Friday, 19 December 2008
Ronnie Easterbrook is a 78year old career criminal, who is serving a 'whole life' tariff sentence after a failed armed robbery in 1987. Following his recent transferred to Gartree prison in Leicestershire, he has decided to try one last hunger strike to highlight his claims for a retrail.
Ronnie, from south London, was convicted in 1988 of the attempted murder of a policeman during an armed robbery that was set up by the police and in which the only person who died was his fellow would-be robber who was shot dead by the police. Through information from an informant, Police had lain in wait, with a TV camera crew in-tow and ambushed the gang. The man shot dead by the Police, Tony Ash, was unarmed and already surrendering to them.
Ronnie has campaigned relentlessly since then for his conviction to be overturned, refusing to become involved in applications for parole or early release. He had wanted to mount a political defence at his trial, arguing that the infamous 'shoot to kill' policy adopted by the British state in Northern Ireland had now been taken up by the Met. Police in pursuit of criminal gangs. However his barrister at the time refused to follow his instructions and Ronnie himself refused a prosecution deal, so he was forced to defend himself in court, without legal representation.
Handed down a Life sentence (originally with a whole-life tariff, itself highly unusual given the circumstances of his case), Ronnie held one of the longest dirty protests in the British prison system and undertook a 60 day hunger strike 10 years ago to try to force the authorities to review his case. Now at 78 years old this hunger strike, after 20 years fighting the system, is likely to be his final act of resistance to the unfair trial and unjust treatment he has received. Physically weakened by previous protests and in ill health (he only has one lung), Ronnie has made an advance directive/living will to refuse any medical intervention in this hunger strike. He writes:
"Many will say: ' Well he is only a criminal.' True but if the protective aspects of the law do not apply to me, it follows that there is no law. Hitler started by excluding sections of the German populations from protection of the law. State evil can always find 'reasons' disguised as righteousness. "After 20 years inside, I have been held a political prisoner, or a prisoner of politics. I refuse to go through a parole process. Why should I when the authorities, Home Office and Judiciary, know they are holding me illegally?"
It's vital that all efforts are made to get the authorities to re-open Ronnie's case so the callous indifference shown by the powerful to one of the powerless is reversed.
Ronnies sentence was reduced twice, from whole life to 16 years and from 16 to 12 and a half years. As he went to prison in 1988 his tariff expired in 2000. Ronnie refuses to participate in the parole process, saying like many other prisoners who consider they are wrongfully convicted, that he is only prepared to leave prison by the front door.
Write to him at;
Ronnie Easterbrook (B58459)
Gallow Field Road
Jacqui Smith, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office
3rd Floor, Peel Buildings
2 Marsham Street
Fax: 020 8760 3132
Also to local MP for Market Harborough:
Edward Garnier QC MP
House of Commons
020 7219 4034 or
020 7219 6524
020 7219 2875
Monday, 15 December 2008
Below is a letter received from Sean Kirtley sent to Cardiff ABC to be used as an article for Gagged! More info about Sean's case can be found here http://supportsean.
At 7:00am on May 9th 2006 police raided nine homes across the midlands and subsequently arrested twelve activists over a 48 hour period. The door on my house had been so violently battered that there was only two shards of wood hanging of the remaining hinges. Police arrested me and spent nine hours searching the premises while my partner remained in the house, not pleasant at all. A megaphone, banners, thousands of leaflets, mobile phones, computer, digital camera, clothes, letters, discs were all seized as evidence of my involvement in the campaign against Sequani animal testing lab in Herefordshire. The others that were raided all had similar property seized.
After being charged and bailed for almost two years the case went to court in January 08 at Birmingham crown court. Seven of us were charged with ‘conspiracy to interfere with an animal research organisation’ and put on trail.
