, alongside a wide range of literature relating to the content of the shows. If you’re on the eascoast or in the midwest you should definitely check them out.
Lastly, here is a link to the Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of War every-other week update by the NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of good updates on many political prisoners.

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

The Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective

Solidarity Demo for Jeremy Hammond at His Next Court Date

June 27, 2012 Anarchist News

On the 23rd July 2012, the Jeremy Hammond Support Network will sponsor a
rally in NYC to show support for the accused hacktivist. Friends, family,
and supporters of Jeremy Hammond will gather at Foley Square for a brief
march to the Metropolitan Correctional Center where we will pack the
courtroom in solidarity with Jeremy

We wish to make it clear our intent to peacefully fill the courtroom. We
are there to support Jeremy, and the more people that actually make it
into the courtroom, the better. In this light, we have also been informed
that sadly, individuals with any items identifying them as Anonymous have,
in the past, been denied entry to the court. This is not something the
Support Network agrees with, however, if you intend to actually sit in the
court room, you will need to take this into consideration.

The event will be covered live on #freeanons courtesy of
the the Freeanons Solidarity Network.

Jeremy is accused of taking part in compromising the computer systems of
Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (aka “Stratfor”) and providing information
gathered to the website Wikileaks. This information, released by Wikileaks
under the name “The Global Intelligence Files”
( ) revealed even further corruption within
the U.S. Intelligence community – including plans to target and infiltrate
domestic popular movements such as Occupy.

A social activist himself, Jeremy was deeply in support of some of the
very movements targeted. A longterm anti-war, anti-capitalist activist,
Jeremy was arrested for involvement in the Stratfor hack on the testimony
and actions of FBI Informant, Hector Xavier Monsegur. Monsegur himself was
facing 105 years in a Federal Penitentiary if he could not assist the FBI
in identifying and apprehending other alleged members of Anonymous and
Lulz Security ( ).

We feel there is ample evidence to show that the Stratfor hack was
organized, planned, and allowed to happen by the FBI, through the agency
of Mr. Monsegur, for the expressed purpose of entrapping alleged Anonymous
hacktivists. We understand that Jeremy's years of organizing for social
justice show him to clearly possess a more noble character than that of
his accuser, Mr. Monsegur, best known as little more than a Twitter troll
and internet blowhard.

We demand that charges be dropped pending an investigation into the
methods used by the FBI to entrap all alleged Anons and Lulzsec members.
We demand that Jeremy be taken off lock down and be granted visitation. At
the very least, we demand that Jeremy be moved to a cell providing a view
of more than another wall.

Free Jeremy Hammond! Free all accused Anons! Amnesty for all political

22 Elected Legislators Still Imprisoned By Israel

June 29, 2012 by IMEMC & Agencies 

Head of the Census Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Farawna, reported that the current number of elected Palestinian legislators imprisoned by Israel dropped to 22 after Israel released, on Thursday afternoon, two legislators, the Palestine News Network, PNN, reported.

Image By PNN
Image By PNN

The two legislators who were released Thursday are Khalil Ar-Rabaey from Hebron, and Nasser Abdul-Jawad from Salfit.

Farawna said that Israel released, over the past five days, five legislators identified as Anwar Zboun, Ayman Daraghma, and Mohammad At-Til, in addition to Ar-Rabaey and Abdul-Jawad.

He added that 22 legislators are still imprisoned by Israel, 19 of them are members of the Hamas Change and Reform parliamentary bloc, in addition to the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, legislator Ahmad Saadat, legislator Marwan Barghouthi and legislator Jamal At-Terawi, both members of Fateh movement.

Farawna stated that the continued abduction and imprisonment of the elected legislators and officials is a direct violation of international law and basic principles of human rights, and a violation of the principles of democracy.

He added that kidnapping Palestinian officials is a rude Israeli meddling in internal Palestinian affairs, and called on Arab and international parliamentarian to act on obliging Israel to secure the release of all elected officials.

Israel treats every Palestinian child as "potential terrorist": government-backed UK study

28 June 2012 Asa Winstanley The Electronic Intifada

A new report funded and supported by the UK government that accuses Israel of violating international law with its treatment of Palestinian child detainees was launched in London by a high-profile group of human rights lawyers on Tuesday.

The report says Israel is in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on at least six counts and of the Fourth Geneva Convention on at least two counts. It lays bare the system of legal apartheid Israel maintains in Palestine.

But there is pessimism in some quarters that the report’s recommendations will be implemented. The document has been criticized as “toothless” by a prominent Palestinian human rights activist.
Children in Military Custody” was funded and backed by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and written by an ad hoc group including a former attorney general, a former court of appeal judge and several prominent attorneys known as QCs. The delegation visited Palestine in September and met with Palestinian, Israeli and international nongovernmental organizations, British diplomats and a wide range of Israeli government and military officials.

The report details the military law Israel applies to all Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including children, and how it differs from the civilian law applied to Israeli settlers who live in the same territory. It states there it was “uncontested [by Israel] that there are major differentials between the law governing the treatment of Palestinian children and the law governing treatment of Israeli children.”


Unequal treatment of children

At the heart of the report are three core recommendations to the Israeli government: start applying international law to the West Bank (which Israel refuses to do), the best interests of the child should come first and, crucially, that Israel “should deal with Palestinian children on an equal footing with Israeli children.”

Israel currently applies two separate and unequal systems of laws in the West Bank. Palestinians are subject to a harsh military regime in which Israeli army officers and police, arrest, interrogate, judge and sentence, while Israeli settlers colonizing the West Bank are subject to Israeli civilian law.
These systematic inequalities include: the minimum age for Palestinian children to receive a custodial sentence is 12, but for Israelis it is 14; Palestinian children have no right to have a parent present during interrogation, while Israeli children generally do.

The most stark inequalities are evident in the time it takes for the two systems to work. Palestinian children could have to wait up to eight days before being brought before a judge, while Israeli children have a right to see one within 24 hours; Palestinian children can be detained without charge for 188 days, while for Israelis the limit is 40.

In a press release about the report, Council for Arab-British Understanding director Chris Doyle describes witnessing in Palestine “nothing less than a kangaroo court that does nothing to improve Israel’s security while criminalizing an entire generation of Palestinian children.”


Children kept in solitary confinement

Drawing on their meetings with nongovernmental organizations such as Defence for Children International-Palestine Section, the authors detail the shocking treatment of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli soldiers.

Arrested in nighttime raids, Palestinian children are often physically and verbally abused, brought before adult military courts, shackled, given little choice than taking a plea bargain, and can be sentenced to as many as 20 years for “crimes” as trivial as stone throwing. Some are even kept in solitary confinement, according to DCI.

