The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Spanish]
expand

Boston, Confusión y Responsabilidad Colectiva

La gente de Savar se junto alrededor de una fábrica derrumbada para unirse con esfuerzos de rescate y encontrar a seres queridos. Los acontecimientos recientes alrededor de los bombardeos en Boston han confundido a internacionalistas. La semana pasada lamentamos las tres muertes innecesarias y las más de 200 personas heridas que ocurrieron en Boston el 15 de abril del 2013. Hoy lamentamos las más de 250 muertes innecesarias (y aumentando) y más de 800 otras personas que siguen otrapadas en los escombros en Bangladesh [actualización 10 de Mayo 2013: el numero de muertos ha pasado los 1000]. Aún estamos confundidos, aunque no sorprendidos, por las expresiones de tristeza tan desproporcionadas entre estadounidenses sobre estos dos casos. Los dos fueron consecuencias innecesarias del imperialismo. Hoy informes reportan que uno de los bombarderos en Boston dijo que fue motivado por las invasiones y ocupaciones de Iraq y Afghanistan por los Estados Unidos - ambas son ocupaciones imperialistas por los recursos del Tercer Mundo. Las muertes en Bangladesh ocurrieron después que un fabricante de prendas, quien produce artículos para el mercado estadounidense amenazo a sus empleadas con inanición para obligarlos a que trabajen en un edificio inseguro, el cual termino derrumbandose mientras ellos estaban adentro.

Gente muere todos los días en bombardeos en lugares como Iraq y Afghanistan donde han tenido bastante participación militar estadounidense y aún no vemos estadounidenses respondiendo como lo han hecho durante esta última semana. Esas personas a quienes se les llenaron los ojos de lágrimas sobre las muertes en Boston mientras apenas registraron las muertes en Bangladesh como un punto abajo de la pantalla de sus televisiones son emblemáticas del problema del chauvinismo nacional que existe en los estados Unidos. En lugar de este punto de vista nosotros promovemos la responsabilidad colectiva. La sociedad humana es un producto de actos humanos que nosotros como una especie colectiva determinamos. Para nosotros que vivimos en el país más poderoso del mundo, nuestra responsabilidad es tanto así más grande.

El lector estadounidense podría preguntar ¿debemos ceder a las demandas de cualquiera que deje una bomba casera entre una multitud? Claro que no. Lo que nosotros estamos diciendo es que si los estadounidenses le pusieran la misma atención a las muertes causadas por su propia nación como a las muertes infligidas a su nación entonces éstas últimas serían menos frecuentes. Pero claro, éstas últimas son leves en comparación a los anteriores porque los estadounidenses matan mucha más gente de otras naciones que viceversa. Asumiendo la responsabilidad por ésta verdad y actuando para cambiarla es lo más práctico que uno puede hacer para prevenir todas las muertes innecesarias. La mayor parte de la "respuesta" a los bombardeos en Boston han sido impresiones artificiales de los políticos y subjetivismo emocional - todo teatro y nada de sustancia. Para la gente del mundo que sólo soluciones verdaderas ganan respeto no palabras vacías.

Un mundo pacífico sí es posible. Pero un mundo pacífico es prevenido por uno con explotación. No se puede mantener desigualdad de riquezas y motivos de ganancias sin usar la fuerza. MIM(Prisiones) está por un fin a ese uso de fuerza, por un fin a toda opresión y explotación, y por un fin a las muertes innecesarias que son el resultado del sistema imperialista en varias formas. Hacemos un llamado a ciudadanos estadounidenses a que se unan con nosotros para asumir la responsabilidad colectiva por los actos de nuestro gobierno y las muertes y destrucción que resultan de ellos. Asumir responsabilidad significa tomar acción para cambiar esas cosas y luchar contra el chauvinismo cultural que domina nuestra sociedad.

chain
[Organizing] [Control Units] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 33]
expand

May Day Strike in Ohio Gained Small Reforms

Greetings to all revolutionary comrades who are captives in the gulags of these United $nakes of Amurderer. In light of the many struggles that have come to the forefront in these past few years I was dismayed at the lack of attention May Day received this year.

Inside the gulag called Ohio State Penitentiary, 30 days prior to May Day 2012 [this was originally published as 2013 - editor] several captives began planning what was hoped to become a massive hunger strike. This was to take place in C-Block where captives considered to be the most violent in the state are held.

The plan was to begin the strike on May 1 to coincide with the general May Day strikes taking place all over the world.

There were about 30 who had decided to go for the long run, but because some paperwork detailing some of our demands and our prospected start date was confiscated haphazardly by an escort pig, we decided on a whim to start a day early. This took the pig-overseers by surprise as some had taken that Monday off work anticipating confronting us at the onset of our demonstration.

So our core began a day early and we were joined by the rest on May Day, giving us a total of about 60 out of 140. By day 6 we were beginning to lose numbers but our point had been made: solidarity and organization can happen inside 23-hour lockdown, even on short notice.

Several pieces were run in the local newspapers. We had the attention of the bourgeoisie who responded negatively to a captive's article on how austerity has caused smaller food portions.

Our main demand was for the ending of the hopelessness of an indefinite classification to level 5-A & 5-B, better known as supermax, of "3 years or more." For so-called lesser offenses, one can receive this same classification for a period of "less than 3 years."

