[Spain] About comrade Gabriel Pombo Da Silva and maxi prisons

Translated by Act for freedom now!:

via:.lacavale.be

faltan-los-presos

A year has passed since comrade Gabriel Pombo Da Silva was transferred to the Topas penitentiary centre (Salamanca). He continues to resist the harsh experience of the deprivation of liberty (after already more than 30 years behind bars), but also various stratagems that the prison administration is continuing to come up with in the best of its interests and those commanding it.

Topas prison was created as part of the program of construction of about twenty maxi-prisons promulgated in the early 90s by the PSOE government of Felipe González.

At the same time, the left and socialist head of the AP, Antoni Asunción, introduced the internal directive governing the FIES regimes. So Topas prison has the characteristics of these new mass incarceration factories – in Spain, the number of imprisoned persons has doubled in 20 years, from roughly 35 000 – 70 000 between 1991 and 2011.

One of the criteria of this modernization consists of distancing prisons from urban centres, so Topas was built in the open countryside. This serves several purposes: to hide these wretched places as much as possible; further separate those imprisoned from their loved ones, forced to travel many kilometres for any visit – (?!) luck, unlike most other jails, Topas is located along a main road served by a bus route, a ‘luxury’ that avoids the collective punishment of expensive trips or forced marches.

The distance is also intended to reduce demonstrations of solidarity in neighbourhoods as they once existed, especially when there is movement inside the prison, and to make escapes extremely difficult.

This program of new prisons is therefore the response to the waves of struggles, riots and escapes that rocked Spanish prisons regularly from the 70s to the 90s. Bringing together different types of detention inside them (remand, central etc.), these are maximum security prisons, equipped with automatic doors, increasingly sophisticated computerized control systems and a multitude of high tech devices among other things.

The size and architecture of these prisons makes it possible to lock up over a thousand prisoners in each of them, while separating them according to the requirements and experimentation of the prison management. They are in fact divided into separate autonomous buildings each with their own exercise yard, visiting areas and canteen. Any kind of interaction between the different units is carefully avoided, and prisoners have little way of knowing what is happening in the rest of the prison, which reduces the possibilities of struggles or even riots. To prevent “dangerous combinations”, it is also very easy to move a prisoner from one building to another without the need for a transfer to another jail – even if dispersion remains an effective way to punish prisoners and their relatives. After 5 transfers since arriving in Spain, Gabriel for example has already been able to discover 5 different internal modules in Topas. This organization based both on massification and atomization contributes to continuing the dirty war by breaking bonds of solidarity or encouraging rivalries and entanglements in a context of emotional and economic misery. To add a layer to the hardship and the struggle for survival, the latest find to date in Topas has been to reduce visits to two a month, to be conducted only by family or a lawyer …

Parallel to this architectural model the modern concept of scientific treatment of prisoners is also being developed. Contemporary guinea pigs, they are classified according to a long list of regimes, degrees and phases. This cataloguing is extremely precise and is carried out by a whole range of specialists (so-called “technical teams” or “trucologues [trickalogues]” as Gabriel quips, who refuses to submit to their examinations: psychologists, sociologists, educators and other social workers … ) according to essentially behavioural and disciplinary criteria.

What carries the sweet name of “individualized treatment” amounts to scrutinizing the behaviour of each prisoner to establish their profile and the treatment to be applied to them. To put it bluntly, it is a question of hitting where it hurts – knowing that this bureaucracy is also critical for exit permits and conditional liberty. All this obviously goes towards constituting huge databases and tighter control.

Beyond the regular interrogations required by these battalions of experts, daily monitoring is ensured through various means: the system of ubiquitous cameras and incident reports distributed by the screws are unfortunately often supported by the effective control of fellow prisoners.

