Tag Archives: state repression

Russia: Well-known Russian anti-fascist, Alexey Gaskarov, arrested

via Autonomous Action

On sunday, the 28th of April 2013, a well-known Russian anti-fascist, Alexey Gaskarov, was arrested in Moscow. He is a member of the Coordination Council of Russian opposition. The investigation committee of the Russian Federation has accused him of having pacticipated in riots and violence against representative of authorities on the 6th of May 2012, when OMON (Russian riot police) attacked a peaceful demonstration.

The 6th of May was one day prior to Putin’s inauguration, and a mass demonstration had been called by the opposition. The winter and spring of 2011-2012 saw the biggest wave of political demonstrations in Russia in almost 20 years, as tens of thousands of people went out on the streets to protest election fraud. The 6th of May was also the first time authorities moved to crush these protests. According to the opposition more than 600 people were arrested, and as of now 28 people have been charged, who have been remanded, been put under house arrest or have been forced to emigrate.

On that day, Alexey Gaskarov was beaten up by OMON with batons and boots. He filed a complaint against the officers who beat him up, but nobody was charged. Now, a year after, and just a few days before the anniversary of the 6th of May demonstration, as Alexey was about to be at the head of the column of the left-wing and anti-fascist bloc, he has had a set of absurd charges brought against him and has been arrested.

Alexey Gaskarov was born on the 18th of June 1985, and has been politically active since his school years.

Gaskarov gained fame in the summer and autumn of 2010, when during the protest campaign against the destruction of the Khimki forest, he was  arrested along with Maxim Solopov and was accused of orchestrating an attack by 300-400 young anti-fascists, who supported the environmental struggle, against the administration of the city of Khimki.  In autumn 2010, Alexey Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov were released from prison, thanks to a massive international campaign for the “Khimki Hostages”. In the summer of 2011, Gaskarov was cleared of all charges.

Since the beginning of the mass demonstrations against the falsification of the elections in Russia in December of 2011, Alexey Gaskarov has been an active participant. He was one of the speakers in the biggest of the demonstrations, on the 24th of December 2011 in Sakharov street in Moscow, and was in charge of the security for that meeting, who fought back against the Neo-Nazi provocations.

He is being held in the police jail of Petrovka 38, awaiting his appointment in court at 11am on the 29th of April 2013 at the Basmanniy courthouse in Moscow. Pending court decision, Gaskarov will be remanded or released.

Additional information:

Mexico: Joint communiqué from anarchist collectives and organizations in solidarity with Mario López “the Gut”

“Solidarity is the heart of the struggle against Power – Freedom to Mario Antonio López Hernández”

From Mexico ABC:
July 2nd, 2012

In the early hours of June 27th, there was an explosion at the corner of Vicente Guerrero and Londres streets in the Del Carmen neighbourhood of Coyoacán, in Mexico City. Comrade Mario Antonio López Hernández was found there with several burns across his body. He was put in an ambulance and transported under police custody to Rubén Leñero hospital, where his leg and arm were operated on.

At no point was his family allowed to see him, let alone was he able to consult with a lawyer that he trusted to make a statement regarding the accusations that he was facing. On the contrary, members of the Mexican Federal District’s judicial police hounded him with questions, pressuring him to respond—even though the comrade was not physically able to testify, because he was still anaesthetized from surgery—and to accept his participation in other actions, in particular an explosion which had occurred hours before at an ATM at the building of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

It wasn’t until a day later, after pressure from several comrades, that he was able to communicate with his lawyer and family. His family’s house was searched, and nothing relating to the accusations was discovered. Since the morning that Mario was found injured, the mass media published articles in which he is portrayed as a dangerous terrorist.

We have information that the police are trying to link more people to the facts, Felicity Ryder in particular, whose name has appeared in various mass media outlets as Mario’s supposed accomplice, to the point of even declaring that she’s been detained; this, however, has not been confirmed by the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR).

We condemn these irregularities, not because we believe in laws and legality, which only serve to sustain this predatory system, but because we think it’s important not to shut up before the attempt of the Mexican Federal District’s government and judicial police to stage a media case against Mario in particular and the anarchist movement in general.

We are certain that the Mexican Federal District’s government intends to make a scapegoat out of Mario, by setting up a case that attempts to link him to other actions and changing the charges, the last one being “Attack on Public Peace”, and furthermore that they’re beginning a hunt of anarchists. The Attorney General of Mexico has demonstrated that he’s incapable of restraining the offensive of anarchist direct action groups and is, thus, trying to take advantage of a compañero’s accident in order to make an example of him and strike fear into anarchist groups. We also know that the police have a list of names of comrades and organizations that they are now investigating.

We the members of different organizations and collectives in the anarchist movement declare:

- Our total solidarity with our compañero Mario through these difficult times. We embrace him and await his prompt and thorough recovery.