As we began to lose participants Warden D. Bobby decided to address the demands by adding good behavior incentives: extra phone calls, photos every three months, extra visit per month, etc. Basically they were saying that it is our negative behavior that keeps us here. They also began showing 3 new-release movies per week as well as offering lots more mental health and drug abuse programs.

As California has learned, not much changes without massive efforts and solidarity. This attests to our need for further acts of solidarity and organization for struggle, and the development of leadership backed by science to bring about a movement for change.

Thursday, May 23 at 11pm, 20 or so captives began flooding the ranges as backlash to the enforcement of an old rule stating "no loan, borrow, or trading" amongst captives. We remain on lockdown 23/7 while there is one person allowed out of our cell at a time for recreation. In an attempt to stop the passing and sharing of coffee, literature and photos, this captive's rec is terminated if caught passing. Because rec is a so-called guarantee, and it's our only out-of-cell time besides a shower, many rallied to address this. Some even swore to battle the captors if need be to prove their unwillingness to stop passing or give up rec.

A meeting with D. Bobby led to a promise to back off the rule and also give a few more behavioral incentives, and add a few more TV stations; pacification, no real change, and proof for the need of protests on May Day and beyond.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The persecution of prisoners who share literature and coffee is akin to the recent persecution of prisoners for participating in group exercise in California. These policies oppose peace and unity among the prison population. The criminalizing of the passing of literature also helps keep prisoners ignorant and supresses their ability to gain outside support. So we stand in solidarity with these comrades' struggle to oppose such repression. For our take on May Day in North America see our article "Big Fat Elephant in the May Day Dialogue," where we expose the double standard applied by those in the left-wing of white nationalism to workers in the First World compared to those in the Third World.

chain
[International Connections] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 32]
expand

Advance the Struggle for Humyn Rights in CA Prisons

smash the shu
Amendment I of the Bill of Rights of the United States:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

After decades of expanding the repression of the U.$. prison system, and despite their effectiveness in misleading and breaking up unity, the control units remain a flashpoint of struggle within U.$. borders. These flashes do take time to develop, due to the excessive restrictions placed on those in these units. So when they do come to light, they emerge from much struggle and are not likely to fizzle out soon.

The struggle against control units is a struggle against torture. It is a struggle against not just the violation of some of the most basic rights that this country was founded on, but also basic humyn needs like sunlight, exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction.

Orders From the Top

As U.$. president, Barack Obama once honored Rosa Parks and the movement of civil disobedience that she symbolized. It was a movement of Black people for basic rights under U.$. imperialism. Yet today the Obama administration gives its explicit approval to the torture and repression going on in a country that imprisons more of its population than any other state in humyn history, and a higher percentage of Blacks than the openly racist Apartheid state of South Africa. U.$. prisons also hold a higher percentage of their prisoners in long-term isolation than any other state that has been documented.

The 2014 federal budget proposed by Obama includes an overall increase in funding for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. More damning, it describes the remodeling of the recently acquired Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois to include an Administrative Maximum Custody (ADX) and Special Management Unit (SMU). ADX "houses the most violent, disruptive, dangerous and escape-prone inmates within the Federal Prison System including those convicted of terrorist activities." "The SMU program is for inmates who have participated in or had a leadership role in geographical group/gang-related activity or those who otherwise present unique security and management concerns." The budget proposal claims that one in six prisoners in maximum security are "gang affiliated." It does not specify how many of the 2100 beds will be SMU or ADX classified.(1) While lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of the treatment people face in these units, and international bodies like the United Nations condemn them as torture, the Obama regime is providing clear leadership to the hundreds of state and local agencies involved in the U.$. prison system on how prisoners are to be treated.

Obama's role is even more clear in Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners are being held as enemy combatants by the military. Prisoners there began another hunger strike on 6 February 2013. Since then the ranks of the strike have grown to over 130 people.(2) Many are being force-fed, and many are skeletal in appearance now.

All this is being done as the United $tates still has the audacity to claim it is promoting freedom around the world, with bombs. As we highlight the connections of the struggle against control units to the struggle against the imperialist system itself, the global importance of this struggle becomes evident. As RAIM pointed out in their recent statement to the international communist movement, failures at building socialism in the past have been connected to a temptation to imitate Amerikan ways. One way the anti-imperialist minority in the First World can strengthen the movements in the Third World is by making it very clear that this is not a model to follow, and that the Amerikan dream is built on torture, genocide, exploitation and injustice.

What to Expect

A Yemeni prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay, who has been on hunger strike since the start had an Op-Ed published in The New York Times, where he wrote,

"I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn't. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.

"I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I'm sleeping.

"There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren't enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up."(3)

Another prisoner who has since been released from Guantanamo Bay after a 438-day hunger strike reported how the force feeding was brutal and they did not clean the tubes between feeding people. The prisoners asked military personnel why they were doing this:

"They told us, 'We want you to break your hunger strike.' They tell us directly like that. They ask us to break our hunger strike. They said, 'We'll never deal with you as the detainees until you break your hunger strike.'"(2)

Comrades from NCTT-Corcoran-SHU (a New Afrikan think tank) have reported that staff at Corcoran State Prison have been announcing similar plans to prisoners in California, indicating that they will not be providing proper medical care and attention to strikers in their prison in the future. These threats, which violate state policies, will also result in undercounting strikers.(4) It is possible that information will not flow as freely this time around, meaning outside supporters will have little information to go on until the struggle is over. This reinforces the need for strong unity among those inside and the ability to act independent of outside support.

