Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[IFC News List] Disturbing News from a POW at Maghaberry Jail



In a letter to the Irish Freedom Committee, a POW at Maghaberry jail has told us disturbing news about the security forces' heavy-handed response to the prisoners' Easter protest at the jail, and conditions now.

The prisoner writes:

"After 36 hours upwards to 150 police and jailers surrounded the canteen with riot gear, shields, helmets, gas masks, balaclavas, axes, sledge hammers, picks and power saws and appeared ready to remove everyone by force. POWs were taken out one by one through lines of police and dogs.

Each strip searched, 13 taken to isolation units and 15 were returned to empty cells. 13 were charged under Rule 7 by the Secretary of State for one and a half days. No one allowed a change of clothes for four days.

All have been returned to Roe House and are being held under Rule 35 and kept in lockdown for 23 hours a day. The cells of some of the 13 returned from isolation units were wrecked, towels in the toilet wet mattresses etc. each cell took hours to clean. All 28 have been charged with "Mutiny". Relatives being told that they had not properly scheduled visits, POWs being told that they had no visits when they were on the schedule. Meals are still an issue, not making it to the prisoners as scheduled etc. Situation worse now than before Easter."

If you have not yet done so, please take a moment and a .98 cent stamp to copy and paste the text below into a letter to Paulk Goggins, demanding an immediate independent inquiry into the unacceptable human rights abuses at Maghaberry jail. The letter is also available as a.pdf download that you can print, sign, and mailin minutes on the Irish Freedom Committee website. It is linked on the front page and also thePOW Dept page.

The Irish Freedom Committee has sent a registered letter to Paul Goggins stating that despite Northern Ireland Prisons Services claims to the contrary, we are fully aware that the republican prisoners are still on 23-hour lockdown. We further wrote:

"Since we cannot get a straight answer regarding the number of hours prisoners are being locked up each day, we do not expect further clarity from your offices regarding the numerous other human rights complaints at Maghaberry jail. We wouldrespectfully request then that an immediate, impartial investigation belaunched into the numerous, and long-standing,human rights complaints bythe republican prisoners, and their families,at Maghaberry Jail."

Please forward this email widely and send your letter today.

Please forward this email widely and send your letter today.

============ SAMPLE LETTER ============ =

Paul Goggins MP - Minister of State with Responsibility for Prisons

Northern Ireland Office

Stormont House, Stormont Estate

Belfast, Northern Ireland


April 11, 2010

Dear Mr. Goggins

I am writing with my deep concerns regarding the dire situation at Maghaberry Prison, where recent disturbances brought world-wide attention to a trend of gravely worsening conditions inside.

I reference detailed testimonials by the political prisoners in Roe House at Maghaberry jail, in which are described instances of food and fresh water being with-held during extended periods of lock-down time of up to 23 hours at a time; meals denied to prisoners for up to four days, due to `staff shortages'; indiscriminate transfer of prisoners to solitary confinement- where beatings have frequently taken place- for days at a time; an instance of a prisoner being viciously mauled by a prison dog in February; repeated body searches of prisoners up to 40 times in a single day,and strip-searches of family visitors including women.

I am also aware that the prisoners have made repeated complaints about unhygienic conditions,which include being forced to eat meals in their cells within inches of open toilets; rather than being permitted to eat in the dining area. Also, a previous protest at Roe House resulted in the men refusing to shave or cut their hair rather than being required to do so in their kitchen sink,where plates and cutlery are washed. I further refer to a report of a recent visit to Maghaberry by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). The Committee's report described unacceptable conditions, including violent attacks by SST officers while being held in solitary confinement, instances of degrading and humiliating body-cavity searches, severe over-crowding, poor education and recreation facilities, and inadequate access to mental and physical health care.

There is no reason why these appalling abuses should continue in your facility. An independent review of this worsening situation must be made, if conditions have deteriorated so far as to force prisoners to resort to their action of Easter weekend; where the takeover of their quarters made International news.

The favor of a reply is requested. I have forwarded a copy of this letter to others including local media here.

Very Sincerely,

(Your Name/Address)


No comments: