Following recent protest action at Maghaberry Prison, the family of John Paul Wootton are now calling upon the current Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, to intervene to help end the ongoing acts of discrimination against their son, brother, uncle and miscarriage of justice victim, John Paul Wootton.
On behalf of John Paul, the family have launched a letter and email campaign which directly highlights the issues behind the ongoing acts of discrimination he faces on a daily basis, while being held within Maghaberry.
We, the family of John Paul Wootton, ask you to please support our call to demand that Ronnie Armour, Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, immediately ends all acts of discrimination against John Paul.
Please sign the following letter of protest, email and/or write to:
Northern Ireland Prison Service
Upper Newtonards Road,
Belfast, BT4 3SU
For the attention to the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service:
It has come to my attention that John Paul Wootton, a person you hold in your custody is being subjected to discriminatory practices.
John Paul has attempted to avail of opportunities open to other prisoners however he has unfortunately been blocked without justification, this is wrong.
For example, he has been applied to take part in peers support and mentoring schemes, requested social activity and asked with regret to the prisons regimes, yet despite meeting appropriate criteria, these have not been facilitated.
Over the years and in an ongoing bases, John Paul has had to deal with harassment such as regular sleep disruption unfair punitive actions both formal and informal, and more recently restrictions on his communications with the outside world. Formal complaints about his treatment have been ignored.
A transfer to Magilligan prison has been identified as a solution to many of these problems, as well as opening up specific educational opportunities. However despite a two year wait, John Paul remains in Maghaberry.
I write to object to this treatment. John Paul should be given equitable access to any opportunities and all harassment should end. A move to Magilligan should be facilitated without delay.
I hope these matters could then be brought to a close.
Members of the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee and members of the Wootton family gathered this afternoon in protest and the ongoing treatment of miscarriage of justice prisoner John Paul Wootton. The protest action took place outside Maghaberry Prison on the outskirts of Belfast as part of an effort to draw attention to the ongoing discrimination directed at political prisoner John Paul Wootton.
John Paul is currently fighting an ongoing miscarriage of justice campaign together with Brendan McConville, as part of the Craigavon Two.
Several members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) gathered with family and relatives of John Paul at the gates of Maghaberry as a letter of protest was handed into the Prison by John Paul’s mother, Sharon Wootton.
A spokesperson for the IWW Ireland said “We are here today to lend our voice and solidarity with our fellow worker John Paul, at a time such as this when he continues to face further discrimination at the hands of the state who have already wrongfully imprisoned him. As if they haven’t suffered enough with being fitted up for a crime they did not commit, John Paul has to continually face repeated attacks against him from a system that continues to keep him incarcerated despite the fact that they know full well that both him and Brendan are innocent men. We echo the families call here today and demand an end to the discrimination directed again him.
“For ourselves as a union, it is always important to highlight that no matter how much repression there is, no matter how much they through, working class solidarity will always win through.”
In a statement issued on behalf of the Wootton family during today’s protest action, it read:
Today the 18th July, the Wootton family, supported by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) trade union, held a small demonstration outside the gates of Maghaberry prison. Our purpose was to show solidarity and love to John Paul and call for an end to the discrimination to which he has been subjected by the prison authorities.
Over the years John Paul has been denied many of the opportunities readily available to the other prisoners and has had restrictions imposed and above those endured by others. In recent times we have engaged in a lobbying campaign, reaching out to those with influence, in an attempt to improve the situation.
Unfortunately, despite best effort‘s issues remain on resolved. It is John Paul view that many of the problems he faces could be dealt with by transferring to Magilligan prison. However, despite the fact that he meets the prison service criteria, he remains in Maghaberry.
John Paul first applied for a move two years ago but the present service has constantly prevaricated, stalled and at times completely ignored his request. Two years, is a long time when others with only a matter of weeks.
This is a clear case of discrimination and we will not standby silently. We tend to continue to support John Paul and his fight for justice as we have done for over 12 years now and we will continue that fight until he is freed and fully acquitted. We will also make every effort to ensure he is treated properly whilst being held by the state. We decided against issue a public call for support on this occasion in order to keep attendance low. This was due to the ongoing threat from COVID-19. However, we do not rule out such a thing in the future.
