August 1, 2013 - No. 95
No to Superpower Hooliganism!
Uphold the Principle of Sovereignty of All Nations!
Canada's Role in Organizing
Coups in Middle East and North Africa
to Superpower Hooliganism! Uphold the Principle of Sovereignty of All
• Canada's Role in Organizing Electoral Coups
in Middle East and North Africa
- Enver Villamizar
• Policy Debate Over Invasion of Syria
• Kerry Uses Arabs to Bully Palestinians
- Nicola Nasser, The Palestine Chronicle
• Hunger Strikers Send Greetings to Supporters
and All People of Conscience
• Challenging Punishment: What the California
Prisoners' Hunger Strike Tells
Us About Mass Incarceration - Samuel K. Roberts, Associate
Professor of History
and Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University
• Note to Our Readers
No to Superpower Hooliganism!
Uphold the Principle of Sovereignty of All Nations!
Canada's Role in Organizing Electoral Coups in
Middle East and North Africa
On July 18, Canada's new Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs Lynne Yelich announced two Canadian projects to train women in
electoral campaigning in the Middle East and North Africa, namely
in Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. The announcement comes as
the U.S. imperialists are scheming
to invade Syria in various ways. Jordan and Lebanon border
Syria and the U.S. and Israel are active in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen.
In North Africa, the U.S. carries out drone strikes in Tunisia and NATO
forces, including Canada, invaded Libya in 2011 and overthrew its
government. Meanwhile, foreign interference continues in Egypt.
The two Canadian projects are said to
development of women candidates' electoral campaigning skills and help
to expand recognition of women's rights as these countries continue to
undergo political transitions."
The projects are also said to push Canada's efforts and
interests in promoting "democratic transition" and "increasing the
political participation of women" in the Middle East North Africa
So-called political or democratic
transition is an imperialist euphemism for interfering in the internal
affairs of other countries. Such a "transition" certainly applies to
the NATO invasion of Libya, the assassination of Libyan leader Muammar
imposition of a puppet government. Clearly these projects will not be
those women who affirm national sovereignty and oppose and actively
resist foreign interference -- only those who agree to be imperialist
lackeys and join in their schemes to rip these countries open for
One project will take place in Lebanon, Libya and
Tunisia. It is called the "Arab Women's Leadership Institute Candidate
Preparation School," and is said to be aimed at building the capacity
of female candidates in those countries. It is a straight payout to the
International Republican Institute (IRI), which will be implementing
The project's activities include, "Training six
individuals -- two from each country -- in campaign management;
coaching the same individuals on strategic communications with the
electorate; providing 'campaign school' training and mentoring to
hundreds of other participants from the three countries."
The IRI is a
notorious outfit affiliated with the U.S. Republican Party that
as a mechanism for U.S. intervention and interference by financing
selected political parties and institutions "in countries important to
US interests" under the guise of promoting democracy and
freedom. Its president, a former National Security Council and U.S.
Department official "helped conceive and implement the Bush
administration's new Middle East democracy policy," according to the
IRI website. The IRI Board of Directors is chaired by warmongering U.S.
Senator John McCain and filled
with other Republican Party operatives, many of them former state and
government officials, as well as representatives of big U.S.
Much of its funding comes from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency
for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for
IRI "democracy promotion" has included, among other
things, funding and training opposition forces bent on
destabilization and regime change in the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela, involvement in the 2004 coup against President Aristide in
Haiti, the 2009 coup and its aftermath in Honduras and interference
in the internal affairs of Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North
African countries for similar ends.
The second project, to be implemented by the Forum of
Federations in Jordan, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, is called "Empowering
Women for Participation in the Political Process of Building Devolved
and Decentralized Democracies." The project's activities include:
"Providing regional capacity-building training for
women's networks and coalitions dedicated to decentralization; enabling
regional dialogue on common platforms and challenges among women, such
as activists, parliamentarians, aspiring candidates and businesswomen
already engaged in politics or leadership
roles; developing gender-specific and gender-sensitive training
materials, including audiovisual and virtual tools, on local governance
The combined cost of these two projects is $971,200.
