California Prisoners’ Supporters: “Outrage Over CDCR Force Feeding Plans”

For Immediate Release—August 19, 2013

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Oakland—Supporters of prisoners who are on the 43rd day of hunger strike are expressing outrage at an order signed today by a federal judge allowing strikers to be force fed, disregarding international human rights principles.

“CDCR justifies asking for the order to force feed by claiming that the widespread hunger strike is ‘orchestrated’ by gangs, that the massive participation and support for the demands is coerced and that prisoners have signed ‘do not resuscitate’ directives under duress,” according to Claude Marks of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. “This order violates all international laws and standards and gives the medical director of each prison authority to violate human rights laws instead of reasonably negotiating with prisoners.” Thousand of prisoners have united to challenge the torture of prolonged isolation, demanding an accountable process to challenge the gang validations that have kept them in security housing for decades.

Continues Marks, “”This approach, much like Guantanamo, sets the US apart from all related international human rights standards.”

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The Nightmare of the American Dream

Prisoner — Undocumented — Immigrants…

July 7, 2013  —  CORCORN SHU

I would like to take this moment to possibly enlighten you to a situation we as Hispanic Mexican Nationals would like to share with all of you. Our hope is to create discussion and ultimately change this sad reality. Due to being such a small population in California prisons, the majority do not understand or even realize (much less consider). Hopefully with this essay I’m able to express correctly, sufficiently, and effectively these little known conditions and bring attention to this issue. We suffer and struggle daily in a foreign land, where many of us do not even write, understand, or speak English.

This struggle not only involves Mexican Nationals in California, but also all undocumented immigrants in prison around this nation. Some of us are here doing life terms with no family or friends support (mentally, emotionally, economically, physically, etc.), the most basic of human conditions to be social. Think about this for a minute. For family members to visit us from Mexico requires an incredible amount of patience and hard work, and huge obstacles at the US-MEXICO border. For example, on my situation I haven’t seen my father, brothers, and some of my sisters since 1996.

Why??-because my family couldn’t process the visas for them and couldn’t afford to pay the expenses to travel. In the past, I used to see my mother once a year. My family had to work and save money for my elderly mother to be able to come visit me just one time every year. Unfortunately, since 2007, my family couldn’t afford it anymore. So I haven’t seen the rest of my family since 1996, which is 14 years total and counting. This is just my example. Many more undocumented immigrants/Hispanics in prison suffer the same fate. Under life terms and some of us validated in the Security Housing Units (SHU), we may very well never see or hug our immediate family and friends. Imagine the suffering and heartache we endure??? Living life sentences inside ‘the grey box’ (SHU), under this daily struggle, under this psychological and physical torture 23 hours a day we wait to hear and receive news from our family back home.

Many of us came to the U.S. from very rural towns with little or no education and severely economically challenged areas in Mexico. As we can agree, many who come to the U.S. do so for the ‘American Dream’: Land of opportunity and a better way of life. A sacrifice for ourselves and our families back home. Due to having to put education on hold early in our youth to work and contribute to our family’s welfare, ultimately basic reading and writing much time is lost and thousands of us risk our lives and cross the border (breaking U.S. laws) and some of those thousands end up in prisons, detention centers, and jails across the nation. Fewer still get life terms that cuts off communication with family and limits it to phone calls (when rare monetary ability allows a phone call home) and letters (for those who can read and write). Continue reading

What Will It Take to Free Our Political Prisoners?

July 16, 2013

By Liz Derias

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), a revolutionary organization based in the u.s. that fights to uphold the self-determination and the human rights of Black people in the world, has been working to free political prisoners for over three decades. The organization has actively worked on the cases of Assata Shakur, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Geronimo ji Jaga Pratt, the San Francisco 8 (SF8), the MOVE 9, the Cuban 5, and more. Additionally, MXGM has worked with the founding Black August Organizing Committee of California to popularize Black August, a month of commemoration and action in support of political prisoners.

Through the heed of political prisoners Assata Shakur and Nehanda Abiodun, MXGM has also taken a lead in inspiring and mobilizing the Hip Hop generation to take action in support of political prisoners, particularly through the annual Black August Concert, which has featured artists such as Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, and others. MXGM works with other leading organizations that have championed action to free political prisoners, such as the National Black United Fund, the Prisoners of Consciousness Committee, the Nation of Islam, and numerous support committees around the world.black august

This article will describe the history and current context of political prisoners in the u.s., the conditions for them while incarcerated, and the organizing strategies employed by MXGM over the years to free them.