The bulk of the evidence against me related to the stop Sequani animal testing website, which I ran and my use of PGP email encryption and other privacy tools that were on my PC. It was suggested that I organised demos outside Sequani and companies that did business with Sequani although the SSAT website had a policy of not advertising demos! It was then suggested because of the amount of phone calls between myself and other defendants (phone logs submitted by the relevant telephone providers) that I must also have been ‘organising’ over the telephone. Even though the defendants were friends and friends call each other to chat and socialise. Even if I had been organising demos all were peaceful affairs anyway usually involving a mega phone or two and plenty of placards.
After an 18 week trial where the jury were bussed in from a secret location, the press and other reporters were banned from covering the case, police were ‘on guard’ outside the courtroom, where supporters were banned from wearing any animal welfare logos on clothing, the merest mention of experiments on animals at Sequani was outlawed. I was the only one to be found guilty of conspiracy after the jury had been out for many days deliberating. My appeal against sentence and conviction was launched on June 20th this year and has yet to be heard.
I was remanded to Winson Green prison in Birmingham on May 14th and sentenced at Coventry crown court on May 30th 08. The judge called me ‘a sinister criminal’ who ‘ has done nothing for my cause’ sentenced me to four and a half years in prison and imposed a five year supper ASBO on my release in August 2010 banning me from Herefordshire and from contacting Sequani for the duration.
The unlawful action that contravened section 145 SOCPA mentioned during the trial were:
· Lengthy and informative faxes had been sent to suppliers of Sequani during demos, there was no evidence to suggest that I or any other defendants had sent these faxes.
· Aggravated trespass had taken place at demos by defendants (including myself) standing in the car parks of suppliers even though there were police present, also entering buildings but leaving when asked to.
· Sequani workers, and workers of companies that supply Sequani had been ‘upset’ by the demos also a few neighbours in the vicinity of the lab had been ‘upset’ by the demos.
During prosecution evidence being given there was no suggestion that any ‘home demos’ or direct action’ had been at Sequani or its workers.
This was a campaign that had ‘upset’ those that are licensed by the home office to experiment on innocent, defenceless animals and because of that ‘upset’ I sit here in my cell writing this short recall of how I ended up here.
I’ve always fought for the oppressed whether human or non human, either by encouraging mutual aid or exposing the truth regarding the way we treat other sentient beings for our own selfish ends.
The support and outrage, inside and outside, continues to be brilliant, from supporters, family and friends and continues to get my through this time of repression.
‘If you aren’t being effective at changing the world for the better, they aren’t interested, if you are, be careful. The Future of the world is in your hands.’
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Mel Broughton of the oxford anti vivisection campaign Speak still imprisoned despite not being found guilty of anything. What happened to the presumption of innocence? Perhaps this is what happens in a "dirty war"? He has spent last christmas in prison. Will he have to endure the same this year?
The following article was published in the Guardian on Friday, 07/11/2008:
A prominent animal rights activist accused of planting petrol bombs at Oxford University was yesterday cleared of possessing an explosive substance - packets of sparklers - with intent.
The verdict in the trial of Mel Broughton, 48, is a setback for the police investigation into a series of attacks aimed at preventing construction of a £20m animal testing research laboratory in Oxford.
The jury at Oxford crown court was unable to reach a decision on two other charges, of conspiracy to commit arson and possession of articles with intent to damage or destroy property. The prosection has asked for a retrial. Broughton was alleged to have caused £14,000 damage when the Queen's College sports pavilion blew up in November 2006.
Two similar bombs were planted under a temporary building used as an office at Templeton college three months later but failed to go off. The bomb attacks were claimed by the Animal Liberation Front on its website, Bite Back, the court was told.
Broughton was accused of having planned and possibly carried out two arson attacks on buildings belonging to the university as part of a "terrorist campaign" against the research laboratory.
The two improvised devices which exploded at the sports pavilion were made with fuel and a fuse operated by sparklers. Two similar bombs were planted under a portable building used as an office at Templeton college in February last year but failed to go off.
