Infinity: The Views of a Dreamer
A Voice for Political Prisoners
Written by Aaron Peterson
On the 21st of June, Gerry Conlon passed away at his home in Belfast at the age of 60. Gerry Conlon had been an outspoken voice for prisoners jailed for political offenses, often in favor of those who had been wrongfully accused on false evidence. Conlon himself had been the victim of state repression by Britain which cost him a quarter of his life in prison when evidence was falsified presenting him to be a member of an Provisional IRA active service unit that had carried out an attack in Guildford in 1974. Conlon and four others imprisoned on falsified evidence as part of the Guildford Four along with the Birmingham Six.
Though Gerry has passed away, his legacy still remains intact. The legacy of struggling in the interests of those who have been wrongfully accused and those who remain imprisoned for crimes committed of political nature. The question must be raised on a global level for those who are still languishing in prison whether it be the Craigavon Two in Northern Ireland, whom Conlon was campaigning for, who lie in jail under false evidence at the present moment or those around the world. The question is one of rights that are integral to the dignity of man. It is the right to be recognized as a political prisoner, not a criminal. It is the right to be recognized as a human being. Furthermore, it is the right for a fair trial.
Prisoners in Palestine, the Basque Country, ‘Turkish’ Kurdistan, Balochistan, West Papua and other territories need to have their rights recognized. The crimes of political prisoners and prisoners of war who engaged in armed struggle must be recognized as a result of the system that drove them towards committing armed action. Is not the greater crime, the crime that has drove a man to commit an action in order to liberate his homeland? Can the world not see that with the example of the struggle in Palestine for the past 44 years that the Palestinian people have been driven to various methods of action that in the eyes of the West seem incomprehensible, but are the result of the continued land grabs, expulsions and killings by the Israeli government?
What of the innocent who continue to languish in prison for so-called ‘terrorism’ offenses? The people who continue to imprison the innocent do so under the pretenses of maintaining the status quo. If the innocent are proven innocent and the falsified evidence is shown to be inconclusive, it is the state that is shown as guilty. The label of “terrorism” needs to be destroyed, it serves no purpose in the modern age and is simply a buzzword for designating certain groupings as non-acceptable by larger powers who dominate the political sphere. Was the nation of Algeria, not founded out of armed action that constituted terrorism? Has the United States and Western Europe not supported action that constitutes terrorism in Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad? The label needs to cease and dialogue needs to be built. If dialogue continues to be ignored, if it is continually swept under the rug and people remain shackled for the ongoing situations, the world will remain how it is. It will remain a place of hatred, bigotry and bloodshed. It is only through the campaigning for one’s humanity that this can be overcome. Gerry Conlon saw this all to well, in part of his experiences as a young man imprisoned without crime.
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