The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Your Socks

We are given shoes - and the cement to walk on
jacket and pants - and the gum to chew on
unwrap the plastic - open the box
Let's see just how much money we can blow on socks
symbols stitched outward - seams pink and frilly
made in amerikkan sweatshops - made in Vichy Chile
Teresa Marie is nine and has worked here years
fifty cents a day for her blood sweat and tears
she lives in a mud hut with her family's chickens
and old rusty barrel - a couple flat rocks
home sweet home - here's Teresa's kitchen
her father shot by a U.$.-backed dictator
her mother raped by a drunken U.$. soldier
the baby's half white and starving to death
fifty pennies a day - eight mouths - no milk left
you walk into the store - air conditioned - complaining
she walks in the mud shoeless - sharp rocks - daily
you are proud as apple pie to be an amerikkkan
she has nightmares: "U.$. soldiers are coming to get me"
bigger fatter stitched corporate brand name socks
skinnier jumpier malnourished children walking on rocks
you're depressed - on medication
but at least you don't stink
powdered. deoderized - pampered. christianized
you want Jesus to save you - LOL - ya right
behind her hut in an old tree knot
a penny a week out of the several she's got
a smile lights her face as she turns to cook dinner
her brother needs ammo - revolutionary clandestine U.$. pig killer

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[National Oppression]
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Blinded by the White

In MIM(Prisons)'s response to "How to Unite with White Lumpen" in ULK 46, it is pointed out that white supremacists in prison generally do not make for allies in the anti-imperialist struggle.

It is necessary to distinguish between white supremacist and so-called white people. A white supremacist whole-heartedly believes the purported "white race" is superior to all other skin colors. Because of this supposed superiority, they believe it is moral and destined that they should rule, dominate, and oppress/extort/enslave people of other skin tones/colors. Naturally, these views are not scientific nor are they compatible with Marx-Lenin-Maoist ideology.

In prison I've encountered varying groups of white supremacists: Aryan Brotherhood, Odinists, Wotan, Christian identity, to name a few. Each group has two prominent things in common: 1. Non-white races are not equal and it isn't wrong to treat them as inferior subhuman species; and 2. These groups idolize Hitler and the politics of National Socialism (Nazism). Ironically, Hitler would have enslaved and/or exterminated most of these white supremacists just as he did "white" poles, Czechs, Russians, etc.

In the prison context my experience has been that the white prisoners who are not affiliated with any lumpen organizations are more open to anti-imperialist truth. Those who have been rejected, impoverished, put in institutions at an early age, and generally shit upon by Amerikkkan society have no allegiance to it. Don't be blinded by the white, but wisdom says don't look for gold in a sack of pennies.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer's assessment of the greater potential to appeal to unaffiliated white prisoners than those who are a part of explicitly supremacist groups. Different units and facilities have their own unique cultures (as in the article under discussion, the facility was reported to be controlled by the Black Muslim population, a unique condition indeed). It's certainly possible that Amerikkkans in Virginia prisons are friendly to socialist ideas at a higher-than-average rate. Whether they're devoting their lives to fighting against imperialism and oppression is another question altogether, and is not something MIM(Prisons) has noticed in our work.

We still think it is worth noting that we are talking about national oppression, not racism, and even the whites who have led very difficult lives have been raised on an unconscious diet of national superiority. It's not that everyone is consciously racist, but the white nation as a whole enjoys privileges that individuals don't even notice in day-to-day life.

White people don't notice that the cops aren't stopping them just for "looking suspicious", whereas cops regularly stop Black and [email protected] people for this reason, or none at all. White people don't notice that they're receiving better treatment in so many situations, just as a privilege of the nation to which they were born. At the same time, whites are taught that they deserve better (as they are taught that New Afrikans are more likely to commit crimes, Muslims are all terrorists, [email protected] are lazy, etc.) and those who want to fight on the side of the world's oppressed must consciously fight against this mis-education. That is what the article "How to Unite with White Lumpen" is about — unaffiliated whites, who supposedly are not conscious white supremacists, are very likely to get defensive in protecting their superiority on questions of imperialism and liberation of oppressed nations (i.e. on questions of reducing their national superiority). We're speaking in terms of generalizations and national tendencies discovered through studying history and practice, not painting every single Amerikkkan as an inherent, conscious and unchangeable white supremacist.

We say Amerikkkans working against the interests of the predominantly white Amerikkkan nation are "committing national suicide." We encourage them to do so, while not holding our breath waiting on them to take the plunge. We call on all people to join the anti-imperialist struggle and consciously work to end whatever national or class oppression they may benefit from, for the benefit of humynity and the world as a whole.

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[Legal] [Campaigns] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 49]
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Lawsuit on Inadequate Rec and Food Pending, Seeking Assistance

Texas Administrative Segregation Lawsuit help needed
Linked document is a letter from the prisoner
requesting assistance with eir lawsuit.

The conditions continue to be much better here at Connally Unit in Kenedy, Texas since I filed that lawsuit on the recreation/lockdowns/food. But of course that could be reversed at any moment so I continue to push it and continue to use it as a tool to organize/mobilize the prisoners to take group action.

We are working on a mass grievance campaign at the moment, to follow up on some of the issues that are in the lawsuit but the administration hasn't adequately addressed. It's really pretty minor stuff, as the main thing was them cancelling rec every day, and they have stopped doing that. But I feel like you're either moving forward or you're going to move backwards, you know? And the real value in a group action like a mass grievance campaign is what it does to raise the consciousness of the group.

There is definitely a lot more interest since people here have seen that we CAN fight back. But the general consciousness level was so low here and the prisoners were so beat down and demoralized that it will take a LOT of work to develop any widespread activist mentality.

