By Chris Hedges for Truthdig. “We have to shut down the prisons,” Council, known as Kinetik, one of the founders of the Free Alabama Movement, told me by phone from the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Ala. He has been in prison for 21 years, serving a sentence of life without parole. “We will not work for free anymore. All the work in prisons, from cleaning to cutting grass to working in the kitchen, is done by inmate labor. [Almost no prisoner] in Alabama is paid. Without us the prisons, which are slave empires, cannot function. Prisons, at the same time, charge us a variety of fees, such as for our identification cards or wrist bracelets, and [impose] numerous fines, especially for possession of contraband. They charge us high phone and commissary prices. Prisons each year are taking larger and larger sums of money from the inmates and their families. The state gets from us millions of dollars in free labor and then imposes fees and fines. You have brothers that work in kitchens 12 to 15 hours a day and have done this for years and have never been paid.”
By Carol Rosenberg for the Miami Herald. U.S. troops delivered six long-held Yemeni prisoners from Guantánamo for resettlement in the Arabian Sea nation Oman on Friday, the Pentagon said early Saturday, resuming transfers that had been stalled for months. The mission reduced the detainee population at the prison camps to 116 captives, 51 cleared for transfers with security assurances from the nation taking them in. Among those released was Emad Hassan, 35, whose lawyers said had been on the prison hunger strike since 2007, and failed to get a judge to stop his forced-feedings. Hassan, captured in Pakistan in March 2002, became a devotee of the “Game of Thrones” series and Dan Brown novels from the prison library, according to his attorney Alka Pradhan. All six had been cleared for release for at least five years. None was ever charged with a crime. All were taken to the prison camps in the summer of 2002.
By Ben Reynolds for ROAR. How can we create the fundamental change we so desperately need? We need a superior strategy to the failed strategies of the past; we need a means to turn an uprising into a revolution. History offers a few successful examples of popular organizing we can draw from. During the French Revolution, the popular assemblies of the Paris sections formed a radical base that pushed the developing revolution forward. The Russian Revolution of 1917 saw deliberative popular bodies known as “soviets” overthrow the provisional government in the name of bread and peace. These kinds of systems — based upon deliberative councils and assemblies — frequently appear in any period of unrest or upheaval, and have recently emerged in Argentina, Spain, and elsewhere. In the present, the Kurdish movement in Turkey and Syria employs a developed version of this system known as “democratic confederalism.” Face-to-face neighborhood assemblies form the base of political decision-making, while successive councils operate at the district, city and regional levels. The councils and assemblies deliberate upon all of the issues facing the community and attempt to organize the means to effect necessary changes.
By Al Jazeera Staff. Jailed activist Mohamed Soltan, who has been on hunger strike for over a year in protest against his detention in Egypt, has been freed and sent back to his home country, the United States. Soltan, a 27-year-old US-Egyptian dual citizen and human rights activist, was arrested in September 2013 when police was searching for his father, a senior member of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. Last month, Soltan was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly supporting the group, a verdict his family challenges, saying that there was no evidence against him. A website calling for his release also said he was not a member of the Brotherhood, describing him as a US-educated peace activist who was involved in youth events and charities.
For the past three years, Ashley Diamond has been denied health care as well as protection from recurring violence from the men around her. But she has been fighting back — and her fight has been making headlines and wresting small changes from the Georgia Department of Corrections. Her story starkly illustrates the challenges facing trans women behind bars — from frequent violence and sexual assaults to the denial of hormones and other medical neglect. But Diamond’s experiences are far from unique, or even unusual. Nor is her decision to challenge prison policies around trans health care and safety an exception. Across the country, trans people have individually challenged and collectively organized to be free from physical, sexual and medical violence.
Four activists, who appeared in court on May 15th for a pre-trial status hearing, will have to return to Washington, DC on July 7, 2015 to stand trial on the charge of unlawful entry, which carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison. The four were arrested on April 24, 2015 at the Embassy of El Salvador where they staged a sit-in to call attention to 17 Salvadoran women currently serving extreme 30-year prison sentences for having had miscarriages. The charges are for aggravated homicide and receiving illegal abortions, though there is little to no evidence as to the causes of their miscarriages. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana made international headlines last month as the first of the 17 to be released. “This is a grave injustice. Where there is injustice, silence is complicity,” said Father Roy Bourgeois.