The so-called modules of “maximum respect” of so-called “life in common” are an extreme example of this co-management. The prisoners who enter them actually undertake to respect and ensure others’ respect not only of the prison rules, but a bonus code of conduct developed for the division itself. Under cover of assessment assemblies, they are actively involved in their own imprisonment and the reign of the equilibrium that tends to generalize, that is what rehabilitation means…

Of course, the whole system functions on the strategy of carrot and stick: rewards for those who show proof of their good will with regard to the prison administration in various ways, while the closed regimes, isolation and most FIES regimes are intended to punish “conflictual” prisoners and endorse the diagnosis or prognosis of social dangerousness.

FIES 3 awaited comrades Francisco and Mónica from the start of their incarceration. Gabriel, for his part, was put in FIES 5 while he was in A Lama, and this decision has already been renewed several times by the Topas administration. Noelia Cotelo, also considered a rebel, arrive at Topas in turn, where she was immediately put in solitary confinement. She is still in FIES 5. Among other special measures, it implies that all written and verbal communications are read, photocopied, listened to and recorded and can be censored based on criteria such as the vaguest “subversive content” or “endangering security or the proper functioning of the jail.” As it happens, for the comrade it is almost all the publications of an anarchist nature that are retained, even when they meet the mandatory selective criteria of having an ISBN number and mention of the printer. Hence her request not to send letters with this kind of post as they are totally denied. Her correspondence is also subject to the limitation of two letters to be sent per week, not counting delays or “unexplained” disappearances of letters, in order to silence and isolate her most likely.

The supervising judge of the region responded to the appeal sent by Gabriel by confirming his placement in FIES, with this sentence, that does not lack flavour: “It appears from the reports received and the content of the monitoring of calls made since he has been in this detention centre that he continues to carry out an anarchist and anti-system struggle against the regime and the institutions, encouraging his relatives and friends to fight.” This speaks volumes about what the State expects from the comrade: to renounce what he believes in and what he is; harassment and dirty games involving his release date (legal recourse is still ongoing) probably intended for this and obviously failed.

The functioning and function of prison reminds us yet again that it is a denser reflection of the society that produces and needs it. From the lowest to the highest levels, the wheels that maintain the institutions and the established order, need and demand the submission of the many. It’s about breaking individuals and eliminating possibilities of struggle. Consent can be bought with shots of good and bad points, crumbs, legal and illegal drugs or it can be snatched with the most direct violence, because all means are valid in the eyes of the powerful, democratic or not.

The “humanization” of prisons sold by power and media propaganda actually conceals the attempt at depersonalisation and total dispossession, just as their alleged “social peace” is merely a more or less covert war.

Outside as inside, it’s these gears that need to be broken, along with all the physical, technological and psychological chains. Only revolt and the struggle will finish with relations based on domination and satisfy our desires for freedom.

Down with the prison society, the State and all authority!

August 2015

anarchist solidarity

To write to the comrade:

Gabriel Pombo Da Silva
CP-Topas Salamanca
Ctra N-630, km 314
37799 Topas (Salamanca)
Spain

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Take Action – Join hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to say: End Administrative Detention

From Samidoun:

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Five Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention without charge or trial in Israeli jails are about to enter their second week on hunger strike, demanding an end to administrative detention. Take Action to support the hunger strikers and call for freedom for administrative detainees!

Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Badr al-Ruzza, and Munir Abu Sharar launched their hunger strike on 20 August 2015, protesting their administrative detention without charge or trial. All have had their arbitrary detention orders renewed multiple times. On Monday, 31 August, they were removed from their prison cells and thrown into isolation – Abu Aker in Asqelan, Zawahreh and Ma’ali in Ella prison, and Ruzzah and Abu Sharar in the Naqab prison.

Khader Adnan supports the hunger strikers.

Khader Adnan supports the hunger strikers.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported that the five have consumed only liquids since 20 August and are boycotting the occupation military courts along with 50 other administrative detainees, exposing the sham nature of these hearings relying on secret information that neither Palestinian prisoners or their lawyer can review. “Addameer calls upon solidarity organizations, human rights organizations and individuals all around the world to join the campaign to end administrative detention while emphasizing the necessity of popular support for Palestinian prisoners and detainees,” the organization urged.

