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[A background note, by Revolutionary Frontlines, on why capitalist governments refuse to grant “political prisoner” status to democratic and revolutionary opponents who have been captured and held by the state:
A court in India has decided that some allegedly Maoist prisoners should be categorized “Political Prisoners.” Other sections of the state apparatus oppose this, loudly. Some even launch legal motions to remove this category from the Maoists. What’s the difference, and why should be care?
Everywhere in the world, wherever governments drape themselves in the pretense of democracy—and this goes for imperialist countries like the US, Britain, France and many others, as well as countries that adopted the “democratic” veneer when they emerged from colonialism and became “independent” but neo-colonial neo-comprador states—they actively promote the lie that democratic rights and freedoms are equally shared, and all can receive justice under the law.
But when a huge section of people—even a majority, or more—are blocked, from generation to generation, from any form of rights or justice, and they develop democratic and revolutionary movements and organizations, all their protests and demands are routinely criminalized, because their existence and practice expose and destroy the legitimacy of the faux-democratic state.
So, getting back to the question: why demand, and struggle for “political prisoner” status when activists are arrested and charged with common crimes—or are held for months or years without charge? Because, for a state to admit it has political prisoners is
- to admit that the state is not democratic, that oppressors and oppressed have no equality before the law;
- an admission that political prisoners have been arrested mainly because of their opposition to the state, and are being denied basic human rights;
- a confession by the state that criminal charges are routinely fabricated to cover up the political repression which is going on;
- and that democratic movements and revolutionary organizations which have been jailed are representing the political interests of the oppressed, and are not criminal organizations.
- and finally, the presence of political prisoners indicates that justice is not a domestic struggle–seeking civil rights from an oppressive state—but is a battle for human rights, to be sought by the masses themselves, using whatever arena is available on an international level.
For these reasons, the Indian state is determined to quash the “political prisoner” status granted by a wayward, indisciplined—and uncommonly principled—Indian judge.
See the following articles from the Indian bourgeois media about the “Political Prisoner” label/debate. – Frontlines ed.]
7 Maoists get political prisoner status
KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court Wednesday granted status of political prisoners to seven Maoist leaders and sympathizers in West Bengal jails, the rebels’ counsel said.
The seven include Venkateshwara Reddy alias Telugu Dipak and Chhatradhar Mahato.
“Justice Kanwaljit Aluwalliah allowed our prayer granting the status of political prisoners. They have been languishing in jails for long and it is yet to be proved that they are Maoists and involved in violent activities,” counsel Subhasish Roy told IANS.
The others to get the status are Communist Party of India-Maoist spokesperson Gaur Chakrabarty, Sukhshanti Baskey, Shambhu Soren, Sagun Murmu and Prasun Chatterjee.
Deepak, a close associate of slain Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, is said to be the mastermind behind the Silda camp attack in West Midnapore district which left 24 Eastern Frontier Rifles soldiers dead. He was arrested in March 2010.
Tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato was the spokesman of the Maoist backed Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) and was arrested along with Chatterjee in 2009.
(IANS) Continue reading