When Palestinian children file complaints about their abuse at the hands of Israeli soldiers, they are almost always ignored. Israeli occupation authorities were able to give to the delegation “only one example of a complaint being upheld.” The authors report that there are “a significant number of allegations of physical and emotional abuse of child detainees by the military which neither the complaints system nor the justice system is addressing satisfactorily.”

The report compiles some shocking statistics. As many as 94 percent of Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank are denied bail, according to nongovernmental organizations. Some 97-98 percent of such cases end with a plea bargain, meaning they go to jail without even reaching the trial stage (as flawed as military courts are).

A key conclusion reached by the report’s authors is that Israel is in breach of articles of UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that prohibit: national or ethnic discrimination; ignoring a child’s best interests; the premature resort to detention, imprisonment and trial alongside adult prisoners; preventing prompt access to lawyers and the use of shackles.

While the report notes “the International Court of Justice’s 2004 Advisory Opinion [on Israel’s wall in the West Bank] which concludes categorically that the UNCRC is applicable in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Israeli officials the delegation met with refused to recognize this.


Every Palestinian child a ‘potential terrorist’”

In our meetings with the various Israeli Government agencies, we found the universal stance by contrast was that the Convention has no application beyond Israel’s own [pre-1967] borders,” the authors write, noting their disagreement.

They emphasize: “[t]he population of the West Bank is within the physical power and control of Israel, and Israel has effective control of the territory. Our visit dispelled any doubts we might have had about this.”

In its conclusions, the report notes that this refusal to fulfill its international law obligations with respect to Palestinian children probably “stems from a belief, which was advanced to us by [an Israeli] military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a ‘potential terrorist.’”


Questions about report’s future

Renowned Palestinian writer, activist and academic Ghada Karmi was at the report’s launch on Tuesday. She asked the panel if it would be doing a follow-up visit, or monitoring implementation of the report’s recommendations.

The answer was less than conclusive, with co-author Greg Davies saying they would have to “wait and see” what the Israeli government’s response would be. He later spoke to The Electronic Intifada over the phone about the report’s future: “the format in which that follow-up work takes place, I don’t know at this stage, it’s too early to tell … I’m committed to seeing as far as it’s possible these recommendations coming into effect. If that requires further work I’m prepared to organize that.”
Karmi later told The Electronic Intifada that the report is “toothless in the end” because there is no way to compel Israel to comply.

Palestinians are fed up of being studied,” she said. What they really want to know is “how will I get help to end” the abuses of the military occupation. Karmi did however conclude the report was a good thing and the delegation was a “very interesting mission” because it was backed by the foreign office, who could not be accused of anti-Israel bias in the same way that Israel has managed to taint UN missions with “the usual slanders.”


UK government approached report’s authors

Lawyer Greg Davies was responsible for putting the ad hoc delegation together. He told The Electronic Intifada that while he was doing so, he was approached by the British Consulate in Jerusalem, who offered government funding. Davies replied in the affirmative, but on condition that the group be independent.

In response to such criticisms as Karmi’s, Davies said: “there have been a number of [such] reports submitted… those reports have largely gone unanswered [by Israel] … it was that lack of response that prompted this.”

There isn’t an enforceability as such without the political will, and that’s where our remit stops,” he said, pointing to an Early Day Motion on the report tabled in parliament Wednesday. EDM 280 welcomes the report and “asks the Foreign Secretary to make a statement to the House [of Commons] setting out his proposals for persuading Israel to comply in practice with international law relating to the treatment of children.” Davies said of the EDM “we welcome that and are hugely encouraged by that.”


Advancing the debate

The Palestine section of Defence for Children International, through its reports and its meetings with the delegation, is one of the most quoted sources in the report. DCI-PS spokesperson Gerard Horton admitted to The Electronic Intifada that the report’s recommendations “won’t end the abuse,” but argued that some of them “will make it very difficult for the military court system to function effectively” if they were implemented.

He wrote in an email that the report’s list of forty recommendations include those DCI-PS have been demanding for years (parents present during interrogation; prompt access to a lawyer; audio-visual recording of interrogations; and an end to forcible transfer of children to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention).

Horton also highlighted the high profile of the report’s authors and backers: “the importance of this report is who wrote it … before real change can occur the debate has to become mainstream. People in the center and center-right have to start taking an interest and expressing a concern. To my mind this report goes some way to advancing that by helping to shift the debate to the center.”


Justice is not a negotiable commodity”

Among the report’s forty specific recommendations are: an end to night arrests, an end to blindfolding and shackling, observing the prohibition on “violent, threatening or coercive” conduct, the presence of a parent during interrogation and “[c]hildren should not be required to sign confessions” in Hebrew, since they do not understand it.

The report notes that since the delegation’s visit, a new military order has upped to 18 the age at which Palestinian children can be tried as adults. Previously, it had been 16 (then another inequality with Israeli children who are treated as children until 18).

But there are concerns this change has been rendered void in practice. While welcoming the change, the report expresses concern “that the change does not appear to apply to sentencing provisions.”
Seemingly deliberate loopholes in the law means that “adult sentencing provisions still apply to 16 [and] 17 year olds” and that children 14-17 years old can be sentenced as adults when the maximum penalty for the offense is five years or more. The maximum penalty for throwing stones (the most common offense) ranges from 10 to 20 years,

Asked by The Electronic Intifada at the Tuesday launch why there were no specific recommendations in the report to end this inequality, Judy Khan QC said it was covered by core recommendation three, which calls for an end to the current inequalities between Israeli and Palestinian child detainees.
In their meetings with the delegation, the Israeli Ministry of Justice “described [such changes] as conditional on there being no significant unrest or ‘third intifada.’” The report objects: “[a] major cause of future unrest may well be the resentment of continuing injustice … justice is not a negotiable commodity but a fundamental human right.”


Sharp rise in child detainees

Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Lord Justice — senior appeal judge — underlined at Tuesday’s launch that there has been a 40 percent rise in child detainees since their visit in September, so the problem has only got worse since they returned to the UK.

While the report seems to have received some media coverage in the UK, it yet remains to be seen what practical impact it will have. More fundamentally, it does not call for an end to the occupation, considering political solutions beyond the authors’ mandate. It does note however that: “We have no reason to differ from the view of Her Majesty’s Government and the international community that these [Israeli] settlements [in the West Bank] are illegal. For the purposes of this report however we treat them, like the occupation, as a fact.”

But the question remains: a fact for how much longer?

