Mark Enters His 8th Year of Wrongful Imprisonment


JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY CAMPAIGN BULLETIN-AUTUMN 2001   The Struggle for Justice Goes On As Mark Enters His 8th Year of Wrongful Imprisonment.   In our last bulletin (early summer), the Justice for Mark Barnsley Campaign announced that weíd be holding a demonstration outside the Home Office in London on June 8th, the 7th anniversary of the Pomona Incident. The demonstration coincided with the inauguration of the new government and was therefore a chance to let the incoming Home Secretary David Blunkett know that our demand for justice for Mark would haunt him as it has his predecessors. Over 50 people with banners and placards attended, including supporters from the Satpal Ram Campaign and the Justice for Harry Stanley Campaign and after a noisy demo outside the Home Office, we marched to Downing Street. Anyone who wants an insight into the extent of media self-censorship in the UK should note that the press pack outside Downing Street asked the police to move us on becasue we were making too much noise and interfereing with their filming of the door of number 10! Nevertheless we made our point and would like to thank everyone who showed their support on the day, particularly those of you who travelled from outside London to show solidarity with Mark as he entered his 8th year of wrongful imprisonment. As in previous years, on June 8th supporters overseas also showed their solidarity with Markís struggle for justice. In Spain for example, a group of about 30 people gathered in front of the British embassy in Madrid with banners demanding ëJusticia para Mark Barnsleyí. Despite a heavy police presence, including a helicopter hovering above, some people tried to throw leaflets inside the embassy. Later the picket moved to a busy train station in Madrid where passersby were told about Marksí situation. In Luxembourg a solidarity concert was held in support of Mark. Information leaflets were handed out and people discussed his case between the bands. Similarly in Malta a well-known local band dedicated their concert to Markís struggle, followed by coverage in their national press. All over the world people were also busy sending faxes, e-mails and letters to the British government demmanding justice for Mark Barnsley.   The Protests Continue. On July 5th, Determined to let Blunkett (a Sheffield MP) know that the injustice done to Mark (a Sheffield man) would not be forgotten, supporters in London picketed Blunkettís speech to the National Probation Service Conference. Blunkettís staff and the conference centre management showed their commitment to fredom of speech by trying to get the police to move us on before Blunkett arrived. We refused to leave and eventually it dawned on Blunkettís PA that footage of demonstrators being bundled into police vans outisde his first big speech wouldnt do his image any good and he was forced to walk past the demonstration.     MARK MOVED TO HMP WHITEMOOR. On 5th of October Mark Barnsley was moved to High Security, Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire. His new address is:Mark Barnsley WA2897 - HMP Whitemoor, Longhill Road, March, Cambs, PE15 OPR, England. As soon as we have further information about Mark's current situation we will let you know.   Those of you with e-mail/internet access will have been informed over recent months about some of the following developments in Markís situation.   The victim of a gross miscarriage of justice, Mark has steadfastly refused to collaborate with the system since his wrongful imprisonment over 7 years ago. Instead of doing prison work he has spent his time constructively, working on the campaign to overturn his conviction and clear his name, supporting other prisoners and doing education classes when possible.   According to the prison service, the reason prisoners are given work is so that they can learn a trade as part of their rehabilitation. In theory, increasing their chances of getting a job upon release. At Wakefield Prison however, prisoners either make prison uniforms or do extremely tedious packing work for a private company based in South Yorkshire called Hepworth Building Products. In return for working 25 hours per week they are paid from nothing to £5 (yes thatís per week). Even with bonuses, prisoners are paid a maximum wage which is less than 10% of the minimum wage paid to workers on the outside. No wonder private companies are eager to exploit this captive workforce.   In July, Mark was told he was being allocated to the prison workshop. Knowing that he would refuse to work on principal and therefore face a charge and segregation, the campaign urged supporters to protest to the prison authorities over their practice of forced labour. We also urged people to protest to the private company which exploits cheap labour at HMP Wakefield.   By Friday 3rd of August, as International support for the protests increased, a number of Markís supporters took the initiative by deciding to take a more direct form of action to highlight his situation. They invaded and shut down Hepworth Building Products site in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. About 30 people invaded the site - locking the main gates and disrupting the lunchtime shift-change. Quickly knocking up banners and some leaflets on Hepworthís copier to distribute to workers with details of the companyís exploits. The action disrupted the warehouse and offices for about 2 hours. The fire brigade were called to cut through the locks on the gates but turned around and departed to cheers after it was explained to them what the protest was about. According to one of those involved: ìIt was only a small action, but considering it was relatively spontaneous it was a great success. There were no arrests, the workers were mostly supportive and seemed to know nothing of their companyís involvement in prison labour.