Funding from Canada will be provided through the Global Peace and
Canadians should denounce these
schemes to foment
electoral coups as an insult to women and the ancient peoples of the
Middle East and North Africa who have been fighting tooth and nail to
rid themselves of the yoke of colonialism and neo-colonialism.
Elections in Canada have become a farce whereby marketing
firms and monopolies are able to gain state power through manipulative
methods. All the more so because these electoral projects come from a
government that has come under investigation by Canadian security
forces, elections officials and the courts over allegations of abuse of
the system and outright corruption
to manipulate the electoral process in order to win elections and stay
in power. These activities include overspending, voter suppression,
micro-targeting, appointing partisan political insiders to positions of
power and privilege and encouraging corrupt practices. This has nothing
to do with
empowering the people generally
or women in particular.
Most countries, including Canada, have laws against
foreign money being used to influence elections. This is a basic issue
when it comes to upholding national sovereignty and preventing outside
interests from manipulating a population and undermining the public
authority. The activities Foreign Affairs has planned
for the Middle East and North Africa would not be permitted in Canada
under law (although no doubt the U.S. does so in various ways). Why
they be acceptable when the situation is reversed? It goes to show that
anything goes nationally and internationally when public right is not
recognized and monopoly
right to act with impunity in the service of maximizing profits and
suppressing rivals is given primacy.
The kind of underhanded election activity the
imperialists want to bring to the people of the Middle East and North
Africa is despised by Canadians from all walks of life, whether it be
carried out in Canada or abroad.
Policy Debate Over Invasion of Syria
Speaking to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Armed
on July 18, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General
Martin Dempsey said that the Obama administration is considering
various scenarios including direct U.S. military intervention in Syria
using "the brute of the U.S. military, and kinetic
strikes." He pointed out the U.S. has "several options" for the use of
force in Syria. Dempsey declined to provide
more details during a question and answer session at the hearing when
asked to explain "strategies" to overthrow the Syrian government.
Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed
Services Committee and Republican Senator John McCain used the hearings
to push Dempsey to recommend to the Obama
administration a "more aggressive response" to events in Syria,
particularly in the face of the
widespread recognition that internal
subversion and external pressure by the U.S. and its allies, including
claims of chemical and biological weapons to try and egg on
its allies, has not worked in leading to the overthrow of the Syrian
government since this most recent onslaught began.
Among the questions from the duo during the hearings was
a request for Dempsey's assessment of the "costs, benefits and risks
associated with training and arming vetted elements of the Syrian
opposition." The pair asked: "In your view, could such action alone be
sufficient to adequately build the military capability
of the moderate opposition in Syria and create the necessary conditions
for the administration's stated policy objective -- Bashar Assad's
departure and a negotiated solution to the conflict in Syria -- to
McCain later went so far as to threaten to block
Dempsey's re-appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if he
did not give his personal opinion on the use of military force against
Syria indicating McCain's push for war.
The Senator requested "strategies" for regime change
in Syria. This confirms that although the U.S. talks about the need for
"political solutions" in Syria, it is on the basis of the imperialist
logic that the Syrian people do not have the right to decide their own
affairs. It also means that by whatever criminal means necessary,
elements in the U.S. want the Syrian government eliminated.
The hearings follow a meeting hosted by Canada at the
end of June of the "Friends of the Syrian People International Working
Group on Sanctions." The meeting was attended by 42 countries and a
the Syrian opposition for the stated aim of "ensur[ing] coordination
and effective implementation of sanctions
against the Assad regime" to "help enable a democratic transition." In
its communique, the "Friends" group blamed the Syrian government for
"atrocities and the ensuing tragedy" in the country. They called for
stepped-up sanctions against the government, and professed support for
negotiations to establish a transitional
governing body in which President Bashar al-Assad would have no role
(or any role thereafter).
