Charter for Prisoners

As part of  our ongoing process of  development all on  our wings were requested to take part in a  comprehensive in-depth analysis of our communities in 1989.   Such analysis was to concentrate on

several specific points but the discussion would broaden to cover all areas affecting our lives and daily struggles.

 

One difference from previous periods of assessment  was that this time  the feedback  from  all wings would go  towards  creating a charter,  or  a constitution  for our communities.   This charter would define  the character of  our communities  and  outline the responsibilities  and obligations as  well  as the  rights of all living within our wings.   Everyone on our  wings participated in the discussion.

 

As in  the past  feedback  was varied  depending on  those on any wing/block  at  that  particular  time.   However,  the  greatest benefit  of  such  discussions was  in  providing  an opportunity (within  the community)  to  go  over the events of  the previous 18-24  months,  to assess  what  happened  and why and  to answer questions   from  those   who   had  a  limited   (or  distorted) understanding of how the process had developed.

 

To give the discussion/analysis some  direction the  question was asked,  "How do we view ourselves:  as poor prisoners/victims, or  as  political  activists/revolutionaries  carrying  on  the  same

struggle we were involved in outside?"   How each  of us answered this was going to determine how we viewed Republican communities, our position  within  them,  our attitudes towards the structures

and people  around  us,  our  involvement (or otherwise)  in wing activities, our relationship with Army structures and so forth.

 

The five main points covered were:  maintenance - general welfare of  the  community;  communications;  prison  struggle  - protest action;  relationships with Army structures; and, the role of the committees.   It is  not intended  to cover these  points here as they will be covered in the charter.  However, it is important to point out that feedback from all wings more or less  stressed the

same points  indicating  a general  understanding  of  the Army's ideology approach as well as its organisational requirements.

 

What  is stated during  discussion,  written about in reports and expressed in  a charter will  be  irrelevant though if  it is not internalised and reflected in personal behaviour.  The person who one moment articulates the need to work as a  collective body and to  be  considerate of others'  needs/wishes and who  in the next moment  behaves in an immature  fashion because,  for example, he can't get watching  his favourite TV  programme loses credibility in  the  eyes  of  others.   The  person  that  points  out  that competitiveness has as much to do with  ego, self-interest, etc., and who then indulges in,  or helps to  incite, physical assaults upon one another during games, needs to question if the period of discussion was simply a discussion and no more.

 

However,   when  mistakes  and  errors  do  occur   there  is  an opportunity  to show how much  has been  learnt by the  manner in which these errors are rectified.   Maturity will be shown by the willingness  to admit to personal  faults and  to overcome pride. It must also be remembered that opting  out or  staying quiet is, in some cases,  another instance of error.   Your silence or lack of  action  can be  construed to  mean  consent.   Everyone has a responsibility to identify  such errors,  bring them to attention of those concerned and  debate them in  a constructive, comradely and thorough manner.

 

In conclusion, the charter should be discussed in all communities and any criticisms  or  suggestions forwarded.   If any aspect of the charter is unclear it will be fully explained on request.  In the event of  no  alterations having  to be made  all communities will be informed and the charter will take affect from that date. Although this  document  was initially drawn up  in  1989  it has consistently formed part of  our lives and is  indeed  a guide to how we live our  lives,  behave and relate to each other.   It is certainly  an historical document  but it is also  a contemporary one.   As our wings develop and evolve the need may  arise in the future for the provision of  added guarantees in the  charter.  A mechanism  that  allows our wings  to continually discuss/suggest such additions is in place via the coisti/OC.   The  charter will be included in the Introduction  to Republican Wings and  will be the basis upon which all future  actions,  policies and behaviour are determined.


CHARTER

 

1.   All sentenced for Army related actions  have automatic right to  our  communities.   Non-political  offenders  (or  those  not connected with the Army)  who  seek to reside  in our communities must make a  request to the  camp leadership.   Each case will be considered on its  own merits,  given particular consideration to the activities of the individual within  our communities outside. No-one on our communities has the automatic right to remain there indefinitely (see section 9).

2.  Our communities guarantee the right of individuals to:  (a)          freedom and protection  from  physical  abuse or harassment, intimidation,  bullying,   discrimination,  slander  or sustained verbal abuse;   

(b)        live and  practice his religious  beliefs (equally conscious of the wishes of non- believers);

(c)        his own sexual orientation.

3.   Our conditions are safe-guarded primarily by our willingness (and the prison    administrations recognition of such) to defend our communities by whatever means necessary.   This means unified action directed  and controlled  at  all times  in  a disciplined manner.   It requires  the willingness of  all to  participate in providing that unity and strength.   At all  times the leadership will give  careful consideration to  special cases  in particular circumstances. 

4.  Everyone on our wings is encouraged to develop their personal and  intellectual  abilities to  their fullest  potential  and to place these at the service of the community.  Personal attacks on people, malicious gossip or slander will not be tolerated.  It is the duty of all to combat this.

5.   The  promotion of socialist  ideals and values is  given the utmost importance.  The distribution or promotion of pornography, sexually abusive literature, fascist, racist or other anti-people literature is contrary to such ideals and in  total opposition to the values promoted by the Army.

6.   Each community  has  firmly  established  structures through which everyone  can voice their  opinion  and  contribute  to the decision making process.   Everyone is encouraged to participate. If  an  individual  feels,   for  whatever  reason,   that  these structures are not working on his behalf he can make an appeal to the appointed leadership at the community level.   If he is still not  satisfied he  can then,  via  the local leadership,  make an appeal to the camp leadership.   The decision reached by the camp leadership will be final and binding.

7.   All those on our communities have  responsibilities  for the continued well-being  of  the whole community.   This entails the various obligations concerning general  maintenance and assisting in efforts to better the living conditions ( see section 3).

8.   The smooth running of  our communities depends  greatly upon our communication system.  As recent discussions have pointed out communications  take many forms.   Generally we can define  it as passing  on  knowledge  which  is  essential   to  our  continual well-being  and development.   This can take  the form  of either verbal or written material.   All have a crucial role to  play in this. 

9.  Anyone acting contrary to the interests and well-being of our communities  will  be  approached regarding  their behaviour.  If their destructive attitude and activity persist (and it  is known that there is  no personal problems  or other  such factors which could  be  the cause of  this)  the  community,  as  a body, will confront the individual(s),  point  out  how  their  behaviour is endangering  the community and  ask  them  to  desist.   The camp leadership will be made   aware of all such  approaches and their outcome.  If the activities of such individuals are sustained and are regarded by the  camp staff as intolerable  the individual(s) will be told there is no longer a place within the  community for him/them. 

10.   Our communities exist under the guidance and  protection of the  Army  itself.   Its interest  and pursuit of  its objectives override all other considerations.   While every attempt  will be made  to   complement   Army   and   civilian  needs/requirements contradictions will  occasionally  arise.   Where such does occur the Army needs will be explained (if feasible).   Ultimately Army considerations will outweigh all others.   In  all such instances the Army is a final arbiter.

 

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