- Solidarity among anarchists is more than just a written word, as we will take a series of actions to disseminate information about the comrade’s situation, as well as to demand his immediate liberation.

- We ask to see and hear Felicity Ryder. In an article from June 29th in the daily newspaper Excelsior, it is mentioned that she has been detained, but this has been neither denied, nor confirmed by the Attorney General of Mexico.

- We reject and denounce the crude attempt by the Mexican Federal District’s government to turn our compañero into a scapegoat while he is incapacitated.

- We call on all independent, autonomous and anti-capitalist organizations to be vigilant about the government’s attempts to provoke an anti-anarchist witch-hunt. We are sure that this new “leftist” government will continue the policy of prosecution and judicialization of any political expression that doesn’t adhere to their plans.

- The social inequality, which sustains this system of domination and exploitation, is much more violent than any form of protest, and attacks the innate right to a dignified life, hindering the freedom of individuals, preying on nature, subjecting the peoples, stripping them and casting them into ever more numerous penitentiaries of this prison-society; this is why we will continue to organize ourselves and build a new world, founded on freedom, mutual aid, solidarity and free accord.

For Mario’s freedom!
For anarchy!

Cruz Negra Anarquista de México
Federación Anarquista de México-DF-Edo. Mex.
Grupo Anarco Comunista
Colectivo Acción Libertaria
Biblioteca Social Reconstruir
Federación Ecatepec Anarquista
Centro de Información Anarquista
Ediciones Hormiga Libertaria
Espacio anarcofeminista Ni Ama Ni Esclava
Libertas Anticorp
Sin Medios Producciones
Regeneración Radio
Proyecto Ambulante Medios Libres
Proyecto Rhabdovirus
2HAK Hip Hop Libertario
Escarlata Revoltoza
Centro Social Okupado Casa Naranja
Espacio Autónomo Café Emma Goldman
Revista Tiempo Animal
Radio Molocha
Individuos Acratas de la Liga de Lucha Libertaria
Fanzinoteca Lee libre
Videoteca La Revuelta

Source: Anarchist Black Cross of Mexico

Note: It was reported in the bourgeois Press that another person may have been arrested, namely Felicity Ann Ryder (Australian citizen), but this has so far neither been confirmed by comrades or relatives, nor declared officially by the Mexican or Australian authorities. In addition, it became known that the house of Mario’s mother was raided and searched on June 29th. The “Lawyers Group in Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners”, in their Press release of June 29th, denounced the kidnapping by the Mexico City’s authorities of the Australian citizen Felicity Ann Ryder, based—as it seems—solely on information about her arrest that were spread by diverse mainstream media, while they emphasized it had not yet been made public where she was being held, nor on what charges. See also this update (retrieved from the Press, though). We ask anyone to contribute confirmed information on Felicity’s situation (and not mere media speculations), if possible.

You may read a communiqué by Mario López “the Gut” himself on Slackbastard.

Massive international repressive operation ‘Ardire’ launched against anarchists across Europe; A statement from Tomo + Prisoner addresses (Italy)

From 325 and contra-info:

At 4 o’clock in the morning of June 13th, 2012, the carabiniers of the Special Operations Group (Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale, ROS) raided about forty homes, implementing the so-called ‘operation boldness’ (operazione ardire), a crackdown against people from the anarchist movement ordered by Manuela Comodi, public prosecutor of Perugia. According to the regime’s media, a total of 10 arrest warrants were issued—eight within Italy, one sent to Germany and one sent to Switzerland—while 24 suspects have been put under judicial investigation. The Italian bourgeois Press did not hesitate to connect the arrested with ‘the anarcho-insurrectionist FAI/FRI [Informal Anarchist Federation / International Revolutionary Front]’.

The eight comrades, who were arrested in Pisa, Roma, Perugia, Genova, Terni and have been remanded in custody, are Stefano Gabriele Fosco, Elisa Di Bernardo, Alessandro Settepani, Sergio Maria Stefani, Katia Di Stefano, Giuseppe Lo Turco, Paola Francesca Iozzi and Giulia Marziale.

As for Germany and Switzerland, the precautionary measures were ordered against two anarchists that have already been kidnapped by the State several years ago, namely Gabriel Pombo Da Silva and Marco Camenisch.

Among the names of investigated suspects are also those of some imprisoned comrades that are prosecuted for the CCF [Conspiracy Cells of Fire] case in Greece.

Informa-Azione will try to publish the addresses of Italian prisons in which the eight arrestees have been incarcerated, inviting anyone who has relevant information to contact them.

In addition, according to the independent Radio Azione, it is possible that house searches have taken place against three comrades in Naples, too.

Among the raided houses—where the police were officially in search of explosive materials and electronic and printed documents—was the residence of an editor of Informa-Azione; apart from other items, the cops confiscated the editor’s computers that were necessary for updating the website. The homes of comrades from Culmine (who are now under arrest) and ParoleArmate (one of them is under arrest, the other one is investigated) were raided as well.