Whether via an electoral coup or other forms of
political interference, or the use of military force, or both, the
U.S.'s aim is to impose its dictate on the Syrian people as it tried to
do in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. The problem is that the more Syrians
resist, the more the lie that the U.S. wants political resolutions,
or to protect human rights, is shown to be a fraud to hide another
blatant attempt at regime change.
The push by both Democratic
and Republican Senators for military "options" in Syria shows the
extent to which U.S. imperialism is trying to destroy public opinion
against the use of force. They do this by presenting the use of force
as a debate between external
invasion and the use of internal subversion through arming and
an opposition that contains elements the U.S. claims to have been
fighting since September 11, 2001.
The debate in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
also goes to show that despite being elected, the U.S. Senate does not
function as a mechanism to bring forward the popular will of the people
of the United States against war and aggression. Instead, it is a
sounding board for war crimes and other crimes
against the peace.
The peoples of the world have bitter experience with
U.S. "strategies" for regime change and the war crimes committed in the
process. Whether in Korea, Vietnam and Southeast Asia, Nicaragua, El
Salvador, Cuba, Venezuela or Guatemala, just to name a few, the crimes
the U.S. imperialists are well-known
to all. Today, U.S. imperialism and its allies in the Canadian
government and elsewhere refuse to learn the lessons of history and
continue operating as international gangsters, using whatever means at
their disposal to undermine the ability of nations and peoples to set
their own course and resolve their differences
through negotiation and without resorting to force.
U.S. Paying Syrian Police Who Desert Their Posts
According to U.S. government officials, the United
States has been paying thousands of Syrian police officers who deserted
their posts in Syria.
"There are literally thousands of defected police inside
of Syria," Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization
Operations Rick Barton said. "They are credible in their
communities because they've defected." He said the U.S. stipend was
meant to ensure that they stay on the job.
In an address to the Aspen Security Forum on July 19,
Barton did not say how many Syrian police deserters were on the U.S.
payroll. He said the officers were receiving about $150 per month, a
significant salary in Syria.
Officials said the administration of President Barack
Obama has approved tens of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of
police officers who joined the rebels. They said the officers were
working to maintain order in rebel-controlled territory, mostly in
"We'd rather have a trained policeman who is trusted by
the community than have to bring in a new crowd or bring in an
international group that doesn't know the place," Barton said.
Barton expressed the problem the U.S. faces in being
being "effective" in Syria
meaning they do not have strong links with Syrians
on the ground through which they can gain informants and intelligence
"credible" political alternatives. He did not mention that the
U.S. does not have such strong links on the ground
due to the resistance of Syrians to foreign intervention.
He also explained the U.S. is training Syrians in
various ways, including how to be leaders in so-called "liberated
areas." They have also established an FM radio network throughout the
country. He related his experience to what the U.S. dealt with in
where they had to vet the opposition the U.S. was working with
Barton said the rebel movement in Syria was also
awaiting a range of non-lethal U.S. equipment. He cited night vision
systems and medical supplies.
U.S. Forces On the Ground In Neighbouring Countries
In addition to its role in fomenting and arming groups
within Syria, the U.S. is using the situation in Syria as well as Egypt
to a certain extent, to justify its military presence in neighbouring
countries. Officially, the United States has deployed 800 troops in
Jordan. Jordanian members of Parliament
however, have complained that the number is significantly higher than
UN Officials Visit Syria
On July 24, two UN officials
arrived in Syria on the invitation of the Syrian government. They are
there on a two-day visit to meet with Syrian officials regarding a UN
planned probe into alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria's prolonged
crisis, sources say. The officials
were invited following the Syrian government's discovery of chemical
weapons stashed by rebel groups which are enough to "destroy a whole
country," Xinhua reports.
