Fellow Prisoners


Many of you will be following the courageous life and death struggle currently taking place in the Turkish prisons. In the F.I.E.S. isolation units of Spain (equivalent to our CSC units) prisoners have recently launched an initiative in support of the Turkish prison struggle and in support of their own 3 demands. This initiative, which is supported by prisoners in France, Greece and by Basque and Kurdish prisoners, is in the form of a hunger protest on the first Saturday of each month. The three demands of the F.I.E.S. prisoners are as follows:

1. An end to the F.I.E.S. units.

2. An end to ‘dispersion’, whereby prisoners are moved away from their families.

3. The release of all terminally ill prisoners, and those who have spent more than 20 years in prison because of their political beliefs and militant attitude.

In solidarity with our comrades in the Turkish prisons and those fighting for justice throughout the world, we propose the launch of an initiative along the same lines as the Spanish prisoners -  A food strike on the first Saturday of every month.

Since the Whitemoor and Parkhurst escapes of 1994 and 1995 there has been a concerted attempt to crush the British prison struggle once and for all, a war of attrition the State has all but won. By making this simple act of solidarity we are taking the first step towards renewing the struggle and asserting our humanity and our defiance.

Like the F.I.E.S. prisoners we are proposing 3 reasonable and achievable demands of our own:

1. A minimum of one hour’s daily exercise in the open air - It is appalling that at a time when prisoners are once again being locked 2 and 3 to a cell, the statutory allowance of daily exercise has been reduced to only half an hour.

2. The right of all prisoners to wear their own clothes - Twenty years after Bobby Sands and his comrades died on hunger-strike, the right of prisoners to wear their own clothes is still not enshrined in the prison rules. Because of this, governors regard the wearing of civilian clothes as a ‘privilege’ that can be withdrawn at any time. This is increasingly happening with prisoners placed on ‘basic’.

3. The abolition of compulsory prison work - We are currently seeing the growing exploitation of prisoners’ labour by private companies and by the State. If prisoners choose to work in return for remuneration they should have that choice, but compulsory work is nothing less than slavery.

These are the three demands that we propose. We ask that all militant prisoners, all those who have not been crushed by State repression, all those not bought off by the arse-lickers charter of the ‘Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme’, all those who have an instinct for solidarity and the courage to stand up against oppression support this proposal. Our numbers may be few but they have the potential to grow. Spread the word. Support the protest. The fightback starts here.

Mark Barnsley

John Bowden

Just 2 days after the above statement was published in Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism! (FRFI!), Mark was put in segregation at Wakefield Prison (see above).  See the letters page on this website for an update on Mark's treatment. Go to "For Sale" on this web site to read about a new book on his case.