I'm going to enclose a copy of a form letter I typed up and sent out to about ten civil rights organizations already. It's pretty self-explanatory. Just trying to get some more support on this lawsuit. And I know your funding is very limited plus you aren't lawyers there, so you're not going to be able to help directly. But I'm sending it on the off chance that someone there might know a lawyer with sympathies towards the cause who might be willing to do something.

Like I explain in the letter, we don't necessarily need actual representation. This is a pretty straightforward case and they are going to want to settle at some point. Obviously they are — that's why they immediately started running rec again once I filed it. They know the records are going to show they were just flat out lying about these so-called staff shortages. But with a lawyer putting additional pressure I think we will get better terms on any settlement and a settlement will happen quicker.

I want to get these improvements locked in with a legally binding written agreement asap so that I can move on to other projects. So if you do happen to know a lawyer or have any other ideas for what you might do with this letter, please keep our struggle here in mind, okay? Thanks.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The pdf linked to this article is a copy of the author's letter ey sent to ten civil rights organizations. The letter outlines the conditions in Connally Unit regarding an egregious lack of recreation time and lack of adequate food. The author is asking for a lawyer to intervene in order to push the lawsuit to a quick settlement. If you are able to assist this struggle, please write to MIM(Prisons) and we will put you in touch with the leader of the suit.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 48]
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The Lumpen's Religion


written with Ndugu Nyota of RSF

Let's talk about religion. Specifically, let's address the question of whether religion is or is not useful in the struggle against prisons and against imperialism.

Many of today's prison groups and lumpen organizations (LOs) are well rooted in religious ideas, theories and practices. For example, the Nation of Gods and Earths and the Rastafarians are both very influential among New Afrikan LOs. The LOs in prison have had experience in the areas of adopting certain religious values for the sake of defending themselves against total annihilation. Whether using religion, spirituality or faith as a conventional method to serve this goal for prisoners will bring about liberation faster than any other method will be determined by prisoners and prisoner-led efforts. [History has already proven dialectical materialism as an ideology to be far more effective at bringing about liberation than religion and faith, but we agree with testing it as a tactic in certain conditions as discussed below. - ULK Editor]

Prisons are a political effect of the bourgeois imperialist oppressive structure, which is determined to take more of the world's wealth and riches than it gives. Therefore prisons are political and produce political prisoners, as MIM(Prisons) holds: "...all prisoners are political prisoners because under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, all imprisonment is substantively political."

Prisoners begin to develop a consciousness of their environment by evaluating the material conditions they are in. Through a process of unity-criticism-unity they often transform themselves into the change they wish to see. This transformation often begins to manifest in individual decision-making skills. One begins to evaluate the pros and cons of indirect and direct action, to spread solutions to fellow prisoners' conflicts, and eventually one becomes sought out by the masses as a leader.

While the reality is that all prisoners are political, as we begin to develop our political consciousness we find that we are prohibited from being directly involved in the politics that we are subject to. When U.$. prisoners take that conscious state of mind to the level of organizing, campaigning and agitating, they become victims of laws criminalizing politicking in prisons. Many prisoners and LOs are well aware of this weapon of the snakes. Prisoners have little to no legal standing in the U.$. bourgeois injustice system to defend against the assaults on their humyn right to politically advocate and demonstrate their class interest as lumpen in the United $tates.

By law, according to the U.$. Constitutional standard, prisoners have a right to grieve conditions relative to the prison environment. They have the right to correspond with members of society, including the press. But when those of the prison population begin organizing the locals into group actions, they are labeled as security threat group leaders. Prisoners are incapable of putting forth a defense to these charges because by state standards their groups are un-sanctioned. Without a license we are prohibited from driving forward the people to a state of consciousness from where they may liberate themselves.

LOs don't register their groups with the state, they don't report their activities to the state, and the majority of LOs don't pay taxes on any income of the organization; all behaviors criminalized by the state. Essentially, prisoners being involved in a public manner in/with prison politics are whooped from the jump start.

It is therefore no coincidence that religious/spirituality groups that focus on the lumpen have become quite popular within U.$. prisons. They provide a more free outlet for expression and camaraderie. Of course, this has been a role played by religious organizations since the days of the Roman empire, when the church recruited the labor of those who had no legal warrant to sell their labor. This can lead to these religious bodies being a voice in service of the oppressed or to the religious body suppressing the desires of the oppressed to the benefit of the oppressor.

At different times religion has played different roles ideologically and politically. Many New Afrikan lumpen read in Dr. Suzar's Blacked Out Through Whitewash that:

"'Jesus, was the Panther? An original name for Jesus was... son of the Panther!' (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine).

"Even the Bible refers to him as 'the Lion of the tribe Juda.' (Rv. 5:5) 'Jesus in fact, was a Black nationalist freedom fighter... whose goals were to free the Black people of that day from the oppressive... White Roman power structure... and to build a Black nation.' (I Barashango)

"Schoenfield reports in The Passover Plot p 194: 'Galilee, were[sic] Jesus had lived... which was home of the Jewish resistance movement, suffered particularly. The Romans never ceased night and day to devastate... pillage [and kill].'

"In the Black Messiah p91, Rev. A.B. Cleage Jr. writes that Jesus was a revolutionary 'who was leading a [Black] nation into conflict against a [white] oppressor... It was necessary that he be crucified because he taught revolution.' Jesus stated, 'I have not come to send peace, but a sword.' (The Holy Bible - Mathew 101.34 - King James Version)"(1)

Depending on the leadership of the religious institutions and the cleverness of the lumpen, religion and politics can go hand-in-hand with one another. Devout members of the left will disagree and dogmatic rightists will call for a lynch mob. But at the end of the discussion the outcome is to be decided by those directly related to and at the source of the phenomenon.