We've also received word of plans to move prisoners and staff around strategically over the next couple months. In particular, Special Needs Yard prisoners are reportedly being moved to other facilities and given work assignments. Prison staff apparently thinks this will dilute the spirit of prisoners. However, depending on the balance of forces, this could go either way. We know there are strong supporters of the prisoners' rights movement in SNY already, and we hope these coming months provide the conditions to further break down the divisions within the imprisoned lumpen class. While we know that staff regularly bribe prisoners to create disruptions among the population, the mass support for the interests of all prisoners will make it hard for these bribed prisoners to create disruptions openly in the coming months, hopefully longer.

There have been positive reports of prisoners being moved to areas they once could not go, as a result of the agreement to end hostilities that has been in place for over 6 months now, which was endorsed by the largest organizations in California prisons. In particular, positive reports have come from Pelican Bay and Corcoran, where two of the main SHUs are located. San Quentin death row has also reached out to share ideas to build their own prisoner rights campaign over the coming months.

We have received some letters about ideas on tactics for advancing the prisoner rights movement in California. We've printed some in ULK and shared others with United Struggle from Within members in California. But in most cases it is impossible for us to have a full understanding of the balance of forces, and thus we are not in a position to determine which tactics are best. In addition, conditions vary so much between facilities. Clearly the comrades in Pelican Bay and Corcoran took the lead in struggling to shut down the SHU and they will likely continue to do so. What we can say for sure is that July 8 will be an opportunity to have your voice amplified by acting in solidarity with all across the state, and many in other states as well. To determine how you can best do this, you must think through and balance the effectiveness of your tactics with the risks involved.

Where we can provide leadership is in our ideological alignment. Some lists of goals that are circulating include things that are not humyn needs. These demands may be subjectively popular among the prison masses, but will greatly damage support from the outside and internationally by trivializing the struggle for basic rights. As we presented in ULK 31, below are the strategic goals that, if attained, we think would represent the establishment of basic humyn rights for prisoners (note a small change to point 1.f.).

  1. An end to torture of all prisoners, including an end to the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) as long-term isolation prisons.

    Basic humyn needs are centered around 1) healthy food and water, 2) fresh air and exercise, 3) clothes and shelter from the elements and 4) social interactions and community with other humyns. It is the SHU's failure to provide for these basic needs that have led people around the world to condemn long-term isolation as torture. Therefore we demand that the following minimum standards be met for all prisoners:

    1. no prisoner should be held in Security Housing Units for longer than 30 days. Rehouse all prisoners currently in SHU to mainline facilities.
    2. interaction with other prisoners every day
    3. time spent outdoors with space and basic equipment for exercise every day
    4. healthy food and clean water every day
    5. proper clothing and climate control
    6. an end to the use of and threat of violence by staff against prisoners who have not made any physical threat to others
    7. access to phone calls and contact visits with family at least once a week
    8. timely and proper health care
    9. ability to engage in productive activities, including correspondence courses and hobby crafts
    10. a meaningful way to grieve any abuses or denial of the above basic rights

  2. Freedom of association.

    As social beings, people in prison will always develop relationships with other prisoners. We believe positive and productive relationships should be encouraged. Currently the CDCR makes it a crime punishable by torture (SHU) to affiliate with certain individuals or organizations. This is contrary to the judiciary's interpretation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We demand that prisoners of the state of California only be punished for violating the law, and that there be:

    1. no punishment based on what books one reads or has in their possession
    2. no punishment for jailhouse lawyering for oneself or for others, for filing grievances or for any challenges to conditions of confinement through legal means
    3. no punishment for what outside organizations one belongs to or corresponds with
    4. no punishment for communicating with other prisoners if not breaking the law
    5. no punishment for tattoos
    6. no punishment for what individuals of the same race/nation/organizational affiliation do unless you as an individual were involved in violating a rule or the law, i.e. no group punishment
    7. no punishment for affiliation with a gang, security threat group, or other organization - in other words a complete end to the gang validation system that punishes people (currently puts people in the SHU for an indeterminate amount of time) based on their affiliation and/or ideology without having broken any rules or laws

chain
[Culture] [Economics] [First World Lumpen]
expand

Hip Hop Serving the Middle Class

I want to comment on your article "Soulja Boy Dissed by Amerikan Rappers," featured in ULK22. Personally it is a grave disappointment to witness what hip hop has morphed into. We went from "Fuck da Police" and "Don't Believe da Hype" to "A Milli" and "Arab Money." Ironically the vast majority of the people that these modern day braggarts grew up around don't even have U.S. middle-class money, let alone "Arab Money."

Modern day hip hop artists seem unable and/or unwilling to move beyond this brag-about-my-wealth style of rap. Of course there's exceptions to this but in general there's no longer any social consciousness or depth to the lyrics of these mainstream hip hop artists. I'm no hater and I love to see people prosper and enjoy life but an album has to go beyond an artist detailing his or her good fortunes, to really have merit.