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist from London who has lived and reported from occupied Palestine. His website is

Voices from Solitary: High Tech Brutality

June 28, 2012 Solitary Watch
Robert “Saleem” Holbrook is serving life without parole in Pennsylvania for a crime committed when he was a juvenile. When he was 16, Holbrook was recruited by adults to serve as a lookout during a drug deal that escalated to robbery and then murder. Under the state’s mandatory sentencing laws, he was given LWOP–an experience he describes in an essay called “Crushed Against the Law: A Child Offender’s Encounter with Blind Justice,” published on the blog maintained for him by friends on the outside. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court’s recent decision banning mandatory juvenile LWOP will affect his sentence. Holbrook has now been in prison for 17 years, and has spent many of those years in solitary confinement. He is a member of the Human Rights Coaltion, which opposes solitary confinement and other forms of abuse in Pennsylvania’s prisons. He wrote the following piece, titled “Control Units: High Tech Brutality” while in the “Special Management Unit” (SMU) at SCI Greene.  — Jean Casella

A prisoner’s whole existence, especially one in a control unit, is defined by numbers, statistics, and information transferred through an endless process of paperwork. When I go to the Program Review Committee here in the Special Management Unit (a control unit) at SCI Greene, my release to general population is repeatedly denied, they claim, because of a history of assaultive behavior. It is useless to defend myself against their rationale, yet I do to probe the predictable response of my captors.

Their justification for the continual confinement of myself and others in the SMU is based on the rational of a separate committee that determined I am an assaultive prisoner who has demonstrated the potential to harm others. Never mind the fact that this determination was made in another prison. Since a separate Administrative Committee determined that I am assaultive, I must therefore be assaultive. Their system of paper- work and statistics is never wrong; their committees are omnipotent and all knowing.

We the prisoners are mere spectators and captives to the process. Our presence is only necessary to secure our signatures on their paperwork or to say something that can be documented and used against us in future hearings. Our signatures place our consent on their paperwork. They permit us to seal our fate by certifying our consent of their process.

Every step of our day in the control unit is reduced to a methodical and omnipotent numbers system. I am housed in cell 23 on the 2nd tier. I receive 3 meals a day, 3 showers a week for 5 minutes each with 1 bar of soap, and 3 shaves a week with 1 razor that must be turned in after 15 minutes. I go to the yard 5 days a week for 1 hour a day with 1 prisoner per cage. I can only have 1 box in my cell containing only 2 pairs of socks, 2 t-shirts and 2 underwear. I can only have 4 books that must be exchanged on a 1 for 1 basis. I can only have 1 jumpsuit, 1 towel, 1 washcloth, and 1 toothbrush and toothpaste that are exchanged every 30 days on a 1 for 1 basis. I can only have 1 visit for 1 hour every week with only 1 visitor. The SMU Committee reviews my status every 30 days.

The prison officials tolerate no alternation in their process. There is no room for negotiation or compromise. The system must run smoothly. Dissent or resistance is crushed by the Correctional Response Teams dressed in futuristic battle fatigues. It is a ruthless war of attrition de- signed to grind a man down to his breaking point.

The previous method employed by the prison system to break prisoners was to break “bones.” They relied on brute force and unrestrained violence. This method did not sit well with the American public when it was exposed. It also tarnished America’s image in the world as a nation of high standards and values. The method was flawed in that it usually only strengthened prisoners’ resistance and made them stronger men. The prison system therefore directed its resources to develop a method of confinement that would destroy a prisoner’s mind and his will to resist.

The new assault was directed not against a prisoner’s body, but rather his mind and senses. The concept of a complete sensory deprivation and isolation was developed. This concept revolved around the ideas that if a prisoner is deprived of mental, physical, and emotional stimulation, his mind will inevitably turn inward and feed upon itself. With no outlet in an isolated environment, the mind is left to its own devices. The result is that a prisoner’s thoughts run out of control. Concentration becomes difficult and prisoners invent fantasies or images of themselves which they cocoon themselves in.

Some never emerge from this world they create. The mind will seek any relief available. It is not uncommon for men to talk to themselves for hours on end. Insanity and madness rule in a control unit. The units are filled with prisoner’s screams, outbursts and pleas for communication. A man’s nerves deteriorate right in front of his eyes. Each prisoner suffers his own personal hell. Everyone is affected in one way or another. Whether the experience affects him for the good or the bad depends upon the man.

It takes an internally strong man to overcome the isolated environment of a control unit, and an even stronger man to retain his sanity and sense of humanity in such a manufactured, hostile atmosphere. Control units are notorious for turning the strong man into a weak man, turning the sane into the insane. It can turn a man upside down and cause him to abandon all the principles and values he holds dear. Conversely, it can reinforce a man’s principles and values, and turn the weak man into a strong man. Given the control units’ track record in driving men crazy, it is not surprising that the majority of prisoners sent into it are either politically conscious prisoners, prison lawyers, or rebellious young prisoners. It is this class of prisoners that occupies the control units in prison systems across the United States.

A substantial portion of mentally disturbed prisoners are also placed in these units by prison officials so that sane prisoners are subjected to constant verbal abuse and physical assault with feces and urine by this unfortunate class of disturbed prisoners. The presence of mentally disturbed prisoners also prevents unity among the prisoners. Prison officials encourage the actions of these prisoners by rewarding them with token privileges and other superficial enticements. Divide and conquer is the norm and the administration can always be counted on to keep friction going amongst the prisoners.

The prison administration, committees, and guards that operate these control units only view prisoners in terms of our institutional numbers and our files that sit on their desks. That human beings occupy their cells doesn’t register. When a man is reduced to a number he is not supposed to have emotions, concerns, hopes or vision. His only function is to process through the system. Prisoners are only to be added, subtracted or multiplied according to the amount of bed space (warehouse space) available in the control unit. Never are they to be rehabilitated, refined or educated. Everything is reduced to a fine number and is supposed to run as smooth as mathematics. Regiment through force and isolation in a prisoner’s life and thoughts will eventually cause him to break and assume his place in the system.  But the control unit method is flawed because it fails to take into account that humans are not fine numbers on paper. They are not desensitized objects. Under pressure they will resist, fight back, capitulate or retaliate.

The man that successfully makes it out of a control unit with his mind intact is a stronger person than he was when he entered it. He is a man who developed and evolved under solitude and hostility. If he is politically conscious he emerges stronger in his convictions. So though the state may be destroying countless prisoners across the country in its control units, it is simultaneously breeding a stronger politically conscious class of prisoner committed to a revolutionary change in the social, political, and economic order, especially affecting Black communities in America.

