December is traditionally prisoners month for republicans. A time to think about those men and women held in prison and their families on the outside. This year has been particularly depressing with several high profile (well as high profile as they can be when they are ignored by mainstream media) campaigns involving issues which evoke memories of previous prison struggles for rights and recognition. The cases of Marion Price and Martin Corey have reminded us of the vindictive nature of the British state. Rearrested, they have effectively been interned, both are now held indefinitely by the state without prospect of trial.
Did I say trial? Well in the case of Gerry McGeough and Colin Duffy that means a Diplock, non jury court where they sit in front of a British judge who decides their fate. The portrait of Colin Duffy with long hair and beard also reminds us of past prison protests. His appearance the result of the ongoing prisoners protest in Maghaberry Gaol. The current protest involves dozens of prisoners many of whom are on a dirty protest. The mistreatment of these prisoners (and the use of non jury courts) is a human rights issue which should outrage all of us. None of this of course bears any resemblance to justice. Neither is it the behaviour of a democratic state, it is more like a Kafkaesque nightmare.
Irrespective of peoples support or otherwise for many of the organisations involved these people are political prisoners and as such deserve to be treated with respect and humanity. Of course Ireland is not the only place such injustices take place and as we spend time with our families this Christmas we should pause and consider those less fortunate. Below is a clip of US political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal discussing democracy (and CLR James) and links to some of the prisoners campaigns.