But pertaining specifically to the article, is it any real surprise that these artists ostracize an associate for something as simple as speaking his mind? The one main thing that the Black nation has been consistently good at throughout the years is attacking one another and embracing division, internal division.

Additionally all, or most of, the major hip hop artists are personally benefiting from the current system and establishment so naturally they stay in tune with it. They don't care that the overwhelming majority of people who look like them have been systematically discriminated against and oppressed from the very origin of this racist and corrupt country. The Hollywood set of the Black nation, which most of these hip hop artists integrate to, would sell their mothers and sisters for the crumbs their "massa" throws to them.

In part it goes all the way back to their forefather's house, which is Uncle Tom's cabin. A place where anybody who opposes "massa" is the enemy. And these descendants of Uncle Tom are the same today, they will go the extra mile, extra 1,000 miles, to protect their imperialists masters' interests; chiefly because they perceive some sort of shared interests and maybe even camaraderie.

Many people, even some in the underprivileged class, accept and embrace the glaring inconsistencies and contradictions which permeates U.$. society. They willfully embrace the lie that the establishment means good for them and the rest of the world, and when they're being pacified with their "Arab-Money" there's little chance they'll think any different.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we share this comrade's dismay at the current state of politics from major hip hop artists, we don't see them as quite so isolated in their benefits from the current system. While the New Afrikan nation certainly faces ongoing national oppression within U.$. borders, they also enjoy the wealth of an imperialist country and can see that they are better off than the majority of the world's people. The vast majority of U.$. citizens, regardless of nation, are earning more than the value of their labor and are part of the labor aristocracy. So in a way, hip hop artists who speak about their good fortune, do represent something real to their audience, even if their level of wealth is unattainable for most of their listeners. And the shared interests with the imperialists are real: the wealth of the labor aristocracy is won from the exploitation of the Third World.

chain
[Spanish] [U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 35]
expand

La Cultura de la Tortura Amerikana Golpea al Inmigrante

El inmigrante proletario ha sido componente fundamental del incremento en el número de prisioneros en los Estados Unido$ en los últimos años. Debido a ello están sufriendo en sus propias carnes las tácticas de tortura que los Amerikanos utilizan contra sus propios ciudadanos. Un informe reciente muestra que la oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas de los EEUU tiene a más de 300 prisioneros en aislamiento en 50 de sus mayores cárceles, lo que supone un 85% de sus detenidos. La mitad son mantenidos en aislamiento durante 15 o más días y cerca de 35 de los 300 llegan a permanecer en esas condiciones más de 75 días(1).

Aunque estas condenas son relativamente cortas comparadas con las que ya se consideran habituales en los Estados Unido$, las experiencias vividas en ellas son particularmente difíciles para el inmigrante que no habla ingles y han sido víctima del trafico de seres humanos.

Los autores del articulo citado anteriormente relatan con tono cauteloso que los Estados Unido$ usan el aislamiento más "que cualquier otra nación democrática en el mundo." Esto solo indica que es posible que otros países utilicen el aislamiento todavía más. Una de las razones por las que no pueden obtener estadísticas sobre las prácticas carcelarias de algunos países es que éstos son regímenes títeres de los Estados Unido$ que se administran de una forma intencionadamente opaca para permitir formas extremas de opresión contra los pueblos oprimidos. No hemos podido encontrar pruebas de una nación mitológica que torture en confinamiento solitario a más gente que Amerika.

Los Amerikanos encarcelan a más gente que ninguna otra nación incluso excluyendo a aquellos que mantienen en prisiones de terceros países. Con al menos 100,000 personas en aislamiento de larga duración dentro de las fronteras de los EEUU, parece altamente improbable que ningún país pueda superar sus números. Podemos encontrar más pruebas si observamos el estado de las prisiones en la mayoría de los países del tercer mundo, las cuales son más transparentes con su información que cualquier prisión de baja seguridad en los Estados Unido$. Las excepciones a esta regla siempre son los países con gran actividad militar o de inteligencia Amerikana, donde normalmente son los propios Amerikanos los que gestionan las prisiones.(3)

El ciudadano de los EEUU Shane Bauer fue encarcelado con cargos de espionaje por el gobierno de Irán, el cual es independiente de los Estados Unido$. Bauer nos ofrece ejemplos de como sus condiciones en aislamiento se distinguen en lo positivo y en lo negativo de las de aquellos encarcelados en Pelican Bay SHU en California. Lo más llamativo es el tiempo total pasado en aislamiento, que en su caso fue de sólo cuatro meses. Comparándolo con el "democrático" sistema de injusticia de los EEUU, Bauer escribe sobre Iran: "Cuando Josh Fattal y yo finalmente nos presentamos ante la corte revolucionaria de Irán, teníamos un abogado presente, pero no se nos permitió hablar con el. En California un reo que se enfrente a la peor condena posible, con excepción de la de muerte, no puede tener a su abogado en la
sala. No se le permite acumular o presentar evidencias para su defensa. No puede llamar a testigos. Muchas de las pruebas, recabadas por informantes, son confidenciales y por lo tanto imposibles de refutar. Eso fue lo que el Juez Salvati nos dijo después de que la persecución soltase su discurso acerca de nuestro papel en la vasta conspiración Americano-Israelí: había montones de pruebas, pero ni nosotros ni nuestro abogado podíamos verlas."(2)