î Another participant says: ìOutside we waited in the pissing rain with our soaking banners for the police to cut the locks, which were luckily too sturdy... some children came over with warm clothes to lend us. The passers-by; children and adults; and the workers; were incredibly sympathetic. The fire brigade were summoned by the police and on arrival, we talked to them about taking a role in political activity. The firefighters then decided they couldnt obey police orders without their area manager being there. Finally the locks were blowtorched off by the company itself. We cheered the firebrigade for not scabbing as they drove off waving, left the childrensí clothes,and left with no arrests.î   Shortly after the occupation of Hepworths, Mark was segregated at HMP Wakefield for ìrefusing to workî. Later on the same day he was suddenly given a Good Order And Discipline (GOAD) notice saying he was ìUnder investigation for activities likely to undermine the good order of HMP Wakefieldî and would be held in segregation for 28 days. By coincidence (?) an article/letter co-signed by Mark had just been published in the radical newspaper FRFI! two days before (see opposite page). The prison would give no further details about Markís segregation, despite letters from his legal team. A protest picket was quickly organised by the campaign outside the Home Office in London.   By mid-August, after spending 2 weeks in Wakefield prisonsí Segregation Unit, Mark was suddenly moved to the Segregation Unit at nearby HMP Leeds where he remained for a further 7 weeks until his latest move to HMP Whitemoor.     Prisoners in Britain call for Solidarity Action with Turkish Hunger Strikers.   On 30th June, 22 year old Zehra Kulaksic died following 221 days without solid food. She was the fifth person to die on the hunger-strike being staged by TAYAD (the Association of Families and Friends of Political Prisoners) in solidarity with Turkish political prisoners. By 11th of September the total of those who have either died on the death-fast or were murdered by the Turkish State during its vicious onslaught against protesting prisoners on 19 December 2000 rose to 64. The prisoners are continuing their protest against the regimeís attempts to destroy them by confining them to isolation cells in the new repressive F-type prisons. Prisoners across Europe (Germany, Holland, France, Austria, Greece, Belgium, Spain, France, Ireland...) are increasingly showing their solidarity with the on-going struggle of the Turkish prisoners. At the end of June 2001, Mark Barnsley (then at HMP Wakefield) and John Bowden (HMP Bristol) issued the following statement in support of the prisonersí struggle in Turkey :   Fellow prisoners, Many of you will be following the courageous life and death struggle currently taking place in the Turkish prisons. In the F.I.E.S. isolation units of Spain (equivalent to our CSC units) prisoners have recently launched an initiative in support of the Turkish prison struggle and in support of their own 3 demands. This initiative, which is supported by prisoners in France, Greece and by Basque and Kurdish prisoners, is in the form of a hunger protest on the first Saturday of each month. The three demands of the F.I.E.S. prisoners are as follows: 1. An end to the F.I.E.S. units. 2. An end to ëdispersioní, whereby prisoners are moved away from their families. 3. The release of all terminally ill prisoners, and those who have spent more than 20 years in prison because of their political beliefs and militant attitude. In solidarity with our comrades in the Turkish prisons and those fighting for justice throughout the world, we propose the launch of an initiative along the same lines as the Spanish prisoners - A food strike on the first Saturday of every month. Since the Whitemoor and Parkhurst escapes of 1994 and 1995 there has been a concerted attempt to crush the British prison struggle once and for all, a war of attrition the State has all but won. By making this simple act of solidarity we are taking the first step towards renewing the struggle and asserting our humanity and our defiance. Like the F.I.E.S. prisoners we are proposing 3 reasonable and achievable demands of our own: 1. A minimum of one hourís daily exercise in the open air - It is appalling that at a time when prisoners are once again being locked 2 and 3 to a cell, the statutory allowance of daily exercise has been reduced to only half an hour. 2. The right of all prisoners to wear their own clothes - Twenty years after Bobby Sands and his comrades died on hunger-strike, the right of prisoners to wear their own clothes is still not enshrined in the prison rules. Because of this, governors regard the wearing of civilian clothes as a ëprivilegeí that can be withdrawn at any time. This is increasingly happening with prisoners placed on ëbasicí. 3. The abolition of compulsory prison work - We are currently seeing the growing exploitation of prisonersí labour by private companies and by the State. If prisoners choose to work in return for remuneration they should have that choice, but compulsory work is nothing less than slavery. These are the three demands that we propose. We ask that all militant prisoners, all those who have not been crushed by State repression, all those not bought off by the arse-lickers charter of the ëIncentives and Earned Privileges Schemeí, all those who have an instinct for solidarity and the courage to stand up against oppression support this proposal. Our numbers may be few but they have the potential to grow. Spread the word. Support the protest. The fightback starts here.   Mark Barnsley John Bowden   Just 2 days after the above statement was published in Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism! (FRFI!), Mark was put in segregation at Wakefield Prison (see above).     