Kerry Uses Arabs to Bully Palestinians
Palestinians in Ramallah
oppose the occupation and demand the recognition of the right of return
all refugees to mark Nakba Day, May 15, 2013.
A new tactic by US Secretary of State John Kerry is
causing a split within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
ranks regarding further talks with Israel. Kerry is apparently using
the Arab League's Follow-Up Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative
(FCAPI) to bully the Palestinians into accepting new
ground rules for the talks to which they had objected in the past.
In his sixth tour of the region as secretary of state,
Kerry did something unusual. Instead of visiting Israel, as he always
does, he left it out of his itinerary, deciding instead to hold most of
the talks in the Jordanian capital Amman. While there, he conferred
with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as
members of the FCAPI. As the talks progressed, it became clear that
Kerry was no longer focusing on Israel, the country that has torpedoed
all previous attempts at peace, but on the PLO. His aim is to get the
latter to offer more concessions than any they have accepted in the
In order to do this, Kerry wanted to get the FCAPI to
accept these concessions on behalf of the Palestinians, a new tactic
that may or may not be working but that so far has succeeded in causing
divisions and widespread consternation in Palestinian circles. The
tactic is not totally new, for it resonates with the
manner in which US diplomats have used the Arab League to justify
foreign intervention for the sake of regime change in countries such as
Iraq and Libya in the past.
Speaking after a meeting with Kerry in Amman, FCAPI
diplomats voiced their "great support" for Kerry's efforts to revive
the talks. Their remarks were seen as a "victory" for Kerry, said the
Associated Press. It was a "success" for his diplomacy, added The New
York Times. Kerry, for his part, announced that
the gap was "narrowing" between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and
that all that was needed now was to "iron out" a few kinks.
For the Palestinians,
ironing out these kinks is going to be a quite a job, however. PLO
chief negotiator Saeb Ereikat is said to have had a "stormy" meeting
with the PLO leadership concerning Kerry's proposals. The PLO, its back
to the wall, is now forming a working committee to decide what to do
All of this is unprecedented. In the past, the FCAPI
used to take its cue from the Palestinians. When the Palestinians were
faced with demands for concessions they were reluctant to give, they
politely said they needed to consult with the FCAPI, which was a
courteous way of turning down unacceptable proposals.
Now the FCAPI is getting them into trouble by agreeing to concessions
before the Palestinians even have time to discuss them at length.
In the absence of FCAPI support for the PLO negotiators,
the latter had no option but to play along with Kerry's proposals. On
Friday, the US secretary of state declared his satisfaction with the
current plans to get the Palestinians and the Israelis talking again
about a "final status" deal. He has invited the PLO
and Israel to send negotiators to Washington soon to work out details
of the agreement. PLO senior officials told the French news agency AFP
that Kerry was determined to declare the resumption of the talks before
leaving the region.
US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki told
reporters that unless progress was made on Kerry's sixth visit to the
region, he would not be returning for more visits. If anything, this
sounds like an unveiled threat aiming to put pressure on Abbas and his
chief negotiator and force their cooperation.
During this round of talks, Kerry also left Abbas no
chance to play for time. Instead of waiting for Abbas to go to talk
with the FCAPI, Kerry brought the Arab League diplomats to Amman and
had them agree to his proposals without prior consultation with the PLO.
In Amman, members of the FCAPI issued a statement saying
that Kerry's ideas for the resumption of talks were a "suitable
foundation" for further negotiations. The FCAPI stamp of approval
placed the PLO in a difficult position. Abbas, unable to wiggle free
from this diplomatic ordeal, remained silent. But
his silence, as the saying goes in Arabic, was seen as a "sign of
Yet, the situation is likely to spark resentment back
home, where most of the PLO leaders are opposed to Kerry's proposals.
However, they know that a blunt rejection of these proposals may invoke
an unpleasant US reaction, if not sanctions.
