PRISON PROTEST ESCALATES
Republican prisoners at Maghaberry Prison are now refusing meals in an
increasing protest for the recognition of political status.
Starting on Monday, prisoners on the segregated wing have refused meals
in their cells. The prisoners and their supporters have stressed that
this action is not a hunger strike.
The Republican Prisoners Action Group, which speaks for those involved,
said prisoners on the segregated wing were being denied access to
canteen facilities and were forced to eat meals in their cells in close
proximity to the toilet.
The group said this was "a practical problem" resulting from
of controlled movement enforced on the segregated landing. The policy
prevents any more than three prisoners being allowed out of their cells
at any one time.
"The RPAG consider that the policy of controlled movement is
excessively restrictive and POWs will not tolerate these conditions
"The Prison Protest began on Monday 19th June 2006 and will continue
until the five demands outlined by the POWs are addressed".
The five demands, as outlined by the RPAG, are: free association; end
to controlled movement; right to full time education; separate visiting
facility; right to organise our own landings.
Prisoners in Portlaoise prison in the Irish midlands are to begin a
24-hour fast on Wednesday in solidarity with their comrades in the
County Antrim jail. They have indicated that this will continue each
week for the foreseeable future in support of the fight to win
Republican Sinn Fein is supporting the protest.
"In this 25th anniversary year of the H-Block hunger strike, the
British government must not be allowed to go back down the road of
attempting to criminalise Republicans while they treat them in an
inhumane manner," a statement from the group said.
"In addition to 21 and 23 hour lock-up on alternate days there are
constant strip searches. Prisoners are made to choose between daily
exercise and education. They are denied facilities to enable them to
organise their own education.
"The prisoners seek the right to free association on their own landings
and an end to "controlled movement". They are abused by the
sniffer dogs to harass their visitors and themselves.
"Safe and secure visits are denied, Family visitors are exposed to
loyalist visitors and the prisoners themselves are exposed to loyalists
while going to and from legal visits.
"Since Republican prisoners secured separation from loyalist and
ordinary prisoners some years ago, they have been targeted for special
reduced conditions. The mistakes of the past must not be repeated in