Continue reading

John Bowden Writes From HMP Shotts

John Bowden writes about his treatment at the hands of a megalomaniac social worker and an all too acquiescent Parole Board. Further articles by John, and others about his current situation and what you can do to help, can be found here and on the Leeds ABC website.
 
In June of 2011, the Parole Board for England and Wales finally carried out its statutory obligation to review my continued imprisonment after 32 years of captivity. Its official terms of reference were clear and straightforward; to be reassured that I represented no risk or danger to the public, (the main legal criteria determining whether a life sentence prisoner is safe to be released or not), and that I could be safely managed or supervised in the community beyond prison.The circumstances of my original offence of murder were indeed brutal and terrible, although confined to a sub-culture of petty criminals and alcoholics who existed on the margins of South London working-class society. Along with two other men I was convicted of the murder of another man during a drinking session in a South London flat; ordinarily a fairly unremarkable event in that part of inner-city London. This killing stood out more because of the means by which the victim’s remains were disposed of than by the actual act of killing itself. At the time of the offence I was 25 years old, and had already spent the greater part of my life in repressive institutions and jails, and was considered the leader of the group of men who had committed the murder basically because I was considered marginally more intelligent and articulate than the other two. I was sentenced to life imprisonment, with the judge’s recommendation that I serve no less than 25 years. The other two received recommendations of 15 years, and were released almost two decades ago.Two leading forensic psychologists , one a world authority on “psychopathic personality disorders”, Professor David Cooper, interviewed and assessed me before the parole hearing last June, and submitted written and oral evidence at the hearing which essentially said that I no longer represented a risk or danger to the community and was safe to be either transferred to an open prison or be released completely. The first and most important legal criterion determining a life sentence prisoner’s release; public safety or protection, obviously justified releasing me. Overall, the general consensus of professional opinion presented at the parole hearing was that I could be released and safely managed in the community, and in fact I already had been to some degree by being allowed to work in the community for a number of years on external prison work projects and schemes. A post-release supervision plan was also presented to the parole hearing by a community based social worker, which envisaged my living a reasonably independent life in my own accommodation whilst being regularly visited and monitored by a social work team. Legally, the Parole Board would have been justified in ordering my release, but they chose not to do so.

Throughout the hearing the Parole Board panel focused insistently on my “anti-authoritarian” character and attitude, and defined it not as a result and product of my experience of prison, but as a lingering residue of a “psychopathic personality disorder”. My prison history of protest and resistance, as well as legal actions taken against serious abuses of power on the part of the prison system, was not defined or characterised as a positive conversion from hardened de-humanised criminal to politicised prisoner and human rights activist, but as simply evidence of a pathological hatred of authority and discipline, and a potential risk to the community. As far as the panel were concerned I remained a psychopath, although one probably mellowed by age and manageable by the strictest and most robust post-release supervision plan.

Rejecting the independent living post-release supervision plan presented at the hearing, the Board decided instead that if released I should be required to live in a closely-supervised hostel and allowed minimum freedom and autonomy. Although I represented no real danger to the community, my “anti-authoritarian” character was considered, by the Board, justification for imposing as much authority and control over me as possible following my release. In order to allow Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services, who would be responsible for supervising me in the community, sufficient time to arrange such a stringent post-release supervision plan, my release was denied for a further twelve months, during which time, the Board suggested, I would be transferred to an open jail and prepared for release. The Scottish Prison Service representative at the hearing agreed to arrange such a transfer at the earliest opportunity.

Following the parole hearing, two crucial things happened. First, the prison authorities reneged on the agreement to transfer me to an open jail, using two earlier absconds from prison to justify insisting that I be psychologically risk-assessed and made to complete whatever behaviour-modification programmes and courses were recommended, before consideration would be given to transferring me to open conditions. There were, of course, long waiting lists for both the assessment and programmes. And second, responsibility for formulating a post-release supervision plan was given to Brendan Barnett, a social worker employed by Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services.

Barnett considered his role to involve far more than just arranging a release plan and hostel accommodation, and decided also to write for the Parole Board a thorough personal assessment and analysis of my life before the murder offence, a forensic description of the killing itself, and what he believed were my psychological motivations both before and during my imprisonment, all of which he coloured with subversive moral opinion and obvious antipathy. His completed report to the Parole Board was a mixture of amateur psychology, distorted fact, and obvious prejudice, with an actual post-release supervision plan almost an incidental addition. He also blatantly lied in his report, claiming to find a reference in an obscure early prison social work report, that justified his outrageous subsequent claim that I was convicted of racist and homophobic hate crimes! Despite every bit of evidence to the contrary (police reports, trial transcripts, and indeed every other report and document in my file), Barnett presented as fact his ridiculous lies. Equally incredibly, when presented with his report, the Parole Board chose to remain silent, despite KNOWING that his report was seriously and inexorably flawed.

