JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY

CAMPAIGN BULLETIN - MAY 2002


JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY CAMPAIGN BULLETIN - MAY 2002   AFTER 8 YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT - The CCRC Begin to Look at Mark's Case.   Shortly after the publication of our last bulletin Mark learned that the Criminal Cases Review Commission are finally due to begin investigating his case. His application was made 2 and a half years ago, and the CCRC's investigation is likely to take at least a year. Mark is thought to have a strong application, and we hope that the CCRC will be able to turn up further new evidence, and that they will refer Mark's case to the appeal court. If the case is referred though, it is likely to be at least another year before it is heard, and the appeal court certainly do not have a good track record in terms of miscarriages of justice. Some appellants have had to go before them several times. The injustice of Mark's case will be further compounded by the fact that by the time any decision is taken he will have already served the vicious 12 year sentence imposed on him by a corrupt and biased judge. We must never let what's happened to Mark be forgotten. Justice is already long overdue.   Mark has issued the following statement: "I am very pleased that the CCRC have begun their investigation into my case, and hope that this will finally pave the way for a successful appeal against my wrongful conviction. While I remain optimistic, the fact that I have already spent nearly 8 years in prison, and that if my appeal is eventually successful it is unlikely to come for another 2 years or more, is hardly grounds for believing 'British Justice' exists. Whatever happens in the future, the sad fact is that I will have spent many long years in prison, falsely accused and wrongly convicted. Any semblance of justice can only come when my wrongful conviction is overturned, and those responsible for my nightmare are belatedly held to account." Mark Barnsley - Whitemoor Prison - March 2002.     INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION - In Solidarity with Mark Barnsley SATURDAY JUNE 8th 2002   The 8th anniversary of The Pomona Incident is fast approaching. On June the 8th it will be 8 long years since the nightmare of injustice started for Mark Barnsley. To highlight and show our support of Mark's ceaseless struggle for justice we're declaring the 8th of June as a 'Day of Autonomous Action in solidarity with Mark Barnsley'. There are now literally thousands of people throughout the world who know about Mark's situation and the terrible injustice he continues to suffer. On the 8th of June we'd like you all to get out and do something about it. Together we really can make a difference. All constructive autonomous actions and initiatives are welcomed and encouraged. Imagination and commitment are the only limits. You could write to, fax or phone newspapers, magazines, MP's or radio phone-ins, or if abroad British Embassies and consulates, organise a public protest in your town, city. Do a stall or some leafleting. Spray Mark's name on a wall or hang up a banner somewhere public. Make some posters or stickers or even just wear a campaign T-shirt. Organise a meeting, a sponsored event or a benefit gig. There is a great deal that even the most isolated supporter can do, but please do something. If you need further suggestions or help with publicity please get in touch with us, and also let us know what you get up to on the day itself. Together we can make a difference.   Imagine what it would be like to have all the rights you normally take for granted stripped away from you. To be viewed with absolute suspicion and contempt by people who control your every movement; to be told when, and what you can eat, what you can wear, where you can and can't go; to be separated from your family and friends, addressed only by your surname, and to be reduced to nothing more than a number; to have your every action and movement monitored and recorded, every phone conversation and letter censored; to be held captive against your wishes and locked inside a tiny cell for up to 24 hours a day? Can you imagine having to exist in such conditions for 8 hours? Even for 8 days? On June the 8th 2002, Mark Barnsley will, through no fault of his own, have existed in a nightmare world worse than we can imagine, FOR 8 YEARS!     RETURNING TO PLANET EARTH - From the Cage to the Safari Park.   