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January 11th, 2013

Dallas joins National Day of Action against Guantanamo Bay prison

On the 11th anniversary of the first 20 captives to arrive at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, a broad coalition of Dallas activists held a demonstration and press conference at North Park mall calling for an end to human rights violations.

http://www.demotix.com/news/1718815/dallas-joins-national-day-action-against-guantanamo-bay-prison/all-media

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Statement from the Family & Friends of Republican prisoners, Maghaberry

20 February 2012

On Wednesday 15th February, terminally ill republican prisoner Brian Shivers was brutally assaulted by prison staff while attending Belfast City Hospital.

Brian was informed at lunch time that he had an appointment with his cystic fibrosis consultant and was taken from his cell to attend the appointment. He was forcibly strip searched before leaving Maghaberry and taken to Belfast City Hospital escorted by four screws. The prison van they were travelling in was followed by an RUC/PSNI Jeep with four RUC/PSNI personnel carrying rifles on-board.

When arriving at Belfast City Hospital they were met by other prison staff who had not travelled in the van. Brian was then escorted by eight or nine screws to an office to await his consultant’s arrival. During the wait there were two screws present, one of whom was handcuffed to Brian.

While waiting on his consultant Brian asked the screws present if he could have his consultation in private and he was told abruptly “No, we wont be leaving here” Brian told them that there was not much point in the consultation if he couldn’t speak to his consultant in private and pointed out that there was no windows and up to nine screws guarding him. At that point, one of the screws present elbowed Brian in the face and said: “that’s it you are going back to Maghaberry.” Brian was then trailed to the ground by the same screw with such force that the other screw who was handcuffed to him was brought down as well. He was then viciously assaulted and dragged out of the hospital in full view of members of the public. Brian was in complete agony due to the brutality he received. Throughout the return journey, Brian suffered excruciating pain from a slipped disc which was aggravated by the assault.

When he arrived back at Maghaberry he was met by a Governor who took a note from him of all that had happened during the hospital visit. Brian asked for painkillers and informed him that he wanted to phone his solicitor. Brian was then told that he would be strip searched again. Already bruised and battered and in excruciating pain due to the assault, Brian was forcibly strip searched by six screws. As a consequence, Brian was left in the holding cell unable to move. He repeatedly asked for painkillers which he never received.

Brian was then joined in the holding cell by a fellow republican prisoner, Brendan McConville, who was returning from court. Brendan, alarmed on seeing the state Brian was in, demanded that Brian be returned immediately to the wing. However, his requests were ignored. They both waited for up to an hour and then with Brendan’s assistance Brian was brought back to his cell.

Brian has been left with bruises on his face and body and his previous back injury has been severely aggravated. He has been left bed ridden and relies on assistance to move around. To add insult to injury, Brian has since been charged with assaulting the screw who instigated the attack.

The Family & Friends group refrained from commenting on this brutal attack to allow time for the full facts to emerge and to allow Brian’s legal team to prepare a case against Maghaberry.

We utterly condemn this brutal attack on a terminally ill republican prisoner and call for all those involved to be held accountable. We demand assurances from Maghaberry and David Ford that Brian will be able to attend his many future hospital appointments without fear of a repeat of the brutality inflicted upon him by the thuggish screws employed by Maghaberry.

Mandy Duffy PRO

Family & Friends of Republican Prisoners Maghaberry

http://familiesfriendsassociation.blogspot.com/2012/02/kh…

Part of yesterdays protest in Derry City center

Liam Crossan to the group album of Friends of Brendan Lillis: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Friends.Of.Brendan.Lillis?ref=ts

Sign the petition: www.petitionspot.com/petitions​/releaseBrendylilli

Some months ago, Nadezhda Banchik, member of Amnesty International USA, called for the release of Commander Arbi Zarmaev, a political prisoner who was very sick and was isolated, tortured and treated with neuroleptics in Bruges prison (Belgium).

Can she do the same for Brendan Lillis who is dying in the Maghaberry prison of Northern Ireland ?