It is the position held by MIM(Prisons) that i admire most:

"In some ways communism is the best way for religious people to uphold their beliefs and put an end to the evils of murder, rape, hunger and other miseries of humyns. Some argue that Jesus Christ must have been a communist because he gave to the poor."(2)

Many prisoners utilize liberation theology as a means to merge their political strengths with the legal warrant of the First Amendment right to freedom of religious exercise as the defense against political attacks from the police state.

The lumpen's religion is the exception to the world's norm of religion as representing the status quo. There are many prisoners who fall into the wash of all faiths, but there is a powerful source of prisoner liberation theologists at the forefront of the anti-imperialist prison movement too. It is possible that this very source is the face of the prison struggle for the age we are entering. Working smarter is working harder within the belly of the beast.

Prisoners should struggle to have their political interest respected by the state, but they should not concentrate more on convincing the police state that prisons are inappropriate, and the greatest crimes are being committed by themselves. They know this good and well already. LOs must concentrate on tactics that will forge united fronts capable of pushing the forces of history forward faster.

We conclude with a quote from Russian leader V.I. Lenin:

"We must not only admit workers who preserve their belief in God into the Social-Democratic Party, but must deliberately set out to recruit them; we are absolutely opposed to giving the slightest offense to their religious convictions, but we recruit in order to educate them in the spirit of our programme, and not in order to permit an active struggle against it."(3)

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[United Front] [Vermont] [ULK Issue 47]
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The United Lumpen Front for Peace & Unity in Virginia Prisons

[A comrade in the Virginia prison system sent us a proposal for a United Front among lumpen organizations in that state. When we sent some feedback on the statement we got this response explaining that so far it has been difficult to build support for the united front. The author also explains why this statement is focused on New Afrikan lumpen groups. MIM(Prisons) did not substantively edit the peace treaty except to remove one point of conduct prohibiting sagging pants. In discussion with the author we agreed that this is divisive on a point that is not critical to the united front. - MIM(Prisons)]

The inspiration for this peace agreement is the Agreement to End Hostilities that the imprisoned comrades put together in California back in 2012. Unlike the California prison system, there isn't a legacy of revolutionary formations in the Virginia prison system. There is virtually no code of conduct, no guidelines of discipline, etc. amongst the general population and even within the lumpen organizations here. Pretty much "anything goes." So the peace treaty is an attempt to establish a "Central" code of conduct or guidelines of discipline that all organization affiliates could accept and embrace, which will then establish unity and have us all moving in one accord.

When I say "us", I am referring to New Afrikans because as Huey Newton stated: "there can be no black-white unity until there first is black unity." And as it presently stands, there is virtually no black unity in the Virginia prison system as it pertains to the "struggle." So, before we can work towards black-white/black-brown unity, we first have to establish black-black unity.

I am sad to inform you that it was not a success on a large scale, although a few individual members from various lumpen organization embraced the peace treaty. I grant you permission to modify the peace treaty as you see fit. It is only an idea, and as with all ideas, they evolve over time and blossom into something transformative and revolutionary.

The United Lumpen Front for Peace & Unity in Virginia Prisons

The basis of any real and lasting unity amongst all lumpen "tribal" or "street" organizations inside Virginia prisons requires an agreement on the following points and guidelines. We must hold each other accountable if any one of our comrades fail to uphold these points and guidelines.

Points of Unity & Peace

  1. Peace: We organize to end the needless and petty disagreements, conflicts and violence between ALL lumpen organizations in the Virgina prison environment. Our captors (the pig administrators) use Willie Lynch style divide-and-control tactics so that we fight, oppose and oppress each other instead of using our time and energy on challenging and changing unjust and inhumane prison conditions. If we want to change our conditions, defend ourselves from racist oppression and regain control of our own lives and destinies, we must establish lasting peace in all Virginia prisons and organize across lumpen "tribal" and "street" organizational lines for our own survival.
  2. Unity: We must achieve power by uniting, bonding, and struggling side by side with people in other lumpen organizations who face the same oppression, the same genocide, and the same enemy for our own common interests and survival.

To maintain lasting unity, we must establish a mutual love and respect between all lumpen organizations, and maintain an open line of communication so that we can peacefully and strategically handle any conflicts or disagreements that may arise. This is especially needed in Virginia prisons because of how our captors (i.e. pig investigators) use snitches/informants to pass rumors that divide us and keep us oppressed. The reactionary pig administration uses such tactics because they see the end of their control within our unity.

Proposal of Guidelines to Achieve Peace and Unity Amongst Lumpen Organizations in Virginia Prisons

We must establish a committee made up of two people from all lumpen "rival" organizations. This committee will facilitate an open line of communication and networking between all lumpen organizations, and at all times work to maintain peace and unity in the event conflicts and/or disagreements arise. Therefore, those people appointed to this committee must have considerable respect and influence within their respective organizations. This committee shall meet once a month (or as needed) to address grievances, resolve conflicts and disagreements, and discuss strategies on how we can best fight oppression and improve our living conditions in a collective manner. In addition to the above, in order to create structure in our prison environment based on discipline and militancy, and draw a clear line of distinction between us and our common enemy, this committee should establish the following rules for all lumpen organization members:

  1. People from different lumpen organization should strive to eat together in the cafeteria, walk the yard together, work out together, study history together and smile and show love and respect for each other at all times. This will allow us to build a bond based on Black-on-Black bulletproof love and unity, and allow us to see each other as allies and comrades instead of rivals and enemies.
  2. Stop laughing, joking, playing, and engaging in casual conversations with ALL prison staff members. Don't initiate any conversation with them unless it's for the purpose of trying to get personal matters taken care of. If prison staff members speak, then it is up to that individual prisoner to choose to speak back out of courtesy, or not. This draws a clear line of distinction between us and our common enemy and will cause our oppressors/captors to take us seriously and have much more respect for us than at present. This also builds unity because it will give us the sense that we are doing something collectively.
  3. Stop throwing your hoods up, peacing each other up, stacking, etc. in front of (or in clear view of) all prison staff members. The wise should always move in silence and we should never expose who we are, what we are, or who our comrades are to the pig administration.
  4. No one should engage in the creation or passing of any rumors or gossip. The pigs use rumors and gossip to sow seeds of dissent and distrust amongst the oppressed. If a comrade attempts to create or pass any rumors or gossip it must be immediately reported to a committee member.
  5. Every accusation made against a comrade should be backed up with true facts and not based on assumptions or poor intelligence, information, or understanding.
  6. Everyone who has a minimum of ten years left to serve must attend the law library, study and learn the law, and work on their own case, or assist another comrade on their case.
  7. Workouts (exercises) at least three times a week should be mandatory for everyone with Black lumpen hood/tribal organizational ties. All Black lumpen hood/tribal organizations were birthed out of the Black struggle and the need to protect and defend our neighborhoods, ourselves and our communities. We must be in the best physical condition to effectively defend ourselves, our comrades, our people and our communities from racist oppression and white supremacy.

These guidelines are a work in progress, therefore they can be amended/modified to fit your specific environment or area for maximum effect as long as they adhere to the two points of peace and unity.

"Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people." - Comrade George Lester Jackson

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[United Front] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Organizing] [Tabor Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 47]
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North Carolina Soldiers of Revolution Organizing for Peace

I am writing to inform you of the work that I have been doing here at Tabor Correctional Institution in Tabor City, North Carolina. I am currently housed on Intensive Control (ICON) and I've been spreading the word to a few people in my block. One of the brothers in my block was the real confrontational type who would try to start arguments with different guys simply because the block was too quiet. Usually I would ignore his antics because I understood his cry for attention and fear of having to look in that proverbial mirror, i.e. being alone with his own thoughts. One day after hearing him verbally attack another comrade as well as just cursing out officers without cause I reached to him by calling him on his childish and misguided ways. At this time he told me he never got involved in the conversations that myself and a few others often had because he didn't know anything about it. I then told him the easiest way to learn about it was to ask questions, which led to me sending him two issues of Under Lock & Key. Now this same young brother is a part of these conversations about the various degrees of prison struggle. He is also a member of the Soldiers of Revolution (SOR).

I founded the Soldiers of Revolution (SOR) while housed on ICON. I did so after witnessing the relentless ongoing cycle of gang violence within the North Carolina prison population. I became a member of the Bloods organization in 1998 and in 2015 I renounced my position as a member of that organization to found the Soldiers of Revolution.

I founded this organization because of the gang violence but also because of the constant oppression the prison population endures with no one to teach them how to go about overcoming the oppression. I saw that while many gang members claimed to battle oppression they failed to do so because they were perpetuating it. I understood that they didn't know how to begin the fight against oppression because they were never educated on the many levels of oppression. So SOR was created to educate the masses as well as to be the voice and vanguard of the politically ignorant prison population in North Carolina.

SOR is a political organization founded on the principles of mass political education of all oppressed nations, the battle to end oppression, and peace within the prison population to end gang violence. We stand united in the face of oppression and fully understand that the first step to breaking the cycle is to initiate proper political education. Since we understand the importance of political education in regards to the struggle to liberate the oppressed nations, we have study groups and issue class assignments to further the desire to be politically conscious and active.

SOR is not a gang nor gang-affiliated, though some members are former gang members. As we are primarily a non-violent organization we do not condone or support gang bangin' in any fashion. We do not wish to perpetuate the lifestyles and stereotypes that plague many oppressed nations. We do not adhere to the doctrine of oppressing others to further our own cause. We will offer our assistance and stand united with other political organizations of the oppressed nations but we will not be ruled or governed by anyone but SOR.


MIM(Prisons) responds: SOR is doing important work pushing forward the political education and unity of oppressed nations, and underscores a point that is important for activists: oppression and violence are learned behaviors and we need to work hard to help humynity unlearn these terrible habits. We can't expect this change to happen overnight. In fact we know from the experience in China and the USSR that even after a socialist revolution a new group of people (many of whom were oppressed before the revolution) will attempt to take power for personal gain. This is not surprising since the individualist elements of the culture of capitalism will not be wiped out overnight.

The Chinese initiated a mass fight against the ongoing idological holdovers of feudalism, which they called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, as they worked to create a culture of socialism. Everyone was encouraged to study politics and freely criticize their leaders. This vigilance is the only way we will eventually eliminate the culture of oppression and violence which permeates every aspect of society and pulls the lumpen into anti-people activities like bangin'.

Each individual who belongs to a lumpen organization needs to assess your own situation to decide whether it is best to stay in that organization and struggle from within to build the anti-imperialist movement, or if you need to leave your organization to push forward your revolutionary organizing. There is a place for all of these organizations in the United Front for Peace in Prisons, where we can all come together to oppose prisoner-on-prisoner violence and build unity among lumpen organizations.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Why talk and not say shit


v1. The president participating, dys-educating my Black people
The condition is missing for us to live equal
Say we all the same but restrained for what we look like
It don't take a genius to see it don't look right
Obama just a puddle surrounded by pitfalls
A puppet in the game playing by his master's rules
Are we living in the land of the free
Or are we free as they want us to be
The constitution is breached
His words are lies, plans are unspoken
Intentions are clear to keep the cream class growing
Why you gotta cut education
And not this fucked up system
Locked brotha's up for false accusations
Claim you leading the nation
Revamping enslavement
Campaigning, talking and ain't saying shit

Hook: why you talking x3, talking and ain't saying shit

v2. Why when Haiti had to suffer the quake
Those who survive had to suffer and wait for the united states
No water no help or food
For weeks and they made it look good on the news
It's the rules of the game to keep them under the shoe
No money no help unless they benefit too
The president is irrelevant to speak the truth
I'd rather speak than to keep this thing on mute
Profit is the only topic when help is called on
Freedom is not an option cuz the law is all wrong
Manipulating the race saying equal we all are
People we all are
Police brutality, to specific formalities
Time to wake the streets and those sleeping wit it
Cuz dudes talking and ain't saying shit

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[Turkey] [Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [International Connections] [Political Repression] [Control Units] [ULK Issue 47]
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Lessons from the Hunger Strike 2000-2007 in Turkey

by Informacioni Sekretarijat of Revolutionary People's Party-Front
Reprinted from http://en.rnp-f.org

Although the Marxist-Leninist theory advocates the validity of all methods of struggle for the sake of the revolution, one particular method is often ignored or frowned upon: hunger strikes. Western worker’s movement is proud of the acts of self-sacrifice by its militants as it's the basis of the most important historical victories, yet hunger strike is often seen as a waste of human lives with little or no value for the class struggle.

