On October 18, 1977, the three political prisoners from the RAF (Red Army Fraction) Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader and Jan-Carl Raspe were found dead in the high-security prison Stuttgart-Stammheim. The state continues to claim this was suicide. That was 30 years ago. There are still three (Christian Klar, Eva Haule und Birgit Hogelfeld) political prisoners from the RAF who for years were subject to the most arduous solitary confinement. The German state is taking revenge on these prisoners because they challenged it with their militant political practice. They are denied release because they have maintained their revolutionary identity. But Stammheim is not just a symbol for "isolation torture" and the death of political prisoners in the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany). The Stammheim model is being exported internationally, for example to Turkey. On December 19, 2000, "F-Type" prisons built according to the "Stammheim principle" were opened there, in accordance with the regulations of the European Union. During the transfer of political prisoners into the F-Types, 28 prisoners were murdered. The political prisoners of Turkey fought for six years with a "death fast" against the murderous conditions of detention. After the state apparatus of Turkey took a step back and accepted the pooling of up to 10 political prisoners, the death fast resistance was suspended on January 22, 2007, after six years. During the prisoners’ six-year resistance, 122 people lost their lives. But also in the core countries of Europe, human rights are being trampled under foot. In France, the prisoners of the Action Directe remain in prison under extremely difficult conditions, for similar reasons to the prisoners of the RAF. Their sentences have long since been served out, but they remain detained for political reasons. Further, militants from the spectrum of the (n)PCI (Italy), the GRAPO/PCE(r) (Spain) and 200 political prisoners from the Basque Country, Bretagne and Arabic countries are detained in prisons. Also the revolutionary communist form Lebanon, George Ibrahim Abdallah, has been in prison for 22 years. The signal of the ruling classes is clear : he is to remain in prison as long as he doesn’t renounce.
Repression and solitary confinement also take place in Italy. Under the Italian "law 41 bis", political prisoners and their periphery are maximally isolated. For the prisoners this means a limit to the number of books and magazines, visits behind a glass barrier, telephone calls with relatives only from monitored police stations.
The law "41 bis" includes trial via video conferencing. The accused can follow the proceedings on a monitor from a prison cell, alone or occasionally with a lawyer. In this way, the accused cannot (or cannot substantially) intervene in the trial. This blocks a political defence and the organization of collectives because each accused individual is isolated in the prison cells.
For decades, the people in the Basque Country have fought for their right to self-determination and their demands have been answered with repression, persecution and torture for just as long. More than 2.000 Basques worldwide are still on the run from the law. There are more than 700 prisoners who are spread out across multiple states. Most of them are imprisoned in Spain, where they are in more than 84 prisons. 60% of them are in solitary confinement and many are abused and tortured. The policy of revenge against Inaki der Juana, who has been on a hunger strike for more than three months, and the ban and criminalization of the youth movement SEGI are the newest examples of the state of siege in the Basque Country.
In Greece, an appeal trial has been underway for over a year against 17 presumed members of the urban guerilla organization "November 17", with the sole aim of confirming the convictions. In the first trial, some of the accused were condemned to life in prison, based on confessions obtained under torture. The conditions of detention for the prisoners, held in solitary confinement since the summer of 2002, have not changed significantly.
This practice of isolation and these inacceptable conditions in the prisons of Europe again and again lead to revolts, as the common resistance of dozens of Irish republic prisoners from different organizations has shown recently.
But it’s not just in Europe that political prisoners and their supporters are rebelling against the state policies of isolation and repression. Around the world people are persecuted, locked up, tortured and killed because of their political activities. And around the world there is resistance. In Israeli prisons, in which Palestinian prisoners are subject to inhuman practices, there are more than 10,000 prisoners. In Latin and North America, where besides five Cuban political prisoners many others like Leonard Peltier and former Black Panthers have been detained for as long as 30 years, political prisoners have in some cases been in solidarity confinement for decades. For Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row since 1981, this year is decisive because it’s a question of re-opening his trial and his release - or a confirmation of the conviction and his execution.
The ruling classes know that their plundering of the world, in the form of economic raids and wars of aggression, creates political resistance, and to fight this they will use any means at their disposal. Since September 11, the imperialist states use, among other things, so-called "Black Lists" and "Anti-Terror Laws". These make it possible to persecute political opposition across borders. It was in this framework that after the recent wave of repression in Denmark and Belgium, there were also police raids and arrests in the FRG ; the arrested are to be convicted of membership in the DHKP-C with the help of the Anti-Terror Paragraph § 129b. In Turkey, state terror continues with the anti-terror law TMY, which was passed in June 2006. After the internationally coordinated wave of repression against the DHKP-C from April 1, 2004, the state apparatus of Turkey continued its political persecution and carried out searches and arrests across the country in September 2006 under the title "operation against the MLKP". In Turkey, political prisoners can be arrested arbitrarily and held for up to six months without an accusation.
More and more oppositional political activists are denounced as "terrorists" in the name of the "war on terrorism". People are labeled as "good" or "evil", or "suitable for the system" or not. The foremost goal is to deepen a division, which finds its expression in isolation and individualization.
Since the ruling classes cannot tolerate protest and dissent, we have to plan on increasing attacks on organized structures before the G8 summit in early June in Heiligendamm. The goal is to scare others away from participating in the protests or expressing solidarity.
The isolation of the fighters within prisons and those outside prisons, but also the isolation of the revolutionary forces from the rest of society are a basic requirement for the existence of capitalist states. Their purpose is to block organized and broad resistance.
For this reason, the policy of isolation and the internationalization of capitalist exploitation are pushed forward with various means. This can be seen in the form of imperialist and neocolonial domination, but also in the international coordination of policy for military, secret services, police, media, education and refugees. Since the question of political prisoners is centrally connected to capitalist and neocolonial relations of exploitation, international solidarity with the prisoners must be an important component of the struggle for a world free of exploitation and repression. Therefore, we want to search for ways to strengthen international solidarity and find an expression for our resistance, together with you on March 18 at an international congress in Berlin.
International solidarity instead of isolation
Resistance against repression
Struggle for liberation