Brendan Lillis, a 59 year old former Life-sentence political prisoner from West Belfast, in Ireland, is currently desperately ill in the medical wing of the notorious Maghaberry prison, in County Antrim. He suffers from the intensely painful and progressive disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which due to other medical complications has left himunable to move from his bed for 14 months and his weight has dropped to a perilous 6 stones (38.1 Kilos !). Due to a series of serious infections and medication which has compromised his immune system, Mr Lillis has been unable to eat, sleep or hold down even liquids for a period close to a month and is constant agony. In short, his health has deteriorated to such an extent that his partner Roisin, who is his only contact with the outside world, fears that he will die in his prison bed! The doctor said her that he will live only 10 days now.

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Arbi Zarmaev: Letter of Mrs Nadezhda Banchik to Minister Stefaan De Clerck

San Jose, April 20, 2011

Being a member of Amnesty International USA, and in addition, being myself an emigrant from the former Soviet Union, I am completely devastated hearing about the plight of Mr. Arbi Zarmaev, a Chechen, an asylum seeker from Chechnya. I was entirely desperate learning that Mr. Zarmaev was arrested in Belgium and subjected to beating and torture via forcible deprivation of food and drinking water, shackling, and sleep deprivation.

Information about torturing of any prisoner in Belgium, the EU member country, renown for its adherence to human rights and law obedience, make me think that our entire world is moving towards a new Holocaust, since the Holocaust was made possible when Western world completely rejected any protection for a human life at all and for a certain ethnic group in particular. That time such a group were Jews. This time, it seems to me, the Chechens are made an ethnic group for trade-off deals with criminal Russian regime.

I am afraid not only for a Chechen young man who is “guilty” only of defending his homeland from marauders, murders and robbers known to the whole world as Russian mafia state. It seems that Belgium authorities secretly decided to make Arbi Zarmaev slowly dying behind grates just for secret deal with Russian criminals! I am also afraid of your country’s reputation as reliable and law-obedient, human-rights protected country belonging to the Western civilization, that just recently was considered moral leader of the whole world. No more humane place in this world? No more Geneva Convention for a tiny group that was unlucky to be designed international scapegoat in the epoch of international “anti-terrorism” war?! But who is a bigger terrorist in this case? A Chechen who was forced to take arms to defend his home or the second army in the world that bombed out his homeland to rubbles?! Do you know that Russia killed more than 250,000 Chechens, including 40,000 children? And how many people did Arbi Zarmaev really killed? Ask him, please.

I urge you Mr. Minister, to do everything you can to stop this embarrassing case for your country. I hope you can urge your subordinates to free Arbi Zarmaev because he is not a criminal. In the worst, he could be considered prisoner of the war. However, in this case he is eligible for Geneva Convention protection. Anyway, he is eligible for Geneva Convention protection as an asylum seeker from the armed conflict zone.

Sincerely and hopeful

Nadezhda Banchik, Amnesty International USA member

http://droitfondamental.eu/001​-Amnesty_International_USA_dem​ande_la_liberation_du_Commanda​nt_Zarmaev___en.htm

“Trying To Save Brendan’s Life”

Brendan Lillis, a 59 year old prisoner from West Belfast is currently desperately ill in the medical wing of the notorious Maghaberry prison in County Antrim. He suffers from the intensely painful and progressive disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which due to other medical complications has seen him unable to move from his bed for 14 months and his weight has dropped to a perilous 6 stones (38.1 Kilos !). Due to a series of serious infections and medication which has compromised his immune system, Mr Lillis has been unable to eat, sleep or hold down even liquids for a period close to a month and is constant agony. In short, his health has deteriorated to such an extent that his partner Roisin, who is his only contact with the outside world, fears that he will die in his prison bed!

Mr Lillis was an Irish Republican political prisoner who had been released on license but unfortunately was arrested for an attempted robbery over a year ago. Despite being judged unfit to stand trial due to his desperate medical condition, Mr Lillis is still being held in Maghaberry prison ‘on license’ due to his previous conviction for political charges and is in a Catch 22 situation where he can be held indefinitely at the ‘pleasure’ of the British ‘Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Owen Patterson, M.P. With the ‘Secretary of State’ having the power to release Mr Lillis, only public pressure will convince him to allow this prisoner out of prison to receive the medical treatment he so badly needs and to spend his remaining days with his family in a non-prison environment.

