Sunday, 17 July 2011
POW Rally 30th July
The current situation in Maghaberry goal is not a resent event. The ongoing protest started in 2002 when republican prisoners were sent to Maghaberry after the closure of the H blocks.
The intention of the NIO back up by the signatures of the stormount agreement was to peddle the myth that there were no longer any political prisoners, only criminals.
Republicans found themselves fighting a system that was trying to force them into integrating with loyalists; drug dealers and other criminals Once again the criminalization policy was being introduced to try and brake the republican struggle through the prisoners.
Although small in number and heavily out numbered by loyalists, they embarked on a protest that accumulated in a no wash protest.
Eventually the gaol system was forced to act and the Steele report was commissioned and on the 8th of sept 2003 The Steele Report was accepted and the republican prisoners, on the basis of the report and other commitments given ended their protest.
The republican prisoners were housed in Roe house ,a compound within the main gaol, with its own added internal and external security.
During the protest and negotiations the POA became a blockage to any change. They were and still are totally opposed to republicans getting their own wing.
Immediately upon entering Roe house, the prisoners found themselves in constant battle with the POA and gaol admin to try and get them to implement the Steele report and other commitments giving.
Controlled movement was introduced were by 3 screws would have to escort one prisoner anywhere he went on the wing. prisoners we routinely striped searched up to 6 times a day. Cells were searches every day more often than not racked in the process. Prisoners were expected to eat there meals in there sells next to their toilet and wash their utensils in the sink that they use to wash themselves.
These were measures meant to make the prisoners feel isolated powerless and alone. But as in the passed they had the opposite affect.
Republican prisoners regrouped and channelled the gaol administration at every opportunity.
On Easter Sunday the 4th of April 2010 all republican prisoners barricaded themselves in the rec room after the yearly event of being charged for refusing to remove their Easter lilies and intensified the protest.
A period of intense negotiations were held between the gaol admin/NIO and the prisoners witnessed by 3 outside independent facilitators and on the 17 august 2010 agreement was reached.
Once again the POA and some elements within the NIO were not happy and from the outset the POA and NIO set out to undermine the agreement.
The time table for relaxing controlled movement was not adhered to ,the POA refused to honour the day to day workings of the agreement and the issue of strip searches rose its head once again.
When the republican prisoners , quoting from the agreement, refused to comply with strip searches leaving and entering the jail, they were held down by up to 10 screws. They were beaten, had their cloths ripped from them and in some cases sexually assaulted.
From august until the resumption of the protest the republican prisoners, tried to find a way out of the impasse but reluctantly they came to the conclusion that they had no choice but to resume the protest.
We the friends and families of the non conforming prisoners call on everyone to get behind the prisoners and have the august agreement implemented.
The 32CSM fully support the upcoming protest rally on the 30th July Belfast, and call on ALL republicans to show their support by attending the rally.