Anarchist Black Cross – Derry Anarchist Collective attended this years return of the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair on May 20th.
Members of the Incarcerated Workers Oganising Committee held a workshop on Letter Writing to Prisoners which was really successful with several new faces attending from across the country. Through out the workshop we heard of the different types of activity and campaign’s members of IWOC had been involved in over the past year, both inside and outside of the prison system in Ireland.
What is for sure, incarcerated workers are organising in Ireland and standing up against institutional attacks and increasing restrictions following Covid. If you know of anyone in the prison system and could benefit from support and solidarity then please reach out.
Solidarity actions also took place in support of the Craigavon Two and also the CNT Xixón who are facing imprisonment by the Spanish State for their trade union activism.
Barricade Bulletin No.23 is out now. You can receive it directly from members locally or from the usual local outlets. For those of you who live outside of Derry and the North West you can download the online version which now carries news, articles and other information.
The anarchist prisoner Alfredo Cospito has now been on hunger strike for 154 days to protest against the solitary confinement conditions under Italian Article 41bis. In the meantime, his health has deteriorated massively and yesterday an acute heart crisis was reported. The Italian state deliberately prefers to let the political prisoner die rather than relax the inhuman prison conditions.
Complete isolation from other prisoners, no leisure activities, yard exercise with extreme restrictions, only sporadic minimal contact with family and obstruction of communication with lawyers: The conditions of Article 41bis, to which around 750 people are subjected in Italian prisons, are rightly called White Torture and can also be arbitrarily further aggravated by the prisons. In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights found that the article was in clear breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. For years, the 41bis regime has also been systematically used against political prisoners to wear them down and break them.
Alfredo Cospito, who had already been serving a ten-year prison sentence since 2012 for an attack on nuclear company boss Roberto Adinolfi, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of early release in 2020 for two explosive devices. In May 2022, he was placed in solitary confinement under Article 41bis by order of the Ministry of Justice, and all lawyer interventions were unsuccessful. On 20 October 2022, Cospito began a hunger strike for the abolition of Article 41bis and announced that he would continue it until death if necessary. Several prisoners temporarily went on solidarity hunger strikes, and a strong protest movement formed in Italy against the isolation torture and in support of Alfredo Cospito.
For months now, the anarchist’s health has continued to deteriorate, which is why he was transferred from the Sardinian prison in Sassari to the more medically equipped prison in Milan. In the meantime, the permanent physical damage and signs of paralysis are increasing, and the current heart crisis shows that it is a matter of life or death.
Nevertheless, so far the government and the judiciary have refused any relaxation of the solitary confinement conditions. Two important court dates are again scheduled for Friday: First, the Surveillance Court in Milan is considering the request of Cospito’s lawyer to grant him suspended sentences for health reasons in the form of house arrest with his family. On the other hand, the Surveillance Court in Sassari is simultaneously deciding on an earlier application for a suspended sentence.
“The fact that the government and judiciary in Italy persist in the practice of torture under Article 41bis is a scandal. The systematic isolation torture to which 750 people are subjected in Italian prisons must be stopped immediately! Alfredo Cospito must be released immediately. We stand in solidarity with his hunger strike and demand the abolition of Article 41bis. Freedom for all political prisoners!”
– Anja Sommerfeld from the federal board of Red Aid e. V.
This week has witnessed a number of actions across the country with Italian anarchist, Alfredo Cospito, who has been on hunger strike for the last 155 days.
In Dublin as in Belfast activists gathered outside the Italian Embassy and Consulate in both cities to express their solidarity with Alfredo and his demands for an immediate end to the Italian Government prison regime of forced isolation policy known as 41-Bis. In each location activists gathered to highlight the demands to end this torture treatment of political prisoners as part of an international action. A banner hung outside the Italian consulate in the university area of Belfast, called of an end to the 41-Bis regime as anarchists held a vigil.
In Derry, activists gathered at the cities iconic Free Derry Wall in the Bogside with a banner echoing to call to end the state torture of political prisoners. Meanwhile in a Milan hospital, under tight security, anarchist hunger striker, Alfredo Cospito life hangs in the balance. In the past few days he has suffered a heart attack as his hunger for justice takes its toll on his body. Despite this he remains confident in his demands for an immediate end to the 41-Bis policy introduced by the ruthless prison system within Italy.
As actions continue in the streets across Italy against his imprisonment, his family and comrades are grateful for the international solidarity already received since Alfredo embarked on his hunger strike over 155 days ago.
A spokesperson for the revolutionary union, Industrial Workers of the World, whose members also include incarcerated workers said that: “The Industrial Workers of the World extends its love and solidarity to Alfredo Cospito, anarchist political prisoner in Italy, who is currently on hunger strike for 154 days, in a stand against the isolation of 41 bis!