You can send a letter of card in solidarity to John Paul directly to him at the following address:
John Paul Wootton, Maghaberry Prison Davis House Old Road, Upper Ballinderry BT28 2PT, Ireland
Since 24/05/2021, our friend and comrade, anarchist political prisoner Giannis Dimitrakis is being hospitalised at Lamia with heavy injuries from the murderous attack against him at Domokos prison. At the very moment, it appears that Giannis has overcome the danger of the first hours. The injuries that he sustained however, have caused multiple haematoma in the head that influence basic functions of his brain.
On the murderous attack against anarchist comrade Giannis Dimitrakis
Since 24/05, our friend and comrade, anarchist political prisoner Giannis Dimitrakis is being hospitalised at Lamia with heavy injuries from the murderous attack against him at Domokos prison. At the very moment, it appears that Giannis has overcome the danger of the first hours. The injuries that he sustained however, have caused multiple haematoma in the head that influence basic functions of his brain. On Sunday 30/05, many of us gathered outside of the hospital of Lamia. We shouted slogans just a few meters away from his bedroom window to express our solidarity, even though Giannis could not hear us. Since then, his state seems to be improving. For his health to be fully restored, however, continuing monitoring from specialised medical personnel is required for several months. It is obvious that such care cannot be given in the prison environment.
In this critical condition, the scumbags of the New Democracy government, the murderers of prisoners, Michalis Chrisochoidis, Sofia Nicholaou and their minnions, after trying to downgrade and even withhold the incident, decided on Thursday 03/06 the transport of Giannis Dimitrakis back to Domokos prison, going as far as to place him in an isolation cell for Covid prevention purposes. The transfer of our comrade there, while his brain functions remain in immediate danger, is basically like a second murder attempt against him. Domokos prison is scheduled to soon become a discipline prison (type C) for political and undisciplined prisoners, although the prison does not fulfil the requirements to support decent health care that is needed for the recovery of a prisoner with such heavy injuries. After the near murder of Dimitris Koufontinas by the government, while he struggles to recover from his recent hunger strike in the same miserable conditions of the same prison, the murderous attack on Giannis is added to this equation as well. As Assembly of Solidarity with political prisoners and persecuted fighters, and as a solidarity movement in general, we are determined not to let our comrade helpless in their blood stained hands. Nothing can stay unanswered, not one of the death policy managers can be left in peace. As an assembly we generally try to see the issue of prisons system not separated but as a part of the big picture of the social and political issue. In the same way, we see the political prisoners as comrades first, but also as captives of the social-class war that always festers in this cruel capitalist world. In the same way, we understand the legal and prison system, firstly as a state policy determined by the class war, but also as a part of the total policy of the economy, health, education and environment as well. In all these fields, state and capital are moving in a neoliberal approach, attempting to demolish what is left as an obstacle in the way of capitalist development. At the same time, they try to silence every voice of resistance and drown every revolutionary perspective and tradition in sorrow. They use propaganda in order to strengthen their violence and dominance policy. Keeping that in mind, we consider both the specific events and the general state of the Greek prison system as social and political events that mirror the situation outside of prison as well.
The assault on Giannis Dimitrakis, a political prisoner for many years, carried out not by prison officers but by fellow prisoners, is unprecedented in brutality. It has to be analysed with political criteria, the criteria on which we try to base our analysis of every fact of the social life that takes place around us. We can’t see this attack as simply another typical prison incident, like as the prison principal of Domokos described it. This was not just another conflict between prisoners.
Those that hit our comrade with murderous intent, did so because he did what is self evident for any anti-authoritarian: he defended the weak against the strong, even if it meant putting his life at risk. They would not have done so however, without the tolerance of state power. Without state tolerance, the dirty micro-powers of the prison world, in which an anarchist would never participate, wouldn’t act undisturbed as a mafia group, controlling every aspect of prison for their own benefit as well for the benefit of service and state policy.