Such is the general opinion of the hunger strike led and organised by Party-Front of Turkey (DHKP-C) in the period of 2000-2007, also called "Death Fast". Seven years long, Death Fast has claimed lives of 122 revolutionaries and it was considered to [be] a victory. Something that fellow communist parties very often criticise and questioning the effectiveness of such methods of struggle.

However, to entirely understand and properly evaluate the Death Fast, it would be incorrect to limit ourselves to the superficial manifestations of the whole process. Given a perspective of over a decade since its beginning, we are in a good position to see its effects and give more clarity to the historical circumstances in which it took place. Let us consider it from the historical perspective, the perspective of the class contradictions and the state the revolutionary movement in Turkey was in during that period.

Historical Background

The years between 1999 and 2001 were politically very interesting years. There were a couple of reasons for this:

  • Turkish state was in a state of permanent crisis. Since almost 10 years there were nothing but impotent coalition governments that failed to win the consent of the people. They were forced to resort to violence but this quickly made them unpopular, which, in the long run, undermined their legitimacy.
  • In February 1999, Kurdish leader Ocalan was captured and delivered to Turkey by CIA. During his trials in 1999 he made a surprisingly submissive defence and offered collaboration to the state. This made a serious negative impact on the Kurdish movement and the other left-wing movements that are tailing the PKK. What had been experienced and felt after the collapse of Soviet Union inside the European communist parties, was now being experienced in Turkey after 10 years. Since 1990, apart from a couple of movements, majority of the radical left were reduced to legal, weak social democratic parties. And the imprisonment of Ocalan meant to deliver the finishing blow:
  • "Everything was in vain, state was too powerful to beat, armed struggle brought nothing but pain, the only solution was to be a member of EU, so that the country might be democratized." This was the general mood among the wide reformist circles.
  • In August 1999, a huge earthquake hit the Marmara Region which was the most industrialized, most populated part of Turkey. It killed approximately 50,000 people. Three months later another earthquake with the same severity hit the same region for the second time. The state was incapable of bringing any aid. They just swept the rubble of the buildings off towards the sea with the dead bodies of the people inside. It was soon revealed that the corrupt businessmen who were then backed by the state built the collapsed buildings. People were angry, but the revolutionary alternative was weak, stuck in prisons and some revolutionary neighbourhoods with some armed cells here and there.
  • In September 1999, the state forces launched a violent attack against Ulucanlar Prison. This turned into a massacre as the military forces killed 10 revolutionary prisoners from 4-5 different organizations and wounded hundreds of prisoners with real bullets. This was done to send a message to the revolutionary movements: "It is your turn."

By the end of 1999, the balance of the class forces was like this:

  1. There were the weak, scattered and ideologically low self-esteemed reformists, begging for EU involvement.
  2. There was the demoralized Kurdish movement, with its leader in prison, openly talking about disarming and disbanding the organization.
  3. There were the ruling classes with their strong military and police forces, but with a withering hegemony over the desperate population who has been looking for an alternative. And after the earthquakes not only the political crisis but also the economic crisis was at their doorstep.

And there were the radical/armed/revolutionary movements:

  1. Some of them, like Maoists, were still obsessed with the old strategy of storming the cities from the countryside, whereas the 70-80 percent of the population had now started to live in metropolitan cities rather than villages. They were also in a state of crisis and getting divided into smaller organizations because of disputes on strategy. Some other organizations were opportunists with a not-so-clear ideology about how to make a revolution: Now you see them heavily criticising the Kurdish movement, and now you see them tailing the PKK. Gradually sinking into legalism, reconciliation, hesitation.
  2. Finally there was the Party-Front (P-C). Although not as physically strong as the Kurdish movement, P-C had a kind of ideological hegemony over the other radical/revolutionary organizations and was constantly pushing them to take a solid attitude against the establishment. This was the case in 1996 Hunger Strikes and in the other prison resistances after it. When the other political parties stepped back or showed some signs of hesitation, militants of P-C encouraged them, criticised them in the prisons. And exposed them in its publications when they stepped back, which would harm their prestige among their own people.

In the year 2000 the crisis was deepening, the ruling classes knew that they had to take the necessary precautions. They were done with the reformists, they thought that they were done with the Kurdish movement and now, if these revolutionary/radical movements could not be bowed down, they would become an alternative for the desperate Kurdish and Turkish masses in case of a crisis. And if you wanted to destroy them, you had to start from their ideological hegemons, the P-C, that still continued to preach revolution, armed struggle and anti-imperialism.

Thus, the state prepared a plan to destroy the revolutionary discipline in the prisons: It decided to transform the existing prison system into a high-security prison system where the political prisoners would be isolated from each other in small cells. In this way, the ruling classes were hoping to destroy the organizational ties among the prisons, turning the political prisoners into isolated individuals.

Then came December 19, 2000. 20 prisons were simultaneously raided for three days with nearly 9000 soldiers. They used more than 20,000 gas bombs, thousands of real bullets against the unarmed prisoners. As a result 28 prisoners were killed, nearly 600 prisoners became permanently disabled in 3 days. The rest of the prisoners were forcedly sent to high-security prison cells.