Abbas is waiting to give his answer following
consultations with the PLO leadership. In all likelihood, the latter
will have to agree, despite its deep reservations about Kerry's
As a result of all this, the FCAPI has let down the
Palestinians, and it is not the first time that this has happened. On
29 April, a Qatari-led FCAPI delegation offered Kerry what amounted to
its consent to a land swap at a meeting in Washington. Critics of the
FCAPI correctly noted that the step was extraordinary,
for the FCAPI is not empowered to make such concessions. Only the Arab
summit, which issued the Arab Peace Initiative, is entitled to make any
amendment to this initiative. As a mere follow-up committee, the FCAPI
had exceeded its mandate.
Israel, of course, is pleased to see the FCAPI offer
concessions that the Palestinians do not seem willing to make. Tzipi
Livni, Israel's foreign minister at the time, described the FCAPI
statement as "good news."
Lebanese analyst Ziad Al-Sayegh recently wrote that
"after the failure of the internationalization of the talks [through
the Quartet], we are now going through a regionalization of the talks
[through the Arab League]." One symptom of this regionalization is that
the land swap, overwhelmingly rejected by the Palestinians,
is now getting the Arab League's stamp of approval.
Last Thursday, the Jordanian news agency Petra cited the
Arab League chief, Nabil Al-Arabi, as saying that the "US plan
concerning the peace process is based on three axes; political,
economic and security-related". The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot
then offered an interesting interpretation of this statement.
The political axis, it said, was the resumption of talks. The security
axis was going to be left to the US top brass to decide. And the
economic axis would mean a lot more aid to the Palestinian Authority.
During his last tour of the region, Kerry made no
reference to the Israeli settlements. Nor did he object when Israel
declared plans to build 732 new settlement units in the settlement of
Modi'in Illit in west Jerusalem. For him, this was not even a kink
worthy of ironing out. Even worse, the FCAPI has not seemed
interested in Israel's active settlement-building program, and it did
not even mention that future talks should focus on a two-state deal
based on the 1967 borders.
Last Friday, Kerry said that the best way to give the
talks a chance was to keep them "private". He declined to reveal the
details of his plan as a result, and the FCAPI had nothing to say. For
now, the PLO leadership is also keeping its cards close to its chest.
Hunger Strikers Send Greetings to Supporters
and All People of Conscience
Women of Color Global
Women's Strike action supports Pelican Bay hunger strikers, July 11,
is growing for Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers in
California. On July 31, day 24 of the California prisoners' hunger
actions are being held in communities around the U.S. to stand with the
hunger strikers. The actions call for justice for Trayvon
Martin, the unarmed African-American youth unjustly killed by a police
informant based on racial profiling. According to organizers actions
held in Oakland; Santa Cruz; Los Angeles; Philadelphia and Jackson,
Mississippi; London, England; Guyana; and Germany.
"[California Governor Jerry] Brown's absolute silence in
the face of this hunger strike is a quiet endorsement of torture,"
stated Margaret Prescod, from Women of Color Global Women's Strike and
host of the Sojourner Truth Show. "And we know the criminalization that
killed Trayvon Martin, and the criminalization
that justifies torture of prisoners is one and the same."
Two years ago a United Nations' expert on torture called
on all countries to ban solitary confinement lasting longer than 15
days. The Governor hasn't spoken about any of the three rounds of
hunger strikes in the past two years.
"I am looking forward to this historical event, in the
coming together of all races as we work toward bringing an end to
injustices everywhere, from solitary confinement to racial profiling to
mass incarceration," says Dolores Canales, an organizer with California
Families Against Solitary Confinement whose son
is on Hunger Strike in the Secure Housing Units (SHU) at Pelican Bay.
"Governor Brown, how
much longer can you ignore what is going on in the State of California?"
Hunger Strikers' Appeal
In response to the broad support the hunger strikers are
receiving, on July 10 they issued the following statement of greetings
to their supporters and to all people of conscience:
"We are grateful for your support of our peaceful
protest against the state-sanctioned torture that happens not only here
at Pelican Bay but in prisons everywhere. We have taken up this hunger
strike and work stoppage, which has included 30,000 prisoners in
California so far, not only to improve our own conditions
but also [as] an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed
around the world.
