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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.
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.