The jury heard that the university had been the target of animal rights campaigners since it announced plans in 2004 to build a biomedical research laboratory. Broughton was said to be the leading figure in the animal rights group SPEAK which was set up in 2004 in protest at plans to build the animal experimentation laboratory at Oxford. The jury was told that a DNA sample found on part of the fuse in one of the failed Templeton devices matched Broughton.
When police arrested him at his home in Northampton, in December last year, they discovered 14 packets of sparklers and a battery connector in an unused water tank in his bathroom. Underneath his carpet was a university employee's security pass and a notebook containing a list of those identified as targets for "direct action", the court heard.
Broughton told the court he was involved in organising legal demonstrations against the lab in South Parks Road, Oxford. He denied having anything to do with the bombs. He told the jury that he was "too high-profile" to risk carrying out the attacks, being a well known activist.
The judge, Patrick Eccles, discharged the jury and remanded Broughton in custody until a hearing on a date to be fixed. A new trial is expected next year.
David Bentley, defending, said he wanted Broughton's remand in custody reviewed at the next hearing in the light of the not guilty verdict.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Parole for Thomas Meyer-Falk
A sample letter is below. Write to Thomas and support him any way you can! Organise actions for Thomas! He needs your solidarity now!
Thomas Meyer-Falk, c/o JVA Bruchsal, Schoenbornstr. 32, 76646 Bruchsal, Germany
All letters in support of Thomas being granted parole are to be mailed to:
Vorsitzender Richter Kleinheinz, c/o Landgericht, Hans-Thomas-Str. 7, D-76133 Karlsruhe, Germany.
Or fax: 0049-7219262344 Aktenzeichen 15: STVK 260/07 BR
Seht geehrter Richter Kleinheinz,
Hiermit unterstuetze ich den Antrag von Herrn Thomas Meyer-Falk nach der gesetzlich vorgesehenen Verbuessung von 2/3 seiner Strafe freigelassen zu werden. Freiheit fuer Thomas!
Dear Judge Kleinheinz,
I would like to declare my support for Mr Thomas Meyer-Falk's appeal according to the provision in the law to be released after spending 2/3 of his sentence. Freedom for Thomas!
Monday, 19 May 2008
She was never afraid to put herself in the firing line and to this effect she was arrested 15 times though the state never succeeded in prosecuting her. To see her courageous action and eloquent speeches it was easy to forget that she fought a daily battle with her grief at losing her only daughter. Something she never really recovered from. She leaves behind a proud legacy of tireless campaigning and direct action.
" We are deeply saddened by the death of Pauline, and had great admiration for her stance on prison authorities – she will be sadly missed. Pauline has been a tireless campaigner against deaths of women in custody since the tragic death of her daughter Sarah in 2003.
She was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize in October 2005. The prize is awarded each year to a woman or group who has, through their actions, writing or campaigning; raised awareness of violence against women and children. "
Audio of Pauline Cambell leading demonstration outside Holloway women's prison on 16th of Jan 2008:
Rest in peace Pauline.
You will be remembered with great pride and affection by all of us who had the honour of knowing or meeting you!
THE FIGHT WILL CONTINUE
Sunday, 11 May 2008
Eric is guilty of simply thinking about committing a 'crime'. Nothing ever happened and no damage was EVER done. He is guilty quite simply of possessing a conscience. visit www.supporteric.org
Below is a letter posted on his website.
Yesterday was a difficult day. We all knew what Eric was facing, and we understood the vehemence with which the government was pursuing this case. But nothing could ever fully prepare us for the kind of heinous sentence that Eric received. It is clear from the reports in the media and the statements made by the US Attorneys that Eric was entrapped and used as an example to anyone who dares to dream of how things could be different in this world.
After passing through the metal detectors downstairs, everyone attending Eric's sentencing was required, by order of Judge England, to pass through a line of Marshall's outside the courtroom and undergo the metal detector wand, as well as a complete search of any bags. This ridiculous spectacle was clearly an attempt to harass Eric's friends and loved ones who came to show their support.