The government equates terrorism with common vicious crimes in an attempt to diminish the struggle and identify it with organised crime. Giannis stood against the most vicious part of organised crime, in a moral, as well as practical manner. In that way, the state’s narrative was once again shattered and that is why the government has been covering up the incident. Two different worlds collided at the 24th of May. The world of solidarity, selflessness and equality clashed against the world of cruelty and authority.
The cannibalistic and authoritarian violence, the para-state and mafia methods of enforcement and enrichment, those are derivatives of the capitalist world, entangled with state policy. Ιn a closed environment like prison, where everything is under heavy and strict control, this is even more obvious. The small groups of power and the various prison mobs act under a tolerance regime in favour of the state. All around Greece their function strengthens the controlling and fragmenting of prisoners, stifling every attempt of struggle, any demands and acts of collectivisation.
It is clear that the prison managers and their political superiors are the moral accessories of this brutal attack against Giannis Dimitrakis. They must be very satisfied that members of the prison mafia, a creation of their own, tried to end an anarchist that has been giving many struggles, for almost 2 decades now, in every aspect of the social and class war. An anarchist that was in the front lines of the prison riot in Malandrinos at 2007, who has always fought for the unity of all political prisoners and their connection with the poorer proletarians, as well as unruly prisoners, for raising claims inside prison.
Every person responsible for this attack against Giannis Dimitrakis, from first to last, must already know that no political prisoner stands alone. It has been so for decades. Some claim that the anarchist movement, the solidarity assemblies for political prisoners as well as the political prisoners community in Greece (the members of which are intentionally spread around in different prisons, in order to lose contact with each other) is in recession and fragmentation and under brutal government attack. This may be true but that is the reality we have to face and overcome. We need to rediscover the revolutionary memory that they so want to stifle, get back to our feet and make political prisoners solidarity something they fear. We should never let anyone think that a political prisoner or any other unruly prisoner can become a victim of terrorism and vicious attack from any state or para-state mechanism. The struggle of solidarity with political prisoners, as well as the struggle against the prison institution in itself, is part of the general struggle against state and capital.
Immediate transfer of our comrade in a special rehabilitation centre
Hands off political prisoners
Solidarity and strength with Giannis Dimitrakis
Assembly of Solidarity with Prisoners, Fugitives and Persecuted Fighters
Belarussian activist, antifascist and the singer of street punk band Mister X– Igor Bancer has been sent to a work camp following a court verdict sentencing him to 18 months of forced labour.
Igor is no stranger to state oppression and has been arrested multiple times in the past. This time, Bancer was detained and subsequently charged with hooliganism on 20th October 2020. His “crime” was a street performance involving dancing in front of a police car and showing his bare buttocks in front of it. However, the real reason behind his arrest and detention seems to be his uncompromised opposition to the Belarussian dictatorial regime, his participation in the post-election protests that gripped the country last year, and his long-term political activity.
Bancer spent 5 months in prison following his October 2020 arrest. During his imprisonment, he faced multiple repressions: his detention was unreasonably prolonged, and his trial was postponed. He was denied family visits and was barred from receiving parcels. He was moved between multiple prisons and subjected to isolation, under the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic, in each one of them.
Despite this, Igor kept demanding his basic human rights. As punishment for that, he was sent to a psychiatric prison facility, where he refused medical consultation without the presence of his legal representative. On 3rd March 2021 Bancer commenced a dry hunger strike to protest his treatment and detention. He was then sentenced on 19th March and released awaiting transfer to a penitentiary facility. On 17th June, he was sent back to prison to serve his sentence.
You can write to Igor at the following address:
Bantser Igor Romanovich
IUOT-9, ul. 3 Chepinskaya
Bancer is one of many anarchists and antifascists currently facing heavy repressions in Belarus. More updates are available on ABC Belarus website.
Solidarity is a fundamental anarchist principle. On the streets, when side-by-side taking on the state, the need for if is obvious. And it is no less essential when those same comrades are behind bars.