“As part of an international call for solidarity we echo the demands of Alfredo in demanding an immediate end to the Italian State’s policy of isolation an torture through the 41 Bis regime. Alfredo’s demands that this policy must end immediately as he continues his hunger strike!”
That’s what the doctor told Alfredo Cospito’s lawyer, Flavio Rossi Albertini
Alfredo Cospito told the doctor accompanying him and who examined him today (03/21) that “he felt a tremor in his hand and alerted the guard. After ten minutes, the nurse and doctor arrived, yelling and saying they had seen a heart condition on the monitor. They were very worried, he was dying. They saw a record on which there was a trace of a heart with a big shake. Then the situation came back and stabilized.”
That’s what the defense doctor told Alfredo Cospito’s lawyer, Flavio Rossi Albertini. “When he had this heart attack, he was given potassium in a vein, with great concern on the part of the doctors,” he explained.
The doctor added that the anarchist on hunger strike for more than four months yesterday had an instrumental examination and “doctors say he is at risk of paralysis for life”. Irreparable damage may have already occurred.”
Barricade Bulletin No.22 is out now. You can receive it directly from members locally or from the usual local outlets. For those of you who live outside of Derry and the North West you can download the online version which now carries news, articles and other information.
Together with Marica Fantauzzi I have written several times to the director of Il Riformista to keep the attention on the Alfredo Cospito incident.
The following article was published on Friday, March 17. Today, Saturday 18, finally, Alfredo Cospito’s trusted doctor was allowed to speak with the doctors of the San Paolo Hospital where the anarchist is hospitalized.
Many of the people who have followed the evolution of Alfredo Cospito’s hunger strike in these four very long months, are today wondering how far a body can hold on.
His lost almost 50kg, some limbs are beginning to unresponsive to stimulus, his legs are giving out, walking has become more and more tedious and movements are happening in a wheelchair. In such a delicate health scenario, it’s obvious why, despite the last and, we could say, daring return to jail, Cospito was taken to hospital.
In the prison of Opera, after all, we know that it was controlled, at night, through the peeping of the cell by a policeman who passed hours away. Clearly insufficient monitoring for a condition of this severity.
In the hospital, on the other hand, it can be monitored daily, you can intervene in a timely manner in case of a sudden crisis and, above all, there is a team of doctors that can proceed with adequate exams and therapies.
It is useful and necessary to spend a few words on this latter element: for the umpteenth time his trusted doctor has been prevented from communicating with his colleagues at the San Paolo hospital. It’s hard to understand what the reason for such a ban is.
To allow a serious patient charge, the minimum would be to allow the trusted doctor to confront, discuss, converge on the best therapy to follow, through a constant dialogue with the doctors of San Paulo.
On the other hand no, the doctor visits Cospito once (now twice a week) and as soon as he tries to interrogate with the people he sees every day, everything gets complicated and the authorization never comes.
And it is in the vagacity of the answers, in the silence of the bureaucracy, in the immobility of the structure that resides the anomaly: if 41 bis, as we will never stop repeating, was conceived for the sole purpose of restoring the links between the detainee and the criminal organization he belongs to, then someone has to explain to us, dear Director, What is the point of certain provisions.
In these months we have listed a few, from the difficulty of swallowing a sky devoid of gratitude to the impossibility of keeping the picture of your loved ones on the cell wall.
In other words, to those who ask: “what is 41 bis?” ” one could say that it all consists of the blatant superfluidity and the petty pretestiousness of the ban on communication between two doctors. And in the irrational and violent gratuity of this arbitrary power to punish.
I have been an anarchist for decades and I was arrested in October 1996 after a bank robbery, no one was killed or heavily injured. But since that time the state has kept me in prison. On 8th July 2013 I was deported to the ‘Preventative Detention’ (PD) Unit in the south west of Germany. The PD is something like the IPP in the UK, but PD became law in 1933 by the Nazis and allows the state to keep someone in prison after finishing their sentence, as long as the inmate is supposed to be a threat to public safety. I was judged as a threat to public safety because at the end of the 90’s and beginning of the 2000’s I was agitating strongly against judges and politicians. So I was convicted to more than 5 years punishment. For the bank robbery the court sentenced me to prison for 11 ½ years. The regular sentence ended on 7th July 2013.
Back to the present time: In 2022 a psychiatrist expert from Munich. In her 130 page report the expert came to the conclusion that I would be no threat. In November 2022 a psychologist from the prison and the public prosecutor sent their statements to the court and criticised the expert’s report really hard. But the psychiatrist replied on 17 pages and refuted their arguments.
But the local court in Freiburg, under the presidency of the honourable judge Kronthaler, dissented from the expert’s view. After a two hour hearing on the 15th February 2023 the court informed the parties and gave an order for another expert.
The expert from Munich has been testifying for courts for more than 40 years! But she’s more open minded than her conservative colleagues. For her it wasn’t relevant that I never distanced myself from my past nor my biography and political attitudes.