In addition, Kayed Fawzi Abu Rish, 42, from Nablus, has been on hunger strike for 26 days. Held in administrative detention since December 2014, the order against him was renewed in June 2015 for an additional six months. He was transferred to hospital yesterday after being held in isolation in Megiddo prison.

Prisoner support tent at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp.

Prisoner support tent at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp.

There are approximately 480 Palestinians held without charge or trial in administrative detention in Israeli prisons. Israeli military commanders issue orders for up to one to six months of detention, which are indefinitely renewable. Introduced in Palestine by the British colonial authority, administrative detention is used in a routine and frequent manner. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, 85% of administrative detention orders are renewed at least once. Israel’s widespread and systematic use of administrative detention violates the Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The five detainees have been on hunger strike for thirteen days and are about to enter their third week on strike, while Abu Rish is nearing a month on strike. They are demanding an end to administrative detention in this “Battle of Breaking the Chains.” They are threatened not only by the risks to their health and lives by hunger striking, but also threatened with the new Israeli force-feeding law that legitimizes force-feeding torture against hunger striking prisoners, which led to the death of four Palestinian hunger strikers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Video (Press TV News report):

Layla (Um Samer) Issawi and Malika (Um Nidal) Abu Aker, mothers of Palestinian prisoners

Layla (Um Samer) Issawi and Malika (Um Nidal) Abu Aker, mothers of Palestinian prisoners

In Dheisheh refugee camp, the home of three of the strikers, a permanent solidarity tent has been set up.

Khader Adnan, former administrative detainee who won his freedom twice through long-term hunger strikes, visited the solidarity tent and met with members of the prisoners’ families; Layla (Um Samer) Issawi also met with the strikers’ families, urging support and solidarity with the strike. She is the mother of Samer, Shireen and Medhat Issawi, all imprisoned in Israeli jails; Samer was previously freed in a long-term hunger strike.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the striking prisoners, and calls for international actions, mobilizations and events to demand their freedom. We cannot wait until these brave strugglers are facing death to act and demand not only their freedom as individuals, but the abolition of administrative detention – on the road to freeing every Palestinian prisoner held in Israeli occupation jails. It is not the case that Israeli military courts are any more legitimate, fair or acceptable than administrative detention – they are just as arbitrary, racist and illegitimate. But administrative detention is a weapon of mass terror used against the Palestinian people, and it is critical to bring this practice to an end. These Palestinian prisoners have put their bodies on the line in order to end administrative detention – and it is imperative that we act to support them. These prisoners’ struggle is not only about their individual freedom – it is part of their struggle for return and liberation for Palestine.

Take Action!

1. Sign on to this statement in support of the prisoners’ demand to End Administrative Detention. Organizational and individual endorsements are welcome – and organizational endorsements particularly critical – in support of the prisoners’ demands and their actions. Click here to sign or sign below: http://bit.ly/EndAdministrativeDetention

2. Send a solidarity statement. The support of people around the world helps to inform people about the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. It is a morale booster and helps to build political solidarity. Please send your solidarity statements to samidoun@samidoun.net. They will be published and sent directly to the prisoners.

3. Hold a solidarity one-day hunger strike in your area. Gather in a tent or central area, bring materials about Palestinian prisoners and hold a one-day solidarity strike to raise awareness and provide support for the struggle of the prisoners and the Palestinian cause. Please email us at samidoun@samidoun.net to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.

4. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy in your area.  Bring posters and flyers about administrative detention and Palestinian hunger strikers and hold a protest, or join a protest with this important information. Hold a community event or discussion, or include this issue in your next event about Palestine and social justice. Please email us at samidoun@samidoun.net to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.

5. Contact political officials in your country – members of Parliament or Congress, or the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs or State – and demand that they cut aid and relations with Israel on the basis of its apartheid practices, its practice of colonialism, and its numerous violations of Palestinian rights including the systematic practice of administrative detention. Demand they pressure Israel to free the hunger strikers and end administrative detention.

6. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott itPalestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at bdsmovement.net.

 

Reportback on Albert Woodfox’s Sept. 2 Oral Arguments at US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

From Angola 3 News:

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(PHOTO: A3 supporters outside of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans this morning at Albert Woodfox’s oral arguments. Big Thanks to everyone that made it out!!)

This morning, Amnesty International USA released the following statement, reprinted in full.

Please check back here for more updates later in the day. See also our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Amnesty International USA Statement on Ongoing Incarceration of Albert Woodfox

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans heard oral argument in Albert Woodfox vs. Burl Cain. A three-judge panel will decide whether Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox should be granted unconditional release or face a third trial after spending more than four decades in solitary confinement.

U.S. District Judge James Brady ordered Woodfox’s unconditional release in June, overturning his conviction and barring the state from retrying him. The state of Louisiana appealed the ruling and moved to keep Woodfox behind. Jasmine Heiss, Senior Campaigner for Amnesty International USA’s Individuals at Risk program, attended the oral argument and issued the following statement:

“Today, Albert Woodfox remains doubly trapped — both in solitary confinement and in a deeply flawed legal process that has spanned four decades. Judge Brady’s writ of unconditional release should have been the final chapter in Albert’s 43-year nightmare. Now we can only hope that the courts will finally provide Albert some measure of justice.

“The question remains – why has Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell relentlessly pursued Albert Woodfox? It is time for the Attorney General to act in the name of justice rather than vengeance and stop standing in the way of Albert’s release.”

Nicole and Joseph – are staying in Oakland for this one – San Diego court appearance has been waived!

From Support Nicole and Joseph:
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A motion was filed by their attorneys to have their September 9th, San Diego court appearance waived and today that motion was granted by the judge. Nicole and Josephs attorneys will be there in court, and not guilty pleas will be entered in their absence. They will not have to travel to San Diego and will be staying home in Oakland for this one.

Thank you to everyone from the bay area, LA area, and San Diego that were planning on coming to court next Wednesday to support Nicole and Joseph, and thank you to everyone in all corners of the world who have been donating to the support fund, buying items off the amazon.com wish list, and stepping up in any way you can.

Please continue to check out the support site for further updates on the case and to learn about ways to show your support.

CA Prisoners Win Historic Gains with Settlement Against Solitary Confinement

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity:

Agreement reached in Ashker v. Brown ends indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in CA, among other gains for prisoners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 1, 2015
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years, where they spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells with little to no access to family visits, outdoor time, or any kind of programming.

“From the historic prisoner-led hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, to the work of families, loved ones, and advocate, this settlement is a direct result of our grassroots organizing, both inside and outside prison walls,” said Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), and mother of a prisoner in Pelican Bay. “This legal victory is huge, but is not the end of our fight – it will only make the struggle against solitary and imprisonment everywhere stronger.” The 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes gained widespread international attention that for the first time in recent years put solitary confinement under mainstream scrutiny.

Currently, many prisoners are in solitary because of their “status” – having been associated with political ideologies or gang affiliation. However, this settlement does away with the status-based system, leaving solitary as an option only in cases of serious behavioral rule violations. Furthermore, the settlement limits the amount of time a prisoner may be held in solitary, and sets a two year Step-Down Program for the release of current solitary prisoners into the prison general population.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement. A higher security general population unit will be created for a small number of cases where people have been in SHU for more than 10 years and have a recent serious rule violation.

“Despite the repeated attempts by the prison regime to break the prisoners’ strength, they have remained unified in this fight,” said Marie Levin of CFASC and sister of a prisoner representative named in the lawsuit. “The Agreement to End Hostilities and the unity of the prisoners are crucial to this victory, and will continue to play a significant role in their ongoing struggle.” The Agreement to End Hostilities is an historic document put out by prisoner representatives in Pelican Bay in 2012 calling on all prisoners to build unity and cease hostilities between racial groups.

Prisoner representatives and their legal counsel will regularly meet with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials as well as with Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who is tasked with overseeing the reforms, to insure that the settlement terms are being implemented.