Dear friends, Under British law a 12 year prison sentence is made up as follows: After 6 years a prisoner is eligible for release on parole. If parole is not granted, or in my case applied for, the prisoner will be automatically released after 8 years (plus any extra days that are added for 'punishment', for refusing to do prison work for example, or for refusing to share a cell.) Until the early 1990's that was it, the prisoner's sentence was officially over, but that is not the case anymore. Now, after his or her release, a prisoner is 'on licence', in the case of a 12 year sentence for 12 months, during that period they can be returned to prison at any time. Then for the next 3 years there is an 'at risk' period, if the ex-prisoner is convicted of a criminal offence during this time they can be made to serve the whole of their previous sentence, plus whatever punishment is imposed. In the case of someone who has been convicted of an ostensibly violent offence, they have a life sentence hanging over them for the rest of their lives. Despite my experiences of the British injustice system, I had always thought that I would be freed from prison through the appeal court, not simply thrown out on the streets after over 8 years, with a train ticket and a week's dole money, and my wrongful conviction still intact. For me it is a terrible thing, one I haven't even been able to bear thinking about. Having rejected the parole procedure on principle, I thoroughly resent the idea of being released on licence. The conditions vary enormously, but they can be extremely draconian, subjecting ex-prisoners to virtual House-arrest, and so extending their sentences. These licences are also being used as a way of targeting people for further fit-ups, and they can be hauled in at any time without even being accused of any offence. I will not be signing the licence, so I don't know for certain what will happen when the time for my release comes. As I understand it, it is almost certain that I will be initially released, and that if necessary I will be forcibly evicted. After that it is unclear what will happen, but I can expect all my actions and movements to be closely monitored, scrutinised, and controlled. I will still be a prisoner, albeit one with a longer chain, and I could find myself rapidly re-imprisoned. The uncertainty of what will happen is extremely stressful for me and my family. I don't know for definite if I will be released, and for how long. I don't know if and when some probation-cop will decide I'm mixing with the 'wrong' people, or going to the 'wrong' demonstrations, or frequenting the 'wrong' places, and order the police to kick in my door, or the door of whoever's house I'm staying at, and drag me back to prison. As things currently stand I am due to be released on July 5th 2002, but if a pending legal action is successful (challenging a previous punishment) I could be released on June 21st. In the early days of my imprisonment I read about a famous miscarriage of justice case, the Luton Post Office murder case, which in many ways has haunted me ever since. Two men Michael Mahon and David Cooper, were fitted-up for the killing of a post office worker during an armed robbery. It was such a blatant miscarriage of justice that a huge campaign developed, and after many years in prison the men were eventually freed. But crucially, their wrongful convictions were not overturned. Sadly, that did not prevent the campaign from collapsing, with Mickey and David being left to fight on virtually alone. Frustrated and embittered, like many miscarriage of justice victims they both died before their time. After my release the need to keep up pressure on the establishment will not change, the campaign will be as important as ever. Yet many who do not understand the crushing weight of injustice will think 'Well he's free now, what's he moaning about?' I ask you friends, you who have been loyal to me during my darkest hours, not to turn away. After my release I will need your support more than ever. This summer I am due to be released from a maximum security prison, where I currently spend more time locked in my cell than when I was first imprisoned 8 years ago. For me there have been no 'home leaves', days out, or any form of 'preparation for release'. It seems as if the State has deliberately attempted to inflict the maximum psychological and physical damage on me. So am I looking forward to getting out? Of course I don't want to live in these dreadful conditions forever, and I hope always for the day this nightmare will finally end. I hope I will enjoy spending more time with my children, and meeting you, my supporters. But freedom (such as it is) without justice does not have a sweet taste. Tragically, I've been in prison so long that 'getting out' is a concept it's difficult for me to understand on an emotional level, because I barely remember what the world outside is like. For me it's like trying to taste a colour or smell a word, it's something alien to me. For the past 8 years I have been disenfranchised from the human race. When I see the multifaceted images of life reproduced on TV I relate to them in much the same way as I might view images of Mars. Everything I read about in the newspapers