Cita luego una decisión de la corte de los EEUU: "el juez dictaminó que 'un prisionero no tiene garantía constitucional de inmunidad al haber sido falsa o injustamente acusado de una conducta que pueda resultar en la privación de su libertad.' En otras palabras, es perfectamente legal que las autoridades de la prisión mientan con el objetivo de encerrar a alguien en aislamiento."(2)

La célebre prisión Californiana de "Pelican Bay" informa de un promedio de tiempo de los reos en el SHU (Unidad de Confinamiento Seguro) de 7.5 años. Muchos de los que pelearon por la liberación nacional contra el imperialismo Estadouniden$e han pasado 30 o 40 años en aislamiento en prisiones a lo largo de los Estados Unido$. MIM(Prisons) no conoce informes de ningún otro Estado que utilice el aislamiento como herramienta de castigo hasta estos
extremos.

Las técnicas de tortura desarrolladas en las unidades de control Amerikanas fueron diseñadas para destruir el espíritu combativo de las personas y grupos sociales que desafían el status quo, en particular el imperialismo de los Estados Unido$. Treinta años después de su desaparición, la posesión de materiales del Black Panther Party (Partido de los Panteras Negras) todavía mete a la gente en problemas de forma regular, siendo incluso citados por una infracción del tipo "Grupo de Amenaza a la Seguridad" (Security Threat Group). Éste es el termino Amerikano para los "crímenes de pensamiento".

Puede que estas técnicas se están desarrollando en centros de detención de inmigrantes como forma de disciplina para el proletariado Mexicano que los Amerikanos temen como una fuerza social de cambio. O puede ser un ejemplo de la cultura de una nación opresora extendiendo sus tentáculos hacia otras naciones. Sea como fuere, esta es una de varias formas de opresión que sirve para socavar el mito propagandístico de Amerika como nación que promueve la libertad.

Durante años, los Estados Unido$ han sido criticados por las Naciones Unidas como el principal Estado responsable del uso del aislamiento de larga duración como forma de tortura. Hoy, el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos dijo, "Debemos ser claros: los Estados Unido$ están en clara violación no solo en sus propios compromisos sino también en leyes internacionales y normas que están obligados a cumplir."(4) Estas palabras figuraban en una declaración dirigida a los 166 extranjeros que llevan más de una década detenidos en la prisión de Guantanamo Bay, muchos sin ningún cargo.

Así como el armamento de alta tecnología no pudo ganar la guerra de los Amerikanos en Afghanistan, las técnicas más sofisticadas de tortura de las modernas unidades de control no pueden acallar el ultraje extendido de las masas que viven bajo el dominio imperialista. Las oportunidades para hacer conexiones internacionalistas en el movimiento de prisiones dentro la fronteras de los EEUU no hace más que crecer a medida que más y más gente de
fuera de esas fronteras son atrapados por el sistema.


Notas:
1. Ian Urbina and Catherine Rentz. Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks, New York Times, 23 March 2013.
2. Shane Bauer. Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons, Mother Jones, 18 October 2012.
3. Cora Currier and Suevon Lee. The Secret Prison
ProPublica gathers the best reporting on detention and rendition under Obama, 16 July 2012.
4. Stephanie Nebehay. U.N. rights chief calls for closure of Guantanamo prison, Reuters, 5 April 2013.

chain
[Hunger Strike] [North Kern State Prison] [California]
expand

Spreading News About Hunger Strike

I've been siting here in North Kern State Prison for the last 3 months waiting to see my counselor so I could get cleared for transfer to my next place of confinement. We don't get much action or anything here, reading material is always hard to come by. But the other day I got the chance to read your Under Lock & Key newspaper and I must admit I liked it, a lot!

Through the grapevine I heard about what was planned for July 8th, 2013, but to be real no one knew if it was true or not. Until reading your newspaper it was just a rumor, and today we know it's not, thanks a lot for the information.


MIM(Prisons) adds: It may seem like information about the hunger strike in California was widely available to prisoners based on the high number of participants, but this letter demonstrates the slow and difficult work involved in building such an action. Each pod, or sometimes each cell, is isolated from all others, and getting information about what's going on depends on the whims of the censors at each prison, who might get transferred, and what outside contacts people have. This is one reason we stress the importance of everyone getting their own subscription to Under Lock & Key. You never know when you will be isolated from your comrades, but as long as you can receive mail you will at least get some news from ULK. In addition, the more people subscribed, the more likely that one or two copies of the newsletter will make it past the censors in any prison.

chain
[Organizing] [United Front] [Texas] [ULK Issue 33]
expand

Rats Undermine United Front Unity

I have now been put in a terrible dilemma. As I've tediously pursued a path of peace between all other structures, humbly accepted harsh criticism, and deeply entrenched myself and all those I'm entrusted to lead here in Texas in a now awkward ordeal. I've painstakingly strove to clean up my own structure's fumbles and reestablish a mutual trusted bond to the numerous others who speak of their fundamental views which essentially determine how the inner structures function.

Surrounding us who strive for our established agendas are numerous confidential informants and rats who refuse to come out their cell cage and constantly inform to the authority on any of our attempts. Sadly these rats have been studying how we try to heal differences, and move past minor mishaps. Then when given the opportunity, these rats inject ploys which are specifically designed to cause immediate distrust and steps backwards, as it induces paranoia and causes all to erect the walls of defense.