The politically conscious prisoners (labeled the worst of the worst by the state) coming out of these control units recognize that a major contradiction exists in American society. This nation which exalts itself as a defender of human rights and an oasis of freedom and justice violates these very principles within its borders. The operation of units designed to rob a prisoner of his mind and strip him of his so-called human rights violate the very principles America proclaims to represent. International agencies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights have condemned control units as inhuman and cruel and unusual punishment.

In spite of world communication condemning such practices, the U.S. prison system is increasing the construction of these units throughout the country. Construction of these units is encouraged and financially supported by the federal government, the same government that condemns so-called totalitarian nations such as China, Cuba, etc. for human rights abuses against their citizens and prisoners.

Since the American government and its judicial system refuse to abolish control units, and a substantial portion of the American public is indifferent to the treatment of prisoners, major international human rights agencies, civil rights organizations, religious organizations, etc. should petition the U.S. government to abolish these inhumane units. Petitions should also be sent to the U.N. and World Court of Justice seeking an indictment and condemnation of America’s control units. Though it is extremely unlikely the U.S. would abolish its use of control units, an indictment would make it far more difficult for this country to play the “human rights” card when attempting to isolate nations it is at odds with. This could cause the U.S. to seriously examine its policy of operating control units.

Prisoners, their families, and organizations that work with prisoners must participate in this campaign to abolish control units and expose their abuses. No longer should the U.S., which condemns the human rights abuses of other nations, be permitted to lecture to the world about human rights, freedom and justice from a podium of righteousness all the while standing on a platform of hypocrisy.

NY court upholds lawyer's 10-year prison sentence

June 28, 2012 Associated Press

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court has upheld a harsher sentence for a civil rights lawyer convicted in a terrorism case.

The court says it was fair to boost Lynne Stewart's sentence to 10 years in prison from the just over two years she had faced before.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Thursday that it disagreed with Stewart's claim that her sentence was "shockingly high." It is accusing the now-disbarred lawyer of exhibiting a "stark inability to understand the seriousness of her crimes."

The appeals court says Stewart placed lives in danger when she allowed a blind Egyptian sheik serving a life sentence for terrorism crimes to communicate with followers. She was convicted in 2005 of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists.

Re-Open COINTELPRO Investigation: If the Sioux Can Seek Justice, Why Can’t Blacks?

June 27, 2012 — Glen Ford Black Agenda Report

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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
The Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Oglala Sioux have convinced the U.S. Justice Department to re-examine 50 possible political killings, from the mid-Seventies, some of which are surely linked to the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO. The program registered its biggest body count among African Americans, but Black Misleaders have made “no serious effort to exhume the full body of the program’s crimes, much less prosecute the guilty, or free the framed, or compensate the victims, or rewrite the lies of national history.”
Re-Open COINTELPRO Investigation: If the Sioux Can Seek Justice, Why Can’t Blacks?
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Who among the Black Misleadership Class is demanding a reopening of COINTELPRO’s reign of terror in Black America?”
A U.S. Justice Department team will review the deaths of 50 Native Americans over the past 40 years, in what could amount to a re-examination of at least one theater of the FBI’s infamous secret war against U.S. radicals, including members of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The FBI’s counter-intelligence program, or COINTELPRO, has not been officially scrutinized since the Church Committee investigations of 1975-76. The impending Justice Department probe is the result of years of requests from members of the Oglala Sioux tribe to take a new look at scores of deaths that previous investigators had claimed were accidents or suicides, but which American Indian Movement members believe were related to political violence on the Pine Ridge reservation, including the 1973 federal siege of Wounded Knee in which two FBI agents also died. AIM member Leonard Peltier is serving a life sentence in those shootings. In the aftermath of its agents’ deaths, the FBI is reported to have “caused 542 separate charges to be filed against those it identified as key AIM leaders.”
AIM members have long maintained that many deaths that authorities attributed to accidents or suicides were actually murders committed by a tribal paramilitary force, abetted or covered up by the FBI and other federal lawmen. The FBI’s COINTELPRO specialized in instigating violence against – or fomenting deadly discord within – targeted organizations, scoring its highest body counts among AIM and the Black Panther Party, which FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover described as the number one threat to national security.
COINTELPRO, has not been officially scrutinized since the Church Committee investigations of 1975-76.”
Had it not been for the perseverance of Oglala Sioux tribal leaders, there would be little hope of discovering the truth about political violence at Pine Ridge, and COINTELPRO’s role in the killings. But who among the Black Misleadership Class is demanding a reopening of COINTELPRO’s reign of terror in Black America? As the Jericho Movement has stated, “dozens of women and men are still incarcerated upwards of 40 years as a direct result of this heinous program.” Scores of Panthers were murdered directly by police, like Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton; or in disputes instigated by the FBI, like the Los Angeles shootings of Bunchy Carter and John Huggins by the “US Organization.” The Party itself ultimately fell victim to internal discord – a methodical COINTELPRO campaign of destabilization that produced an unknown number casualties. The Church Committee told the world that COINTELPRO was real, not a figment of paranoid radical imaginations – but there has been no serious effort to exhume the full body of the program’s crimes, much less prosecute the guilty, or free the framed, or compensate the victims, or rewrite the lies of national history.
The Congressional Black Caucus, as a body, has repeatedly ignored appeals that they demand a real investigation of COINTELPRO’s massive official criminality. Most of these requests have been directed at Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who, as chair or ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, was the logical convener. But the closest the Caucus came to acknowledging the crimes of COINTELPRO was in Durban, South Africa, at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, when Conyers and his Black Democratic colleagues Donna Christianson (VI), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Barbara Lee (CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Diane Watson (CA), and Cynthia McKinney (GA) presented the study “COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story” to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. But Durban is far from Capitol Hill.
The Caucus was more interested in creating an environment more conducive to Democratic electoral victories, than in justice.”
On her own, Congresswoman McKinney unsuccessfully introduced legislation, in 2006, to begin where the Church Committee left off and re-open the COINTELPRO investigation. (Rep. McKinney had held a forum on COINTELPRO at the CBC’s Legislative Weekend, in 2005.) Had the CBC deployed its collective prestige to hold a full-blown, official Caucus review of what was already known about COINTELPRO, even without subpoena power, it would have done its Black constituents, and the cause of truth, a real service. But the Caucus was more interested in creating an environment more conducive to Democratic electoral victories, than in justice.
As a result of the silence of the Black Misleadership Class, COINTELPRO still lives. From 2007 to 2009, the FBI coordinated a renewed persecution of aging Panthers in a case that became known as the San Francisco Eight, reviving charges that were nearly 36 years old.
The Oglala Sioux community was wracked by violence in the mid-Seventies, a period of terror and death fomented, in large part, by the FBI’s COINTELPRO. Yet, nearly 40 years later, Sioux leaders have compelled federal authorities to take a new look at the era’s ghastly events. The Pine Ridge Sioux have no congresspersons of their own, they number only about 20,000, and they cannot claim a U.S. president and attorney general among their ethnicity. But they have the courage to demand Truth of Power.
What’s wrong with Black America?