is 'foreign news' to me, it describes a world I no longer know, and often it talks about things and concepts I have never known. Even our simplest desires and aspirations are killed in prison, or at least they're anaesthetised. If you read about a new type of food or drink for example, you might think 'I'll look out for that the next time I'm in the supermarket'. But I have so little choice over what is available to me, the thought of wanting something I see or read about would never even occur to me. My youngest daughter recently asked me what my favourite meal was, and I couldn't give her an answer. I didn't know because for 8 years I've had so little choice in what I eat, and I've forgotten what it was like to have a choice. Like so much else, it's completely outside my frame of reference. I know I like the taste of beer for example, but I have absolutely no tangible memory of what it tastes like. I have not seen the stars for 8 years, not been kissed in 6, I've never had a view from my cell that wasn't just concrete and razor-wire, and the only time I've been out of my cell after Midnight was during the 1997 Full Sutton prison riot. For most of my time inside my eyes have not been able to wander more than a few feet, and even out of my cell I've never been able to stray for more than a few yards. I view the whole idea of 'getting out' with some trepidation. I'll leave here jobless, homeless, and penniless, 8 years older, with my health damaged, and possibly with a whole world of grief to come. And with my burning thirst for justice unquenched. The only sense of victory possible is that I've managed to survive the past 8 years without being killed or driven to insanity. And even if I think of that I must also think of my brothers and sisters, the friends and comrades I leave behind in these awful places, and those whom I've seen driven to suicide or madness, or the ones who've died of so-called 'natural causes', often screaming for help that never comes. Sounds like these I'll remember all my days, as I will the smells of prison - the stink of filthy toilets, sheets and clothes that smell of someone else's sweat, fresh faeces being smeared on a block-cell wall, the smell of new leather as a gloved fist punches you repeatedly in the face. And I doubt I'll ever forget the taste of prison food. In the face of the State's cruellest injustice I hope I've acquitted myself well, but of course it has affected me. It seems a lifetime ago that I first entered these places, and I hope I'll be leaving for the last time. Thank you to all of you who have extended a hand of friendship to me, who have offered support and kindness and encouragement, and most importantly solidarity. It seems almost unfair to single out anyone when so many have helped me, but I'm sure those who've been involved in the campaign won't mind me mentioning Tilly in Huddersfield who has effectively run the campaign for several years, doing all the mundane jobs required, often single-handedly, and with little acknowledgement. Thanks Tilly. I don't know what will happen to me after my initial release, but my fight for justice will certainly continue, and I hope that I will be able to meet as many of you as possible. The struggle continues! With love and respect to you all. Mark Barnsley - Whitemoor Prison - April 2002   When Mark is finally released from prison he will be personally contactable on the campaign mobile phone :07944 522001. The campaign will of course let everyone know when the big day arrives.     MARK BARNSLEY RELEASE FUND   With the possibility of Mark's release this summer, some forward thinking supporters of the campaign have recently set up a Release Fund for him. The Release Fund, which is accountable to the campaign, has been set up to help Mark get a bit of money behind him for those most difficult first few months of release. As stated above, Mark will get out of prison with his conviction still intact. He will be jobless and financially broke and will need all the help he can get to try and adjust to life on the outside. As well as money donations, if anyone has any train vouchers (from complaining) please send them in too, as Mark would like to be able to travel, if possible, to visit friends and supporters, and will need to travel to the CCRC and his solicitors in order to continue his struggle for justice. Please send cheques / Postal Orders (payable to "Mark Barnsley Release Fund" / train vouchers (and anything else useful you can think of!) to: "Mark Barnsley Release Fund"- Sumac Centre, Box CC, 73 Beech Avenue, NOTTINGHAM, NG7 7LR, England.   CAMPAIGN FUND RAISING As mentioned in the last bulletin, we are going to be raising funds through the Workers Beer Company by providing volunteer workers at this years Leeds Festival (23rd-25th August). Places are filling up fast, so anyone (over 18 years old) still wanting to take part should contact us at the usual campaign address NOW for further details.   