"We encourage everyone to take action to support the
strike wherever they live. Sign the petition demanding California
Governor stop the torture; plan rolling solidarity fasts if you are
able; use every means to spread the word; and participate in
non-violent direct action to put pressure on decision-makers.
"If it was not for your support, we would have died in
2011. Thank you everyone. We are confident we will prevail.
Pelican Bay State Prison-Secure Housing Unit Short
Prison Officials Retaliate
In an update on July 16, hunger strikers inform that
shortly after issuing their letter of greetings they were placed in
"As expected the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has responded to the resumption of our
peaceful protest by retaliating against 14 of us here at Pelican Bay,
subjecting us to similar escalation as in 2011.
"Specifically, on July 11, 2013, we were placed in
Administrative Segregation (Ad- Seg), where we are subjected to more
torturous conditions than in the SHU. Despite this diabolical act on
the part of the CDCR intended to break our resolve and hasten our
deaths, we remain strong and united! We are 100% committed
to our cause and will end our peaceful action when CDCR signs a legally
binding agreement to our demands.
"Please join us in our struggle to stop CDCR from trying
to destroy our lives, and the lives of our families.
"We can only win our demands with your support!
PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives
- Todd Ashker, C-58191, PBSP-SHU, D4-121
- Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP-SHU, D1-121
- Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671,
- Antonio Guillen, P-81948, PBSP-SHU, D2-106"
Challenging Punishment: What the California Prisoners'
Hunger Strike Tells Us About Mass Incarceration
The hunger strike at
Pelican Bay is the third such action in the past two years and only the
most recent in a 20-year history of protests against conditions there
going back to the 1995 Madrid v.
Gomez case. Now the strike has spread
to roughly two-thirds of the state's 33 prisons, currently involving at
prisoners and perhaps as many as 30,000. Strikers' demands vary, but in
total include an increase in hourly wages (currently 13 cents); more
humane treatment; and the restoration of educational, rehabilitative,
vocational and mental and physical health services recently excised
from prison budgets. One of the main
demands is an address of the inhumane conditions of solitary
confinement, or extreme isolation, in Secure Housing Units (SHUs) and
supermax prisons, in which prisoners are locked in a cell for 22 to 24
hours a day, and denied contact with anyone except prison staff.
What the strike highlights -- missed by most of the
public -- is the deeply troubling nature of extreme isolation in U.S.
penology. According to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons,
SHUs, where most prison solitary confinement takes place, are housing
units in which "inmates are securely separated from
the general inmate population ... [to] help ensure the safety,
security, and orderly operation of correctional facilities." In
reality, SHUs often are the sites of extreme and indefinite punishment
for often trivial infractions. Many prisoners have spent months and
even years in SHUs, deprived of the basic human interactions
necessary for mental health; and of the forms of education, mental
health treatments, and vocational training necessary for the
rehabilitation which carceral institutions are ostensibly there to
provide. Entire institutions -- supermax prisons -- are based solely on
the philosophy of extreme isolation.
The number of individuals in solitary
confinement/administrative segregation at any given time is not easily
ascertained, largely because of the variance in record keeping and
reporting among the U.S.'s city, state, and federal prisons, detention
facilities, and jails.
Solitary Watch estimates that the number is at least
80,000, "including some 25,000 in long-term solitary in supermax
prisons." However, in the long
history of the American prison, extreme isolation is a relatively new,
and brutal, feature. The first 23-hour lockdown came in 1983, after
the murders of two correctional officers at the Marion, Illinois,
U.S. Penitentiary. Emerging soon after, supermax
prisons modeled themselves on this approach to confinement, while
other correctional facilities constructed solitary confinement wards.
