Revolution #240, July 24, 2011
The following two items were posted at the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website on Thursday, July 21:
CDCR's Claims That Strike Is Over Unsubstantiated
For Immediate Release – July 21, 2011
Oakland – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prematurely announced an end to the Pelican Bay hunger strike today. The strike is protesting conditions of confinement international human rights groups have called torturous and inhumane. Lawyers and mediators in contact with the strikers, however, have not received confirmation from the hunger strike leaders that the strike is over. "We would like to hear directly from the men at Pelican Bay that they have resumed eating and what demands, if any, have been met," says Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. "At this point," Strickman continues, "we have not been able to ascertain what concessions may have been granted."
Supporters of the strikers say this issue is not resolved. "The CDCR has used deceptive tactics throughout this strike to try to overcome prisoner resistance," says Taeva Shefler, a member of Prison Activist Resource Center and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. "In order to break the strike, the CDCR has regularly underestimated strike participation and withheld information regarding the health of striking prisoners. Prisoners not yet in solitary have been placed in Administrative Segregation or Security Housing Units as punishment for protesting. These are the very issues this strike aims to change in the first place."
Information coming from Pelican Bay and other prisons has been sparse at best over the last three weeks, as CDCR has declined to grant media access to the prisoners on strike and letters sent by family members have been returned by the prison. "There's a reason this department is mired in multiple court orders, receiverships, and other monitoring processes," says Molly Porzig of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, "The lack of reliable communication today simply underscores the core of this crisis."
Supporters continue to urge the public to call Governor Brown's office asking him to exert pressure on the CDCR to meet the prisoner's demands. For updates, please visit www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.
The CDCR has prematurely announced that the hunger strike is over and that the prisoners now have "a better understanding" of last week's "offer" to the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay. However, the prisoner-approved mediation team (which the hunger strike leaders have insisted participate in any negotiations) was not involved in this so-called resolution around the strike, and the CDCR has not fully announced what was agreed upon. Clearly the CDCR is more interested in improving their Public Relations image than addressing real issues of torture.
Support for the hunger strike is at a crucial tipping point. One thing is absolutely clear: the five core demands have not been met. Long-term solitary confinement is still being used as torture. Supporters everywhere must amplify the prisoners voices even more fiercely than before. The goal of supporting the hunger strike was not to make sure prisoners continue to starve, rather to support the prisoners in winning their demands to change conditions of imprisonment. This struggle is not over.
We urge everyone to continue to attend and organize events, continue to put pressure on media to cover this struggle, and continue to urge legislators to get involved in winning the hunger strikers 5 demands.
We will not accept the CDCR's word until we have direct confirmation from the hunger strike leaders, and will continue to support the prisoners in winning their demands, until they are won.
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