UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
What: Community Conversation
Where/When: FRIDAY OCTOBER 18
9:30 am to 11:30 am (Vigil 9 am to 9:30 am)
Immanuel Presbyterian Church
3300 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90010
6:00pm to 8:00pm
UC Berkeley Campus
Valley Life Sciences Building, Room 2060
Oakland—In the wake of the largest prisoner hunger strike in US history, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez will visit with supporters and loved ones of California prisoners and will join them for public conversations in Los Angeles and Berkeley. In 2012, over 300 prisoners submitted a petition to Mendez, alleging that their conditions violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In response, Special Rapporteur Mendez has requested that the US State Department authorize him to visit prisons in California. That request remains pending. During this past summer’s hunger strike, Juan Mendez granted prisoners’ request to visit California and meet with prisoners’ loved ones and advocates to learn more about solitary confinement in California, and to share his views on how solitary confinement may violate the international human rights obligations of the United States.
Mendez’s visit comes a week after a rare joint session of the California Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees held to address demands made by prisoners during the hunger strike. California’s use of indefinite solitary confinement, and the devastating physical, mental, and public health impacts of the notorious practice was at the center of the three hour hearing, with committee chair Assembly member Tom Ammiano calling conditions in California’s solitary confinement cells, “beyond the pale.”
“Prisoners themselves, their loved ones , and their supporters have made it very clear: what’s happening in California prisons, the torture of solitary confinement, is an international issue,” said Danny Murillo of the Cal Berkeley-based organization, Human Rights of the Incarcerated, a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. Murillo spent years being held in solitary confinement in California prisons. “Solitary confinement has be resolutely condemned internationally. Now it is the time for clear and urgent action to dismantle the policies, procedures, and facilities that are destroying lives. We are eager to discuss with Mr. Mendez the work we’ve been doing to end human rights violations in California prisons, and look forward to his visit adding momentum to this growing movement. “
Loved one of prisoners and leading activists against solitary confinement will speak along with Mendez on Friday in both Los Angeles and Berkeley.