Rene Gonzalez offers to renounce his U.S. Citizenship to return to Cuba

This page is also available in: Spanish
Photo: Bill Hackwell
On Friday June 22, René González Sehwerert presented a new motion before the South Florida District Court asking that they modify his conditions of supervised release and that he be allowed to return to his country of Cuba where his family resides.

González was released on October 7, 2011, after serving his entire sentence in a U.S. federal prison, but he has been obligated to remain three more years under supervised probation on U.S. soil.
In the latest motion presented last week, González included a number of reasons to be allowed to complete the rest of his probation in Cuba. On this occasion, González offered the Court that he would renounce his U.S. citizenship to make it clear that he has no intention of remaining or returning in the future to the United States.

A similar motion to this latest one was presented by González before he was released from prison. Then, the Judge found that the Defendant’s Motion was premature because a term of supervised release does not commence until an individual is “released from imprisonment”, and some amount of time on supervised release needs to pass before the Court is able to properly evaluate the characteristics of the defendant once he or she has been released from prison.

After 8 months of complying with all probation requisites, René González asks to modify the conditions of his probation to be allowed to return to Cuba to be reunited with his wife, his daughters and the rest of his family.

The United States cannot persist in keeping René González, who when asked to resign his citizenship, expressed firmly that he is neither interested in living in the United States, nor in returning to this country where he has no working, social, or family links.

What arguments will the State Department use next to continue the unjust punishment of René?

Read the Motion

Emotions run high as eviction leads to protest in northern Spain

June 27, 2012, MSNBC (Photos removed from MSMBC Website)

Riot police try to arrest members of the "Stop Deshaucios," Stop
Evictions, social movement during a protest to prevent an eviction in
Oviedo, northern Spain on June 27, 2012.

Protesters tried to prevent the eviction of an Ecuadorian family
unable to maintain its mortgage payments in Oviedo, northern Spain.
Jorge Cordero, his wife Patricia and five-month-old daughter Amanda
were evicted because they could not keep up mortgage payments to the
Cajastur bank. Seventeen people locked themselves in the apartment
with the owner and around 200 people gathered outside to try and stop
the eviction. Jorge's wife and baby daughter were not present in the
apartment during the eviction. Twenty people were arrested. The plight
of over one million Spanish people facing a crippling mortgage debt is
increasingly attracting public support as an anti-eviction movement
places pressure on politicians to act.

Activists from the "Stop Deshaucios," Stop Evictions, social movement
throw buckets of water from a balcony to prevent police entry during a
forced eviction.

Riot police take cover from water thrown from balconies by protesters of
an anti-eviction social movement.

Spanish riot police restrain a member of the "Stop Deshaucios," Stop
Evictions, social movement during a protest to prevent an eviction in

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

6 arrested early Sunday as anarchists disrupt Pride Weekend

Video of one arrest here:

By KOMO Jun 24, 2012

SEATTLE - Six people were arrested early Sunday after a large group of
anarchists marched down the middle of several streets, clashed with police
and damaged property during a noisy disturbance in the Capitol Hill area
on Pride Weekend, police said.

The incident began just after midnight when a crowd began to assemble at
the corner of 12th Avenue and Madison Street. The group quickly grew to
about 40 people and then broke up about 15 minutes later, with most
wandering north on 12th Avenue.

The group reassembled on 13th Avenue and began marching west on East Pine
Street, then headed north on 12th Avenue, walking down the middle of the
street, then east on Olive Way toward Cal Anderson Park, lighting off

The group continued down the middle of Broadway, taking over the street,
knocking over road signs and dragging garbage cans out into the street,
said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

At about 12:45 a.m. officers attempted to detain a woman who was in the
process of dragging a trash can into the street, but she eluded officers
and ran back into the crowd.

The group then continued east on East Pike Street, where they were met by
a line of officers at 10th Avenue. The crowd of people stopped and began
to dance and bang on drums. Several in the group yelled and screamed at
officers while others placed bandanas over their faces.

After several minutes, the group began to move south along 10th Avenue to
East Union, then east on Union to 11th, where officers reported seeing
more members put bandanas on their faces. The crowd walked around,
eventually ending up back at 12th and Madison, Jamieson said.

Shortly after 1 a.m., a police commander ordered the group to get out of
the street and back onto the sidewalk. The group then left the street and
assembled on the sidewalk.

At that point, a 25-year-old man who was on the sidewalk purposely stepped
back into the street and proceeded to walk directly in front of the police
commander. The man clicked his heels and stood at attention in front of
the commander. The commander informed the man he was under arrest, and as
officers took him into custody, the group grew agitated and began shouting
verbal abuse and profanities.

Then the scene became chaotic as a man jumped on top of a parked car and
begin to stomp and jump up and down on it. Officers ordered the man to get
down off the car, but he refused and pepper spray was used.

Several members of the crowd surged forward and a 24-year-old man rushed
forward and kicked the commander in the knee, police said. The man was
pepper-sprayed and arrested on suspicion of assault.

As officers moved forward to assist in the arrest, a 30-year-old man and a
31-year-old woman who is well-known in the anarchist community immediately
grabbed onto the man being arrested and attempted to pull him back into
the crowd. Those two were both arrested.

As the disturbance continued, two other women, ages 22 and 29, were
arrested for investigation of pedestrian interference and obstructing

All six suspects were taken to the East Precinct, where they were treated
for the effects of pepper spray and later booked into the King County

Update on the current situation of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli custody

Update on the current situation of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli custody, six weeks after the conclusion of an agreement between hunger-strike leaders and the Israeli Prison Service (IPS)

26 June 2012, International Day Against Torture
On 14 and 15 May, an agreement was concluded between hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners and detainees and the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). Its provisions included the release of hunger-striking administrative detainees whose lives were in danger at the end of their current terms; ending the use of  long-term solitary confinement for “security” reasons for 19 prisoners; renewal of family visits from the Gaza Strip and alleviating restrictions for families from the West Bank; ending punitive measures such as night raids and restrictions on access to legal counsel and education; improvement of conditions of incarceration including medical care; and limiting the use of administrative detention as a whole.