Various departments of corrections have initiated and escalated their
use of extreme isolation over the past 30 years: in just the years
between 1995 and 2000, the number of individuals
held in segregated cells rose by 40 percent, and by 2004, as many as 44
states reported having one or another form of supermax housing. The
expansion of SHUs, the Vera Institute of Justice has shown, has been
"accompanied by increasingly severe conditions of confinement" for
infractions far less serious than
murder. These may include being involved in a fight or simple
disobedience of an order. Human Rights Watch reports that SHU
confinement is liberally wielded as retribution for nonviolent or
acts such as voicing protest of prison conditions, assisting other
prisoners in habeas corpus
appeals, or engaging
in litigation against the prison. A growing proportion of SHU residents
are individuals with established and diagnosed mental health conditions
which penal institutions are ill equipped or unwilling to treat
properly. An unknown number of the roughly 95,000 minors held in adult
jails in prisons are also subject to
extreme isolation, either as punishment or for their own protection
from the dangers of incarceration with adults.
The inhumane effects of extreme isolation are fairly
well known, and have been for some time. In 1890, U.S. Supreme Court
Justice Samuel Freeman Miller observed firsthand (see In Re Medley,
134 U.S. 160) that prisoners denied meaningful contact with other human
beings quickly exhibited a range of behaviors,
including signs of heightened violent state, suicide attempts, and
severe depression "from which it was next to impossible to arouse
them." Even those who survived relatively undamaged "were not generally
reformed." Germany initially modeled its prison system after America's,
but their physicians in the latter half
of the 19th century documented the mental health harms -- including
psychosis -- of extreme isolation. More recently, studies have
confirmed these and other findings, including elevated risk of suicide
self-harm, and severe anxiety and paranoia. The frequent denial of
access to needed medical and psychiatric
services also has been documented. Perhaps most importantly, as one
scholarly review has argued, "the characterization of SHU convicts as
being 'the worst of the worst' contributes to an us-against-them
mindset among correctional staff. This orientation serves only to
heighten the potential for the abuse of prisoners
... The primary purpose of SHUs is to exercise complete control and
dominion over convicts."
So apparent are the negative effects of extreme
isolation that several organizations -- including the ACLU, the
Bar Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Alliance on
Mental Illness, Human Rights Watch, and others -- have taken public
stands against the practice. In October 2011, Juan
Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture called on all
member states to abolish solitary confinement except in very
exceptional cases, in which it should be limited to 15 or fewer days,
and never applied to children or the mentally
impaired. At the prompting of a petition submitted by
Architects/Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), the
Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects, San
Francisco Chapter (AIASF) in early March of this year voted to amend
its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to ban even
the design of solitary confinement or execution chambers. For several
years, the Correctional Association of New York has made the
investigation of solitary confinement one of its top priorities.
Over a century of evidence makes it clear that the
inhumane treatment of prisoners by the practice of extreme isolation
furthers no goal of rehabilitation, and dehumanizes its practitioners
as well as its victims. This is a human rights issue, but it is also
one of governance. A robust democracy and healthy populace
cannot be maintained by or despite the infliction of such
psychological and physical damage on tens of thousands of its citizens.
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publication of TML Daily. The volume of
material we are receiving in turn makes it possible to consider
establishing a Workers' Centre independent news agency in the
We also remind our readers to renew their financial
support for this important work. A cheque or money order can be sent to
the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, P.O. Box 264, Adelaide Station,
Toronto ON M5C 2J8. Tax receipts will be issued for any amounts over
$20.00. (The maximum contribution
to a political party permitted by law in one calendar year is $1,200.00
and only individuals may contribute. You are entitled to a tax credit
of 75 per cent of the first $400 to a maximum of $300, 50 per cent of
the next $350 for a maximum of $475 and 33.3 per cent of any amount
more than $750 up to $1,200 for
a maximum tax credit of $624.85.)
We wish you all the very best for the rest of the summer.
Keep fighting. Stay safe.
Technical and Editorial Staff
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