It was not an issue of physical destruction alone. Compared to 60 million population at that time, there were only approximately 10 thousands of political prisoners in total. But still the prisons were like the headquarters of ideological production. Prisoners were writing [a] majority of the articles and books, composing songs, heavily training the future militants. Imprisoning stopped being a punishment and the militants knew that if they were sent to the prison, near to their comrades, they would undergo an extensive Marxist-Leninist training and continue their revolutionary activity.

On the other hand, the ruling classes at that time were trying to spread the ideology of desperation as opposed to revolution. "Nothing is worth to sacrifice yourselves" they were saying, "especially for socialism and revolution which has already collapsed". It was the end of history. The entire world was giving up. IRA in Ireland, ANC in South Africa, FMLN in El Salvador, Palestinian Liberation Organization, PKK in Turkey. The dream was over.

And one year after the Hunger Strikes began, 9/11 happened in US. Bush has declared the New World Order and clearly put that [b"“you are either with us, or against us".

What would it mean if the prisoners had submissively accepted this menace? Since 1980s it was one of the main tenets of the revolutionaries that if you are left in a position where you don’t have any weapons to fight, you should better die than to surrender.

P-C knew that from past experience: Those who surrendered to the impositions of the 1980 Military Junta were destroyed. They either became reformist, legal organizations or their militants were transformed into liberal, even right-wing intellectuals. Yes, they physically continued to live, but they had had a brain death. They had become the extensions of ruling class ideology.

They were the best propaganda materials for the ruling classes: "Look at these so called leaders of proletariat! They are telling you to fight until the end, but they do not want to make even a smaller sacrifice for their own cause. Is this what you are going to die for? Don’t be stupid young people."

However, when people resisted and died (either in hunger strike or an armed action) it made a huge impact, firstly among its comrades and among the people. It was the same in Kizildere in 1972 when Mahir Çayan and his comrades were massacred. The entire organization had been destroyed with them. But in just 2 years, hundreds of young militants swore to take their revenge. It was the same in 1984 and 1996 hunger strikes.

That was the basic thinking behind the hunger strikes: If you make the necessary sacrifice, you may die but at least it can make an impact that deeply influences the others to carry on.

Death Fast Logic

Two main causes can be emphasised over the others to explain the logic behind the death fasts:

  1. Death or permanent injuries were the risks of the hunger strike. But the same risk is carried by any other revolutionary activity, especially the armed one. On the contrast, the submission to the government and accepting high security prisons would result in what the government really aimed at: to destroy the organisation from within and incite the ideological crisis. The revolutionaries in prison that preached heroic self-sacrifice and struggle would be discredited in the eyes of the people outside of the prison and in the eyes of the guerillas and militants who risk their lives on daily basis.
  2. By design, these prisons were intended to interrupt the communication between the revolutionaries and isolate them from their comrades, from the external world, so that their thinking and behavioural habits would change and they will give up the idea of revolution later on. They are meant to destroy the revolutionary fervour and discipline, something which the organisation could not submit to. In such a case, giving up would mean willingly destroying the tradition of resistance inside the prisons, for the inexperienced, incompetent young militants would sink into depression and despair. What should they do, even when their "leaders", "wise comrades" surrender? The high security prisons would be seen as "hell [on] earth", as the horrible factories that produce tamed, subdued ordinary people out of the fervent, audacious revolutionaries once you go in. You can force the people to do everything, once you instil this "fear of imprisonment" in their minds.

The hunger strikes started [on] 20th of October 1999, after the state openly declared its new prison policy, and went on until 2007, when the state agreed to show some flexibility in its isolation policy.

From this perspective, we can say that hunger strike was a political victory. Because:

  1. Revolutionary movement and its militants managed to protect the tradition of resistance inside the prisons. Now in every single high security prison there is a very strong network of revolutionary prisoners who wake up, do exercise, study, write, and paint – according to one single schedule, although they may not see each other for years. They developed innovative and complex networks of communication inside the prison. In the former prison system, it is said that 60% of the revolutionary prisoners resumed the struggle when they were released, whereas this rate is now 80% according to some sources. The massacre and the new prison system created the opposite results for the ruling classes thanks to this resistance.
  2. Outside, the memories and sacrifices of resistance continued to live and both ideologically and emotionally strengthened the cadres, militants and sympathisers of the revolutionary movement. It was clearly shown that socialism is a cause that is still worth to die for and the revolutionaries in Turkey were ready to do this, while the Islamists and patriots who always talked about "making sacrifices for Allah or for the homeland" became part of the establishment.
  3. Regarding the other radical/revolutionary movements: 15 years later after the prison massacre and 8 years after the end of the hunger strike, now there is a huge ideological gap between the other left and the revolutionary movement, the P-C. Some of these organizations that refused to take part in the resistance splintered into pieces. Some of them went through an ideological crisis and legalised themselves, liquidated their illegal organizations. Many of them started to tail the Kurdish movement and became part of HDP as the Greek reformists did with Syriza in Greece. Revolution stopped being the main purpose, whereas imperialism stopped being their main enemy; they started to look for some excuses when the Kurdish movement initiated an open collaboration with US in Syria. For years they have not carried out a single legal democratic, mass campaign apart from their campaigns for the corrupt elections. Marxism-Leninism was thrashed. Their mass base waned.

When the hunger strike was ended 2007, none of the initial demands of the revolutionaries were accepted. A revised version of the demands, which involved the freedom to see other people for 10 hours a week, was agreed on. Compared to the main aim of the ruling classes to isolate the revolutionaries, to bow them into complete submission, it this was an important achievement too.