When I made a formal complaint about the lies in Bartlett’s report to his superiors at Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services, what immediately kicked-in was a concerted attempt on their part to close ranks around him, and despite all the evidence clearly ascertaining what he had wrote was untrue, reject my complaint out of hand. Truth and fact were clearly secondary to the absolute priority to defend and protect a colleague, even one so seriously and worryingly lacking in personal and professional integrity.

Barnett’s response to my complaint was vicious and single-mindedly spiteful. On the 14th May this year, he held a “multi-disciplinary meeting”, and persuaded a hostel in Edinburgh, that had agreed to accept me as part of the Parole Board inspired post-release supervision plan, to now refuse me accommodation. He also persuaded a representative from Edinburgh Housing not to provide me with accommodation. He then persuaded Scottish Prison Service Headquarters that I should be transferred back to the English prison system because I had no links or contacts in Scotland, which he knew to be completely untrue. He then persuaded a remarkably compliant Parole Board that my next parole hearing, scheduled for June this year, should be postponed until I was “psychiatrically risk assessed” by a psychiatrist of his choice.

The Board were aware, of course, that I had already been thoroughly psychologically risk-assessed before the hearing last June, and there was absolutely no justification for introducing a psychiatric dimension to my case, but they agreed to Barnett’s recommendation nevertheless. Neither did they question why Barnett, who was effectively engineering my transfer out of the Scottish system, and beyond Edinburgh Criminal Justice Service’s responsibility and obligation to supervise, should happily provide the funding for a psychiatrist of his choice to “risk-assess” me. Brendan Barnett had effectively wrecked any post-release supervision plan, and yet the Parole Board appeared content to go along with and support him.

At the parole hearing last year, the parole panel clearly set it’s face against releasing me, despite the legal criteria supporting that release, and it then insisted on a post-release supervision plan of such severity that it was virtually inevitable that an authoritarian zealot such as Barnett would emerge to abuse the power such a plan would exercise over me. Barnett has created a justification to further prolong my imprisonment, and the Parole Board seem happy with it.

Earlier this year, the outgoing Chairperson of the Parole Board, once safely distanced from responsibility, warned that the Parole Board‘s hindering and delaying the release of life sentence prisoners, of which there are over 1200 in England and Wales, would inevitably and eventually create serious unrest in the prison system. The deliberate design in preventing my release suggests a total disregard for personal or institutional consequences.

Barnett meanwhile, continues to use the system to exercise his hatred of “offenders”, supported and defended by his colleagues at Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services, and clearly within a social and political climate of increasing authoritarianism, intolerance, and hated of “offenders” and those on the margins of society, he will feel empowered to continue wrecking the lives of the powerless.

John Bowden
6729
HMP Shotts
Cantrell Road
Shotts
Scotland
ML7 4LE

‘Criminalising Children In The Care System’ by John Bowden (UK)

Criminalising the behaviour of working class children and feeding them into the Criminal Justice System is a practice that has existed for generations and is now responsible for Britain having the unenviable reputation of Europe’s worst jailer of children in terms of the numbers imprisoned.

“State raised convicts” form a substantial part of the adult prison population and all share a common genealogy of Children’s Homes, Approved Schools, Borstals and Young Offenders Institutions, and finally the long-term prison system. Many children who through no fault of their own enter the so-called Care System are percentage-wise seriously at risk of graduating into the Criminal Justice System and a life disfigured by institutionalisation and social exclusion.

There are currently 10,000 children in local authority care, their number doubling in the past four years, and the government’s current “Austerity” agenda with its attack on state benefit and services will so deeply impoverish an already desperately poor section of the population that the number of children from this group entering the Care System is bound to increase significantly.

A leading magistrate and member of the Magistrates’ Association Youth Courts Committee, Janis Cauthery, has openly condemned the care system for operating as a doorway into the penal system by regularly prosecuting children for behaviour such as pushing, shoving, and breaking crockery. Behaviour that in normal circumstances would simply be punished by parents is frequently being referred to the police by Children’s Homes and children are being charged with criminal offences and placed before the criminal courts. Ms Cauthery has warned that children in care who receive criminal records for what is in reality normal adolescent behaviour are being drawn into a “vicious cycle” of crime, joblessness and imprisonment, that would go on to seriously affect the lives of their own children. Ms Cauthery said: “Many of the young people we see coming to court have never been in trouble before going into care. These young people are often charged with offences that have occurred within the care home, including damage (e.g. to a door, window, or crockery) and assault (often to one of the care home staff involving pushing and shoving). This behaviour is mostly at the lower end of offending, and in a reasonable family environment would never be dealt with by the police or courts. We worry about these children being criminalised”. She added: “Surely the home has a duty to try to help the young people and find other solutions rather than resorting to the courts for minor offences which, in a normal family environment, would not be thought of as offending behaviour”. She went on to warn that the maltreatment of children in care might be the reason for the “anti-social behaviour” in the first place, which is what classically happens in total institutions when inmates resist and challenge brutal regimes.