“Without the hunger strikes and without the Agreement to End Hostilities to bring California’s prisoners together and commit to risking their lives— by being willing to die for their cause by starving for 60 days, we would not have this settlement today,” said Anne Weills of Siegel and Yee, co-counsel in the case. “It will improve the living conditions for thousands of men and women and no longer have them languishing for decades in the hole at Pelican Bay.”

“This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters,” said the prisoners represented in the settlement in a joint statement. “We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle.”

Legal co-counsel in the case includes California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Chistensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. The lead counsel is the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge in the case is Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rally and press conference are set for 12pm in front of the Elihu M Harris State Building in Oakland, which will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

The settlement can be read on CCR’s website, along with a summary. CCR has also put up downloadable clips of the plaintiffs’ depositions here.

 

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For September 2015 Is Now Available

From Prison Books Collective:

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Hello Friends and Comrades,

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

2) We’ve put the text online of our new zine How To Start A Prison Books Collective. We hope that this humble contribution will help other prison books groups get started and expand the important work of sending political, legal, and self-educational resources to prisoners. You can find the text here.

3) The Prison Ecology Project has extended its online fundraiser. They are creating tools to dismantle toxic prisons. So far, they are the only group focused on the intersection of environment and mass incarceration. Currently they are building a database of the five thousand prisons and jails around the country, finding the weak points in the environmental realm, and providing tools to organize locally. You can donate here.

4) Michael Kimble is up for parole in December and we are trying to get people to write letters to the parole board on his account.

Michael is a gay, black anarchist imprisoned in Alabama since 1986 for murdering a racist homophobe. He has been active for much of that time in prison organizing and rebellion. In recent years, he has been involved in hunger and work strikes in Alabama, working with the Free Alabama Movement. Michael has suffered severe consequences for his uncompromising attitude, including numerous stints in solitary (where he currently is held). Despite this, he remains committed to struggle against prison and the state.

Please, if you can, write the parole board and help get Michael free. Also, please spread this information using whatever media have available to you. Here’s a link to Michael‘s website, with a write-up on how to support his parole.

5) On Wednesday, August 12th, long term political prisoner, Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell was murdered. The context for his murder remains unclear, save for the fact that it happened in the midst of a prison riot.

In the early 1970s, while imprisoned in San Quentin State Prison, Hugo Pinell made contact with revolutionary prisoners such as George Jackson, one of the Soledad Brothers, and W.L. Nolen. On August 21, 1971, there was a prisoner uprising in Pinell’s housing unit at San Quentin, led by George Jackson. On that date, Jackson used a pistol to take over his tier in the Adjustment Center. At the end of the roughly 30 minute rebellion, guards had killed George Jackson, and two other prisoners and three guards were dead. Of the remaining prisoners in the unit, six of them, including Pinell, were put on trial for murder and conspiracy. Together, they were known as The San Quentin Six. Three of them were acquitted of all charges, and three were found guilty of various charges. Pinell was convicted of assault on a guard. For more on Hugo Pinell’s life and death see this excellent article from the San Francisco Bay View.

6) Be sure to check out the latest Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of War every-other week update by the  NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of important updates on many political prisoners. This one includes updates on Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Memorials for Hugo Pinell, poetry and more.

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

The Prison Books Collective

Barrett Brown out of solitary, still under restrictions

From freebarrettbrown.org:

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Barrett Brown has been moved out of solitary confinement, known as the Segregated Housing Unit, and back into the general compound. Barrett had been in solitary for more than two months, since around 17 June 2015, a duration far exceeding that which psychologists and the United Nations say constitutes torturous treatment. Barrett turned 34, his third birthday in jail, while in solitary confinement last week.

However, Barrett is still prohibited from using the phone, accessing email, purchasing commissary items and receiving visitors until 18 October. The email prohibition will last even longer unless his appeal succeeds.

We’ll continue to report on Barrett’s condition and access to various prison privileges as restrictions are eventually lifted.