Conclusion

As to the question: "did it worth to sacrifice more than a hundred people just for this?" while ignoring the political and ideological victories of the Great Resistance. The purpose was to put an end to the revolutionary ideology in Turkey and they failed in doing this. Turkey did not become the next Guatemala, Palestine or South Africa as they wanted it to be.

Hope survived and although the revolutionary movement came out weakened, it did survive and grew stronger over the years. Now there are pro-Party-Front groups emerging in different fields of the struggle. There is a music band called Grup Yorum that organizes public concerts all around Turkey where they sing their revolutionary songs with hundreds of thousands people. An institution called Engineers and Architects of the People started to organize inside the revolutionary neighbourhoods, trying to put forward an alternative way of living with popular assemblies, public gardens, wind turbines to allow the community to produce their own electricity. There are attempts to organize the shopkeepers within a cooperative so that they can resist against the monopoly of the shopping malls and big supermarkets. In the last couple of years, a series of successful worker resistances were supported by the Revolutionary Worker Movement, which declares itself to be pro-Party-Front.
On the other hand, Party-Front itself continued its armed activities, some of which are widely publicized in the international media. It has militia bands in the main revolutionary quarters of Istanbul which fight against gangs, drug dealers and the state forces. These activities must have attracted the attention of the imperialists, so that some analysts started to speak of Party-Front as an "emerging threat" in Turkey. The US State Department issued a warrant of arrest for whom they think to be the top leaders of Party-Front. Imperialism declared that "up to 3 million dollars" will be rewarded to those who assist in capturing these people, whom the US considers to be the "most wanted people in Europe".

We will see what will come up in the following years.

With Solidarity.

Bahtiyar Safak

MIM(Prisons) adds: We are reprinting this analysis from http://en.rnp-f.org because of the relevance to conditions and struggles within Amerikan prisons. Our comrades behind bars sometimes find themselves in a position where a hunger strike is one of only a few potential avenues of protest against conditions that are brutal and often deadly. This article demonstrates the potential successes that can be gained from long-term hunger strikes.

However, it MUST be noted that these strikes in Turkey were in a very different political context than the one faced by prisoners in the United $tates. In Turkey in 1999 there were relatively large networks of revolutionary organizing in the prisons and a solid (and armed) network of support outside. Without those conditions the sacrfices made would not have had the same impact. In our current conditions in prisons in the United $tates we are not anywhere close to this level of organization. Hunger strikes in U.$. prisons are not focused on protecting such advanced political activity and organization behind bars, rather they are used to gain reprieve from conditions of torture and create opportunities for some organizing. Because of these differences we can not simply apply this analysis directly to our situation.

Our knowledge of the RNP-F is limited. We applaud what little we have seen of their work and look forward to learning more about their political line and practice.

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[New Afrika] [Africa] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 47]
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Two Sides of Garvey

Amy and Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey and Amy Jacques
In response to the call to honor freedom fighters, it is an honor and pleasure to journal the commemoration of New Afrikan freedom fighter Amy Jacques Garvey.

So many today dismiss the Pan-Afrikan movement and its various bodies, both within and outside of U.$. prisons, as that of an unnecessary call and reference to an outdated idea. In the context of the proletarian political causes, it is often the ultra-leftist who has taken up this position.

However, in our attempts to fast forward the most correct methods of resolving contradictions, we acknowledge that they come in the form of class consciousness among nationalist leaders driven by internationalist struggles led by the proletariat. The Pan-Afrikan movement is one likely place where we find these elements.

Many prisoners are aware of the name Marcus Mosiah Garvey, but very few are familiar with Amy Jacques Garvey, the wife of Marcus Garvey and the bone and marrow of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Amy Garvey was a special person in the history of liberation struggles. Born 31 December 1895 in Kingston, Jamaica to a middle-upper class family, Amy Garvey was ahead of her time. Though "all identity is individual, there is no individual identity that is not historical or, in other words, constructed within a field of social values, norms of behavior and collective symbols."(1)

The mother of what author Ula Yvette Taylor coined "community feminism," Amy Garvey pressed the issue of lower class wimmin not only in serving their male counterparts, but also educating themselves to become political leaders in the nation. Today, lumpen wimmin of the internal semi-colonies still find themselves criticized for either being home-oriented or for sex. UNIA enjoyed support across gender and promoted equality of the sexes. Yet, in practice, this "community feminist" approach was a means of dealing with the expectations put on wimmin to be supporters of men while still being political leaders. While wimmin like Amy Garvey had to take on an unequal burden compared to their male counterparts, their actions served to break down the expectations of gendered roles, paving the way for others.

Amy Garvey empowered wimmin to confront racism, colonialism and imperialism, while contesting masculine dominance as well.(2) As she wrote, wimmin should use their "intelligence in a righteous cause" as they are needed to "fill the breach, and fight as never before, for the masses need intelligent dedicated leadership."(3)

Since the 1920s, Amy Jacques Garvey's organizing activities had sought to further the decolonization of West Afrikan nations as people of African descent endeavored to restructure their societies. The antecedents of these largely nationalist movements were well-established in Pan-Afrikan struggle that came into its own during the early 1940s, including the fifth Pan-Afrikan Congress. Meanwhile, other power shifts were occurring such as: the rise of the Soviet Union, liberation struggles in southeast Asia, the independence of China and the Asian-African Bandung Conference.(4) Indeed, within this political milieu, "West Afrikan nationalism and various brands of Pan-Africanism, could mix with everything from Fabian socialism to Marxism-Leninism."(5)

While engaging in the international arena, Amy Garvey also struggled against fellow comrades of the UNIA. She was well known for her refusal to hold her tongue on the contradictions that arose within, even at times writing critical positions of Marcus Garvey himself. It resembles so many of those within the belly of the beast babylon who struggle to liberate themselves in order to offer liberation to their people, only to be hushed by LO leadership.

