It is prison friday at Scission and, of course, the big news is that the hunger strike by California prisoners is over for now. You can read much about this at the San Francisco Bay View which has covered the on going struggle better than anyone else.
I, today, will travel across the Atlantic to Ireland, the occupied part that is, where Irish Prisoner Welfare Association Reported a few weeks ago:
On Wednesday, 14th Aug, Sharon Rafferty, Sean Kelly, Aidan Coney and Gavin Coney were taken out to Omagh Court for their P.I.(preliminary investigation) The 3 men in which is unfortunately now normal practice for Republican prisoners in Maghaberry were forcibly strip-searched before leaving the gaol but in a sinister development it has transpired that female Republican prisoner Sharon Rafferty was also forcibly strip-searched by staff in Hydebank gaol. Sharon was physically restrained by staff and her clothing was forcibly removed. Sharon has been left with physical injuries and no doubt emotionally scarred by this brutal sexual assault. IRPWA demand an end to all strip-searches and strongly condemn this new development whereby female Republican prisoners are forcibly strip searched in Hydebank.
Sharon was forced to remove her clothes before and after making a court appearance in Omagh. After refusing to voluntarily strip, female prison officers forced the action.
It has since been reported that a second woman, Christine Connor, 27, missed a medical appointment last month after refusing to be strip searched. Christine has kidney problems and she does need to make those appointments.
Christine was due to be taken out to Belfast City Hospital when she was confronted by several Prison staff members of various rank including governor.
She was informed by these people that a Strip search was to be conducted upon her person. When Christine refused on a point of principle she was informed that she would not then be able to leave the prison.
She is in essence being denied her right to medical attention.
Seachranaidhe1 reports as well:
Mandy Duffy from the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) sais Ms Rafferty felt like she had been “sexually assaulted” after the search. “She feels very strongly she should not have to remove her clothing,” she aid. The prisoner campagner says Ms Connor will also continue to resist strip searches. “Christine feels she is being denied the right to medicial treatment which is a basic human right,” she said. “She is on medication and needs to see a specialist.” The last high-profile female republican prisoner to be subjected to strip searches is believed to be Roisin McAliskey – daughter of former Mid Ulster MP Bernadette McAliskey – who was searched more than 70 times while pregnant in custody awaiting extradition to Germany in connection with an IRA mortar attàck in 1996. She was released wîthout charge in 1998.
In more recent times the practice came under the spotlight in 2005, when the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) helped non-republican prisoner Karen Carson bring a judicial review before the High Court in Belfast, claiming frequent strip searching in Hydebank was in violation of articles three and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relate to torture and privacy.
Speaking to the Tyrone Herald, a spokesperson for the NIHRC said it supports the Prison Review Team’s 2011 recommendation to find an effective and less intrusive alternative to strip searching.
“The Commission’s 2005 research revealed the traumatic impact of strip searching on women and recommended that its use should be exceptional and restricted.”
It said while it had not received any complaints about the use of strip searching on women prisoners in recent times, the body intends to raise the issue of Sharon Rafferty’s forced search on August 14 during a visit with the Prison Service later this month.
Mandy Duffy said both male and female republican prisoners refuse to submit to strip searching, claiming that scanners exist that deem the practice unnecessary. On August 14, she said Rafferty’s three co-accused were also similarly strip searched by force at Maghaberry Prison after refusing to comply with requests to remove clothing.
“There is technology in place that removes the need for any prisoner to remove they're clothing,” said the IRPWA spokesperson, “Sharon said she did not want to humiliate herself.”
In the British occupied northern counties of Ireland, this sort of thing actually can't come as a shock. The centuries long occupation has never been anything but brutal and degrading, and it has been met with a never ending resistance.
The following is from Republican Unity.