All forward progress I have made has crumbled, as I passed items to another, the booklet on freedom of information, right to communicate, and a kite of explanation. The booklets made it to the other structures, but then the kite disappeared. I had drawn the assumption they had the kite (my bad).

I then moved to pass information to the structure's main spokesperson. Upon arrival of said material, he deduced I was playing and seeking to disrespect him, his creed, ethics, and morals. To avoid a verbal dispute I avoided all until it mellowed out. Then, when he approached me I verified yes, I apologized for the crossed wires, but the rats seen were at negative work and attacked both he and I by falsely filing to alter our medical diets, cell searches, and my legal requests to invoke doubt that I was attacking them, and make me think they were retaliating. This was a massive ploy instigated by the confidential informant rat. At the same time, one of them verbally threatened the rat, and mysteriously he got moved. But, due to the melodramatics the rat was orchestrating, and myself being under the gun, they believed that I initiated and instigated these ploys.

So, I and all I represent are at arms. I have tried to keep honest peace between us, but due to hard heads and extreme views of subordinates they kept the seeds of hate and distrust germinating.

I am designated the lead representative for mine here. All I've tediously striven to build with MIM(Prisons)'s guidance of United Front has been undermined. Now a vicious wedge has been shoved in between us and our ability to move forward. I have tried to speak, apologize for circumstances beyond my control, and offer all we can to resolve the problem. But this is the second time rats have attacked our struggle.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Developing the ideas behind the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) was the first, easy task. The hard part is actually getting people to look past previous disagreements and conflicts to unite for a common interest. This comrade sheds light on one of the big problems our anti-imperialist organizers face behind bars: the same kinds of covert attacks that the revolutionary movement has faced for years from the government. While prison conditions have done much to bring LOs together to see their common circumstances, there is not much freedom to operate under such repression. It takes careful communication and education to build around these attacks. One thing that we can do to help prevent these problems is educate people about the COINTELPRO-like attacks that will happen to progressives, so that people are on the look-out and aware of what might be done by the pigs.

We want to hear from the various groups and cells that have signed on to the UFPP statement. How have you implemented the principles? What progress and setbacks have you seen? How can we build on each others' experiences? Often we learn more from negative experiences. So send your reports in to Under Lock & Key. We also still welcome statements of unity from groups new to the UFPP. Both help us promote the United Front and the struggle for peace.

chain
[Spanish]
expand

Huelga de hambre resumira: demandas de presos de California Tendran que ser cumplidas antes del 8 de Julio

Recientemente el estado de California ha creado lo que ellos llaman el programa "Step Down", el cual nosotros en el SHU de Pelican Bay hemos rechazado. Las huelgas que barrieron las prisiones Amerikanas en el 2011 se iniciaron con la intención de obtener cinco demandas, las cuales el estado no ha concedido hasta el día de hoy. Este Julio se cumplirán dos años desde que la población presa se movilizó por primera vez en torno a estas cinco demandas y el Estado aún sigue fabricando excusas tras excusas y dando vueltas en círculos arrastrando las cosas con promesas y más promesas.

Hemos llegado a lo más profundo para tener algún poco de paciencia que todavía nos quede como personas que han sufrido por años y en algunos casos décadas bajo la tortura brutal del Estado. Y aún así, esta paciencia fue tomado como debilidad, así como todos los opresores toman la paciencia o los buenos gestos que vienen de los oprimidos. Hemos tratado de resolver este asunto con el Estado brutal mediante el diálogo, y mediante acuerdos, sin ningún resultado. ¡Ahora entendemos que como todos los esfuerzos por la dignidad y los derechos humanos esto tomará una gran lucha!

En todos partes del mundo donde la gente luchó la opresión fue mediante la lucha, con actos de sacrificio y desinterés en alguna manera. La ley de dialécticas comprueba que la lucha, el sacrificio y sufrimiento producen justicia, libertad y paz. Una se apoya en la otra en una unidad de oposiciones y una contradicción perpetua y esta es la contradicción en la que hoy los prisioneros nos encontramos y que creo la condiciones para que las huelgas del 2011 salieran a la superficie.

California, como todas la cárceles y prisiones imperialistas, han dependido del tratamiento brutal para poder controlar a sus prisioneros. Es el vivir dentro de una sociedad capitalista que crea estos campos de prisión, estos campos de concentración que capturan a nuestra gente, que capturan a nuestra juventud y nos tienen viviendo bajo una fuerza ocupada, colonizada no solamente físicamente sino también mentalmente. La suerte de nuestras naciones dentro de las prisiones deben de lo que hagamos hoy.

En las últimas décadas el movimiento por los derechos de los presos ha estado estancado en un punto y coma, muchos han sido comprados con la ideología burgués insignificante donde todos buscan el salir adelante y hacer dinero, demasiados buscando el escasísimo en las drogas o el alcohol, muchas veces escucho a los presos hablar sobre "hacerse ricos o morir tratando," pero como dijo el fallecido Prez, "necesitamos liberarnos o morir tratando."