Recent high-profile cases when neglect by social workers has seriously contributed to the deaths of children already at serious risk from abusive or drug-addicted parents has created a public mood and climate favourable to the placing into care of even more poor and disadvantaged children, and for many of them an entry route into the penal system. The massive empowerment of social workers in the wake of tragedies like the Baby P case to remove more children into care, often for contentious and contested reasons, makes it reasonable to ask the question if many of these children actually face even greater abuse and the risk of destroyed lives by being placed INTO care.

There is clearly a greater propensity on the part of staff supervising the behaviour of children in care to view any non-conformist or disruptive behaviour on the part of such children as potentially criminal and therefore requiring intervention by the police and courts at the earliest opportunity, which also absolves such staff of the responsibility of working closely and consistently with young people in dealing with such behaviour in an emotionally supportive setting. How much easier to just offload such “difficult” children onto the courts and Young Offender System, where an awful self-fulfilling prophecy then takes place along with the process of criminalisation and institutionalisation. Ultimately, the wider society reaps the cost and consequences of this abandonment of vulnerable children to the Criminal Justice System.

John Bowden
HMP Shotts
June 2012

Freedom for the imprisoned anarchists in Istanbul! International day of solidarity – June 12th, 2012

On May 14th 60 people who participated in the Mayday parade in Istanbul were arrested and their homes searched. They are accused of “damaging public property in the name of a terrorist organization”, because during the parade a couple of banks were damaged. Nine of them are still kept in prison. One of them (who identifies as LGBT -lesbian bisexual gay transgender) was the target of hate speech.

Using the threat of 15-20 years of prison, some of these nine were pressured during the first days (which they spent isolated from their families, friends and lawyers) and confessed to being leaders of a terrorist organization. This accusation seems absurd if one looks at the different parts of the anarchist movements they were active in – from animal rights to human rights, ecological movement and LGBT. It is the first time that activists from the anarchist spectrum, the animal rights and ecological movement are accused of being a terrorist organization. The same method of repression has a long and sad tradition against kurdish and other left groups and individuals.

It is therefore even more necessary to show the agencies of repression that the imprisoned activists are not isolated, but that they have a broad, international movement standing behind them, which values the defense of lives and the dignity of humans and animals more than a few (broken) windows. In an open letter the nine prisoners speak for the first them and the organization Yeryüzüne Özgürlük Derneği (Freedom to Earth Association) calls for international solidarity.

On June 12th people in many countries all over the world will demonstrate in front of Turkish embassies to show their solidarity with the prisoners and to demand their release. Organize actions in your own city!
Do not leave the prisoners alone!

Support the turkish activists and demand their immediate release!

Criminal Justice Services continue to cover up lies about John Bowden

Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services, or what used to be know as the plain Social Work Deptartment, has seriously compromised its professional integrity by defending a member of its staff who deliberately told lies in a report to the Parole Board in an attempt to sabotage my chances of release from prison. Behaving like corrupt policemen instead of traditional social workers seems now to be acceptable practice at Edinburgh Social Services.

In an official report for the Parole Board written on the 29/2/2012 Brenden Barnett, who works for Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services, made the following incredible claims about my original case in 1980. “Secondary motives for using violence described by the trial judge and acknowledged by Bowden himself suggest a pattern of behaviour that allowed for the predatory targeting of vulnerable human beings on the margins of society defined by race or sexuality”. “Bowden has suggested that his victims were easily discriminated against on the basis of race or sexuality”. “There has been no investigation of the values and beliefs that informed Bowden’s targeting of individuals, i.e. what particular characteristics deemed a person worthy of attack; ethnic background, deviant sexuality”.

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support Barnett’s bizarre claims and in fact I was convicted in 1982, alongside two other men, of the murder of a white Caucasian heterosexual male during a drunken party in South London. If ethnicity was any sort of factor in the case it was actually represented in the defendants, two of whom were Irish and the third second-generation Irish; the victim was a native white south Londoner. Neither the police who investigated the case or the prosecution authorities or indeed trial judge had ever claimed that either racism or homophobia had played any part in the case; Barnett’s claims are a total lie, as he well knew.

Naively, I imagined that by officially complaining to Barnett’s superiors his lies would be exposed and the record put straight as far as his report to the Parole Board was concerned. Instead I was about to enter a sort of Kafkaesque nightmare.