New Campaign Support Group in South Yorkshire. In July, campaign supporters in South Yorkshire organised a public meeting in Rotherham. A presentation of Markís case was given and the organising of regular campaign activities discussed. Most people at the meeting seemed willing to get involved in different aspects of the campaign. Since the meeting information stalls have been held in Sheffield city centre and other local venues and due to the interest from the public, are set to become a regular event. The campaign had an information stall at the Mark Thomas gig in Sheffield on October 2nd. Future South Yorkshire campaign meetings are to be held monthly. Justice for Mark Barnsley South Yorkshire can be contacted by e-mail at: JFMBSYORKS@aol.com or via the campaign postal address in Huddersfield.     Announcing a New Justice for Mark Barnsley Book. We are now proud to anounce that our new 92 page book ëIn the Hands of the Enemy : Mark Barnsleyís Struggle for Justiceí is now available. The book is a fully illustrated collection of writings by Mark, his family and a broad range of his supporters and fellow prisoners. Designed to give the reader a fuller understanding of Markís case and his long campaign for justice, the many varied articles also give valuable insight into miscarriages of justice, the prison system, Markís long history of political activism and his connection to the wider struggle for justice. This book is powerful reading.   IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY Mark Barnsleyís Struggle for Justice With an Introduction by former Political Prisoner John Barker   Published by Justice For Mark Barnsley. Available October 2001. Paperback, 92 pages, Illustrated.   £6 (includes post & packing). Folks on our mailing list see below. ISBN: 1-873605-89-7   "Mark Barnsley is one of Britainís ësecretí political prisoners, a hostage of the State. In 1994 he was attacked by 15 middle-class students, and ended up sentenced to 12 years in prison for supposedly attacking them. This was no ëaccidentalí miscarriage of justice, but a calculated move by the British State to ëtake outí a political activist, a long standing thorn in their side. In The Hands Of The Enemy takes over where Beaten Up, Fitted Up, Locked Up, the first Justice for Mark Barnsley pamphlet, left off. Using articles written by friends, comrades, fellow-prisoners, and by Mark himself, In The Hands Of The Enemy tells the story of a political prisoner described by Prisons Minister Paul Boateng as ìa major ringleader for prisoners unrestî, and exposes the depths that the State will go to to deal with itís enemies. If, no matter how light-heartedly, youíve ever classed yourself as an enemy of the State, you should read this before itís too late, and you too find yourself In The Hands Of The Enemy. " - From the back cover.   ìThis book will arouse indignation against a system which can treat ordinary people in such a way. It will also inspire others to take up the campaign for justice, not only for Mark Barnsley, but for victims of miscarriages of justice everywhere.î Direct Action , Autumn 2001.   ìThe critical articles on what prison conditions are - and what our rulers are planning for them to be - mean this book is indispensable for anyone who believes in a freer or fairer society. Anyone who believes in revolutionary change would learn a lot from this book: this is not just a warning of what the state can (and will) do, but also an inspiring account of revolutionary principles in action.î Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library.   ìEach day Iím held within the clutches of a thousand tyrants, big and small, who continue to do everything they can to break me. The abuses that I am subjected to should be condemned, and loudly, but ultimately they will make no difference, they will certainly never achieve their aim of bringing me to my knees. I remain defiant, and will continue to fight for justice until my dying breath.î Mark Barnsley, Wakefield Prison.   Support Markís Campaign by calling your local bookshop/library and asking them to stock In The Hands Of The Enemy. Order In The Hands Of The Enemy by post direct from Justice for Mark Barnsley. Please make cheques/Postal Orders payable to: ëJustice for Mark Barnsleyí.   Supporters of the campaign, currently on our mailing list, can order the book directly from us at the cheaper price of £5 per copy (Orders from outside Europe add £1 for postage). We realise that not everyone has money to spend on books, so why not pop down to your local library and ask if theyíll stock the new book (or our first pamphlet - Beaten up, Fitted Up, Locked Up) that way more people will get to read it.   More good news! The compilation music CD ëOne Law For Them, Another Law For Usí is due to be pressed. The CD will be sold to raise much needed funds for the campaign. Not for the feint hearted, it will contain 23 blistering tracks of punk rock, ska, Oi! and folk music.     UPCOMING EVENTS London Supporters Meeting 24th October - 7.30pm Lucas Arms Grays Inn Road - Kingscross. All supporters in the London area welcomed.   YOU CAN CONTACT THE CAMPAIGN AT THE FOLLOWING: Write to: Justice for Mark Barnsley - PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD13XX. J.f.M.B. (South Yorkshire) c/o above or e-mail: JFMBSYORKS@aol.com J.f.M.B. (London) Tel: 07944 522001 J.f.M.B. (Ireland) have a NEW ADDRESS - PO Box 1981, Derry, Ireland.   E-mail: barnsleycampaign@hotmail.com Visit the campaign web site at: http://www.freemarkbarnsley.com   You can write to Mark directly at: Mark Barnsley WA2897- HMP Whitemoor, Longhill Road, March, Cambs, PE15 OPR, England. If possible please enclose an SAE and a few sheets of paper so that he can reply.  

 


More information on Mark Barnsley