La pregunta es, ¿Continuaremos encerrados en condiciones opresivas o nos levantaremos finalmente y demandamos nuestra dignidad? Más y más de nuestra juventud entra en estos campos de concentración formandose de tras de nosotros y caminando en sincronización al matadero conocido como el SHU o el Hoyo. El estado nos ha arrebatado tantos de nuestros "privilegios." Nuestros seres queridos también sufren por tener que viajar largas distancias para visitarnos, y tener que pagar precios atroces por llamados telefónicas y productos caros, y con todo eso lo seguimos aceptando. Esto ha ocurrido por demasiado tiempo y nuestra paciencia se acabó. Estamos envejeciendo, nuestra salud esta empeorando, nuestra cordura está en peligro bajo estas condiciones crueles y decrépitas que parecen no tener fin. Sin ver luz al final del túnel, seremos nosotros los que tendremos que encender la chispa que creará nuestra propia luz al final del túnel.

Le hemos dado a la prisión hasta el 8 de Julio para cumplir con las demandas del 2011, si no se cumplen, nuestra huelga de hambre continuará ese día. Demandamos ser tratados como seres humanos, no continuaremos siendo torturados. Lo que aprendimos del 2011 fue la represión que vendrá de una protesta no-violenta y muchas ideas han nacido de esto. Aprendimos muchas lecciones desde la última huelga. Lecciones que nos harán mucho más fuertes la próxima vez. Hacemos un llamado a todos los oprimidos para que utilicen el 8 de Julio como grito de huelga y día histórico para llamar la atención a tu sufrimiento, a tu tortura y condiciones agobiantes. Así, les pedimos que todos unidos entremos el 8 de Julio en huelga de hambre en unidad por todos los presos, no solamente en Estados Unidos sino alrededor del mundo.

unidos podemos lograr lo que sea, mientras activemos como uno. Tenemos que recordar que nuestros opresores actúan como uno cuando crean leyes tan severas y botan la llave. Actúan como uno cuando a palos nos rompen la cabeza y nos someten a condiciones tortuosas. No importa sus antecedentes formación o nacionalidad, sus botas y palos se sienten igual en nuestros cuerpos. Así también usemos todos los presos esta unidad en un frente unido en el cual cada calabozo forme sus propias demandas el 8 de Julio para mejorar las condiciones donde sea que te encuentres.

Todavía quedan algunos meses para que llegue esta fecha, y es mejor tener tiempo para preparar la mente y estar listos. California ha iniciado a desarrollar zonas de paz en todas la cárceles y prisiones donde los presos y a no se pelean entre ellos mismos, oprimiendose los unos a los otros. Ahora, en vez de guerrear entre nosotros, los presos en California están buscando maneras de mejorar sus condiciones de vida. Estamos promoviendo la paz y creando zonas de paz en todas la instituciones. Están con la mirada fija hacia en verdadero opresor y desarrollando una cultura más revolucionaria en todas las prisiones, cárceles y centros de detención juvenil. Solamente creando un ambiente más revolucionario es como el verdadero cambio puede llegar y no solamente en nuestras condiciones en la prisión, sino también en nuestras relaciones en los los unos y los otros detrás y dentro de estas paredes de la prisión. Hay que crear estas zonas y mirar a aquellos que también están cautivos como luchadores en contra del mismo opresor.

chain
[Abuse] [Legal] [Central Prison] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 33]
expand

NC Prisoners take 23 to Court over Assaults

Sitting here I thought I would touch base and let you know that the pigs in Raleigh got caught red-handed. I'm in an eight-plaintiff lawsuit against 23 defendants, including the former and present wardens at Central prison.

Last year they put a guy in a wheelchair. Pigs were aware that the cameras didn't record or even have the capacity to record in certain areas and would put prisoners in restraints and then beat them down. They broke several of my ribs.

We are working on getting new cameras and a video retention policy, which currently they don't have. I have been working like hell to get a light shown on these corrupt pigs so as the hunger striker said in ULK 24, "Let's Rock!!"

The case is: Stanley Earl Corbett et al., v Warden GJ Branker et al., U.S.D.C. Eastern District of NC Western Division, No. 5:10-CT-3135

Defendants

  1. Warden GJ Branker
  2. Warden Kenneth Lassiter
  3. Sgt. James Reed
  4. Sgt. Mildred Prado
  5. Off. Doyle Holloman
  6. Off. Melanie Lancaster
  7. Off. Timmie Hicks
  8. Off. Samuel James
  9. Lt. Michael Norris
  10. Lt. Brent Soucier
  11. Off. Moore
  12. Off. Press
  13. Off. Summerlin
  14. Off. Arthur Marsh Jr.
  15. Off. Oates
  16. Off. Bidwell
  17. Off. Lassiter
  18. Off. Marcel Colleymore
  19. Off. Tyson
  20. Off. Alexander
  21. Off. Jared Welch
  22. Off. Ben
  23. Off. Hunt


MIM(Prisons) adds: We commend the prisoners who came together to organize this suit against difficult odds in a state where law libraries do not exist. Yet, demanding cameras to address this one instance will do nothing to stop the inhumane, physical abuse that is meted out at a conspiratorial level. Abuse like this has led to multiple hunger strikes and other demonstrations in recent years in North Carolina prisons.