On the 2/4/2012 I was interviewed by Jackie Peters, Manager for “Risk Management Services” and Barnett’s immediate boss, and Sheila Ritchie, a “Sex and Violent Offender Liaison Officer”, and also a colleague of Barnett’s. Both made it absolutely clear that they intended to defend and support their colleague no matter what, even if it required some twisting of the facts and a total disregard of the truth. Throughout the interview I was treated with obvious contempt and at one point I was actually asked if any of my victims (I was convicted of one murder) were black or homosexuals. Despite my constant protestations that neither race or sexual orientation played any part whatsoever in my conviction, as the official files make clear, they steadfastly determined to somehow defend and justify Barnett’s lies. I eventually realised that the interview was meaningless and their intention was simply to defend their colleague, so I told them that I would pursue my complaint beyond them and do whatever it took to expose Barnett’s lies. In their subsequent report they would describe this as a “threat” against Barnett. They also alleged I had been “angry and aggressive” towards them and tried to shift the focus from Barnett’s lies onto my behaviour during the interview, which they insinuated suggested a potential risk to both themselves and the wider community. The issue of Barnett’s lies in their report was glossed over and my complaint rejected. It’s important to remember here that we’re not dealing with some miner factual inaccuracy or a biased interpretation of established fact, a fairly common phenomenon in social work reports on prisoners; Barnett wrote blatant lies in his report, claims that had absolutely no basis in fact or reality, lies that are easily disproved by reference to the mass of information in my prison and social work file, and yet those supposedly responsible for investigating my complaint decided that Barnett had done absolutely no wrong and his report was completely acceptable. Protected by an occupational culture that views and treats “offenders” as things to be monitored, supervised and policed, authoritarian characters like Barnett believe they have total power over those under their supervision and with it the absolute right to increase their demonisation and dehumanisation, even by writing blatant lies about them.

Those who employ Barnett and those who work alongside him in the Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services must ultimately take responsibility for his behaviour because by defending and supporting him they have seriously compromised their own integrity and are complicit in his dishonesty and abuse of power. A more senior social worker, Stephen Laird, signed off Barnett’s report and therefore gave the official seal of approval to his lies, which is why those supposedly investigating my complaint, Peters and Ritchie, felt an even greater predisposition to support Barnett, even if his lies regarding my original offence were obvious and indefensible. This is how corruption spreads within institutions like the police and Social Services; defending and supporting colleagues who have abused their power, especially over people considered something less than human and utterly powerless, creates complicity and a culture of abuse generally. The prison system and police are riddled with this culture, which is why the abuse and death of people in custody is widespread and why those directly responsible are rarely identified and prosecuted. It would seem that the “Criminal Justice Services” generally, including social workers and probation officers, are also contaminated by this culture of lying and treating “offenders” as people stripped of all basic rights; my experience with Barnett and his colleagues certainly illustrates this.

Undoubtedly at my next parole hearing Barnett will claim that by challenging the lies in his report I have also challenged his authority over me and therefore I represent a “High Risk of Re-offending” because of my adversity to being supervised by Barnett in the community. As always Public Protection will be cited and used as a justification for my continued imprisonment, when in reality I shall probably remain in jail simply because I challenged Barnett’s lies.

I have now complained to Peter Gabbitas, Director of Health and Social Dept. in Edinburgh, who has overall responsibility for Barnett and his colleagues, and he has yet to even acknowledge my letter, which suggests a disinclination on his part to recognise either my existence or that of my complaint. Incredibly it would seem that a pathological liar like Barnett has the absolute freedom to describe someone in an official report as a “racist and homophobic” serial killer without a shred of evidence, and absolutely no-one in his entire dept has the integrity or moral courage to criticise or expose him, and that apparently includes even the dept’s Director. The complete absence of any basic integrity amongst those at Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services is both scandalous and deeply worrying for those under it’s supervision.

The response of Barnett and Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services to my exposing his lies has been to ask the Scottish Prison Service to engineer my removal back to the English prison system, and on the 4/5/2012 Sharron Di Ciacca, Legal Service Manager of the Scottish Prison Service, wrote to me informing me that such a transfer would take place soon. Moving the “problem” on is of course a classic method of controlling and punishing “difficult” prisoners.

Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services should not be allowed to suppress or simply get rid of “offenders” who complain about and expose individuals like Brendan Barnett, and I ask all groups and individuals concerned about the treatment of prisoners and ex-prisoners at the hands of a corrupt social work dept like Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services to write letters or e-mails of complaint to the following addresses:

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
4 Melville Street
Edinburgh
EH3 7NS

Social Work Advice and Complaints Service
Waverley Court
Level 1/7
4 East Market Street
Edinburgh
EH8 8BG

Michelle Miller
Chief Social Worker
Grindlay Court Social Work Centre
Criminal Justice Services
2-4 Grindlay Court
Edinburgh
EH3 9AR

Peter Gabbitas, Director
Health and Social Care Dept
Waverley Court
Level 1/8
4 East Market Street
Edinburgh
EH8 8BG

John Bowden, 6729
HMP Shotts
May 2012

Is the Parole Board deciding on the continued detention of life sentence prisoner?