Mr Lillis’ case is a purely humanitarian issue but it is complicated by his political antecedents. Ankylosing Spondylitis, the condition that Mr Lillis suffers from is an intensely painful condition that begins with a curvature of the spine and it has now got to the stage where he is in extreme pain 24 hours a day with little relief and sub-standard medical care. TheMaghaberry prison ‘hospital’ is little more than a ‘sick-bay’ which is guarded by Unionist prison warders who would be antagonistic to Mr Lillis due to his Irish Republican past.

Roisin, Mr Lillis’ partner, is understandably beside herself with anxiety and is desperately looking for help with her fledgling campaign to have Brendan treated with dignity:

I am trying my best to highlight this but sadly I’m working alone and don’t have much experience this area but im trying my best……For the 1st 10 weeks he had no visits because he couldn’t get into a wheelchair and they wouldn’t let me into the jail, after a lot of debates with the jail i was eventually allowed to visit him in his cell which i have done since then. as you all no Brendan is now in a precarious situation and if he doesn’t get released from jail i am in no doubts he will die soon.

Mr Lillis’ case should be a concern for everyone on humanitarian grounds alone and it would appear that only public pressure will make the Secretary of State notice the plight of a seriously ill 59 year old man inMaghaberry prison who is in constant pain and whose weight has plummeted to a dangerous 6 stone.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Brendan-Lillis-Irish-Prisoner-Being-Allowed-To-Die-in-Maghaberry-Gaol

Please sign the petition because he is now on a heart machine and needs real hospital care: www.petitionspot.com/petitions​/releaseBrendylilli

https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_132734503459781&id=152115158188382&notif_t=like
Open group — Friends.Of.Brendan.Lillis@groups.facebook.com

Nadezhda Banchik, member of Amnesty International USA, urges Stefaan De Clerck, Minister of Belgian Justice, to end the tortures inflicted to Commander Arbi Zarmaev and free him.

San Jose, April 20, 2011.

Respected Minister Stefaan De Clerck,

Being a member of Amnesty International USA, and in addition, being myself an emigrant from the former Soviet Union, I am completely devastated hearing about the plight of Mr. Arbi Zarmaev, a Chechen, an asylum seeker from Chechnya. I was entirely desperate learning that Mr. Zarmaev was arrested in Belgium and subjected to beating and torture via forcible deprivation of food and drinking water, shackling, and sleep deprivation. Information about torturing of any prisoner in Belgium, the EU member country, renown for its adherence to human rights and law obedience, make me think that our entire world is moving towards a new Holocaust, since the Holocaust was made possible when Western world completely rejected any protection for a human life at all and for a certain ethnic group in particular. That time such a group were Jews. This time, it seems to me, the Chechens are made an ethnic group for trade-off deals with criminal Russian regime.

I am afraid not only for a Chechen young man who is « guilty » only of defending his homeland from marauders, murders and robbers known to the whole world as Russian mafia state. it seems that Belgium authorities secretly decided to make Arbi Zarmaev slowly dying behind grates just for secret deal with Russian criminals! I am also afraid of your country’s reputation as reliable and law-obedient, human-rights protected country belonging to the Western civilization, that just recently was considered moral leader of the whole world. No more humane place in this world? No more Geneva Convention for a tiny group that was unlucky to be designed international scapegoat in the epoch of international « anti-terrorism » war?! But who is a bigger terrorist in this case? A Chechen who was forced to take arms to defend his home or the second army in the world that bombed out his homeland to rubbles?! Do you know that Russia killed more than 250,000 Chechens, including 40,000 children? And how many people did Arbi Zarmaev really killed? Ask him, please.

I urge you Mr. Minister, to do everything you can to stop this embarrassing  case for your country. I hope you can urge your subordinates to free Arbi Zarmaev because he is not a criminal. In the worst, he could be considered prisoner of the war. However, in this case he is eligible for Geneva Convention protection. Anyway, he is eligible for Geneva Convention protection as an asylum seeker from the armed conflict zone.

Sincerely and hopeful,

Nadezhda Banchik, Amnesty International USA member