Friends offered me a place where I could live in town and a local radio station (https://rdl.de/) admitted me into the editorial office. They also offered practical training after my release. Until this takes place I get the possibility to be part of their program by phone, because here at the PD unit we have a phone in the cells. So every month I am on the air. A program called AUSBRUCH (escape/breakout) in which we talk about prisoner’s situations and developments.
The fact that there aren’t any troubles since more than two decades seems not enough for the court, the prison’s administration and the prosecutor. Especially the prison’s psychologist criticized that I had never withdrawn my attitudes. So she and her colleagues were afraid that I would maybe take revenge on judges or politicians. It leaves me in a catch-22.
Anyway, I think an upright attitude is more important than falling on your knees!
Thomas Mayer-Falk c/o JVA (SV), Hermann-Herder-Str. 8, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
Jorge “Yorch” Esquivel is a beloved compañero of the punk and anarchist community, and a long-time participant of the Okupa Che Guevara. He was arrested on December 8, 2022 by plainclothes police as he was leaving the campus of the Ciudad Universitaria (of the UNAM university) in Mexico City as part of a campaign of criminalization against the Okupa.
On February 24, 2016, an operative was carried out in which plainclothes policemen arbitrarily detained him, “planting” drugs on him in order to fabricate crimes against him. The whole case was plagued with irregularities. He was transferred to Oaxaca and then to a maximum security prison in Hermosillo. The authorities used this strategy under the supposition that the distance would hinder his legal defense, but even so, thanks to the solidarity and legal work, he was reclassified from the crime of drug dealing to simple possession of narcotics, so he was released on bail in March 2016.
Jorge decided not to continue with the farce case against him and thus did not continue the process. In the meantime, the frame-up continued to be put together. Constant threats and journalistic reports did not cease; the press even took him for dead and accused him of participating in organized crime.
On December 9, 2022 he was arrested in exactly the same place – a few steps outside Ciudad Universitaria, where the Okupa is located and again by plainclothes police – with the grounds for this illegal detention being that the Attorney General’s Office appealed the decision to reclassify the crime.
The compañero’s health is fragile due to an extended hospitalization a couple years back and more recent bouts with different illnesses.
Jorge is currently incarcerated in the Reclusorio Oriente prison in Mexico City, in the observation and classification area. In this area he has been unable to receive visits other than from his lawyers.
The legal process is in the evidence stage. The Attorney General’s evidence includes the testimony of the police officers who detained Jorge; one of them is deceased and the other has not been located. Due to this, the hearing scheduled for February 17, 2023 did not take place and a date was set for April 14.
On behalf of the legal team that has been working in solidarity to defend Jorge, two expert reports will be presented by an external expert (called a perito in Mexico), one in dactyloscopy to prove that the packages of narcotics were never touched by Jorge, and another one in criminalistics. These expert reports will be presented once the hearing is held on April 14.
This expert’s fees amount to 70,000 Mexican pesos (approximately 3804 USD/3567 euros/3164 pounds), which must be paid in two installments. In order for this person to start her work, she needs to receive the first half, and the second half should be paid at the time of the next court date.
Thanks to the solidarity of individuals, collectives and networks, it has been possible to cover Jorge’s expenses inside the prison, which have been very high due to the blatant corruption that reigns in Mexican prisons run by mafia groups that charge prisoners for everything from use of the bathroom to water, electricity, even the cell they are held in. The legal expenses up until now have been mostly covered as well, however, we call upon the solidarity of our friends and compañeros around the world to help us to raise the amount of the expert’s fees as soon as possible.
If you are interested in supporting us, please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
“They prevent us from having the right to health, according to them a single doctor must provide for the treatment needs of a prisoner on the 140th day of fasting” says the lawyer Flavio Rossi Albertini comments on the Ministry’s decision to deny the visit of a second doctor trusted doctor Giovanna Barbara Cicardi.
According to the Ministry, with the visits of Dr. Andrea Crosignani, Cospito’s right to health would already be satisfied. Taking into account that the prisoner is subjected to the 41bis regime to sever the connections with the anarchist world, one does not withdraw from having to admit an additional healthcare worker in order not to prejudice the rationale of the provision is the explanation.
But it’s not over. The lawyer continues: “In the 41 bis department of the San Paolo today there was the director of the work, the medical director of the San Paolo and the national guarantor of the prisoners.
Alfredo reports that they have made sibylline statements to him and that they want to scare him by warning him that the heart can suddenly give way, leaving him “half stupid in a wheelchair with a lollipop in his mouth”.
He doesn’t know how much they want to scare him and how much truth there is. She fears being force-fed.
Great censorship on telegrams, 4 in two days”. The lawyer adds that he excludes that it was the prisoner’s guarantor who tried to intimidate and terrorize Alfredo Cospito. But in short, the torture continues.