Of course, the Department of Public Safety turns around and accuses ULK of promoting violence and lawlessness, having censored every issue we've put out since November 2011. As the rampant abuse and corruption of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety comes to light, we have comrades struggling against these abuses on many different fronts including censorship, grievance procedures and physical brutality, as well as education and recruitment on the inside. And despite all the censorship, as one reader points out, it seems interest in Under Lock & Key only continues to grow.

chain
[International Connections] [ULK Issue 32]
expand

Strategic Confidence in the International Balance of Forces

Together we break imperialism
While many of our readers write to us to express the lack of consciousness and unity in the prisons where they are held, one USW comrade pointed out in ULK 31 h realization that ULK is a venue where conscious prisoners can come together and build, minimizing that isolation. We try to make ULK a tool that helps the development of the growing new prison movement. But primarily it is to be the "voice of the anti-imperialist movement" in U.$. prisons, and it is a Maoist-led project. This not only sets this newsletter apart, but makes for what we believe is a more effective way to address oppression.

Over the years, we've received comments from some USW comrades that ULK is too light on international news and analysis. With all the reader surveys we've gotten back recently, we've had many say they love the content of ULK and like to hear about similar struggles throughout the U.$. prison system. But a few have said they find the prison reporting dry and, more importantly, it does not provide a clear political message to the less ideologically developed comrades. If true this would be a grave error.

Even if we unite the handful of conscious comrades in each prison across the country, we are still only dealing with a small minority of prisoners, not to mention the whole U.$. population. One young comrade recently wrote us, "I write this because I seek advice. At times I feel like giving up trying to fight this fight because it seems like I'm here fighting by myself."

While the day-to-day struggles of USW comrades are primarily focused on the conditions of oppression that the prison masses around them face, a reformist strategy would understandably lead one to defeatism. This is particularly true if you accept our line that Amerikans in general support the current injustice system and have made it what it is today. How could asking them for change ever change anything? That is why we strive to help prisoners build reformist battles in targeted ways that build a movement, while realizing the limitations of such struggles. Campaigns for prison reform are a tactic to push the prison movement to develop.

One important piece of our strategic orientation is the strategic confidence we have from our global class analysis. Basically, our analysis says that the vast majority of the world's people, a solid 80%, will benefit materially from an end to imperialism. This is why we believe anti-imperialism is destined for success. Subjectively, this can be important to keep in mind in an environment surrounded by class enemies or by those with bourgeois consciousness.

Pulling these theoretical points together into our practice, as editor i will continue to push for international content in each issue of Under Lock & Key, as has been our policy. One way i plan to expand the international connections we make is to have a section in each issue to print news snippets on events from the Third World that demonstrate determined resistance and a broad class consciousness that is opposed to imperialism. We hope that our readers find inspiration in this information that you probably aren't getting from other news sources. With no further ado, here are a few recent events that help illustrate why we have strategic confidence in the people's struggle against imperialism.

Paktiya province of Afghanistan, 17 April 2013 - Hundreds of angry residents protested against NATO occupation troops for conducting a night-time raid that killed at least one citizen.(Khaama Press) The sentiments of the people of Afghanistan are so clear that even U.$.-backed President Karzai has continuously called for an end to these raids led by the Amerikan military.

In India it is reported that Maoist forces have established a "Red corridor" allowing troop movement between the two key fronts of the People's War in southern Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, near Gumla. (Hindustan Times, 15 April 2013)

The Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been leading a People's War for decades, has clearly opposed the use of the Philippines to stage a U.$. war in Korea:

"With not even a hint of advocating or forging an independent foreign policy, the Aquino regime declared it an 'obligation' on the part of the Philippines to side with and support US warmongering under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) of 1951. The Filipino people must take a stand and resist the Aquino regime's puppetry to US imperialism and for dragging the Philippines into intervening in the Korean Peninsula and the Asia-Pacific. Such a policy endangers the Filipino people."(CPP Ang Bayan, 10 April 2013)

Meanwhile, Hezbollah's Nasrallah said in a TV statement, "Syria has real friends in the region and the world that will not let Syria fall in the hands of America, Israel or Takfiri (extreme jihadi) groups."(The Guardian, 30 April 2013) Russia and Iran continue to support the Syrian government, while Obama threatens intervention and Israel has reportedly bombed the capital of Damascus. This over two year "civil war" is an example of why we say World War III is already here, and it is characterized by U.$. hegemony and low-intensity warfare in the Third World involving both local interests and the conflicting interests of the imperialist camps.

In South America, indigenous people have once again interrupted construction of the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil. Hundreds of people including, "Munduruku, Juruna, Kayapo, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakana, Arara, fishermen and peoples who live in riverine communities" occupied the site releasing a statement that read, in part,

"You invent stories that we are violent and that we want war. Who are the ones killing our relatives? How many white people have died in comparison to how many Indigenous people have died? You are the ones killing us, quickly or slowly. We're dying and with each dam that is built, more of us will die. When we try to talk with you, you bring tanks, helicopters, soldiers, machineguns and stun weapons."(Earth First! News, 2 May 2013)

Finally, in Ecuador, the media has covered the continuing struggle of the Wuaroni and Kichwa people who have pledged to fight to the death to keep oil operations out of their homeland in pristine Amazon rainforest habitat. Both struggles stand strong against formidable opposition of the local state and multinational corporations.

chain