Despite this agreement, Israel has not changed its policy of administrative detention, family visits from the Gaza Strip have not been renewed, and punitive policies are still employed against prisoners and detainees.

Moreover, at least one administrative detainee who was due to be released has had his detention order renewed in violation of the agreement.

On a broader level, the underlying issue of impunity remains a constant and the ongoing issue of torture and ill treatment with no criminal investigations of reported abuses continues.

1. Background: The agreements

First stage – 14 May 2012
ñ  Agreement reached between Israel and representatives of the hunger strikers (a committee of nine prisoners from all political factions), with involvement of the leaderships of Fatah/Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Egyptian government. It dealt specifically with the demands of over 1,600 prisoners who started a mass hunger strike on 17 April - mainly sentenced 'security' prisoners rather than administrative detainees.
ñ  Main provisions: in return for a complete cessation of political activity of prisoners from within the prisons, 19 prisoners would be released from solitary confinement (a measure used punitively and/or against political leaders) to be with other Palestinian prisoners, and family visits for first-degree relatives who are denied access to the prisons from Gaza and the West Bank would be renewed. 
ñ  Administrative detention:  initially only a marginal part of the deal, this issue did not appear in writing. This aroused anger among a separate group of administrative detainees on hunger strike, who had been fasting much longer and whose key demand was to be released from detention and cessation of the policy in general. They refused to break their fast and were supported publicly. Because of this criticism and the dangerous medical situation of at least five of the hunger-striking detainees, the prisoners' representatives and Palestinian leaderships continued their negotiations until assured by the Egyptian government that the agreement would also include this issue. An informal agreement was reportedly reached between Israel and Egypt to limit future use of administrative detention to 'very serious' cases, and to re-examine renewal of current cases, but there was no undertaking for the release of all. Egypt undertook to follow the implementation closely.
ñ  Formalisation: The only published written text of the agreement is that composed by the Israeli secret police (Shabak, also known as GSS or ISA) and posted on the Israeli MFA website, available at  According to the prisoners’ representatives, a slightly different document was actually signed with the understandings mentioned above, including those on administrative detention, but it has not been made available to the public.
Second stage – 15 May 2012
ñ Early in the morning of Tuesday 15 May the state agreed not to renew the administrative detention orders of the five longest-striking detainees whose medical condition was the worst, and to release them once they had completed their current detention orders, in a manner similar to the understanding reached with hunger-striking detainee Khader Adnan in February this year. These detainees then agreed to break their fast. 

2. Results - General

As of 1 June 2012, 4,659 Palestinian prisoners were in Israeli custody, including 303 administrative detainees held without formal charge or trial. An additional detainee, Mahmoud Sarsak, is also being held without charge or trial under the 'Unlawful Combatants Law,' applied to residents of the Gaza Strip.

Since the agreement, administrative detention orders have been renewed for many existing administrative detainees and newly arrested persons have been placed in administrative detention; others have been released at the end of their order terms in accordance with the agreements.

3. Situation of long-term hunger-strikers whose release was promised under the agreement:

a. Hassan Safadi ended his hunger strike after 71 days. His current administrative detention order was due to expire on 29 June 2012 and, according to the agreement, he was supposed to be released on that date. However, his lawyer was informed on 21 June of the renewal of his administrative detention order for a further six months, in violation of the agreement. He has renewed his hunger strike in response. He was subsequently transferred to solitary confinement and is in Hadarim prison.

After the agreement was reached and Safadi stopped his strike, he was examined by an independent doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) on 6 June 2012 at Hadarim prison. Generally his health was satisfactory and he had gained about 7 kg, but the doctor was concerned about the absence of a stable re-feeding nutrition plan and the lack of medical follow-up examinations that were supposed to be conducted earlier during the hunger strike. A medical report with the doctor's recommendations was sent to the IPS for further follow up but no response has been received to date.

b. Bilal Diab ended his hunger strike after 77 days. His current administrative order ends on 11 August 2012 and he should be released on that date according to the agreement. After the strike he was examined by an independent doctor from PHR-Israel on 6 June 2012 at the medical facility of the IPS in Ramleh prison. Generally his health was satisfactory. He gained about 10 kg in approximately two weeks after 77 days of fasting; however, the doctor was concerned regarding the absence of a stable re-feeding nutrition plan for him.

About two weeks ago he was transferred to Shata prison in the north of Israel, where he was allowed to meet with his brother Azzam (a prisoner serving a life sentence), for the first time since 2006. In addition, his mother and four of his brothers have been given permission to visit both of them in July.

c. Tha'er Halahleh ended his hunger strike after 77 days. His administrative order ended on 6 June and he was released. His health is improving although he has had some complications after his release, and was admitted and discharged from a hospital in the West Bank.

d. Omar Abu Shalal ended his hunger strike after 70 days. His current administrative detention order is due to expire on 30 August 2012 and he should be released on that date according to the agreement. After the strike he was examined by an independent doctor from PHR-Israel on 6 June 2012, at the medical facility of the IPS in Ramleh, after which he was reportedly moved to another unknown facility. Generally speaking, his health had improved.

e. Ju'afar Azzedine ended his hunger strike after 55 days. His current administrative detention order is due to expire on 20 July 2012, after which he should be released, according to the agreement. He was moved to Eshel prison a week after ending his hunger strike.

f. Mahmoud Sarsak, a football player from Gaza, was not included in the original agreement as he is being held under the Unlawful Combatants Law, applied to residents from the Gaza Strip. He continued his hunger strike until 18 June, during which he suffered weakness of the myocardium (heart muscle), intestinal disturbances, body pain, fainting spells, and could no longer walk or see, as witnessed by his lawyer, Mohammad Jabareen. His 92-day hunger strike ended with an agreement for him to be released on 10 July 2012.

4. Other prisoners and detainees still currently on hunger strike:

a. Akram Rikhawi is now on day 76 of his hunger strike and faces imminent threat to his life. A resident of Gaza, Rikhawi is serving a 9-year sentence since 7 June 2004. He is on hunger strike to request consideration of early release due to chronic medical problems including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, atrophy of the eye lenses, cataracts and osteoporosis. He was held in the IPS medical facility in Ramleh ever since his initial arrest. Despite his condition, on 14 June 2012 the Israeli District Court rejected an appeal to transfer him to a civilian hospital and he has been denied access to an external doctor since 6 June 2012. On 25 June 2012 Rikhawi was finally transferred to Assaf Harofeh, a civilian hospital in Israel, following a deterioration in his condition. Under Israeli law every prisoner is entitled to ask to be considered for an earlier release when he has served at least two thirds of his sentence. Rikhawi went on hunger strike on 12 April 2012 demanding that his medical condition and social circumstances be considered during the discussion of his request. In all discussions, these factors were disregarded and a file with secret information was the only material considered.

b. Samer Al-Barq is on day 37 of his renewed hunger strike, which he launched when Israel renewed his administrative detention order on 21 May 2012.  A resident of the West Bank village of Jayyus, 34 year-old Al-Barq is married to Sageda, a Pakistani citizen. He was held without charge or trial by the Jordanian intelligence for four and a half years, and was then transferred to the Israeli secret police (GSS) on 7 November 2010, whereupon an administrative detention order was issued, and renewed several times since.