The Legacy of COINTELPRO

We cannot discuss the case of political prisoners in the u.s. without having an understanding of COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO, or the Counter Intelligence Program, was the federal government’s secret program during the 1950s-1970s used against many forces of the Black Liberation movement, leftists, and political dissidents in the u.s., including the Chicano Nationalist Movement and the Puerto Rican Independence Movement. It was secret because it was illegal.

Under COINTELPRO, the FBI and local police forces assassinated, arrested, tortured, and framed hundreds of leftists, particularly Black leftists, who were considered to pose the greatest threat to the racist status quo of u.s. society. The tactics of COINTELPRO can be categorized in four main areas: infiltration of organizations, psychological warfare from the outside, harassment through the legal system, and extralegal force and violence, including extrajudicial killing and outright murder. The FBI’s stated motivation for the program was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order. Continue reading

The Five Most Important Demands from the California Prison Hunger Strike

Thousands-strong strike is the latest chapter in the state’s unfolding prison crisis

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-five-most-important-demands-from-the-california-prison-hunger-strike-20130716

July 16, 2013

For more than a week, the California prison system has been gripped by the largest hunger strike in its history. Today, campaigners say that some 12,000 inmates continue to refuse food in roughly two-thirds of the state’s 32 facilities. That’s down from the 30,000 who kicked off the strike, but still more than twice the number who participated in a similar action two years earlier.

The strike – which began with a group of men held in isolation in Pelican Bay State Prison before spreading across the state – was principally motivated by California’s aggressive use of solitary confinement. In many cases, the strikers’ demands are simple: one photo a year, one phone call per week, permission to use wall calendars.

“The prisoners are not on a suicide mission,” says Roger White, campaign director of a Bay Area coalition called Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. “If they didn’t have hope that things could change and that CDCR [the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] could actually implement the demands, they wouldn’t be striking.”

In 2011, a United Nations torture rapporteur called for an absolute and international ban on indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement, arguing that just a few a days locked up alone in a cell has been shown to produce lifelong mental health problems. In California, hundreds of Pelican Bay prisoners have spent a decade or more in solitary confinement – some for as many as 20 or 30 years. Continue reading

Obama Urged to Heed Warnings of ‘Palestine on Fire’

[President Obama, who has carefully clung to his Zionist-loyalist agenda (while his meaningless rhetorical differences with Israeli settlement policies have been exaggerated by his ‘liberal’ spin-doctors), is being warned by a comprador-trained Palestine Authority official that things may get uncontrollable if he does not make a dramatic show of concern for Palestinian prisoners.  If Obama decides to heed this warning,   his upcoming trip to Israel may test his rhetorical and theatrical skills.  Those who think Obama will launch a meaningful change in US-Zionist relations should, however, sober up. — Frontlines ed.]

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Palestinian officials warn of possible third intifada in wake of Arafat Jaradat’s death

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer, Common Dreams

In the wake of the death of detained Palestinian Arafat Jaradat, officials with the Palestinian Authority have issued a warning to President Obama that Palestine could be “on fire” during his upcoming visit to the region if he does not exert pressure on longtime ally Israel regarding the ongoing treatment of prisoners.

Wrapped in the Palestinian flag, Arafat Jaradat received a ‘hero’s burial’ on Monday in the West Bank village of Saeer. (Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters) On Monday, over 10,000 Palestinians took part in a funeral procession for Jaradat, the thirty year old Palestinian man who died Saturday after being in Israeli custody for less than one week. An autopsy showed that he had many broken bones, and the PA attributed his death to “extreme torture” inflicted by his captors.

“If President Obama wants to visit the region peacefully, he should exert pressure on Israel to release the prisoners—especially the ones who are on hunger strike—or else he will visit while Palestine is on fire,” said Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe, speaking at a news conference in Ramallah.

Obama’s trip to Israel in March will be his first since becoming US president. Continue reading

A rare show in iron-fisted monarchy: “Saudis in capital protest for release of prisoners”

saudi demoMARIAM RIZK, Associated Press, February 10, 2013

CAIRO (AP) – Residents of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh say more than 100 people have demonstrated to call for the release of people detained without charge.  Saudi security officials say they arrested at least five people. They spoke anonymously in line with police regulations.

Dozens of security vehicles blocked the intersections of two streets Saturday where the demonstrations were taking place.

North of Riyadh in the city of Buraydah, around 30 people – mostly women related to the prisoners – held a similar rally.

Women demonstrated in Riyadh

Women demonstrated in Riyadh

In past years, a small number of Saudis have demonstrated in Riyadh to demand the release of thousands of people detained without charge or trial on suspicion of involvement in militant activity. Some have been held for up to 15 years.

Protests are rare in the conservative kingdom.