As anarchists, we commit ourselves to supporting and empowering the most vulnerable in our society. Prisoners fall very neatly into this category and while all people behind bars are deserving of support, anarchist prisoners have a very distinct need.
Because of our political and moral values, and the activism we engage in while on the inside, we become an obvious and specific target. We can face punitive measures such as restrictions on contact with the outside world, limits to our interactions with other prisoners and even complete solidarity confinement for long periods of time.
Although as individuals we may normally be strong in many ways, the oppressive acts of the state and constraints imposed upon us can essentially nullify our power to defend ourselves.
Giving aid to prisoners may not be the most glamorous type of activism, but no one should underestimate the value of it to those on the inside.
I would encourage anarchist everywhere to get involved in their local Anarchist Black Cross (or start one if there are no existing groups near you), build connections with others nationally and internationally. Develop organise and real relationships with anarchist prisoners. Your love and solidarity are important.
John Paul Wootton Davis House E3 Maghaberry Prison, BT282PT, North Ireland
John Paul Wootton is incarcerated along with Brendan McConville in a case known as the Craigavon Two. You can find out more information about their ongoing miscarriage of justice case and the campaign to fight for their immediate release here: www.jftc2.ie
Each year Anarchist Prisoners are remembered on 11th June as part of an international day of solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners. Each year, events take place in different countries, such at online talks, workshops on letter writing to public banner drops.
These events are used to help highlight the continuing incarceration of anarchist activists. From the beginning, a number of different anarchist and prison abolitionist groups have taken part. Solidarity actions have taken place earlier this evening to mark 11th June in Ireland, in both Derry and Belfast, that included members of Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee (IWOC), Derry Anarchists, Industrial Workers of the World, Migrant and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice, Anarchist Black Cross, Organise and Belfast Anarchists.
At this actions, a statement from miscarriage of justice prisoner and anarchist, John Paul Wootton was read out. John Paul, who is a member of the Craigavon Two, was wrongfully imprisoned with Brendan McConville on the 30th March 2012 in a Diplock Court following the killing of Constable Steven Carroll, back in March 2009. Carroll was fatally shot in Craigavon.
Both innocent men, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, were wrongfully convicted of the shooting and sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for a crime they did not commit. In Belfast and Derry, a number of banner-drops took place this evening to mark the occasion highlighting the continuing incarceration of anarchist prisoners as well as the ongoing campaign for the immediate release of the Craigavon Two by their family and friends.
A spokesperson for the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee, who helped organise todays events, commented following today’s actions that “it is vital that we actively participate in international actions such as today’s events in Derry and Belfast. It is vital that each of us to help draw attention to the treatment of incarcerated workers currently held within the prison system, North and South. It is important that we make sure that they are not forgotten, they are supported and encouraged to organise against ill-treatment.
“The issue of the continuing incarceration of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton by the state must never be far from our lips when we talk of injustice here in Ireland or elsewhere. This miscarriage of justice has to be called out for what it is by everyone. Every community or political group, every trade union and human rights organisation, all those who genuinely seek human rights and social justice for all. We demand they too raise the concerns of the Wootton and McConville families and help demand an immediate end to this wrongful imprisonment.”
A spokesperson for the Anarchist Black Cross said “We are here to help echo the international call on 11th June as today in many countries throughout the world, anarchist and class struggle prisoners are joining with us in solidarity. Likewise we must never allow anarchist prisoners to be forgotten or isolated by the state, which is why our work is one of solidarity and mutual aid with those on the inside.
“We feel it’s important to help raise awareness of those held the prison system, to also educate and involve community collaboration. Even small acts of solidarity, such as letter-writing, which everyone can do to help reduce prisoner isolation and improve or draw attention to their conditions. Solidarity acts like today’s events are another way to highlight the ongoing imprisonment of comrades or of raising awareness about campaigns such as the Craigavon Two.”
Statement from anarchist and miscarriage of justice prisoner John Paul Wootton from the Craigavon Two HERE
I suppose my story is far from usual. It begins as a teenager, not yet 18 years old and angry at socio-economic conditions within his community.