Amy Garvey was from Jamaica and considered herself an Afrikan. She drove home the point that people of Afrikan descent in the United $tates (New Afrikans) and elsewhere were living as second-class citizens, largely as a result of economic oppression. Today we see the second-class citizenship that New Afrikans and [email protected] face as the biggest targets of social isolation by the U.$. prison system. The second class that the oppressed nations are being bred into today is what we call the First World lumpen class. In the imperialist countries, that is the class that has nothing to lose from a revolution except the very chains that bind them to a bourgeois system that doesn't serve them. "As the lumpen experience oppression first hand here in Amerika, we are in a position to spearhead the revolutionary vehicle within the U.$. borders."(6)

The 2015 release of [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group introduces prisoners to the reality of their class identity with the lumpen of oppressed internal semi-colonies in North America.

"Kwame Nkrumah in his analysis of neo-colonialism in Africa defined it as: 'The essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.' Nkrumah stressed the importance of dividing the oppressed into smaller groups as part of this process of preventing effective resistance to imperialism as had already occurred in China, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba and elsewhere."(7)

Amy Garvey too considered the likes of Kwame Nkrumah as her comrade, alongside of Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B. DuBois and George Padmore, just to name a few. She was a disciplined, arduous scholar whose objective was to fold Garveyism into existing progressive organizations, thus uniting a divergent Pan-Afrikan world.

Many of the ideas that are circulated amongst the lumpen organizations within the belly of the beast babylon are grafted from the ideas of the peoples parties like the UNIA, whether they admit it or not. The proof is in the pudding. Amy Garvey showed that one could stand on two legs and not buckle under the pressure of integrationist culture.

Amy Garvey held Marcus Garvey up while he served his prison bid in Atlanta, and took the driver's seat of one of the world's most influential Negro organizations in its time when wimmin weren't expected to be political. It is so similar to the anti-imperialist prisoner movement; prisoners aren't expected to be political souljahs.

Death to babylon-imperialism!


MIM(Prisons) adds: MIM said that Pan-Afrikanism should be a strategic question, and is not worth splitting over.(8) They also said that Pan-Afrikanism has historically been the most progressive of the "pan" ideologies. Clearly that the Pan-Afrikan mission has yet to succeed in the dire need for effective revolutionary leadership is evident in the recent revelations that

"In 2014, the U.S. carried out 674 military activities across Africa, nearly two missions per day, an almost 300% jump in the number of annual operations, exercises, and military-to-military training activities since U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008."(9)

The imperialists continue to foment the tribal divisions across the African continent to wage proxy wars that amount to inter-proletarian killing on the ground. The overwhelming proletarian character of the populations in Africa gives Pan-Afrikanism its strong progressive character.

Notes:
1. Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, Verso Books, 2011.
2. Yvette Ula Taylor, The Veiled Garvey, the life & times of Amy Jacques Garvey, University of North Carolina Press, 2002, p. 2.
3. Amy Jacques Garvey, "The Role of Women in Liberation Struggles", Massachusetts Review, Winter-Spring 1972, p. 109-112.
4. Ehecatl, "Lessons from the Bandung Conference for the United Front for Peace in Prisons", Under Lock & Key No. 43, March 2015.
5. Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Washington DC: Howard University Press, 1982, p. 277-78.
Hakim Adi, West Afrikans in Britain 1900-1960: Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Communism, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1998, pp. 160-170, 186.
6. A MIM(Prisons) Study Group, [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, MIM Distributors, 2015, p. 14.
7. Ibid, p. 68.
8. 2002 MIM Congress, "Resolution on Pan-Africanism."
9. Nick Turse, "The U.S. Military's Battlefield of Tomorrow", TomDispatch, 14 April 2015.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 49]
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Sept 9 Solidarity As Survival Strategy

Unite Study Push

In honor of our comrades and others sacrificed and murdered at Attica on 9 September 1971, the purpose of this article is to promote unity, peace, and solidarity amongst all prisoners regardless of affiliation or association. For, "every individual who stands against oppression on any level is a freedom fighter."(1) And, "We want everyone to take the ideological development of our movement into their own hands."(2) We must face the truth that we can be our own worst enemy allowing our oppressors to manipulate us against our best interests through the tactic of divide and conquer. "And they use the gangs as their puppet to do hits for smokes and food. That's the real story in this place that the prisoners are brushing under the rug. It ain't just the pigs who are oppressing our people, it's their puppets."(3) These words ring true and those of us who have been held in these gulags for any appreciable amount of time can attest to its truthfulness.

As an alternative and challenge to do better for self, our organization, and movement, and, especially as an act of unity in remembrance of the atrocities inflicted on September 9th at Attica, a California prisoner offers this sage advice: "If you see someone in the struggle in need of some support, be that support. The number one reason for mistreatment in prison is lack of solidarity amongst prisoners. We need to start supporting each other in order to have a livable life. Not only will we get along but we'll support each other when needed."(4) So let us adopt this comrade's viewpoint, at all costs, for together on 9/9 we stand and divided we fall. Let us be determined that failure shall not be attributable to our lack of due diligence and strong revolutionary action.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade penned the above message as part of eir commemoration of the September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity in 2015 and suggested that it be used as a flier for other USW comrades. It is a good reminder of the need to address the contradictions within the prison population for true peace and solidarity to be achieved. And as the California comrade quoted points out, this is also closely linked to a general spirit of looking out for each other that must be developed year-round.

Alienation and individualism are important parts of our capitalist culture that make oppression and abuse possible. With solidarity and by looking out for each other the oppressor cannot get away with their abuses. That is why solidarity is central to the question of survival and well-being inside prisons. The campaign for mental and physical health in prisons cannot be separated from the campaign to build the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

September is just a few months away again, start organizing for the Day of Peace and Solidarity. Write to us for a copy of the September 9 study pack to start educating and building now.

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