Irish Freedom Committee

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Subject: Maghaberry prison guards abuse, assault Irish Republican POWs – ACTION REQUEST
Date: Friday, May 14, 2004

In an statement today from Belfast, prisoners' rights spokespersons Marian Price and Martin Mulholland decried yesterday's invasive assault on Irish republican prisoners at Maghaberry Gaol, Co,. Antrim. (see below).

Prisoners were locked in their cells all morning and denied breakfast and lunch, and when they were finally let out of their cells in the afternoon they were verbally and physically assaulted by the prison guards and called "REPUBLICAN SCUM". The prison "ninja" screws then invaded the men's cells with dogs and left several filthy and covered with dog hair.

In one very serious incident a male prisoner was so brutally strip-searched and verbally taunted that he will seek assistance at the Belfast rape crisis center. This is a particularly disgusting incident and shows the level of depravity to which the prison administration and its screw thugs will go to wield their brute force and dehumanize their captives.

This most recent assault, compounded with many other recent attempts by the administration to agitate the republican prisoners such as the withholding of personal mail, the abuse of family members at visits, and the ongoing daily efforts to dehumanize and abuse the republican prisoners; can only be seen in light of the recent passing of a bill in Parliament calling for the transfer of "unruly" or "troublesome" prisoners to prisons in England and Wales.

The Irish Freedom Committee calls on all of our Members and supporters to please send a letter to the Northern Ireland Office and the Prisons Service to protest the deplorable treatment of Irish Republican prisoners at Maghaberry Gaol. As so succinctly pointed out in the statement referenced above, on a day when Hugh Orde has come out and identified sectarianism as a hate crime, all right-thinking people should call on his offices to take action against the Prisons Service for the outrageous show of sectarian abuse that the prisoners have had to endure at Maghaberry yesterday.

Sample letter and contact info follows below or get an INSTANT EMAIL form here:

The Irish Freedom Committee®

From a statement released yesterday by prisoners rights spokespersons Marian Price and Martin Mulholland in Belfast:

“Today in Maghaberry gaol prison officers and the Northern Ireland Prison Service were involved in their very own form of abusing POW’s. The abuse started when the prison officers refused to unlock the men this morning. The men were also denied breakfast and lunch and were kept in their cells until well into the afternoon. At this stage the men were unlocked for recreation. While the men were in the recreation area a heavily protected search team was sent onto the wing and proceeded to verbally abuse the POW’s. The men were instructed by their Officer Commanding to co-operate with the searches as it was felt that the Search team on duty were engaged in an effort to antagonise the men and provoke some sort of confrontation. A number of cells were wrecked by the search team and covered in dirt and dog hairs. Many of the republicans were subjected to inhuman and degrading strip searches with one POW describing the search as a form of rape and definite sexual assault. This prisoner intends to contact the rape crisis centre in Belfast for counselling so extreme was his strip search. Immediately prior to searching this man, three members of the search team insulted him and offered to fight him saying that he thought he was a “hard man” and that they would show him how “hard he really was”.

All the prisoners had their Human Right violated today by the prison service with even the basic rights to association and food being denied for a long period of the day. On a day when Hugh Orde has labelled sectarianism as a hate crime (we) fully expect him to take action against the NIPS for the sustained tirade of sectarian abuse that the prisoners have had to endure. In one instance when a prisoner returned to the recreation area a prison officer had spelt out REPUBLICAN SCUM on the scrabble board. This area is covered by 3 surveillance cameras; it will not surprise any republican if the tapes suddenly disappear.

This bully boy attitude of the prison officers toward the republican prisoners is a constant feature of prison life for POW’s in Maghaberry Gaol but the criminal behaviour of the prison officers involved in sexual assault and hate crime today is an escalation in this policy. Republicans will not tolerate the brutalisation of our prisoners or their families and we call on human rights agencies and political parties to ensure that they are not as quiet in the future as the have been in the past. We also ask the Irish Government to take the British to task over their treatment of Irish Citizens. The British authorities in Ireland are expecting to get away with the same behaviour as they and their allies get away with in Iraq, we must all ensure that this doesn’t happen.

For easier steps see http://members.freespeech.org/irishpows/bb3/POWs/actionrequest_maghab.htm
1. Open an email and enter the following addresses into the "TO" bar:
press.nio@nics.gov.uk; info@niprisonservice.gov.uk; info@psni.police.uk

2. Copy and paste the suggested text below into your email body

3. Add you name and location to the text.


Mr. Paul Murphy - Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Block B
Castle Buildings
Belfast BT4 3STGTN

Mr. Peter Russell - Director General
Room 321
Prison Service Headquarters
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road

Mr. Hugh Orde - Chief Constable
65 Knock Road

Friday, May 14, 2004

I am writing today to protest the deplorable treatment yesterday of the male republican prisoners at Roe House in Maghaberry Gaol. I am aware that these prisoners were held in their cells all day until afternoon without meals, and were then subjected to numerous incidents of sectarian abuse by the guards as their cells were searched by teams with dogs. I understand that the prisoners co-operated fully with the searches and did not resist, despite the fact that in many cases their cells were wrecked and left in a filthy state. I am aware that the prisoners felt there was a distinct effort afoot to provoke them and to incite them into a confrontation.

I am particularly disgusted to learn that strip searches were carried out during the searches and that in one case a strip-searching was so abusive and invasive that the prisoner has defined the experience as rape. I find this to be utterly inexcusable and repellant in the extreme. I cannot see how this sort of abuse can be tolerated by your administration particularly with recent news reports of appalling prisoner abuses in the news Internationally.

It is clear that there is a policy afoot to attempt to agitate these men for no reason. I will continue to monitor this situation, and I remain concerned regarding these and other ongoing human rights abuses at Maghaberry Gaol.
Please advise.

Thank you;


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