A big thanks to everyone who has made a donation to the campaign recently.     SHEFFIELD DAY OF ACTION. On the 13th of April 2002, around 50 supporters of the Justice for Mark Barnsley campaign assembled in Sheffield to picket Home Secretary David Blunkett MP on his own turf at his monthly surgery. A good turn out meant we had a lively demo, and attracted a lot of local interest. Our leafleting was well-received, and it was made clear to us just how popular a local MP Blunkett is, the most popular local comment began with a "w" and ended with "er". Blunkett seemed to have been caught on the hop by us, with little uniformed police support and a couple of shabby, overweight plain-clothes scurrying round from surgery door to people-carrier and back again, as if waiting for a spin doctor to appear and tell them how to schmooze their way past us, or point out a different exit route that they'd somehow overlooked. By the time Blunkett decided to run the gauntlet and leave, we'd been joined by a gang of local kids who helped out by pelting him with eggs as he left the surgery via the back door. A few wheelie bins blocked his speedy departure and he was forced to listen to the anger of a group of protesters for once, rather than maintain the New Labour fantasy that the pissed-off working class don't exist just because they always manage to avoid them. Blunkett at least had to deal with a few of us who'd come to let him know what we felt about our friend being fitted-up and left to rot in jail. As a Home Secretary who wants to rig the trial process to push the prison population up, he'd better get used to it- there are plenty more in our position, and more to come if he gets his way. Blunkett off down the motorway, we moved to Sheffield city centre, where 1500 leaflets were handed out to a positive response from passers-by, many who still remember Mark's case. All of which made us wonder how much more could have been achieved on Mark's home turf- but also suggests that, with the CCRC investigation underway, and Mark up for release on licence this year, the local solidarity he'll especially need is there if the work is put in.     SUPPORT GROUP FORMED IN MALTA. Justice For Mark Barnsley (Malta) was formed recently to raise awareness about Mark's case here in Malta. JFMB (Malta) is made up of people from Alternattiva Demokratika (the Maltese Green Party), MOVE! (a left wing organisation) and other individuals. Mark's case has been receiving support here in Malta for quite a while now. During the past three years Moviment Graffitti (another left wing organisation) organised various campaigns about Mark's case, including collecting hundreds of postcards from University students appealing for justice, flier campaigns and a gig. Also, Mark has the full support of two Maltese bands: Norm Rejection (which feature on the Mark Barnsley benefit CD with the song 'Faceless') and Dripht (who have a song called 'Mark Barnsley' and spoke about Mark's case on various occasions during gigs and in the local press). JFMB (Malta) is an attempt to organise this support in a more effective and consistent way. JFMB (Malta) are currently busy working on two petitions which are to be presented to the British Commissioner here in Malta on the 8th June 2002, marking the 8th anniversary of the Pomona Incident. Apart from a petition with individual names, JFMB (Malta) is also preparing a petition with Maltese organisations, bands and other local personalities. JFMB (Malta) can be contacted by e-mail at: markbarnsley_malta@hotmail.com     UPCOMING CAMPAIGN EVENTS   TUESDAY MAY 28th - 7pm Justice for Mark Barnsley London Supporters Meeting. THE ROYAL OAK, TABBARD STREET, LONDON SE1 Nearest Tube - The Borough   SATURDAY JUNE 8th INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION - In Solidarity with Mark Barnsley. We encourage supporters everywhere to organise your own, autonomous event/action for June the 8th, to highlight Mark's ceaseless struggle for justice over the past 8 years. Please let us know if you plan to organise an event or need help with publicity etc. We can also provide you with info/leaflets on Mark's case or you could make your own. In particular you may find our leaflet 'Ideas for Action' very useful.   AS ALWAYS YOU CAN CONTACT THE CAMPAIGN AT THE FOLLOWING: Write to: Justice for Mark Barnsley - PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD13XX, England. 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) - PO Box 1981, Derry, Ireland. E-mail: barnsleycampaign@hotmail.com Web: http://www.freemarkbarnsley.com Until further notice you can write to Mark directly at: Mark Barnsley WA2897 HMP Whitemoor, Longhill Road, March, Cambs, PE15 OPR, England.   Thanks for your support.


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