Al-Barq joined the Palestinian prisoners’ mass hunger strike on 17 April 2012 and fasted for 28 days, along with around 2,000 other Palestinian prisoners, until the May agreement was reached.

On 21 May 2012, Al-Barq's administrative detention order was renewed for a further three months, and he resumed his hunger strike to protest this renewal in violation of Israel's commitment given to the hunger strike leaders to renew administrative detention orders only in extremely exceptional circumstances.

Currently Al-Barq is held at the IPS medical facility in Ramleh. His family has reported that he suffers from kidney problems and high blood pressure and has lost more than 20% of his original weight.
On 21 June 2012, PHR-Israel submitted a request to allow independent physicians access to him. On the 25th of June the IPS  denied PHR-Israel request with out stating any reasons to the denial.

Both Al-Barq and Rikhawi are denied family visits and access of independent doctors.

5. Minors on hunger strike:

Nine minors held in Hasharon prison engaged in a hunger strike for five days in mid-June. The minors launched their hunger strike in protest against their incarceration without adult supervision, denial of education, overcrowding, substandard medical care and sanitation in the cells, denial of family visits, holding of minors in solitary confinement as a punitive measure, as well as abuse and violence from prison staff. Their hunger strike concluded upon agreement from the Hashron prison authorities that their basic conditions would be improved. It is as yet unclear if this agreement has been respected.  

6. Solitary confinement:

Eighteen Palestinian prisoners have been taken out of solitary confinement and into regular cells. Dirar Abu Sisi, who has also been held in long-term solitary confinement since before the agreement, has not yet been removed from solitary confinement, in contravention of the agreement. Abu Sisi was abducted by the Israeli Mossad from Ukraine last year. An additional prisoner was also given a 6-month solitary confinement order last week.

Other Palestinian prisoners are still being held in prolonged solitary confinement, and the use of solitary confinement as a punitive measure is still ongoing. The IPS has claimed that the agreement does not include those prisoners held in solitary confinement ordered by the IPS authorities as a disciplinary measure or in order to maintain prison security and order.

7. Family visits from the West Bank:

There has been a partial renewal of visits for relatives from the West Bank whose access to the prisons was previously denied. As stated above, Bilal Diab's family received permits to visit, and prisoners Abdallah Al Barghouthi and Abbas Al Said have received visits from their younger sons. Both were previously in solitary confinement for many years and were denied family visits. It is not yet clear what percentage of West Bank prisoners' families have now newly been granted permits and how many have been denied permits.

8. Family visits from the Gaza Strip

Family visits to prisoners from the Gaza Strip have been denied since 2007. According to the agreement, visits should have been resumed within one month of the end of the hunger strike. There are informal reports that the visits are due to be resumed in July. The ICRC has reported that they are in contact with the IPS regarding renewal of visits from the Gaza Strip, but there is no official date yet. The IPS responded in a letter to Adalah on 20 June 2012 that due to the large number of parties involved, including the Israel military, the Attorney General, the Israeli Police, and other security forces, it is difficult to arrange permits for family members to visit.

According to this letter, “[e]ven before security prisoners began the hunger strike, we began to examine options for access for families from Gaza to visit prisoners held in Israel… Taking into consideration that the issue is complicated, we hope to soon establish a system to carry out a pilot program to obtain permits for access from Gaza.”

9. Punitive measures against inmates:  

Violent raids by IPS special forces on prisoners’ sections continue despite the agreement. Families of prisoners have reported to PHR-Israel that some wings are suffering from collective punishment due to suspicion of holding mobile phones. Punishments include fines, denial of permission to buy extra food and supplies, and denial of family visits. The latter is a basic right, not a privilege.  

10. Restriction on access to higher education:

Despite the agreement, access to higher education has not been renewed and there is no discussion of intention to renew it. Adalah filed a motion to the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2012 for permission to appeal the Nazareth District Court decision to reject a prisoner’s request to continue his higher education in the Open University after two years of study via correspondence. In June 2011, the IPS had suddenly and arbitrarily decided to stop all Palestinian political prisoners from studying higher education courses. To date, there has been no response from the state.

11 . Access to medical care:

The IPS continues to deny entry of independent doctors to hunger strikers and visits have been enabled only through prolonged court processes. Transfer of hunger strikers to civilian hospitals is also prevented despite a clear need to provide specialised care not available in the IPS medical facility. More generally, the quality of medical care provided to all inmates is a key complaint of Palestinian prisoners and their families. No improvement has been recorded and, since the announcement by the current Chief Medical Officer Dini Orkin-Tischler that she is leaving her post shortly, requests for information and complaints regarding medical care (transmitted by PHR-Israel) have gone largely unanswered.

Following the hunger strike, female Palestinian prisoners held in Hasharon prison boycotted the prison clinic for one week in protest at the lack of adequate medical care and unreasonable waiting periods.

12. Recommendations:

ñ  That the arbitrary and excessive use of administrative detention be discontinued and Palestinian detainees be ensured access to a fair legal process;
ñ  That the agreements reached on 14 and 15 May 2012 be respected, including the release of administrative detainees who were promised release at the end of their current orders, renewal of family visits and lifting of the punitive measures used against Palestinians in Israeli custody;  
ñ  That Akram Rikhawi continue to be hospitalised in a civilian hospital adequate to his needs and that his early release be considered based on his grave medical conditions; and that regular independent medical visits be allowed to all hunger strikers;
ñ  That the EU publicly and actively engage with Israel to end the arbitrary use of administrative detention, and condemn the punitive measures used to quell the efforts of the hunger strikers, who are engaged in legitimate protest.
ñ  That the EU implement and support an experts' fact-finding mission to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory on the subject of conditions of Palestinians incarcerated by Israel. 

This information was compiled by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel), Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), based on their own work and sources, as well as on information from Addameer (West Bank), Al Haq (West Bank) and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights (Gaza), based on their ongoing work on behalf of Palestinian detainees and prisoners. 