Raise your fist, but not to fight. This week it’s about the power of the mind – to overcome, to evolve, to rise up and to stand resolute against injustice. We go through some bullet point rights, yours to flex any and every time you’re on U.S. soil. Knowledge is power. We go to LA to see how artists are manifesting justice through their various mediums: theater, discussions, forums, workshops on screen printing, spoken word, health and wellness. We then take you to the front lines of the Million Moms March, where mothers took a list of demands to the Department of Justice seeking answers for unsolved crimes that killed their children and destroyed their communities. Not one to end on a somber note, we wrap up this week with a rap/rock piece that reminds you to use your mind, find your fight and raise the floodlight.
Wadiya Jamal Mumia’s wife at 8:50 pm last night May 12th and told her that Mumia had been moved to the hospital. This is a disturbing development and is cause for grave concern. There are reports that he had a fever, and that he has open wounds and sores on his legs. HIs attorney Bret Grote visited him on Friday. He was engaged, alert, yet he was in pain in his knees and leg. We will be working to gather more information as the day goes on. His hospital conditions will be abhorrent: he will be chained to the bed. He could, as they did before, be arbitrarily and systematically denied visitors. The last time we were in the ICU they did not let his familly or lawyers see him, or give them any information for 24hrs. Even though they were the ICU waiting room just a few feet from Mumia’s bed.. Clearly Mumia’s chronic conditions remain undiagnosed and unsuccessfully treated.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray were being charged brought cheers and celebratory honking of horns. On closer inspection, however, there are important questions as to whether the arresting officers who began the process that led to Gray’s death were charged with an adequately serious offense. Indeed, if it had not been for the illegal arrest and the damage they did to Gray before the van ride, Gray would not have died. Further, comparing how the police were treated with how protesters were treated shows further injustice and prompts questions about amnesty for all those arrested during the protests. If a country truly believed in freedom of speech and the right to assembly, there would be amnesty for all the protesters who were arrested. They should have their records cleansed, the arrests should never have occurred and there should be no record of them. There is a human right to resist injustice that should be respected. As for the case of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Mosby still has a chance to amend the charges against the officers involved in his arrest or bring the case before a grand jury and seek an additional charge of second degree murder against the three arresting officers.
NEW YORK, NY – Members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Heidi Boghosian and Natsu Saito, with Kathleen Cleaver of the Human Rights Research Fund, today delivered an Urgent Appeal Request on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal to Juan Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The Request addresses the life-threatening denial of medical care to the 61-year-old journalist, political activist, and human rights defender who has been described as “perhaps America’s most famous prisoner.” According to the Request, Mr. Abu-Jamal, currently in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, has life-threatening medical conditions that have been caused and/or exacerbated by his conditions of confinement. It reports that prison officials have consistently denied him appropriate medical treatment and adequate nutrition, and blocked access to his doctors, his lawyers and his family members.
More than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. . . The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via police wagons (most without seat belts, btw–a real shocker after all that’s happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with . . . .
Mumia Abu-Jamal was seen today by his wife and his condition has worsened. He, is gravely ill. We are asking everyone to call the prison. Right now. It may be late, but call whenever you get this. Mumia needs 24 hour care and supervision. He can not be in this condition in general population. In this state he may not be able ask for help, he may lose consciousness. He is too weak. (He was released from the infirmary two days ago). His condtiion: He is extremely swollen in his neck, chest, legs, and his skin is worse than ever, with open sores. He was not in a wheelchair, but can only take baby steps. He is very weak. He was nodding off during the visit. He was not able to eat- he was fed with a spoon. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure.
St. Louis–The State of Missouri is scheduled to execute Andre Cole on April 14 and Kimber Edwards on May 12 despite evidence that all black potential jurors were removed from each those capital juries by St Louis County prosecutors simply because they were black. The NAACP, ACLU, and dozens of other organizations and congregations in St Louis and around the state have joined in a call for Governor Nixon to convene a Board of Inquiry to halt the executions and investigate this issue. In a letter delivered to Governor Nixon, numerous state legislators and organizations representing thousands of Missouri residents from across the state joined in the request to investigate the systemic exclusion of African-American jurors in death penalty cases from St. Louis County, particularly by all-white decision-makers.