Growing up in working-class Irish Republican areas, it was inevitable that I would be intensely exposed to that ideology and its propaganda. It claimed that all the ills in Irish society could be blamed on British state interference and that only an independent socialist state could offer a solution. The history, the romance, and the already strong presence in the community were hard to resist. I had found my answer.
Being young and inexperienced, my involvement was quite peripheral. It amount to not much more than attending street protests and distributing propaganda. However minor my role, the state took a dim view. I had dared to challenge its status quo; I was now a legitimate target.
On March 9th 2009, the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) ambushed a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) convoy and killed Constable Steven Carroll. In response, the state swooped: raiding and making a number of arrests. I was held and interrogated for 14 days before being shipped off to prison. I was eventually convicted of involvement in the attack at a non-jury show trial and given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 18 years in prison. I was 17 years old at the time and had no involvement whatsoever in the events of that night. The state needed a victory against armed Republicans and as a scapegoat, I fit the bill.
While in prison, my place naturally was among other incarcerated Republican activists. Over the years, we collectively engaged in prison struggle, enduring harsh conditions and brutality in order to assert ourselves as political prisoners and improve our quality of life. We had some successes but certain tactical decisions were made which, alongside internal difficulties, I believe undermined progress.
Over the years of struggle, my political outlook matured and my understanding of concepts like liberty and domination deepened. I began to recognise that Republicanism had a very narrow view of the world and an entrenched authoritarian culture. I became convinced that any independent Irish state, socialist or otherwise, would be just as harmful as the British state.
So, after about 7 years of life as a Republican prisoner, I began to become uncomfortable with the Republican label. I delved in to more libertarian ideas and eventually embraced anarchism.
In keeping with my new values, I left the comfort of the Republican prisoner community and entered the ‘ordinary’ prisoner population. This was a difficult decision as I was leaving behind not only an ideology and culture I now fundamentally disagreed with, but also good friends and comrades.
Now in the general prison population for a number of years, I have been proud to bring the ideas of anarchism to others who find themselves oppressed in our society and to promote community, solidarity and mutual aid.
I continue to do what I can to promote positive change. I continue to challenge my ongoing imprisonment and fight back against the state and different forms of domination. With the support of my family, the solidarity of other activists and the mutual aid of my fellow prisoners, I am able to forge ahead and face down repressive acts by the state. I will not allow them to break me and will continue to rage in my way.
John Paul Wootton Davis E3 Maghaberry Prison BT28 2PT North Ireland
In May our comrade John Paul Wootton celebrated his 30th birthday wrongfully incarcerated in Maghaberry Gaol, North Ireland. At a time when he should have been celebrating such an occasion with his family, comrades and loved ones, John Paul instead marks yet another birthday, wrongfully imprisoned with Brendan McConville who form part of the Miscarriage of Justice case known the world over as the Craigavon Two. Detained and sentenced in a Diplock court (Non-jury Court) for a crime they did not commit.
John Paul is an anarchist who continues to be active whilst being held in the notorious Maghaberry Gaol in Ireland assisting many prisoners in knowing their rights whilst incarcerated and expressing solidarity with other prisoners throughout the world.
He is active writing and commenting on current situation in Ireland from an anarchist perspective as well as on other social justice cases which remain close to his heart. A talented musician and an excellent guitarist penning many songs, some of which have been aired during a number of Industrial Workers of the World online social events as an incarcerated worker. Songs written by himself on a number of social justice and class struggle issues.
You can write directly to John Paul at the following address to express support and solidarity with the Craigavon Two however you can help share the website below to help raise the issue of the Craigavon Two and demand their immediate release.
John Paul Wootton, Davis House, Maghaberry Prison, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Ireland. BT28 2PT
#JFTC2 For more information on the Justice for the Craigavon Two please look at the following website recently established by family members to help raise the ongoing profile of John Paul and Brendan McConnville who make up the Craigavon Two: www.jftc2.ie