For further information or clarifications please contact Miri Weingarten

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lawsuit Challenges Conditions at ADX Federal Supermax

June 25, 2012 Solitary Watch
On Monday, June 18th, a class action lawsuit, Bacote v. Federal Bureau of Prisonswas filed against the Federal Bureau of Prisons on behalf of five plaintiffs, all of them inmates at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum–commonly known as ADX–in Florence,  Colorado. A must-read three-part series of articles by Andrew Cohen, published this week by The Atlantic, covers details of the lawsuit and the treatment of prisoners with mental illness living inside the facility.

In the first two articles in the series, Cohen excellently summarizes the lawsuit as well as emphasizing the horrific conditions in which mentally ill inmates at ADX languish. The lawsuit maintains that the five plaintiffs, along with six other “interested individuals” housed in ADX, all have mental illness or mental retardation, and have been denied adequate treatment. The details regarding their treatment, or lack thereof, are shocking, and outlined in graphic detail. Tragically, the gruesome descriptions may have a familiar ring for those versed in the treatment of mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement in supermax prisons and special housing units across the country.
Cohen quotes from the lawsuit: “Prisoners interminably wail, scream and bang on the walls of their cells. Some mutilate their bodies with razors, shards of glass, writing utensils and whatever other objects they can obtain. Some swallow razor blades, nail clippers, parts of radios and televisions, broken glass and other dangerous objects.”

Another section of the lawsuit states that “in 2010, a severely and chronically depressed prisoner who had attempted to kill himself a few months earlier was escorted to the ADX [Special Housing Unit] after throwing milk at a corrections officer. He was placed in a cell just vacated by another chronically ill prisoner who had smeared the cell’s floors, walls, bed and mattress with feces. The prisoner was given no cleaning supplies, and was not issued a blanket, towel or sheet. He used a roll of toilet paper in the cell to try to wipe the feces off of a spot on the floor that was large enough to enable him to lie down. For two days, he remained lying on that single ‘clean’ space.”

ADX, known as “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” is the nation’s most secure supermax prison, and its 490 residents live in extreme isolation. It is supposedly intended to hold the “worst of the worst,” and is never supposed to house the seriously mentally ill, according to Bureau of Prisons policy. However, individuals with mental illness often end up there or, argues the lawsuit, become mentally ill during their confinement at ADX, largely due to the isolation and deprivation suffered there.

The third article in the series focuses on the lawsuit and The Eighth Amendment. The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages for the plaintiffs; rather, it calls for an injunction to improve the treatment of inmates with mental illness in federal facilities. Cohen highlights one of the most salient problems with the United States prison system: the profound lack of accountability or oversight. While the Federal Bureau of Prisons website states that it “protects society by confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure, and that provide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens,” the rapidly increasing public concern over abuses inside federal facilities reflects the abject failure of the BOP to uphold its commitment.

The lawsuit was filed during the same week as the Congressional hearing on solitary confinement, and directly contradicts some of the testimony provided by BOP head Charles Samuels. Solitary confinement is being examined with unprecedented scrutiny on a federal level, and, as Cohen notes, this particular lawsuit was filed by attorneys and organizations who have experience and expertise in prison reform litigation, including the DC Prisoners’ Project of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and the law firm of Arnold & Porter. Solitary Watch will continue to report on emerging developments.

Voices from Solitary: “I Lost the Will to Live”

June 24, 2012 Solitary Watch
The following is an excerpt from testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Human Rights, and Civil Rights, which held a hearing on solitary confinement on June 19th. Brian Nelson, in written testimony, testifies to his 12 years in Tamms Correctional Center, a supermax prison in Illinois.  Nelson, transferred from a minimum security prison in New Mexico, describes a harrowing experience of prison isolation and the significantly detrimental effects on his health and well-being. Tamms has recently been in the news for a contentious debate over its closure; this week, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced its  closure by August 31st.For the full testimony, click here. –Sal Rodriguez

As the time went by I remained in he gray box I degenerated even worse. I lost the will to live. I lost hope, even though I was scheduled to be released in a couple years. Depression overwhelmed me. Then a lawsuit as filed over the treatment of inmates with serious mental illness not being properly treated  at Tamms. I was named in that suit. In reply, Tamms mental health employees began to harass me and started placing me on suicide watches for no reason. I was given the Minnesota Multi Personality Test. When the results came back, the head psychologist called me to the infirmary had me locked in a bathroom and screamed at me that I was making her look bad. She then ordered officers to strip me naked–which they did leaving me locked on the bathroom for approximately 10 hours. The psychologist then ordered that my medication be immediately stoped. As part of the case, our lawyer arranged for two doctors to come into Tamms to evaluate me–Dr. Kathryn Burns and Dr. Terry Kupers. Both doctors confirmed that I was severely depressed and the conditions at Tamms exacerbated the depression. Both found that I was actively suicidal. Even though Drs. Burns and Kupers are experts on the conditions of supermax prisons, the Tamm’ psychologist refused to initiate any of the therapy they proposed. I got worse. Another serious suicide attempt followed and I lost so much weight that the Deputy Director, after seeing me in the holding cell, ordered that some sort of treatment be started, and immediately had me weighed. I weighed 119 lbs. All the boned in my body protruded. I shuffled instead of walked. I had no appetite and wanted to die.

Everyday I went to sleep I got down on my knees and prayed that I would die in my sleep, yet God’s will was not mine. When I woke up in the night I prayed harder for death. I couldn’t sleep, and during thos period got no more than 16 hours of sleep a week. I went days pacing back and forth like a zombie (a condition now recognized as a sign of severe mental illness when exhibited by animals in zoos–but apparently its okay when people suffer this way). I looked like I was already dead and I had no will to live. Day after day all I saw was gray walls and over time my world became the gray box. I fought hard with my own mind, and I prayed. I copies the Catholic Bible word for word which took me 1 year 9 months and 2 days. I copied the Rule of St. Benedict 3 times and studied with Cisterician Monks and Priests. I watched a friend give up and kill himself at Tamms. Sadly, several minutes before he died, he told the nurse and mental health worker that he was going to commit suicide. They just didn’t care and walked away. Marcus Chapman was finally released from the gray box in a black body bag on August 24, 2005.

He concludes his testimony with the following:

I spent 12 years in solitary confinement and I was never told why I was placed in solitary. I am a human being and every day I still struggle with the trauma being held in that gray box. I wake screaming at night. I can’ get it out of my head some days. Solitary confinement in my opinion is worse than being beaten. That I spent twelve years in such conditions in America is appalling.