Tag Archives: state repression

Debbie Vincent Sentenced to 6 Years In Prison

debbie_2860235bDebbie Vincent, a long-term animal rights campaigner, was sentenced to 6 years in prison on Thursday 17th April at Winchester Crown Court. She was found guilty of ‘conspiracy to blackmail’ for her public involvement in the campaign to shut down notorious animal testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences. Debbie was the first of three defendants to face trial related to the ‘Blackmail 3′ case.

The other two defendants are currently awaiting extradition from Holland and may face trial later in the year. In the mean time please continue to show solidarity with them, you can visit the Blackmail 3 Support Campaign website for ideas of ways to support them.

You can also write to Debbie in prison, her address is:

Debbie Vincent (A5819DE)
HMP-YOI BRONZEFIELD
Woodthorpe Road,
Ashford,
Middlesex,
TW15 3JZ

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!