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