From: UK IMC

The review process itself, known as an ‘Oral Hearing’, at which the lifer is present, is conducted like a semi-judicial hearing where reports by social workers, prison staff and psychologists are considered and assessed, and the lifer is given the opportunity to present their own case for release.

Is the Parole Board deciding on the continued detention of life sentence prisoners before their hearings?

Periodically reviewing life sentences by the Parole Board is a process required by law and such reviews, known as Tribunals, are intended to assess the current level of risk presented by life-sentence prisoners at the expiry of Tariff point of their sentence; Tariffs are the minimum length of time trial judges specify a lifer should spend in prison to satisfy the interests of retribution and punishment. Once the tariff point has been reached or exceeded by the lifer then the Parole Board has a legal duty to review and make an informed decision on the lifer’s continued imprisonment.

The review process itself, known as an ‘Oral Hearing’, at which the lifer is present, is conducted like a semi-judicial hearing where reports by social workers, prison staff and psychologists are considered and assessed, and the lifer is given the opportunity to present their own case for release. It is from these hearings, or Tribunals, that the critically important decisions are made about the lifer’s future, especially the one regarding whether to release or not. It would be absolutely wrong, as well as unlawful, if a decision regarding release was made BEFORE the ‘Oral Hearing’ had taken place and the paper work regarding that decision was written up to convey the impression that the decision had been made following such a hearing. In the case of a lifer called Malcolm Legget there exists indisputable evidence that such an unlawful practice took place and its discovery was purely by accident and incompetence on the part of the Parole Board.

On the 6 February 2012 a parole hearing took place at Shotts prison in Scotland to consider the case for release of Malcolm Legget who has been in jail since 1986. During the hearing Mr Legget asked that a prison-based psychologist, Sharron McAllister, be produced as a witness at the hearing to explain what Mr Legget claimed were significant inaccuracies in her report regarding him. The panel agreed to Mr Legget’s request and the hearing was adjourned for a period of six months.

On the 21 February the Parole Board for Scotland wrote to Mr Legget saying the panel had made a definite decision regarding his continued imprisonment and had decided not to direct his release. It claimed the reason for its decision was that it still considered Mr Legget a risk to the community. Understandably, Mr Legget was concerned and confused by what appeared to be a final decision of the Parole Board when in fact his hearing had been adjourned and not yet concluded. Then on the 24 February Mr Legget received a second letter from the Parole Board informing him that the information in the previous letter had been what it called ‘an error’. Mr Legget is convinced that in fact the letter from the Parole Board of the 21 February was a pre-prepared decision made before the hearing on the 6 February and the real ‘error’ was that it was delivered to Mr Legget before the definitive conclusion of his hearing.

If Mr Legget’s suspicion is true, and the letter from the board on the 21 February suggest it is, then it indicates a serious and unlawful abuse of Parole Board procedure and power, and the rubber-stamping of the continued imprisonment of life sentence prisoners without proper procedure.

It also constitutes a clear breach of human rights under Article 5[4] which states that, “Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful”. This clearly stipulates that a proper, legally-based hearing should take place to sanction the prisoner’s detention, and in the case of the lifer the parole hearing is constituted to consider the continued detention, or not, of the life sentence prisoner who has reached or exceeded the time stipulated he should remain in jail. The so-called Oral Hearing is the forum where reports and evidence is considered by the panel, which is usually composed of a judge or legally qualified person, and a psychologist and senior probation officer or criminologist. It is from the evidence presented at these hearings, conducted in the presence of the lifer, that the final decision to release or detain is made. The letter Malcolm Legget received from the Parole Board on the 21 February would suggest that a decision to continue detaining Mr Legget was made in private and before the Oral Hearing itself. Clearly, if this did happen then ether a unique and unlawful precedent was created, or the rubber-stamping in private of the continued detention of life sentence prisoners is an established practice and the Parole Board is operating on an unlawful basis.

John Bowden 6729
HMP Shotts
April 2012

Sack Brenden Barnett

from: support john bowden

Militant long-term prisoner John Bowden continues not only to get shit from the prison authorities, but also from ‘social workers’ acting as their lackeys (see  http://leedsabc.org/another-attempt-to-sabotage-john-bowdens-parole-by-prison-hired-social-worker/ and  http://leedsabc.org/update-from-john-bowden-about-lies-written-by-prison-hired-social -worker-2/ ).

Regular Indymedia readers may recall that a few years ago the System used stooge social worker Mathew Stillman to smear the Anarchist Black Cross as a “terrorist organisation” with whom John was in contact. Eventually Stillman was totally discredited, but now another State lackey, Brenden Barnett, is doing their dirty work for them.

John’s official complaint against Barnett has only brought further repression. There is a need for a sustained campaign to expose Barnett’s lies and to expose the fact that two years after the Parole Board recommended John Bowden be moved to an open prison, he continues to be held in a Scottish high security jail, and for no other reason than his political writings exposing injustice and repression in British prisons.

