Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Marian Price and Martin Mulholland have issued a statement condemning anRUC/PSNI British colonial police force attack earlier today on a group of prisoners' welfare activists in Derry.

Today's statement said:

"(We) utterly condemn the continuing harassment of (prisoners' welfare) activists in Derry.

"On Tuesday 20th April three (prisoners' welfare activists) were walking down Shipquay Street when they were approached by several members of the PSNI/RUC. Three armed policemen got out of a Landover and grabbed the men by the arms, while undercover members of Special Branch, from two unmarked cars got out and surrounded the men. They were asked their names and other details, including details of (prisoners' welfare) activities. Two of the men approached had been arrested a few weeks ago in the Waterside area along with another man, and brought to Antrim Interrogation Centre, but were subsequently released without charge. They recognised several of the RUC/PSNI personnel from this incident and were surprised that they required their details again. These security force members didn't even search the men so they obviously didn't suspect them of any wrong-doing.

"The questioning was carried out to such a degree and in such an aggressive manner that passers by and members of staff from a nearby bank came out and asked the men if they needed any assistance or if any one could be contacted on their behalves. After the questioning the police returned to their vehicles and proceeded to follow the men around the town, laughing and making jokes.

"(We) demand that this be exposed for what it is; the total
harassment of (prisoners' welfare activists) and of anyone who voices opposition to the Good Friday Agreement. Not only can these men no longer feel free to walk the streets at night, for fear of arrest and detention for a number of days, but they are now also unable to walk down a main shopping thoroughfare, during the day, without being interrogated!

"These events are the latest in a long line of incidents in the Derry area over the last few months which have seen our members stopped on average around six or seven times, as well as having their homes raided and doors kicked in. It was an attempt to embarrass and humiliate our members by singling them out in the busiest street in Derry. It only confirms what (we have) always ascertained that policing in the North
of Ireland is completely unchanged and that "a policing force for everyone" is nothing more than a facade, and that it has not seen an end to the harassment of those who dare to express alternative opinions."


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