Monday, May 10, 2010

NORTHERN IRELAND: PEACE PROCESS FOUND TO BE WANTING all is well in Northern Ireland? Think again. The Maghaberry (prison) screws are at it again, beating and harassing republican prisoners. 

The measure of the peace process, writes, Ex-POW Anthony McIntyre, as an initiative to advance a republican agenda can be found in what is happening in Maghaberry Prison today. It is found to be wanting. The peace process is clearly not protecting Republican prisoners.

The Derry 32 County Sovereignty Movement declares, "There will be a protest taking place on Saturday June 5th 2010 in solidarity with the POWs who are currently undergoing intolerable conditions in Maghaberry Gaol."

The POWs are subjected to 23 and a half hour lockdown, limited to one meal per day which is being put into the cells at varying times,strip searches and solitary confinement amongst other punishments as deemed fit by the Brit controlled prison service."

We ask and encourage all republicans to attend this protest and show the Prisoners that they have not been forgotten."

They are in there for us !
Be out there for them !"

The following is from Saiorse 32.

Update on Maghaberry POW protest
Press Release/Preas Ráiteas

Republican SINN FÉIN Poblachtach
For confirmation phone
Dublin 872 9747

The POW Department of Republican Sinn Féin received the following information from the POWs in Maghaberry on Saturday, May 8, 2010:

"On Thursday May 6 the screws came to the cell doors of the POWs and told them that they were not getting any exercise, phone calls or showers.

"A war of words developed and as a result an alarm was hit, this alarm is to call in the search team. At this time members of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) were on the Republican wings and the search team did not enter.

"Sometime later the search team returned and entered the cell of Harry Fitzsimmons. He put up a struggle and he was tied up; his hands cuffed behind his back and was removed to the punishment unit. While in this unit he was told to strip and he refused, he was then handcuffed to the bed and his clothes were cut of his body. He is still being held in the punishment unit.
(It may also be the case that Harry Fitzsimmons is currently on a dirty protest)

"Another prisoner is currently being held in the PU (punishment unit), a man by the name of Gary Jones. He was placed in the PU after being told that he is under death threat. All bodies concerned have insisted that no such threat exists and that once again the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the Prison Officers Association (POA) and the prison service are placing bogus threats on Republican prisoners in order to isolate them and carry out intimidation techniques whilst held in isolation.

"The Republican prisoners as a result of the above factors wrecked their cells on Thursday night (May 6). They have no toilet, no sink and no furniture. The screws did not move in until Friday (leaving the men in six inches of water and filth overnight) and removed the men to dry cells in order to clean the damaged ones.

"During this clean up a number of men's bedding was destroyed by the screws spilling water into them. A number of items were destroyed and men's clothes were also soaked with water.

"The men have been issued with pots and they are refusing to use them. They are soiling into bags and throwing them out the following morning and are urinating into cartons and spilling them under the doors at night. A number of men have been charged with this spilling of material.

"The Republican prisoners are still refusing to undergo strip searches and as a result they are being charged and refused visits. A list of charges are now against each man and the charges are continuing to grow.

"Even after such adversary the Volunteers held a commemoration at their doors on May 5 to remember the anniversary of a former POW Bobby Sands. The men read aloud poems and songs and remembered with pride the Volunteers who walked the same road before them."

The following is from Newry Republican.

Statement From The Concerned Families and Friends of Maghaberry POWs

The Concerned Families and Friends of Maghaberry prisoners note with dismay the continuing deterioration of conditions in Maghaberry prison. On Thursday 6th May Harry Fitzsimmons was forcibly removed from his cell and placed in isolation. During this process the screws beat Harry.

• We demand the immediate removal of Harry Fitzsimmons from the isolation unit and his return to the main wing with the rest of his friends.

• We demand immediate medical attention for Harry and express our concern at the manner in which he was removed from his cell and beaten by screws.

• We demand the immediate reinstatement of the humane and safe living conditions within the prison regime which were implemented following the tragic hunger strikes of 1981.

• We demand the immediate end to controlled movement which is being used by the screws to isolate and intimidate prisoners.

• We demand the immediate end of degrading and humiliating strip searches.

• We demand the end of the free rein given to the POA in reversing the gains of 1981 and their determination to implement a regime based on brutality and sectarian bigotry.

• We demand an answer from the Minister for Justice: who ordered the beating of Harry Fitzsimmons and who will be held responsible for it? The Justice Minister or the sectarian cavemen of the POA?

Maghaberry prison is a prison not fit for purpose; prison is a place of denial of liberty, it is not a sadistic toy to be utilised as a centre of brutality and psychological terrorisation where defenceless prisoners are subjected to the degradations of the hostage, as in Maghaberry today. We will not stand by and allow this draconian regime to continue unchallenged in Maghaberry prison. These prisoners are human beings and as entitled to protections under human rights legislation as any of us.

The situation in the prison could be remedied quite rapidly with no loss of face on either side given that the prisoners are not asking for new demands or new mechanisms which have not previously been granted, and could quite easily be reintroduced.

Responding to Justice Minister David Ford's accusation the prisoners are responsible for their own predicament and trying to move backwards in time, the Concerned Families and Relatives said:

"We reject totally David Ford's assertion our friends and relatives are orchestrating this in any way. The only people seeking to draw us back in time is the prison regime and their masters in Stormont; it is they who have removed the safeguards and mechanisms put in place after the Hunger Strikes and precipitated this crisis."

"We are further dismayed that David Ford would make such pronouncements without first ascertaining all the facts. To date neither David Ford nor any of his staff has contacted us or the prisoners: just the POA."

"We reject further and totally the implication that we are in any way trying to bring us back to the past or that we have any association with violence."

"We are concerned friends and relatives of Irish Republican prisoners being brutalised in a British prison under David Ford's control and we would welcome an opportunity to present the true picture of life in Maghaberry prison to David Ford. "

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