[Pnews] Message from Pelican Bay Reps to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 21 15:53:08 EDT 2013

October 18, 2013

We, the four principal representatives of the prisoners confined in the 
Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, hereby welcome 
Juan Mendez to California. We have followed your work and advocacy 
against torture throughout the world and congratulate you on your 
commitment and success in bringing your findings to the public's attention.

We recently suspended our hunger strike against torture in the form of 
prolonged solitary confinement in California's prisons after 60 days. 
Over 30,000 prisoners joined us in the largest protest ever against 
prison conditions in the United States and possibly the world.

We decided to suspend our hunger strike for several reasons: (1) We 
succeeded in making the issue of torture in California's prisons into an 
issue of worldwide public and media attention. The New York Times, 
Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC are 
just a few of the media outlets that covered our cause, with many 
running editorials in our support. Thousands of people joined 
demonstrations, signed petitions and letters, and spoke out in our 
favor. (2) State Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano 
promised to hold legislative hearings to address solitary confinement, 
the conditions of imprisonment, and sentencing policy in California and 
to introduce legislation for reform. They have already held one hearing 
on October 9, in a room filled with our supporters, and heard from 
experts, former prisoners, and family members who spoke of the torture 
we endure and demanded change. (3) CDCR officials promised to meet with 
us to discuss our concerns, and we have already spent hours in talks 
with them.

But nothing has changed. Over 3500 prisoners remain isolated in 
California's SHUs with almost no human interaction, little opportunity 
to exercise or even see the sun, and forbidden from contact visits or 
telephone calls with their families. They join thousands of others who 
are held in different forms of solitary confinement throughout the 
system. Prisoners are revalidated for indefinite terms on the basis of 
unconfirmed rumors, anonymous misinformation from debriefers and 
informants, and possession of criminalized books, articles, and art 
work. The only sure way out is to debrief and expose yourself to shame, 
further exploitation by prison officials, condemnation and violence.

Mr. Mendez, we ask that you join in our struggle. We would like you to 
testify at one of the upcoming Legislative hearings. We would like you 
to consider becoming an expert witness in our lawsuit. As a former 
prisoner yourself, we would like you to do your best to bring both our 
conditions and our human rights movement to the attention of the 
international community, with intention to take resolute action against 
the torture we, along with many other prisoners in California and 
elsewhere have endured for far too long. We look forward to meeting you.

With Respect and in Solidarity,

Todd Ashker

Arturo Castellanos

Antonio Guillen

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa


Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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