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‘The isolation that leads to insanity’
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
THE horrors of solitary confinement were laid bare in an event in Brixton.
A man who spent more than three decades in a brutal prison before his conviction was overturned, and another who was detained at Guantanamo Bay for six years, both gave moving accounts of their time behind bars at the event called Caged In The USA.
Also speaking was Hamja Ahsan, from Tooting, whose brother Talha was this month extradited to the US to face terror charges and could face years in solitary confinement, if convicted.
Robert King was released in 2001 from Angola prison, in Louisiana, after 29 years in solitary.
He said: “By being politicised I was able to put in context what happened to me. I did 31 years for a crime I didn’t commit so there was no way I could just come out, see what was going on in the world, and not try to change it.”
Mr King is the only one of the Angola Three to be freed after his conviction for murder was quashed. The trio, who were already in jail for minor offences, were convicted and given lengthy sentences over the death of a prison guard but never admitted guilt. They claimed they had been set up because of their outspoken views and membership of the Black Panther Party.
Mr King, who still campaigns for the release of his friends Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, added: “Because so many black people were being sent to prison it became a recruiting ground for the struggle.”
Omar Deghayes was seized from Pakistan in 2002 and sent to Guantanamo Bay, the US detention centre on Cuban soil, where he says he was tortured. He was never charged.
He said: “Isolation drives any prisoner to insanity and we have seen that in Guantanamo. It is difficult to imagine what someone like Robert went through.
“After so much time the mind starts to go crazy. The brain just starts to eat itself. Isolation prisons are considered to be torture, and they are.”
More than 100 people attended the event on Thursday last week at the Karibu Centre in Gesham Road, Brixton.
For more information on the campaign to ban solitary confinement visit www.cageprisoners.com
All content © of South London Press unless stated otherwise.
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Sir Ray Tindle
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