The Call

By Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford)

This is a call for all prisoners in Security Housing Units (SHUs), Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), and General Populations (GP), as well as the free oppressed and non-oppressed people to support the indefinite July 1st 2011 peaceful Hunger Strike in protest of the violation of our civil/human rights, here at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU), short corridor D1 through D4 and its overflow D5 through D10.

It should be clear to everyone that none of the hunger strike participants want to die, but due to our circumstances, whereas that state of California has sentenced all of us on Indeterminate SHU program to a “civil death” merely on the word of a prison informer (snitch).

The purpose of the Hunger Strike is to combat both the Ad-Seg/SHU psychological and physical torture, as well as the justifications used of support treatment of the type that lends to prisoners being subjected to a civil death. Those subjected to indeterminate SHU programs are neglected and deprived of the basic human necessities while withering away in a very isolated and hostile environment.

Prison officials have utilized the assassination of prisoners’ character to each other as well as the general public in order to justify their inhumane treatment of prisoners. The “code of silence” used by guards allows them the freedom to use everything at their disposal in order to break those prisoners who prison officials and correctional officers (C/O) believe cannot be broken.

It is this mentality that set in motion the establishing of the short corridor, D1 through D4 and its D5 though D10 overflow. This mentality has created the current atmosphere in which C/Os  and prison officials agreed upon plan to break indeterminate SHU prisoners. This protracted attack on SHU prisoners cuts across every aspect of the prison’s function: Food, mail, visiting, medical, yard, hot/cold temperatures, privileges (canteen, packages, property, etc.), isolation, cell searches, family/friends, and socio-culture, economic, and political deprivation. This is nothing short of the psychological/physical torture of SHU/Ad-Seg prisoners. It takes place day in and day out, without a break or rest.

The prison’s gang intelligence unit was extremely angered at the fact that prisoners who had been held in SHU under inhuman conditions for anywhere from ten (10) to forty (40) years had not been broken. So the gang intelligence unit created the “short corridor” and intensified the pressure of their attacks on the prisoners housed there. The object was to use blanket pressure to encourage these particular isolated prisoners to debrief (i.e. snitch on order to be released from SHU).

The C/Os and administrative officials are all in agreement and all do their part in depriving short corridor prisoners and its overflow of their basic civil/human rights. None of the deliberate attacks are a figment of anyone’s imagination. These continuous attacks are carried out against prisoners to a science by all of them. They are deliberate and conscious acts against essentially defenseless prisoners.

It is these ongoing attacks that have led to the short corridor and overflow SHU prisoners to organize ourselves themselves around an indefinite Hunger Strike in an effort to combat the dehumanizing treatment we prisoners of all races are subjected to on a daily basis.

Therefore, on July 1, 2011, we ask that all prisoners throughout the State of California who have been suffering injustices in General Population, Administrative Segregation and solitary confinement, etc. to join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil/human rights. As you know, prison gang investigators have used threats of validation and other means to get prisoners to engage in a protracted war against each other in order to serve their narrow interests. If you cannot participate in the Hunger Strike then support it in principle by not eating for the first 24 hours of the strike.

I say that those of you who carry yourselves as principled human beings, no matter you’re housing status, must fight to right this and other egregious wrongs. Although it is “us” today (united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans, and others) it will be you all tomorrow. It is in your interests to peacefully support us in this protest today, and to beware of agitators, provocateurs, and obstructionists, because they are the ones who put ninety percent of us back here because they could not remain principled even within themselves.

10 thoughts on “The Call

  1. I think you all should know about a hunger strike (the third this year) going on in the US funded and advised La Tramacúa penitentiary in Valledupar, Colombia. 54 prisoners begun this strike on June 19th and eight have sewn their own mouths shut-extreme measures due to extremely bad conditions. Perhaps there could be some statements of mutual solidarity or some other forms of mutual support and awareness. La Tramacúa was built with US funds and is part of an effort to transform the prisons on a US model–so there are points of connection between the two different hunger strikes. I work with the Alliance for Global Justice and the International Network in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners (of Colombia), and am in close contact with Colombian groups working on this issue. Please contact me if you’d like to learn more or discuss things. Following is the text of a sign on letter that we’ll be sending later this week (and, please, we’d love to have people from your
    network and movement sign!–just send an email to james@afgj.org):

    To: President Juan Manuel Santos, Minister of the Interior and Justice German Vargas Lleras, Brigadier General Gustavo Adolfo Ricaurte Tapia and members of the Colombian Congress; the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights in Colombia and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of the United States Congress.
    We are deeply concerned over reports* about conditions at the High Security Penitentiary at Valledupar, Department of César, Colombia, commonly known as La Tramacúa. We join a growing chorus of voices calling for La Tramacúa to be closed. These include the prisoners themselves, current and former members of the Colombian Congress, the mayor of Valledupar, the César Public Defender, and national and international human rights defenders. For those of us in the United States, we are particularly troubled knowing that La Tramacúa was built with US funding and advice.