Please read John’s articles on this latest situation (see link above) and take some time to at least write to Michelle Miller, Chief Social Worker, Grindlay Court Social Work Centre, Criminal Justice Services, 2-4 Grindlay Court, Edinburgh, EH3 9AR.

For just £2.16 postage you could even send a card like the one pictured above, which Leeds ABC posted on Saturday 21st April.
You can also write to John Bowden at:

John Bowden – 6729, HMP Shotts, Cantrell Road, Shotts, Scotland, ML7 4LE.

18 arrests as Mansion is evicted & drones conference resisted

Report and statement from members of Bristol Defendant Solidarity, ABC & Afed:

Squatters face up to riot police after the illegal morning eviction on Sunday 1st April

After losing to a possession order in court from the Bank of Scotland, squatters held another party at Clifton Wood House that ended with 11 arrests. At about 6am, police gained entry to the £3 million mansion under the Criminal Justice Act due to noise complaints, where they were met by a crowd of 35 angry ravers. The party goers then successfully resisted attempts to shut down the party by charging the cops to remove them from the building. Police responded by calling backup involving 50 officers, who closed off Clifton Wood Road, and proceeded to illegally evict the squatters from their home and seize sound equipment.

This led to a series of arrests from public order to assault pc as individuals attempted to resist the police led eviction. The video shows someone bleading from the nose during arrest and being threatened with a taser, followed by another person being dragged off in a neck lock by an officer defending himself armed with CS spray. Currently five people ranging from 17-19 years old have now been charged; two with assault pc (one who also has resisting arrest) and another two with section 5 offenses.

The next day in the centre a noise demo outside the 27th International Bristol Drone Conference consequently led to more arrests. Starting at around 9am on Telephone Avenue, by about midday around 80 people were making a loud racket with a sound system, pots and pans and a live band. Members of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Bristol Against Arms Trade, Smash EDO and Bristol Amnesty took part in the action in solidarity with those facing drone attacks abroad in state warfare. Drone attacks have led to thousands of civilian casualties in conflict areas, and are often referred to as “remote killing machines”.

Monday 2nd April: People stood on windows frames banging windows looking in as warmongers attempted to eat lunch in peace.

A Palestinian flag was promptly hung at Armada House where the conference was taking place as people stood on windows frames banging windows to cause maximum disruption, while several arms dealers relied on the cops to leave due to the attention given by activists who pursued the warmongers around town. In response police arrived at 2pm with 5 support vans, initially seizing the sound system, then blocking off Marsh Rd before advancing from Baldwin Street towards Telephone Avenue after also blocking the road. They began attacking the demonstration, who strongly resisted being moved, leading to 7 people being arrested/detained on various different charges. These included public nuisance, public order, breah of the peace, obstruct pc and assault pc, as well as someone re-arrested in relation to the Clifton eviction.

Video | Pictures

Four out of the seven people arrested were eventually taken to to trinity road police station, after which activists held a solidarity demonstration outside the main entrance. The demo was lively with music and a fire place made from a washing machine drum to keep themselves warm. When police came out to demand that the fire be extinguished, protesters simply picked up the drum and moved it across to the roundabout much to the annoyance of the police who were having to carry a bucket of water. This happened again a few moments later when the fire was moved back to it’s original place and the police came out in larger numbers with an idle threat to call the fire service. By the end of this rather humorous game the police went inside to ‘research’ laws on contained public fires.

Eventually three out of four of the people arrested were released on bail with ridiculous conditions, for example a suspect was not allowed to congregate with 3 or more persons at a time. A bit weird, but it is the Avon and Somerset police we’re talking about here. The remaining person in custody was held overnight and was due in court the following morning. Additionally 3 people waited outside Southmead police station where others were taken, as nervously paranoid police covered up numbers plates on exiting the compound – concerned an anarchist database was being created!

As a result of the protest two activists are fighting the cases in court, while one person has been fined £150 for a section 5 offence (causing ‘alarm, harassment or distress’), someone accepting a caution, and another bound over for breach of the peace but charged with vandalizing a police cell.

It goes without saying Bristol Defendant Solidarity, Bristol Anarchist Black Cross and Bristol Anarchist Federation express full solidarity with all those arrested, charged and otherwise violently repressed by the police over these two days. While other groups may keep their distance, we will continue to support individuals through the courts and with their fines.

A benefit gig has already been organised to support the anti-drone and clifton defendants (full details to be announced very soon) while squatters and activists aim to legally oppose the eviction and police response to the noise demo, which were both caught on camera. Furthermore there is a march in solidarity with squatters facing evictions, charges & additionally threatened with homeless through the criminalisation of squatting.

Meet 1pm on Saturday 14th April @ Metropolis Stokes Croft to defend our squats!