The courtroom was nearly full of Eric's family and friends. There were not enough seats behind the defense table to accommodate everyone, forcing others to spill over into the prosecutor's side of the court. Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday.
It was clear from the first few sentences spoken by the judge that his mind was already made up. The same lies that were used at trial to convict Eric were repeated over and over again throughout the sentencing hearing. The government even had the audacity to claim that Eric had never had a re-ocurrance of pericarditis - despite the fact that his lawyer filed a memo with the court in November detailing Eric's worsening condition. Despite the fact that the jail received so many phone calls from Eric's supporters during that time that they posted a note on their website specifically asking people to stop calling. They had the audacity to claim that Eric was at no risk of harsh treatment in prison - despite the fact that he has ALREADY undergone 2 1/2 years of isolation at the Sacramento County Main Jail.
Despite the fact that probation recommended a sentence of 156 months (13 years), Judge England deferred (as usual) to the government's recommendation of 235 months (19 years and 7 months). The length of Eric's sentence was due largely to the application of the Terrorism Enhancement. The government has argued quite vociferously all along for this enhancement. The basis of their argument is that Eric's targets included government facilities (such as the IFG) - a point which was never proven during trial, and was, in fact, denied by the government's own witnesses. But the judge applied the enhancement anyway. The judge ordered 3 years of supervised release after Eric's sentenced is served, the collection of a DNA sample and registration as an "arson offender".
Now is the time to be outraged and make noise. The government just sentenced Eric to 20 years for a crime that was never committed. This is the longest sentence we have heard of in an American environmental case. Eric's case and sentence have illustrates the lengths the government goes to , and how much they can get away with, in their pursuit of those who voice their dissent - who maintain their integrity and stay true to their principles and all that makes them human. Please help spread the word about Eric, his case, and it's implications for everyone who cares about effecting real change.
Eric says he can feel all the love being sent his way. Please keep it up. Take a moment to send Eric a note of support during this difficult time. His address is:
McDavid, Eric x-2972521 7E128Sacramento County Main Jail651 "I" StreetSacramento, CA 95814
Eric could be moved any time in the next month or two to a federal facility, but please don't let that deter you from writing! We will let everyone know as soon as we get word that he is being moved. Until then, keep the letters coming.
Eric will now be appealing his conviction. Unfortunately, this can be a very long process. Please don't forget about Eric during this time. He will continue needing your support throughout his time in prison. When he reaches a federal facility we will send out a statement about his support needs at that time.
Thanks again to all of you. The amount of love and support you have given has been truly amazing. We are so thankful to have all of you helping us through these difficult times.
For background visit http://www.supporteric.org/index.html
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
The dream of so many politicians is to conceive cities as prisons: a camera on every corner, a strong reflector which does not leave anything in the darkness, a cop or a screw, who control each individual, and the fact that every protest or simple doubt about the system has to be reduced to a question of individual unsatisfaction, seeking then the useless judicial way, which guarantee us a line of "Rights", called by them Basic or Human Rights.
This dream is not just a mix of George Orwells "1984", or Aldous Huxleys "Brave new world", where the fears, real or constructed as they might be, the technologies, the drugs and the biotechnologies are making people subjects and objects of a totalitarian system. This dream is the reality nowadays, at both sides of the walls or the borders. When we say: "Todos somos presos", we are all prisoners, then we mean concretely: our being as objects, because of a system which wants us to forget our being as historical subjects, with our remembrances, consciousness and the strive for freedom and struggle, not as last through its brainwashing by the medias.