    The situation has become such a crisis that 54 inmates started a hunger strike on June 19th and on June 22nd, eight of them sewed their own mouths shut, refusing to take anything into their bodies but water. These actions were preceded by a 44 day hunger strike by Felix Sanabria which began in September, 2010, a 24 day hunger strike by Hernan Rodriguez in May, 2011, and a nonviolent general strike by 60 prisoners from May 14-June 12th. While these actions are drastic, they reflect desperate conditions, the lack of recourse available and the determination of the inmates to hold onto the hope that their struggle might win some degree of dignified treatment. We recognize that at least in part, the extreme act of sewing one’s mouth shut is a silent call that we open our mouths in protest concerning the terrible conditions in La Tramacúa.

    Construction at La Tramacúa was finished in November, 2000 and the institution was hailed as a model of a “New Penitentiary Culture”. However, this modern prison has become notorious for its bad conditions, including:

    Severe Restriction of Access to Water–Inmates have an average ten minutes daily access to running water in a place where temperatures regularly climb to 100 degrees (38 Celsius). Access to running water has been suspended altogether for days at a time as a form of collective punishment. Water was shut off from April 29th until June 2nd, 2011, sparking a widespread and nonviolent prison strike.
    Fecal Contamination of Food–Officials from the United Nations, the César Department of Health and various other government agencies and NGOs have verified this on different occasions. An international delegation visited on June 13th, reporting filthy kitchen and food preparation areas swarming with flies. 
    Unsanitary toilets–Because of water restrictions, toilet facilities are usually non-functioning. Sewage is frequently backed up, running into cells and kitchen areas.
    Repeated Reports of Torture, Beatings and Armed Attacks–Reports of violence in La Tramacúa are frequent and often horrifying. As recently as June 11th and 12th, guards attacked five units in order to end the peaceful prison strike. Witnesses said guards caused some prisoners to fall as far as four and five floors. Other guards were reported stripping prisoners and firing “non-lethal weapons” at their genitals. Especially targeted for violence are political prisoners at La Tramacúa, one of several harsh prisons where Colombia’s more than 7,500 political prisoners are concentrated.
    Extreme Isolation from Family and Friends– One of the most frequent complaints of prisoners at La Tramacúa is that they are being held far from their homes and are unable to receive visits from family members because costs are so prohibitive.

    As people of conscience, we support the prisoners in their two demands that the Colombian government close La Tramacúa and transfer inmates to institutions near their families.

    We also call on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights in Colombia and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate  the situation at La Tramacúa as well as the treatment of Colombia’s political prisoners throughout the penal system.

    We call on Pres. Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to add their voices to those calling for La Tramacúa to be closed.  We call on the United States Congress to investigate the roles played by the US Agency for International Development and the US Bureau of Prisons in allowing these conditions to develop at La Tramacúa.

    We also insist that Congress reject attempts to pass the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. There is no justifiable reason to pass this FTA, especially while Colombia, with US support, allows such inhumane treatment to occur in its jails and while it continues to lock up 7,500 political prisoners-most of whom are peasant farmers, unionists and students who were engaged in nonviolent mobilizations.

    * These reports were first received from the Colombian political prisoners advocacy organization, Lazos de Dignidad.

    Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Medea Benjamin, Co-founder of Cod Pink
    Isabel Garcia, Founder of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos and recipient of Mexico’s National Human Rights Prize
    Dan Kovalik, Senior Counsel, United Steel Workers
    David Bacon, US labor journalist and photographer
    Rev. John Fife, Co-Founder of the Sanctuary Movement, No More Deaths and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA
    Raquel Mogollón, President of Pan Left Video Collective
    Mary Ann Tenuto, Coordinator for the Chiapas Support Committee
    Chuck Kaufman, Coordinator for the Alliance for Global Justice
    James Jordan, Coordinator for the Campaign for Labor Rights

    (Organizational affiliations listed for identification purposes only.)

  2. Pingback: Hunger Strike at Pelican Bay Max Security | Life Is Good

  3. the U.S. called itself ABOLISHING SLAVERY, then created a prison system void of that law. TruTh is.. America took the slaves, re-enslaved them, and continue to strip them of HuMan rights. Then hypocritically create pretend wars and slaughter millions of people worldwide for $$$. Click the link below 4Human rights….All of US or None of US…4HumaniTees

  4. Pingback: Emergency Request For National and International Solidarity « furbirdsqueerly

  5. I understand exactly how it feels to be treated inhuman. I was incarcerated injustly for 4 years and. want I saw in there is horrible that prisoners cant explain! We are human And officers feel that because they have the uniform that gives them the right to treat us like animals. ……ITS NOT! People on the outside need to be awhere of the treatment by correction officer to prisoners. I feel for these prisoners in Pelican Bay State prison,especially my dear friend Victor. May God keep you all safe And my prayer are with you all

    MALENA

  6. Pingback: Faces and Voices of the California Prison Hunger Strike

  7. Pingback: Faces and Voices of the California Prison Hunger Strike | Moorbey'z Blog

  8. Pingback: Faces and Voices of the California Prison Hunger Strike | Moral Low Ground

  9. Pingback: Faces and Voices of the California Prison Hunger Strike | Seattle Free Press

  10. Pingback: Lisa Guenther, The Biopolitics of Starvation in California Prisons | Society and Space - Environment and Planning D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s