The "talk-show"- intellectuals and the "experts of politic" declared the working class to be dead, that there would not be proletariat or prejudice any longer, as much as there would not be any revolutionary potential, which would justify the theories about revolutions and class-struggles. The only thing which would remain to us would be to accept the exploitation by this system, which calls itself "democratic" and if there would be protests, then only by peaceful, passive means, in order to not disturb the system too much. With the same breath they call imperialist wars "humanitarian operations" and tortures "methods of interrogation", and such a list of euphemisms could be without an end.
The worst is not what the intellectual representatives of neo-liberalism and capital or the ones who work for the good of government and state - institutions declare, because they merely do their work, the one, for which from what they live.
The worst is to see and to listen how many normal people, who actually should be able to recognize such things better, are repeating like parrots the lies and the stupidities of those ruin' s preparers, without reflecting a moment by themselves
The class-struggles are not an abstraction of the past, which should merely serve either a one-sided political analysis, nor the legitimation of whichever so-called "Workers Party".
We all, no matter if workers or not, us without power in our hands, a power which we are not even looking forward to have, are the ones who are building the class of the proletariat, conscious and not.
And within a society where it is clearly distinguished between the interests of the ones who stay below and the ones who stay above, it is decisive with which kind of consciousness the ones who are below either decide to oppose this system of inequality, or to accept it.
For me such a little political introduction is important, in order to tell you here an today, that our political work and intentions must not reduce themselves to the question of "Human-rights".
To be against prison and imprisonment on a broader level, as much as against isolation and torture on a smaller one, means to begin the "struggle for everything", within this system, where we all, on a different level, are prisoners in.
In the moment where some of us are getting together in order to fight against prisons and its belonging culture, this should not be happening because we want "more human prisons", no prison can ever be human, as much as slavery or tyranny can be.
The analysis of this part of the system let us better understand the society we are living in.
This because prisons are a small mirror of all dominant values and "tools", which are being used in order to break the resistance and will to live of the ones who dare to rebel, no matter if political or social prisoners.
This system of destruction and torture, like FIES in Spain, 41bis in Italy, isolation and preventive arrest (sichereitgewahrsam) in Germany, QHS in France or the F-type prisons in Turkey, to make this public and to protest can take off the mask out of the so-called "Human-rights" lies within the apparently "democratic" lands.
And we, humans with or without class-consciousness, we, the ones who are generally cut out, will never be sure to not find us one day within one of these cells.
This a Damocles sword, which is hanging permanently on our heads. And yes, we have to organise, because we have common interests beyond every possible wall, border or ideologies which separate us.
An example for what I am writing about could be seen in this talk today: Pastora, a worker and social fighter, together with a basque antiprison activist, a basque squatter, a german autonomen and me, a galician anarchist prisoner in Germany, Together, beyond all differences that we can have among us, we build a moment of struggle, linked by our similarities and organised through few questions which we generally and universally repute of interest.
Right now are strongly arising new "Tarrios", "Pombos", "Ortizes", "Zamoros", along with new FIES-systems.
And we know that we come from the hearts of the disparity of possibilities and the injustice of this system. We are used to this, as much as nowadays screws and torturers are nothing unusual, but rather "normal" people that do this what they do for money, and not because they are followers of any fascist ideology.
A thing which is twice as sad.
Surely the social mentality is also a result of the history of a collectivity, but not merely; only, the rebellion against the injustice is universal and it has nothing to do with culture, colour of the skin or origin, but much more with free individuals, humans, who refuse to be controlled and to become strangers in the name of "universal truth", which on the end does not exist.
The life-history of Xose', Paco Ortiz, Patxi Zamoro and thousand others, who are resisting today everywhere around the world, show us something which we ought not to forget: rebellion is possible everywhere, at any time. The bounds of friendship and love are stronger than all chains and punishments that they pull down on us.
Dignity, rebellion, friendship, love, solidarity, freedom, organisation, these are few of the ideas and values that we defend, for which we fight for. Yesterday, today and forever!
A salute in struggle from the destructive jail of Aachen, Germany.
I thank you all for your attention!
Gabriel Pombo Da Silva